Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blue Highways vs. Killer Apps

I've been wondering lately, every time I see another ad for the latest app for one's I-Phone that will call you a cab, tune your guitar, recommend music, suggest a restaurant...

Wonder who decides what makes the cut. How do they decide? Is there a selection committee at Urban Daddy or Pandora? Do they Google the possible options and just choose the top ten?

I mean, really. There we were at work yesterday deciding which plants we wanted to grow for next year, tossing stuff right and left. Lousy sales last year. We have too many of those already. It was ugly in my garden. I don't like it. Looks just like plant X. So on and so on.

And we're plant nerds, people. One of the last bastions of not-quite-so-corporate, weirdo plants. When the business began , we'd grow almost anything, as long as we thought we could move 10 or a dozen flats. No more. Numbers like that get a plant thrown off the list now, unless the staff really begs and pleads. They're off the list.

Another real life example. I can't find my favorite toothpaste at any of the local food co-ops anymore, as of a couple of months ago. It's still being produced; I went to the manufacturer's website. But our "local" natural foods warehouse stopped carrying it. Poof! No more favorite toothpaste. Off the list.

Not to go all William Least Heat-Moon on you, but you know, before the interstate highways became ubiquitous, there were red highways and blue highways on the maps. The blue highways only went to the little, soon-to-be-forgotten towns. The ones that soon became nothing but a rusting grain elevator and and few houses in ill repair. Off the list.

So what about the clubs that don't make it onto Urban Daddy's list or the bands that Pandora has no place for?

You tell me.

On most days I'd chin up and say the bands'll end up at the Cedar or being played on KFAI and we'll be ahead of the curve and they'll one day develop a cult following.

On this grey gloomy October day, I just say, I do really wonder.

* * * * * * *

Well, I cranked Os Mutantes in the headphones all afternoon, and that just improved my mood, you know. How could it not?

Who needs dumb old killer apps anyway? Or satellite radio? Or that radio station with the dried fruit name? We've got the whole freakin' internet. Plus somebody's out there right now cranking out groovy global roots music apps.

I just know it.