Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yes, You in the Apricot Scarf

As I always carry a live wireless microphone in my Prada bag, let's convene a press conference:

Q. Veronica, what media delights have you been grooving to lately?

A. Favorite album? Right now, it might be the new one by Citay, 'Dream Get Together.' They fit somewhere in the psych-folk category: campfire strums punctuated with electrics and a dash of metal, and light on vocals. A fine accompaniment for next time you're sniffing out truffles in a medieval forest. Or your rented pig is.

On other fronts...just finished the second of Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander trilogy, and the third is on the way via Royal Mail. My reading habits are so sporadic that I am utterly grateful to an author who can keep me turning pages. As one reviewer wrote, the reader can plainly tell that Larsson loved his heroine.

On TV, the top of my pops is '30 Rock' (as usual) and a long-overdue 'Arrested Development' DVD run-through. A scream.

Q. On these pages recently, the new Peter Gabriel release was dismissed as 'shlock.' What's your take on the term and its definition?

A. To start, I'd like to engage my fellow bloggers in further dialog (as Mama E Dub referred to Gabriel's more recent work as 'wifty-wafty'). I'd be curious as to their definitions as well.

'Shlock' is a subjective term, of course. I suppose it often means material that is both not to the listener's taste and inferior in quality (as opposed to that which the reviewer can respect but not enjoy). However, inferiority is also subjective, and this is where I often part ways with users of the term.

I'll flesh out my answer in a future post, as my thoughts and words would far exceed the limitations of this Q&A format. But for now, I would cite the deathless words of Tom Cruise, who famously said, 'Respect the shlock.'

At least, that's what I think he said.

Q. Whose is your all-time favorite gospel voice?

A. I'm pretty mainstream here. Although I'm tempted to go with Mahalia Jackson or Sam Cooke, I'd opt for Mavis Staples. But if I could have witnessed any one such performer, I reckon I would have most wanted to see Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Click here for a sterling example of the good sister's work.

Q. Some time back you wrote about the price and format wars roiling the music and video worlds. Now the book world is aflame. Any thoughts from a former music industry titan?

A. Well, as the Cedar hasn't yet been able to secure the exclusive rights to Bob Lefsetz's musings, I'll have a go:

You're referring to the e-book pricing war between MacMillan and Amazon. Obviously the publisher is trying to protect the $25 hardcover business, and understandably, as such a book's placement in high-traffic consumer areas is, at the very least, a fine marketing visual. Barnes & Noble must be quite pleased with Amazon's capitulation on this issue.

But the reality is this: the hardcover business is cut-throat and dying. Consider the costs in materials, manufacturing, and warehouse-to-store-to-warehouse shipping of these two-pound beasts, which can often be had for $15-$17. Propping an e-book's price up to nearly that level is artificial and downright silly. Further, such a strategy can blow up.

Amazon has gotten much mileage out of the user-oriented community they have established. Reader/listener reviews and recommendations have a big impact on sales. These days readers are pummeling overpriced e-books (as well as titles that have not yet appeared as e-books) with one-star ratings.

MacMillan won a battle in a war they are destined to lose.

Q. Which musician have you ever wanted to be?

A. John Entwistle. I'da been quite happy to go unnoticed so lucratively.


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casanguinet said...

Ms. Veronica:
Have you ever watched the lesser known BBC ripped version of Spinal Tap, "BAD NEWS"? At one point, the band "Bad News" is put up in a hotel. They decide to go all THE WHO on the room. Before they begin trashing the place, the first band member cries out: "I'll play Roger Daltrey!" then the next, "I'll play Pete Townsend!" and the next, "I'll be Keith Moon!" and lastly, Nigel Planer says, "And I'll be...I'll be...I'll be the one whose name everyone forgets!"

Mama E Dub said...

Sister Rosetta rocked my evening! I have the spirit now...makes me long for the days when Miss Katie Jackson (who was 70 if she was a day) used to tour with The Campbell Brothers.

Thanks, Feves!

Steve Hanson said...

Rosetta Tharp - I keep listening to her, and thinking she's not only the best example of the Saturday Night/Sunday Morning conundrum I've ever heard, but also the wildest woman in history. So little video of her, and all of it amazing.