Season's Greetings: New Rules, Spiders
It's been a year since I posted anything on this, the good old Thaddeus Gazette. I have nothing to attribute this to except lack of diligence. Sure, I've been busy. Sure, I'm a married guy again and attentive to the duties and privileges pertaining thereto. Sure I've been sapping my writer's will making dumb comments in Facebook and G+. Still.
So here I am, virtual pen in virtual hand, back from the hinterlands of Lame Excuse to make yet another reboot of this, my most venerable internet tradition, the obsessive practice that cranked out a half million words that nobody reads. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
When I first started this blabberfest, it was still the 20th century, Clinton's second term ship of state had yet to hit the Lewinsky iceberg, the internet was a dogfight of competing ideas and technologies suitable for communication or wrapping fish, the dot-com bubble was yet to inflate, Broadband was a 56k modem, and my computer was at least as smart as the average two year old. Chipmunk.
See how far we've come! Now we're faced with the Gawdawful Millennium, ten years of the Woar On Tarrah, the world driven mad by Texas, not one but two economic catastrophes to dig out from under, the World Wide Waste Of Time devoured by LOLcats and Youtube videos under the kindly goggle of the Great God Google, and my computer and cell phone are conspiring to cut out the middleman (me) and set up on their own. Woh! Dude! It's Teh Future!
My own personal field of endeavor if not expertise, the biz of music, has of course felt the full force of the Mighty Hammer O' Progress. The once-omnipotent Major Labels in their pride and potency are so many squashed possums under the studded tires of the monster truck of history, their entire business plan reduced to clinging desperately to whatever rents they can still squeeze out of the ever-reliable nostalgia industry. There'll always be another Beatles revival. Everybody else is heading for the exits.
And that leaves me in an...awkward position. While I do indeed perform competently enough the tasks of operating sound-generating equipment and making continuous tones with my voice in exchange for compensation and complementary beverages, the bulk of my income derives from technical services I perform for other purveyors of said tasks, in particular constructing physical objects affixing such tasks in vendable form. Which is to say, I make buggy whips — uh, CDs.
Anymore, the Thoroughly Modern Musician is a self-contained economic unit, artist, management, producer, engineer, designer, manufacturer and distributer in one. Naturally, any TMM worth their complementary beverages makes efficient use of supplementary voluntary labor in this endeavor in the form of girl or boy friends, spouses, family, fans and random strangers roped in from off the street or the interwilds. But when Uncle Mort just won't cut it, they outsource some dull repetitive job like album manufacture to a trained professional, or, if they can't afford one, to me. And while downloading has grown to surpass CD sales amongst the majors, the grunt performer with boots on the stage gets a much bigger piece of the pie from a $10 merch sale than they do from some miserable fraction of a 99¢ download on Amazon or iTunes. I'm safe enough. For now.
On the other ravaging claw, that thread supporting the Damoclean Sword of technological advancement grows skinnier and more crazed hour by hour. Right now, it's still hard to sell downloads at gigs. Directing customers to a website to redeem an alphabet-soup 13-character passcode doesn't cut it — you can hardly give those away. But all it's gonna take is some abysmally cheap one-shot replacement for the thumb drive, preferably one that resembles a business card and can be read without an adapter, and mp3s will devour the gutted remains of live show CD sales quicker than you can say "remarkably affordable." There's no way in HEdoubletoothpicks that a complicated blob of plastic and paper and burning and printing and shrinkwrap can hold out against that. And just like that, it's one, two, three, and where's your breakfast?
And this Yuletide, I was presented with yet another harbinger of Ye Tymes Thei Bei AChaunging as I went about the happy task of mailing out the yearly seasonal calendar, a holiday tradition as old as the TG, and discovered, unhappily, that postage on oversized envelops has doubled since last year.
All righty then. I'm not totally stupid. Like the hapless arachnids cowering in the shadow of the book, I can hear the Big Voice intoning NEW RULES, SPIDERS. And if I don't wanna get pancaked and swept out with the trash, I'd better tuck my li'l footies underneath and start scooting. And here's where the tarsi meet the road, right here in the holiday spirits of the Thaddeus Gazette.
All unknowingly, for years I've been an avatar of the Ghost of Xmas Yet To Come with the jpeg cards I've posted. Ha! A fine pun, that. Crenelated spook, speak you of this time to come when all communications shall cease their eternal depletion of vital resources and reduce to mere shadows themselves, conveyed by invisible means with light and trembling signals. Paper and plastic are hooking up with brick and mortar in the junkyard of consumption. We're all going virtuously virtual, and barring some cosmic incident that fries all the silicon dendrites on earth, we're not returning.
So this year, gaze in astonishment at the New! Holiday! Tradition! of the downloadable gift calendar, in both straight and paginated forms for your viewing or printing pleasure. And just for the shorties, here's a live mp3 of Uncle Pappy playing That's Not Funny! and 6 Free Adorable Kittens, children's classics the both.
Truthfully, there is a lot to be said for wireless gifts: fewer consumables and pollution, universal access, instant gratification, and hey—they're gifts of the creative heart, however skewed. Blessings of the season to you.
Oh, and — HAPPY NEW YEAR!