January 26, 2008

When a star dies...

The cult of celbrity is a mighty powerful thing. Where once the death of an actor would have been regulated to Entertainment Tonight. MuchMusic, and the like, in our fame-obsessed culture Heath Ledger's passing was the lead on every major television news station and top-of-list of every global news websites. The same day Heath's death was announced in the media, a major report was released with the nearly incomprehensible news that since 1998, 5.4 million people have been killed in Congo in its onging civil war. Unfortunately, you didn't hear about the fact that 45,000 people continue to die each month in Congo because all of your news sources were competing with TMZ and Perez Hilton to cover an actor's death. I am a news junkie and I can attest that I only found out about the Congo horrors because I stumbled across the report. In other words, that 5-million people have died (equivalent to the entire city of Bangalore being wiped out) in Congo was not being screamed from the rooftops of our stewards of the truth is a sad, sad state of affairs.
I suppose the response from the mainstream media news editors/directors is that they are merely giving their audience what they want and, in light of the proliferation of the all-celebrity-news-all-the-time alternatives, they have no choice. Silly me, I thought the role of said news editors has always been to give the audience what they need to hear.
I write this not because I wasn't affected by Heath's death. I write this because I was overly affected by Heath's death; so much so that even when I learned about the horrific tragedy in Congo my grief remained disproportionately balanced towards Heath's passing. I am not sure what to do with that fact, or what is says about me. So a black rose then, for Heath and for each of those who have perished in a terrible war that no one has ever heard of.

January 21, 2008

Sleep...Sleep tonight...And may your dreams be realized



January 14, 2008

Here Is What Is

I've been a fan of Daniel Lanois ever since his stunning debut album "Acadie" was released in 1989. Lanois is mostly famous and renowned for his singular production work on albums that have defined our times, with artists such as U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, and Emmylou Harris.
Amidst all the work to create and produce landmark recordings with these musicians and others, he has managed to release his own albums, featuring his distinctive sound. His newest release, "Here is What Is" is the accompanying soundtrack to his soon-to-be-released documentary film of the same name. I can't stop listening, and losing yourself in Lanois' soundscapes is a rare pleasure. You can sample and download the album here.

Election Idol

It's hard not to be pulled into the frenzy that is the 2008 Presidential primary. These are indeed fascinating times, with historic candidates in Senators Clinton and Obama. The much-noted "comeback" of McCain is worthy of a made-for-TV movie, although it's not clear which came first, the comeback or the media hype about the comeback. Still, in a previous post I had written McCain off altogether, so I stand corrected.
I note that Clinton has moved 12 points over Obama, and I suspect that this lead will maintain itself nationally unless Obama's team can mobilize segments which do not typically participate in the federal election process.
My sense is that America is, at heart, a conservative lot that will vote with caution rather than hyperbole. What one tells a pollster over the phone is often different that what one does standing in the booth, for there is nothing at stake in the former. "Undecided" typically means status quo, and few folks will be powerfully impacted by television "debates" since only the engaged and decided ever actually watch them. Meanwhile, the silent majority follow their favourite candidates on "American Idol".

January 3, 2008

Be it Resolved...

As 2008 dawns, may we resolve the following:
1) That banks will no longer offer sub-prime mortgages to those who can least afford them
2) That car companies cease to run television advertisements that show their products on windy mountain roads, that tell us to "hurry in", and whose illegible terms flash for a mere ten seconds
3) That news media organizations stop confusing celebrity gossip with relevant happenings
4) That "big box" chain stores adequately train their staff on customer service and product knowledge
5) That hope replaces fear, and knowledge replaces ignorance in the White House