Friday, March 23, 2012

Scalper Burned!

It feels good to burn a scalper. Mr. Bitterman recently purchased tickets at Stub Hub for the Van Halen Ottawa concert on March 21. Mr. Bitterman decided at the last minute to go with his curmudgeon friend. He got 100 Level tickets, front row for $50 each (all in). These tickets were selling face value at $175 -- let alone scalper mark up. Burn scalper!! And speaking of Stub Hub, their current slogan is "Where do you want to sit?" It should be, "How much are you willing to fork over for over-priced tickets from 'second sellers'?!!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Killed Alt. Rock? Record Labels

The following is a reply to Alan Cross's post, "Grunge Nearly Ruined Alt. Rock".

My theory on what killed Alt Rock is this: I blame everything on the big record labels. The only reason the kind of music that a station like "They Mighty Y/The Spirit of Radio/CFNY" played emerged, was because of the DIY record labels that began popping up. This only lasted a few years before the big record companies started swallowing them up. Once they disappeared, the music sucked again. I remember my friends and I in the latter half of the 80s lamenting about the direction music had gone, after having been so great from about 1978-86. We all said "something has to happen." That something was grunge. But something new happens once every dozen or so years. Ten to 12 years after grunge came the Strokes. But because big labels rule what we listen to, and bands ultimately want to make money, we will never have an era like we did in the early 80s.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Money for Nothing critics don't know their facts

You know what bugs me the most about this Money for Nothing controversy? The stupid journalists who forget the context. They are all coming out against the censoring of the lyrics, but they have their historical context wrong ...which bugs me more than the censoring of the 25-year-old lyric.
In fact, the Post had an opinion piece to put the song in context, and they got the context wrong. The most offensive paragraphs are as follows:

"Dire Straits are in a sense poking fun at themselves as the musicians who are getting their 'money for nothing,' but also clearly at what Knopfler has called the 'hard-hat mentality' of the delivery guy. If you pay attention, it’s practically impossible to conflate the identity of the character in the song with that of the singer. The panel seems to be suffering from a severe irony deficiency.

What’s more, the panel mentions, confusingly, that 'like other racially driven [sic] words in the English language, ‘faggot’ is one that, even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, is no longer so.' But again, this distinction misses the point that Knopfler was singing it in character and ridiculing the kind of person who would use the word “faggot” to designate something other than a bundle of wood."

The writer is wrong. From what I remember of the time, Knopfler hated MTV. But MTV had become so important to marketing music, he could no longer avoid it, so he succumbed. But he did it by taking a shot at the medium through Money for Nothing. And you'll notice the video is animated. He wouldn't put himself in it.

The song is about vapid videos. The song is about style over substance. You have to remember the time. This was the age of Boy George and Culture Club, Duran Duran pretty boys, George Michael (gasp!). Knopfler was speaking through the working man, in this case, a delivery guy, against these "yo yos" who couldn't play worth a damn, but who wore make-up and looked wild.

Knopfler is an accomplished musician. To him, many of these acts (as is still the case) were nothing more than made-up window dressing. They made all the dough, while real musicians struggled. And that is what the MTV age ushered in. And it's no different today. There are bands out there with great, great musicianship and talent, who travel in vans to dives in second-rate cities, while the Lady Gaga's of the world rake in millions.

It makes me angry.

Read more:

Money for Nothing critics don

Friday, January 7, 2011

On the buses with OC-Transpo

The Nation’s Capital’s bus service is a strange entity. Two winters ago we endured a Christmas-time strike …because OC-Transpo drivers wanted to set their own schedules. Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all do that?! However, that’s now history.

But under "normal circumstances," have you ever driven along certain routes in Ottawa at around 10 a.m. and seen the gauntlet of empty buses travelling back to the depot with an “Out of Service/Hors Service” sign lit up on their route display? When rush hour is over, many buses, especially the express, travel back to the depot until the route starts again for the afternoon rush. Why? Because OC-Transpo believes that long treks, from Kanata to downtown, or Barrhaven to downtown, or Orleans to downtown, should be run by one bus from beginning to end of the route. This, I guess, is kind of nice for the commuter (of which I am one occasionally). You don’t have to switch buses. But how efficient is it? How much taxpayers’ money is wasted as a result? In many metropolitan cities, the buses remain in areas and do loops. You transfer at the end of the loop and get on a bus to the next one. In a city like Ottawa, this might be two loops …say, Barrhaven to Baseline or Lincoln Fields, then transfer from there to downtown.

Bus travel simply is not a pleasant endeavour.

So here are my five top reasons why bus travel in Ottawa makes me angry:

5. Timing: It’s a crap shoot whether your bus is going to be on time, late or early. Especially, for some reason, on the afternoon rush time commute. You just have to get their ahead of schedule …and wait (and hope).

4. It’s hot: In the winter, the bus driver, who is wearing a sweater or a light jacket, blasts the heat to keep warm. Hello? We’re wearing coats and the bus is jammed with everyone’s carbon dioxide and body ….eeeuuuww. And in the summer, it’s just always hot.

3. Sardines: During peak hours, we’re packed in like sardines.

2. Seasonal effects: In the winter, the person who is coughing and blowing into a tissue, is always seated beside me. In the summer …well, let’s face. Many people just stink. (And they don’t want people to wear cologne – people with B.O. rejoice!)

1. And the number one reason Mr. Bitterman doesn’t like public transit: The people! Let’s face it. Mr. Bitterman just doesn’t like people. And the teenagers. They should be forced to walk – or shipped off to an island until they’re 21. This all makes me angry.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Return to Forever at Ottawa Jazzfest

Mr. Bitterman caught half of the jazz fusion supergroup Return to Forever set at the Ottawa International Jazzfest, June 26. Frankly, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.

Aparently, many people who were teens and young adults in the latter '70s, eventually got into jazz via “progressive” rock bands such as Genesis, Yes and ELP. (See Ottawa Citizen journalist and jazz pianist Peter Hum's blog) From there, they segued to jazz/rock fusion bands such as Return to Forever, and from there into other styles of jazz.

Obviously, they are great musicians (led by keyboardist Chick Corea, with guitarist Al Di Meola, bass player Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White). But I couldn’t help but think that the group was comprised of four extreme egos. From what I caught – the second half of their show – it consisted of each musician doing a solo, one after the other. Apparently they did all come together as a group for a few jazz rock fusion anthems before I arrived, but all I saw and heard were solos. See review in Ottawa Sun.

Mr. Bitterman was never into those progressive rock bands in the '70s. In fact, I went in a completely opposite direction with punk, post-punk and new wave. And ultimately, Mr. Bitterman's interest in jazz came more from my father listening to the likes of Sinatra and Louis Armstrong throughout my childhood. Something like that never leaves you.

Anyway, the crowd at Return to Forever was the largest in jazzfest history, according to reports – so there must be something to it. I think there’s a lot of dudes who, in their formative years in the '70s, were smokin’ a lot of pot and trippin’ to that type of rock. Mr. Bitterman, instead was pogoing to 999, the Stranglers, the Pistols, the Clash ...

Return to Forever was certainly an interesting spectacle. However, when it comes to jazz, Mr. Bitterman is definitely a bop, be bop, and hard bop type of guy. That’s why, instead, Mr. Bitterman will enjoy Charlie Haden moreso on June 27.