Thursday, December 29, 2011


This article originally appeared in the 12.29.11 issue of Metroland.

Once again, I’m batting around .500 with my predictions for last year. Hank Jr. was bounced from Monday Night Football, but he wasn’t replaced by Kanye. Justins did threaten to stop booking jazz (again), but no populist uprising saved the day. No new local musicians broke nationally, although a couple of them got real close. A Rolling Stone did not croak. Samson Contompasis did not cut his hair off, and I had money on that one, dammit.

So, without further a-doo-doo, here are my predictions for 2012.

OK, THIS year a local daily newspaper will fold, and all of the local mainstream media will run around blaming the internet and saying oh what will we ever do...Meantime, a couple of independent locally-focused internet news sites will pop up and start aggregating local news outlets, local blogs, real-time multi-media reporting, and reader contributions. These sites will attract readers and advertisers.

Madonna will get booed big-time whilst lip-synching at the Superbowl. There’ll also be some major and embarrassing technical glitch, too. Her dismay will be obvious, and this will go down as the most memorable, iconic Madonna moment, like, ever. Her new album will bomb. Meantime Gaga will continue her inexorable march to super-super stardom and immortality.

Some ridiculously massive guest musician will show up at the JB Scotts reunion in May and jam with whoever’s onstage.

Live Nation and other mainstream promoters will try to muscle in on the dubstep scene and the dubstep audience will totally reject them for political reasons and the artists who signed up with them will be branded forevermore as greedy capitalist pariahs.

SOPA / PROTECT IP will go down in flames and the legislators who backed it will have some splainin’ to do on the campaign trail in the fall because it will have become a major and explosive issue.

Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president and the ONLY musical artists that stump for him will be Wayne Newton and Hank Jr., and neither will be particularly helpful. He will lose majorly.

Against every conceivable odd Cohoes will increasingly be the cool place to live, the cool place to hang, the cool place to be.

Carmine’s new Brazilian joint will take Albany by storm. Meat, meat, and more meat! On swords, baby!

A defunct local band that’s not Blotto will get a huge surprise and a big payday when one of its old forgotten recordings is picked up for a national ad campaign.

A tiny regional theater company will score big when it premiers a new play by an unknown playwright and the play blows up and heads to NYC.

Occupy will have a huge impact on virtually every election in the country, while the Teabaggers will quietly crawl back into their doublewides.

The NY federal appeals court will make a bad ruling in the Richard Prince infringement case, a ruling so broad that it eviscerates the fair use doctrine. As the case heads to the Supreme Court, artists will stage big unstoppable high tech public protests on the internet and elsewhere and heat will be put on Congress to clarify the law. Meantime, lots of lawyers will make lots of money.

The Anonymous hacker collective will pull off something so astonishing and that has such a huge positive impact that it will be next year’s Time Magazine person of the year.

Tanglewood will book Bon Iver and The Civil Wars and the show will sell out in hours. Just kidding. They will book the Beach Boys reunion tour, which will be OK only because it’s Brain and his band with those other creeps just along for the ride and the paycheck.

Music service Spotify will grow and expand, and as musicians paychecks increase, the hold-out bands and labels will fall over each other to put their stuff back into Spotify’s catalog. Rhapsody will revamp its streaming site and put some heat on Spotify, and both services will improve dramatically as a result. Another huge player will jump in with a competing service that’s also great. CD sales will collapse, and the growth of download sales will stall.

The FCC will open up new bandwidth for communications. Then under public pressure, it will hold hearings on data restrictions for cellphone users, find that they are a sham, and order all cell carriers to immediately offer only unlimited data plans. Several carriers will be levied massive fines for screwing around with customers’ bandwidth after this.

Have a safe and fun New Years’, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This article originally appeared in the 12.15.11 issue of Metroland

There’s a fascinating drama playing out right now in Albany County Supreme Court. The Daughters of Mary, a group of nuns associated with the St. Joseph’s Church and Convent in Roundtop, New York, have sued Albany art dealer Mark LaSalle in connection with the 2006 sale of a painting by late 1800’s French master William Adolphe Bouguereau. It’s alleged that LaSalle advised the Daughters that $450,000 was a fair price for the painting, then unscrupulously arranged the sale to another art dealer who then flipped the painting for over $2 million.

The Daughters and St. Joseph’s have been occasional clients of mine for a couple of years; I’ve given them intellectual property advice mainly regarding various items they sell in their gift shop. I was called to testify briefly at the trial on Tuesday, just to say that I had nothing to do with the sale of the painting, which happened several years prior to the Daughters hiring me.

The trial has been going on for three weeks and while it’s apparently been moving at a snail’s pace, there has also been lots of drama, strange characters, bizarre accusations and theories (even murder plots), and of course, nuns.

There is some incredible reporting of the trial happening over at, which picked up the story on Tuesday the 6th and has been posting smart, insightful and funny articles ever since. This is citizen journalism at its finest—a thoroughly intriguing story which is way beneath the radar of traditional news outlets, brought to light with style and attitude to spare. Check it out.

It seems like only yesterday, but it was almost 6 years ago that the Google Books lawsuit started. In a nutshell, the Authors Guild and a bunch of publishers decided to sue the bejesus out of Google for having the temerity to want to digitize all the books in the world. Keep in mind that Google wasn’t going to give away any books (except those in the public domain) but rather create a massive database where we could do keyword searches and find out what books used what words.

The Authors Guild ran around screaming “infringement” and “theft” when the only infringement that was happening was the fairly benign process of scanning of the books into a hard drive. Each book. Once.

As many of us pointed out at the time, this was an absurd lawsuit totally at odds with the Authors Guild’s members’ self-interest. Google wasn’t stealing any books! It was simply making all books, even books out of print and long-forgotten, easier to find and easier to use. All books, like, ever.

After a couple years of posturing and legal hoo-hah, the parties announced a settlement that, strangely, gave Google more rights and revenue opportunities than it had wanted originally.

The settlement was presented to the court; in March 2011 the court rejected the settlement, for a variety of reasons, including that the settlement gave Google almost unlimited market power that was not likely ever to be challenged by any other market player. Market power that it hadn’t originally sought, but that it got in the settlement.

This week, the Authors Guild filed a request for the court to certify as a “class” every author in the United States, a first step in the commencement of a class action lawsuit. The Guild is starting over, right back to where it was in 2005, trying to bring a new asinine legal proceeding to stop what would be one of the greatest advances in scholarship and the distribution of knowledge the world has ever seen. While the vast majority of Google’s digitization effort sits on servers somewhere, unused. Urgh.

OK, what else? Oh yeah, this. From time to time we talk about how your smart phone might be spying on you, to the point of ratting you out. I don’t do it often because a lot if it is way too tech-y for my Luddite brain. But recently some folks discovered that a lot of smartphones, particularly phones sold by Sprint and Verizon, have this sketchy and deliberately hidden software called Carrier IQ, that can track and report a ton of information about the phone user, including location, keystrokes, and browsing behavior.

Techdirt reports that the company responsible for Carrier IQ, after first threatening to sue the researcher who “discovered” it, claimed that the software was used only for diagnostic purposes, to report dropped calls, to track network issues, and the like. The company said that it would never use the software to breach anybody’s privacy. Maybe that’s so, but it looks like somebody else is. Another research decided to FOIA the FBI, seeking documents showing whether and how the FBI was using Carrier IQ derived data. Rather shockingly, the FBI replied this week that it had such documents, but refused to turn them over because doing so “might interfere with ongoing investigtions.”

Uh-oh. We’re all screwed.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

12.03.11 I'm Tired of White People (And by “People” I Mean 50 to 90 Year Old Men…with penises.)

I posted this after I saw it had been taken down from where I first saw it.

By Michael Boatman

Okay, I said it. I’m tired. Fed up. F’shtunk’d and downright verplotzed with the white American Man. Listen, I’m not a racist. (Some of my best friends are white.) And isn’t everyone tired of Hillbilly comedians; hairy, disenfranchised boy-men; sexually hopeless bearded geeks who secretly breakdance really well and are actually qualified to rule the world if only their alcoholic fathers, hot blonde cheerleaders and Charlize Theron would acknowledge their true greatness?)

I’m fed up with trying to navigate the empty thought caves abandoned by long-dead puritan land-stealers, slave-owning drunken Indian fighters and World War II Whores. Yes, I don’t give a shit about “The Greatest Generation.” Acknowledgement of Black involvement in World War II, though overwhelmingly heroic, is as hard to find in the mainstream historical record as a taped interview with Bigfoot. Besides, most—-if not all—-of the Greatest Generation are dead or shitting in their diapers these days; wishing like hell that they could turn back the clock to a “simpler” time; a time when women understood their God-given inferiority; when God was in His White Heaven and blacks were smart enough to keep their big mouths shut. Yeah, I love the Greatest Generation; the Generation that looked at Japan—-a bankrupt nation on the verge of surrender—-and dropped atom bombs on its unsuspecting civilians. Meanwhile Adolph Hitler ass-raped entire races of human beings. But no nuclear bitch-slap for Berlin, no: Uncle Klaus and Aunt Hirdy-Girdy live in Berlin! Bomb the Japs! Nobody’s actually related to them! Eat it, Greatest Generation.

For a while there, back in the 80’s and even early 90’s, it seemed like the country was straining toward some kind of understanding, a new cultural gestalt wherein everyone understood that the old puritanical ways of thinking were on their way out. Everyone was afraid of dying in a nuclear war and Sting was the King of the Universe. Then George W. Fucking Bush became “President,” and the national debate turned into one big Nascar rally; a rally that dragged the country—-James Bird style—-through the Violent Special Ed cafeteria of the most vicious High School since the Marquis de Sade graduated from Cruella De Vil Abbatoir & Country Day Prep.

Nearly everyone I encounter these days seems to have given up I.Q. points just to get through the day. Nearly everyone I meet seems to think it’s okay to bomb the shit out of Iraqi wedding parties just because a decade ago, some dumb-ass Muslim extremists hit the World Trade Center instead of Bernie Madoff’s beach house.

Most irritating, is this Judeo-Christian fascination with so-called End-Times. As an atheist, I’m sick of watching the metaphorical death throes of Whitey’s illegitimate and largely illusional “culture.” I say: LET IT DIE! Guess what, Tom? There are fresher perspectives out there, if you’d only pull your head out of grandfather’s checkbook long enough to look: People of color, women, atheists, agnostics and non-Judeo-Christians; the handicapped and Gay, lesbian and yes, trans-gendered people. (Although my friend ‘Gale’ lives and dresses like a woman—-living as a man living as a trans-gendered, bi-sexual hermaphrodite. Sometimes I think ‘Gale’ is just plain silly.)

For anyone who needs more proof of the fundamental decline of The White Man, I’ll point them to the so-called Super Committee, appointed by the President to set our debt issues in order. Those guys are for the most part so white that the backs of my eyeballs throb when I look at them. John Boehner is a White Man, for Christ’s sake. If Boehner isn’t the poster-boy for the end of white male supremacy I don’t know what is.

The aforementioned President Bush and “Vice-President” Frankenstein Junior screwed the country as hard as they could before evacuating their dying seeds of destruction all over the face of the American Dream. Laughing all the way to the banks they subsidized, they handed the keys to a broken nation to the first non-threatening black dude who came along and fucked-off back to West Texas or Upper Right Montana or whatever hyper-conservative shit-ditch welcomes these people. Now the whole country is too busy dodging giant mutant chickens coming home to roost to remember who schtupped the golden goose. Here’s a hint…

It sure as Hell wasn’t Morgan Fucking Freeman.

I’m tired of White People.