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Tuesday, September 30, 2003


someone has to be the first example

[this dedicated to all the other rebels with a cause]

posted by roj at 7:24 pm  

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Donald O’Connor


posted by roj at 3:33 am  

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Elia Kazan


posted by roj at 3:32 am  

Monday, September 29, 2003

middlemen in music

kevin laws is back with the guys at due diligence, and today’s installment goes into where the power is in the recorded music business.

Music companies aren’t monopolies; they’re just middlemen who take a cut for helping the real monopolists.

we’re converging on the same language, which is a bit reassuring for me.

i do have one minor comment, and it’s more important in the big picture than at the top end of the power curve: i think i should note that the “minor labels” generally make their money “selling up” their acts. what this means is that there’s a whole food chain of “music companies” taking their cut as you work through the system (unless, of course, you are a music-industry creation and start ahead of the pack). these “little cuts” that everyone (label, manager, lawyer, new manager, producer, new lawyer, agent, new label, etc, etc, etc) takes are, effectively, a “death of a thousand cuts” for most of the musicians that start down this path.

kevin promises a future installment on “RIAA Enemy #1” – if my guess is right (and i do hope it is), you might’ve seen a little hint about why we both picked on walmart.

posted by roj at 4:51 pm  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Rafe Esquith

Be nice, Work hard

i’ve done a couple drafts of a short bio/essay on this extraordinary human being, and i just haven’t been satisfied with my own work. so, to get this started, i’ll let rafe speak for himself:

rafe esquith

If I want my children to work hard, I better be the hardest working person they’ve ever met. If I want the children to be nice, I better be the kindest human being they’ve ever met.

rafe esquith

America is supposed to be a land of equal opportunity, but it’s not. Just call me the Education Equalizer.

rafe esquith

The biggest disadvantage that these children face is that none of them speak English as their first language. When a 10-year-old, who doesn’t speak English as his first language, steps in front of you and does a scene from Shakespeare, there is nothing that they cannot accomplish.

rafe esquith

I started Hobart Shakespeareans because I fear something for these children, and it’s not gangs, it’s not drugs. What I fear is that they’re ordinary. I don’t want my students to be ordinary; I want them to be extraordinary because I know that they are.

rafe wakes up at 4:30, walks to the school and starts teaching at 6:30 in the morning. lessons don’t stop, not even for lunch, until 5pm, and after walking home for dinner, he’s back tutoring and raising money to support the class. shakespeare is mandatory. music is mandatory. hard work is mandatory. and the kids – 10-year-old kids – line up to get into his class.

and i do mean support the class. he and his wife basically live at poverty level. everything – donations, grants and salary – goes back into the classroom.

it doesn’t end with the weekend, either, on saturdays, he does college-prep work with older students, and brings them to universities as he travels.

many of the articles you’ll find linked below emphasize “scores” and “percentiles.” for me, this misses the point. it’s not about getting these kids to score well on a test or place well in a class, it’s about inspiration and motivation. it’s about changing lives.

so be inspired, be humbled, be motivated. i certainly am. rafe esquith has made a difference. he is extraordinary. after 17 years of teaching 5th and 6th grade students, his drive and motivation only increase.

unfortunately, with a book published, rafe and his work is lost on the internet in the crush of retailers and resellers and reviews trying to sell his wares. so, i’m throwing my googlejuice behind this man (we’ll see how that works). and, since i swam the mess to create this post, here are some (but certainly not all) things worth checking out.

Rafe Esquith, UCLA Alumnus and Teacher
The Hobart Shakespeareans, The Bard of Los Angeles
From Stage to (Really) Big Screen
Unconventional Twists to Conventional Methods
Fifth-Grade Teacher Introduces Students to Travel and Shakespeare
Inner-City School Students Excel in Shakespeare
The Hobart Shakespeareans

WAMU, Diane Rehm (realaudio)
CBC, Bill Richardson (realaudio)

There Are No Shortcuts: Changing the World One Kid at a Time

Awards and Recognition:
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
Walt Disney American Teacher Award for National Teacher of the Year, 1992
Oprah Winfrey $100,000 Use Your Life Award
UCLA Professional Achievement Award, 2000
Weingart Foundation $50,000 grant.
Joseph Drown Foundation $10,000 grant.

say something nice

Rafe Esquith
Hobart Elementary
Hobart Shakespeareans
980 South Hobart Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
PH: 213-200-4700
e-mail address:

one final thought, from me. make a difference:

rafe esquith

My former students literally write me letters every day saying I saved their lives.

posted by roj at 7:18 pm  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

entry footers rearranged

this should make more sense, and now links to category archives.

posted by roj at 3:19 pm  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

category archives get a sidebar

category archives now have the sidebar – hopefully this means less “back.”

posted by roj at 2:39 pm  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

a clue on the communications barrier

so, perhaps i got a clue to this communications problem that’s been frustrating me of late.

the clue is: unspoken agendas.

this does echo all the way back to my original post here, and it does, of course have to do with language.

you see, in the latest example it seems i tossed the wrong word into the mix (that word was “micropayments”), and that triggered an unknown (and as far as i know unspoken) agenda. ultimately, that agenda trumped my agenda.

i was trying to dismiss the whole micropayments thing as “common to all approaches at this level, and so safely ignored” and it ran face-first into “the word micropayments must be ridiculed out of existence.” now, both of these agendas basically dismiss the subject, and they’re closer to each other than they realized (at the time), but the worm had turned, and it wasn’t a turn i was interested in, so i just wandered back to my thinking chair and let the conversation proceed without me.

so, now, thanks to kevin, i have a clue. i still don’t know what to do with it.

posted by roj at 2:55 am  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

what’s the back catalog worth?

in my work with the music industry, i generally ignore the back catalog. perhaps the main reason is that the laws and contracts are etched in stone already, and it’s impractical to “free them up” before demonstrating a viable alternative.

but, i do want to go on the record and say that the back catalog has value, and in the long term, it’s truly a goldmine. it’s just a goldmine i can’t touch for some time to come.

anyway, today i found an interesting article [some registration may be required] in the washington post.

The Rolling Stones cast a satanic glow over the U.S. music industry on Wednesday as a reissue of their 1968 opus “Sympathy for the Devil” opened at No. 1 on the singles sales charts

that a 1968 reissue opens at #1 on any chart is interesting enough, but it gets better.

It replaces a song that is almost as old, a remixed version of Elvis Presley’s “Rubberneckin’,” which was originally released in 1969

two 60’s-vintage reissues scoring #1 back-to-back on the singles charts? amazing.

and then there’s this thought. i recently talked about the stones and the business of being the stones. astute readers will note that in that previous post, i mentioned that the stones were their own record label since about 1970 (i don’t have an exact date), and will realize that a 1968 track isn’t on that label.

New York-based ABKCO is owned by Allen Klein, an accountant who managed the Stones at the end of the 1960s and owns the copyrights to their 1960s recordings.

i am not privy to the specific contract language, but i imagine the stones won’t see any royalties from the single. it’s not all bad for mick and the boys, though – the stones are on tour. having a #1 single can’t hurt. on the other hand, it would’ve been nice to have the single released toward the beginning of the tour, as opposed to right at the end. ah well. i guess that’s the music business.

posted by roj at 2:19 am  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

livejournal syndication is available

i should probably mention this in the blog, since it has some effect on the blog.

this blog. yes. this one. the one you’re reading right now. is available as a syndicated feed for livejournal users. that means you can add it to your friends list, and pick up the new posts within an hour or so of when they happen.

here’s the magic link:

update: there’s an icon in the sidebar that should make the magic happen for you livejournalers.

posted by roj at 1:58 am  
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