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October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

candy corn

[photo by Ladybug1016]

I've already peaked and crashed a few times today from eating tons of candy (my favorites this year have been Peeps Spooky Friends™ Halloween-themed candy. I usually don't like veering from the classic yellow peep design, but those little spiders are awesome.) And tonight is going to be costume construction, the parade (enter on the east side of 6th Ave only, according to the site), and femoral injections of high fructose corn syrup.

So I'll just pick a few of the best quotes from the Times feature on foodie types and their favorite scores from childhood Halloweens, and what they plan to give out this year. Note that while some of the notable food folks are going to make special, homemade, arguably healthy snacks to hand out, every single one of them lists commercial, mass-produced, gut-rotting corporate candy as what they most desired as children. How quickly they forget!

Anyway, some favorites:

"Butterfingers, or anything with that foam candy center. I would try to trade with my brother, but you know how it is: we both wanted chocolate and no one wanted those circus peanuts." Elizabeth Falkner, chef, Citizen Cake, San Francisco

"The emphasis was on quantity not quality, with only part of the actual take declared to the authorities. Candy bars were rare (this was before bite-size), and those houses were revisited an hour or so later." Steve DeVries, chocolatier, DeVries Chocolate, Denver

"I well remember my disgust whenever someone offered me a homemade brownie or, worst of all, an apple. Halloween is the high holy day of high fructose corn syrup. And if we can keep it to one or two such days, why not?" Michael Pollan, journalist and author, "The Omnivore’s Dilemma"

Personally I would love to get my hands on some gelatinous-bloody-tooth themed Kid's Brand Tooth Ache Candy. Delicious!

October 30, 2007

Maybe crime would pay if criminals weren't such morons

Firefighters arrested for firehouse arson

Lots of funny, sort of pathetic stories in the papers today about crimes gone wrong:

  • More details have surfaced about the two firefighters who apparently torched a firehouse over the weekend, whose movements were all captured on surveillance video in what the Times calls "hardly a well-planned caper." Richard Capece and Michael Izzo bought a gallon of gas at the BP gas station on 38th St and 10th Ave, using Capece's debit card, and carried it in their own gas can. The NY Times story notes, "they also took a blue cigarette lighter from the station without paying for it, but no theft charges have been filed."

    The Daily News reports that Capece "was all smiles" on the W. 38th St firehouse's surveillance video, which caught Izzo "holding a lighter against the gasoline-soaked door" 15 minutes after their gas purchase, then a minute later, running back to their car and driving away. Neither firefighter worked at the station they burned, and a FDNY source says they didn't appear drunk in the videos, so everyone is pretty much assuming they're just a couple of pranking idiots. Izzo "was not well-liked by [his first] firehouse, or by his current one for that matter," as the FDNY source told the Daily News. He was also recently charged with assault in NJ. No one was injured in the fire, which was quickly put out.

  • Alleged crime boss Michael Uvino got busted on tape for pistol-whipping and threatening two enemies who robbed his card game in Long Island. In his bail hearing yesterday, Uvino's lawyer claimed that all he was packing during the taped threat was a BB gun. Judge Jack Weinstein didn't buy it: "I've never heard of Mafia members carrying BB guns... Most people in New York, if they are going to brandish a gun, will brandish a real gun. Unless they're suicidal." On the tape, you can also hear a handgun being cocked, and Uvino complaining to his informant associate, "I was trying to hit him with that fucking chair... Catch him with the metal part across his neck. All I did was fucking hurt my wrists."
  • Two men charged with calling people while posing as Equifax employees and scamming them for their credit card numbers now claim that they were targeting Bangladeshi people. Because, they say, Bangladeshis are "the ones who brought down the towers." So now they'll likely be charged with grand larceny plus a hate crime, because "targeting any ethnic group - even mistakenly - exposes them to additional penalties," according to prosecutors.
  • And in another story of confusion over terrorism and ethnicity, Brooklyn jeweler Rimon Alkatri is on trial for framing five other jewelers for plotting a suicide bombing. He apparently called the police, mobilizing a $100,000 operation, when he heard one of them saying "Allah akbar" on the phone. The defense lawyer points out that this is a common expression among Arabic speakers (known as the takbir), not a call to arms, and also that all five of the supposed conspirators are either Christian or Jewish.

October 29, 2007

Where Gap Kids clothes come from

Gap Product Red campaign

Gap just can't seem to shake its problem with child labor. The UK's Observer reported over the weekend that an Indian subcontractor producing Gap's line of clothing for children was using children, purchased as slaves, to make the clothes. What a coincidence!

Children as young as little Abigail Breslin, Gap model, were found working at a sweatshop in New Delhi making girls' embroidered tops. And: they weren't getting paid. From AP: "The Observer quoted one boy identified only as Jivaj as saying that child employees who cried or did not work hard enough were hit with a rubber pipe or had oily cloths stuffed into their mouths."

Rather than claim this as part of an innovative approach to developing new markets for its children's products, Gap said it has no idea, finds the allegations "deeply upsetting", and is investigating.

The Observer also reports that India is the child labor capital of the world: "According to one estimate, more than 20 per cent of India's economy is dependent on children, the equivalent of 55 million youngsters under 14."

Even though they've been through the ringer over unscrupulous labor practices before, Gap keeps manufacturing its clothes in India when it knows that child labor is a common occurrence there. It's this kind of indifference to human rights that makes the company's attempt at social responsibility via its (PRODUCT) RED campaign so transparent and phony. [note: clothes for the RED campaign are made in Africa, not India. That doesn't let them off the hook. It's the principle of the thing.]

Can one kid change the world? Sure, but not by manufacturing an embroidered blouse, and sure as hell not by buying a red t-shirt.

October 25, 2007

Eat at Applebee's or Wanda Sykes will yell at you

Applebee's apple ad

The Times reports today that the casual dining industry is suffering this year, possibly because of shrinking discretionary budgets and better, healthier options available at cheaper places like McDonald's. Or maybe Americans have finally realized that paying $16.49 for a microwaved plate of soggy chicken cutlet topped with salsa from a jar and a blend of "American and Mexican cheeses" (aka Friday's "Sizzling Chicken & Cheese" entree) is a rip-off.

Time for a new ad campaign! Restaurants like Applebee's, Chili's, IHOP, and Outback Steakhouse have all hired new agencies, and a new Applebee's campaign launches this Sunday.

The new Applebee's ads feature Wanda Sykes as a sassy-talking apple that bitches at people eating alone at their desks to get their asses over to Applebee's with their friends. Sounds like a great formula for people who love getting told what to do by bossy black women! The Times had a great article last year about the probably offensive caricature of feisty, overweight black women being overused in ads, so maybe Applebee's wanted to recast the feisty black woman as an apple as a new, fresh expression of a tired old stereotype.

And, even better--Lori Senecal, the general manager of the ad agency, says, "We’re going to be the advocate for people 'togetherizing.'" The Times points out that this is "a made-up word".

October 24, 2007

San Diego and New Orleans now have at least one thing in common

Big fancy burned houses

Once the fires stop burning, San Diego and surrounding areas will be left with a lot of charred houses and a lot of displaced people. Reports are talking about 1,500 homes destroyed as of right now. A lot of them were probably very big houses, like this photo of the remains of a multi-million dollar house in Rancho Santa Fe.

Comparisons are already being drawn between this disaster and the hurricanes of 2005. The Times has put together a simple chart comparing the populations of New Orleans and the areas around San Diego that were evacuated, and as you can probably guess, the people in San Diego are a whole lot richer, whiter, and have more cars to evacuate in. The Red Cross estimates that 350,000 homes were destroyed in Katrina and Rita.

But there are some things that these two very different regions of our country share: a take-no-prisoners approach to defending one's home against the perceived threat of looters.

In a article that compiles comments posted by San Diego-area readers, the Times quotes Jason S., whose family members made their way back into their evacuated neighborhood in Poway:

"Last night, my brother snuck past police barricades to check on our family home and watch for looters," he wrote. "Despite the risk, I think everyone is really proud of him for doing this."

After he returned from the home, his brother reported that a neighbor was camped out on another lawn with a shotgun and a sign that read "Looters will be shot."

"Looters will be shot"... where have we seen that before? Oh, hey! It's that guy! From New Orleans!

New Orleans looters beware

He must have moved to Southern California to get away from natural disasters and find a prettier woman.

October 23, 2007

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead


This Friday, what will hopefully be Sidney Lumet's first great movie since Running On Empty (or maybe since The Verdict?) comes out: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

I got excited about this movie when some filming notices were taped to the trees along 45th Street last summer. Here's what this movie has going for it: Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his scary-intense Punch-Drunk Love mode,) Ethan Hawke, Rosemary Harris, Albert Finney, and Marisa Tomei. And now we'll all be excited for Amy Ryan, too, since she's turned out to be one of the most exciting parts of Gone Baby Gone.

Plus it's a heist-gone-wrong movie, plus it's a movie about strife between brothers (which Philip Seymour Hoffman can basically do in his sleep since he did True West on Broadway with John C. Reilly back in 2000,) plus, as the AP review tells us today, the movie begins with a graphic, "unflinching" sex scene between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei. I'm not sure that necessarily counts as a reason to see the movie, but one thing it is certainly going to be is memorable.

Here's the trailer. Last Sunday's Times had a great overview of Lumet's career, and his pragmatic, unsentimental approach to movies.

Please please please let Manohla Dargis review this movie.

October 22, 2007

This week's teeth-gritting Style section

Grammar Bytes

A few articles from yesterday's Times Fashion & Style section that seem to provide some meta-commentary on the world we live in.

First there's a piece on socialite Tinsley Mortimer's husband. His name is Topper, he's an investment advisor and a fan of Caddyshack, and he offered many spectacularly clumsy quotes that I am very grateful to the Times for choosing not to clean up at all:

"It’s worked out well for Tinsley," Mr. Mortimer said. "She’s built a great business for herself, she’s heading in the direction that she’d like to see herself."

But, he continued, "I don’t know that the route to how she got there is what I’d tell my 5-year-old girl to follow if I had one... I just never liked that whole thing with everybody trying to gain status from being involved in these charity events."

As awkward as his criticism is, Topper is clearly unhappy about his wife's pointless fame. Sure, he could have married someone who wasn't such a calculating publicity-hog, but he didn't know he would end up connected to the empty, self-serving elite social scene. He later compares Tinsley unfavorably to LeAnn Rimes, who also attended an event, because at least LeAnn "didn’t make her bones going to charity parties. She did something else." Preach it, Topper!

Next we've got a "What's Next for Lance Bass?" piece about his memoir, Out of Sync (a title I bet celebrity biographers have been dying to use for most of the last decade.) He says "it was very, I don’t know, like, therapeutic" to write the book, but as much as he hopes his former bandmates will read it (especially JT, who he slams for going solo) he's not sure they will. "It’ll take them a while because none of them like to read," he said.

It must have been hard for the Times to publish so many gems in one section, but later they indulge their editorial superiority with "Your Modifier Is Dangling", a tribute to hopeless cause supporters who rage against grammatical abuse. These people have started Facebook clubs like I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar and Grammar Freaks United in which they can vent their outrage at the world.

OK, I hate it when shampoo ads say their product "structurizes" your hair as much as the next girl, but check out this advice from business writing consultant Lynne Agress about what to do when somebody you're talking to makes a grammatical error:

Don’t point out the mistake. Instead, repeat what was just said, but with correct usage this time, and in your own sentence. Then keep talking.

"So if someone tells me that everyone has their issues," she said, "I reply, 'Yes, everyone has his issues, but that doesn’t mean we have to worry about them.'"

Yuck! Gee, I think they might pick up on your totally unsubtle correction, there. I know, "their" is wrong. But many people who have a robust appreciation of grammar use "their" as a replacement for the clunkier "his or her" when speaking, knowing it's incorrect, to avoid using sexist language. The fact is, there is no polite or non-prickish way to correct someone's grammar unless you are a teacher, or unless someone specifically asks you to edit their writing. You're just going to have to bitch to your grammar vigilante Facebook group.

October 18, 2007

"Mad Men" season finale

Mad Men

One of the coolest new TV shows this year is AMC's "Mad Men". It's gorgeous to look at, dark and funny, and offers good if not very subtle commentary on the style-over-substance of the advertising industry and, by extension, American society. It's more than just the surface of the show that's good, but the incredible attention to detail in the design--the suits, hair, makeup, furniture, ashtrays, scotch bottles--really makes it worth watching. A couple months ago, the Times wrote about the style of the show, and points out that each episode cost $2.5 million to make. I guess that's a lot for cable? Anyway, it looks good.

Anyway, tonight is the season finale. AMC says they're running the last episode commercial-free, demonstrating that as much as audiences like watching the image-brokers of the advertising world smoke filterless cigarettes and drink and stab each other in the back, we don't much care for the fruits of their labor. Thanks, AMC (and special non-advertising sponsor of Episode 13, DirecTV™!)

The show has been renewed for another year--2nd season starts next summer. AMC also provides info on where to find old episodes on demand.

[tx esskay]

October 15, 2007

Scarlett "Gigantic Head" Johansson: worst picture ever?

Scarlett on the cover of Elle

On the cover of this month's Elle.

Ack! Porcine nature emerging around nose and mouth! Looks increasingly like Miss Piggy! I'm telling you, she's only headed in one direction, here. Scarlett, you gotta fire your stylist, girl. I don't care what Woody's telling you, you're getting bad advice.

October 12, 2007

Seven beautiful peacemakers stand before me


Al Gore and friends have won the Nobel Peace Prize. It seems that the Norwegian Nobel Committee is trying to be like Tyra Banks in the way it announces the winner. No word yet on whether the eliminated peacemakers cried until their mascara ran.

Only one of you can continue in the running towards becoming...

October 11, 2007

The governor and the strippers

Live Nude Girls Unite

Today we have news that dancers at Scores have filed a suit against the club for skimming from their tips, as well as other violations.

A few things you should know about this case:

1. The outcome of the case likely depends on whether the dancers achieve class action certification. If the class is certified, the company is likely to settle.

2. A key issue will be whether the girls have been misclassified as independent contractors. Governor Eliot has recently noticed that this misclassification is a major problem.

"Businesses can use misclassification to avoid complying with laws governing unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, social security, tax withholding, temporary disability insurance, minimum wage and overtime. "

I'm sure a reputable business like Scores would never do anything like that, though.
The Post reports that at least one dancer is buying the independent contractor argument:

Tamara Friedman, 29, a busty blond with an Eastern European accent, took the company line. "I don't think it's unfair," she said firmly. "We're independent contractors. If a girl doesn't like it, she can go somewhere else."

To counteract this defeatest attitude, I hope the women in the lawsuit have taken the time to watch Live Nude Girls Unite.

October 10, 2007

Watch your back, Six Flags!

Visit NYC

Today Bloomberg's global tourism campaign, This is New York City, launched its new ad [video]. As far as making New York look like a fun, safe, clean, non-snobby place for regular Americans to visit, it's a great ad. I love the Ella Fitzgerald soundtrack (a remix, but still) and the plug for "Avenue Q". And as a friend who watched it commented, on video you can't smell the urine! [NY Times on the launch].

But selfishly, I can't stand the way it makes New York look like an amusement park. All the animated versions of real-life icons (like the Flatiron building turned, mysteriously, into an animated wedge of cake, or the Bobblehead Yankees pitcher) seem to downplay New York as a big (potentially scary) city where real people actually live and go about their daily lives, and turn it into a cartoon.

And the posters that go along with the video (above)? "Just another day" in New York isn't daily life at all--it's Disney World!

I completely understand this campaign. If New York is going to attract 5 million more tourists every year by 2015, which is what Bloomberg wants to do, we're competing with Disney World and Busch Gardens. We have to make the city look appealing in the same way those places are appealing. These ads do a great job of that.

But for those of us who live and work here, it just means millions more tourists who wander around five-across on 7th Avenue at 5:45 PM, randomly stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to fuss with their cameras or say "Do we want Sbarro's or Olive Garden?" to each other. When tourists are successfully sold on New York as a tourist attraction just like Disney World, I think it subtly encourages them to treat sidewalks and subway entrances the same way they would treat the food court area at Six Flags, with little awareness that New York is a real city with regular people in it, not just other tourists.

If I decided to hang out with my friends in a cluster or set up my hot dog cart in the middle of some suburban person's driveway at 8:30 AM, blocking their car when they were trying to go to work, I don't think they'd like it.

OK. It's a good-looking video. And as my friend Trashrock, who lives in Washington, DC, points out, it's a whole lot better than the DC tourism promotion video.

Check this out [video]. It is ridiculous. Senators shaking hands? Laura Bush singing? Trent Lott? Oh my god. Did John McCain direct this thing? Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, I love our Disney video now.

Robert Durst gets back into real estate

Robert Durst, mugshot

Today the Post reports that Robert Durst, ousted real estate mogul, slippery weasel of the criminal justice system and all-around lunatic, is shopping for an apartment on the Upper East Side. He's hired a broker and reportedly is considering a $3 million apartment in the Miraval, which is under construction on E 72nd. The Post makes the fair assumption that Durst is only looking at condos, since he probably wouldn't do so well with co-op boards.

But the main story here is that Robert Durst, probable killer of 3, is a free man: he's finished his probation in Texas (for a gun charge and tampering with evidence, i.e. cutting up his neighbor's body and dumping it in Galveston Bay) and apparently still has a whole lot of money, even after his lengthy murder trial of 2003 that somehow ended with acquittal.

Nothing new to report here, but here's a quick version of his incredible story: Robert Durst, member of a powerful NY real estate family, married 19 year-old Kathleen Durst, who disappeared in 1982. She has never been found, and pretty much everybody thinks he killed her. Especially since his close friend, Susan Berman, was shot in the head in 2000 right before she was scheduled to talk to the police with some information she had about Kathleen's disappearance. That murder is unsolved, too.

Then he admitted to shooting and killing his neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001. Durst was living in Galveston, sometimes identifying as a deaf-mute woman named Dorothy Ciner, and sometimes as himself. He was on the run from the cops after the killing, and was caught in a Wegman's parking lot in Pennsylvania, when he was busted for shoplifting even though he had $500 in his pocket.

From Court TV's excellent bio:

"Surveillance cameras captured him taking a single Band-Aid from a box on the shelf, then going into the rest room and putting the Band-Aid over a shaving cut. Upon leaving the rest room, he wandered over to a refrigerated case and took a $5.49 chicken salad sandwich as well as a newspaper from the rack, hid them in his jacket, and walked out of the store... When Durst was apprehended he was wearing a woman's brown wig and a false blond mustache. Underneath the wig, his head was shaved clean like his eyebrows."

A new book about the case, Without A Trace, comes out early next year. It's by Marion Collins, who has written for the Post, the Daily News, and Star, so it will definitely include all the most lurid and sensational details.

October 5, 2007

Giuliani: a history lesson

Giuliani on his radio show

It is totally understandable for most Americans who live outside the NYC metropolitan area to think of Rudy Giuliani as a strong, no-nonsense leader who takes a tough stance on fighting terror and is experienced in managing complicated governments.

People who lived in NY while he was mayor know the truth: the guy is a belligerent, obnoxious jackass.

The NY Times has compiled a history of memorable moments on Giuliani's weekly radio call-in show, which is like a microcosm of his entire political career. For New Yorkers, it serves as a reminder of why Le Tigre called him "a fucking jerk", and as a wake-up call for everybody else.

A few choice excerpts:

When Joe from Manhattan called in 1998 to complain about the city government giving special parking privileges to a white-shoe law firm, Mayor Giuliani emitted an audible groan into the microphone. "Well, let me give you another view of that rather than the sort of Marxist class concept that you’re introducing," Mr. Giuliani said.

On Aug. 8, 1998, Marvin from Brooklyn complained that the mayor talked too much about the Yankees. (Mr. Giuliani opened summertime programs by examining the Yankees’ prospects and closed with: "Go Yankees!") Marvin got off the line but the mayor was not finished with him.

"Marvin, where’d you go? You go back into your hole, Marvin? Listen, I enjoy sports, Marvin — you think that makes me a bad person? Marvin, get a life."

When Bob from Manhattan asked in 1999 about a report linking a mayoral friend to ethical wrongdoing, Mr. Giuliani butted in.

"Why don’t you seek counseling somewhere, Bob? I think you could use some help. I can see the direction we’re going in — there are people so upset and so disturbed that they use radios for these sick little attacks on people," Mr. Giuliani said. "I hope you take this in the right spirit, Bob. You should go to a hospital. You should see a psychiatrist."

You know, I totally dislike this guy and think he would make a terrible President, but these old anecdotes? They're pretty funny. I read these, and I'm sort of grudgingly amazed at how outspoken and ballsy (and crass and offensive) Giuliani could be, in public, over the airwaves, to his own constituents. It's still a mystery to me how he got elected, twice, but these stories demonstrate one quality that will always appeal to many New Yorkers--the guy has no problem telling people when he thinks they're full of shit.

And now the very qualities that he had no problem sharing with the world pre-9/11 are the same ones that he's successfully (so far) toned down while campaigning in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

But it's only a matter of time before he shows his true colors and tells some elderly, ferret-owning voter that she's sick in the head and needs to get a life.

October 4, 2007

"30 Rock" season premiere

Kenneth Ellen Parcell

Tonight, Kenneth Ellen Parcell welcomes you to a new season of the funniest show on network TV, 30 Rock.

Alessandra Stanley thought the premiere episode of this season was a little weak, but that seems to mostly be Jerry Seinfeld's fault. Why ruin a perfectly good ensemble-cast show with some drip like Jerry Seinfeld? To show how far he's fallen, Stanley actually says, "Mr. Seinfeld is strangely ill at ease playing himself, making his self-impersonation unpersuasive," even though that's pretty much exactly what he did for 9 seasons of "Seinfeld".

But she assures us that soon enough we should get back to the good stuff. Like this bit from comic genius Alec Baldwin, commenting on star of "The Girly Show" Jenna Maroney's weight gain over the summer: "She has to lose 30 pounds or gain 60. Anything in between has no place in television."

America: A nation of enablers

Britney Spears Gimme More

Britney Spears has lost everything. Manager, lawyer, publicist, respect from critics, musicians, and everybody who saw the VMAs. Her kids. Her mind.

But she's still good enough for the American people! If she keeps up with the flamboyant displays of humiliation in public, we'll keep buying her songs. "Gimme More" is now #3 on the Billboard charts, and the #1 download in the country. The actual CD version of the single hasn't even been released yet (import version comes out next week.)

October 3, 2007

The best and worst person to steal from in NYC

Bloomberg is rich!

If you're thinking about who to rob in this town, you'd look for the person who has the most stuff for you to take, right? The gang on ABC's canceled Knights of Prosperity chose Mick Jagger because of his yogurt baths and climate-controlled hat closet.

And earlier this year, two guys from Jersey chose Michael Bloomberg because of his billions and billions of dollars. Much of it in convenient cash form!

However, just like Mick Jagger is difficult to steal from because of all his armed security guards and fingerprint-scanning access pads, Michael Bloomberg makes it tricky due to the many investment advisors, bankers, and police chiefs working for him. A prosecutor in charge of the case said that the thieves probably reasoned, bank-robber style, that they'd "go where the money is"; in this case, they also pretty much went where the entire city's prosecutorial power is.

23 year-old single parent Odalis Bostic forged two checks from Bloomberg's Bank of America account for a total of $420,000, and tried to deposit them into his own accounts at PNC and Sovereign under the name of his bogus company Landerman Development. Both of his banks were suspicious and reported him.

Bostic's bust is probably the only reason that another guy, Charles Nelson, got caught for an earlier theft. He took $10,000 from the Mayor's same account, put it in his own E*Trade account, and spent it mostly on cellphone bills, according to the Times. And this was back in May! He probably assumed he was in the clear until that greedy Bostic blew it for him.

So I guess the lesson here is: if you steal $10,000 or less from some rich person's bank account, they probably won't even notice.

October 1, 2007

Radiohead is their own music industry

Radiohead In Rainbows

The big music news today is that, after a week of mysterious messages on a cryptic website, Radiohead has announced that their new album, In Rainbows, will be available October 10.

But here's the interesting stuff: they're not signed to a record label anymore, so they're releasing it themselves. And they're releasing it as an mp3 download (DRM-free, thank you very much!) Later this year, you'll also be able to buy an $80+ package that includes an album CD, a whole CD of extra tracks, the album on vinyl, the download of the album, and a lot of cool-looking artwork that you will probably love if you're a really serious fan.

But if you just want the album, you can purchase the download from their website... for whatever price you want. You can pre-order it now.

Few other bands could pull this off. Radiohead has enough fans that they don't need a label to promote them, and letting people name their own price for mp3's will probably only make the world love them more. And by letting listeners have a high-quality, DRM-free copy of the album for basically making a donation, they've done one of the only things a band can do to seriously dissuade people from leaking and downloading illegal copies of the album. The die-hards will shell out for the fancy CD/vinyl/mp3 package, and a whole lot of other people will give a few bucks (or whatever) directly to the band. Pretty easy to feel good about that, isn't it?

If you'd rather have the CD, you can wait until early next year and buy it, presumably for regular price.

It's another blow for the music industry. And what are they going to do about it, not include Radiohead's newest album on the charts? Who cares? Radiohead should go on tour with Prince and throw bricks through Capitol Records' windows.

It would be an interesting study of the economics of fandom to see the range of prices people choose to pay for the album. If no one will ever find out what a cheap bastard you are, would you just pay 10 cents? If you love Radiohead and support their campaign to further dismantle the record industry, but don't have to pay full iTunes-scale price for the download, would you still pay $10 for it? [Note: there is a transaction fee for downloading the album of 45p, about $1.]

OK, time to participate in some rockonomics market research!

How much did you pay for the Radiohead album?

Answer in the comments. Be honest!

About October 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in October 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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