10-4, Good buddy

This used to be the hottest technology:

Now you can get it for $4 at the thrift store. ($3 if you are age 50 or older on “Senior Sundays”… no, I didn’t buy it.)

As you gird your loins (i.e. change from your sleep PJs to your work-from-home PJs) for some CyberMonday shopping, keep this ol’ CB radio in mind. And read this New York Times opinion piece from Yvon Chouinard, the guy who founded the Patagonia brand, before you click “buy now.”

Cheap products, made poorly and thrown away quickly, are killing people and the planet.

from the article linked above

Obsession with the latest tech gadgets drives open pit mining for precious minerals. Demand for rubber continues to decimate rainforests. Turning these and other raw materials into final products releases one-fifth of all carbon emissions.

From the article linked above

Cheap stuff will wind up in landfills. The latest technology will get relegated to the thrift store faster than you can say “new iPhone.”

“Breaker one-nine, you got your ears on? If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Over.”

“That’s a big 10-4, good buddy!”

John McEnroe is Still a Crybaby

I like listening to the Smartless podcast, and understand that a lot of the commentary among co-hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett and their guest is just for laughs. But John McEnroe went too far when he started whining (a longtime specialty of his) about Pickleball. And Will Arnett just piled on. Here’s the clip (warning: contains salty language):

Yes, whiffle ball is not the same as baseball. And pickleball is not the same as tennis. And that’s partly the point. I used to love playing tennis… that was before my arthritic knees and feet betrayed me. Tennis turned into a game of “fetch.” And if you’re spending more time walking over to pick up a ball than you are hitting the ball, it’s really frustrating. Pickleball changed the equation. Yes, it’s a more compact area. And yes, it’s a plastic ball. But there’s still plenty of movement, plenty of strategy and it’s a ton of fun.

I AM serious, Johnny Mac. There’s no need to get your all-white shorts in a wad over “some college player who didn’t make it in tennis,” because:

  1. That guy is making six figures playing a sport he loves, and definitely having fun doing so.
  2. I’d rather watch him play pickleball than watch you play it.
  3. It’s not really about Ben Johns, it’s about the millions of Bens, Johns, and Joans who are getting exercise, making friends, and having fun instead of sitting on their butts.

And I found it funny (but not the way he intended it) that Will Arnett was calling out pickleball for being “trash” and an activity that requires very little movement when, in almost every episode of Smartless, he talks about playing golf. If you want to start the “lazy person’s activity” argument, let’s start there, Willie. Because pickleball is legit.

In a 2016 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 12 middle-aged players burned 40% more calories during a 30-minute pickleball game than during 30 minutes of walking, increasing their heart rates to within the moderate-intensity exercise zone. A small six-week study of 15 people ages 40 to 85 who played an hour of pickleball three days a week showed improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Plus, regular practice can help improve balance, which is important in preventing falls as you age. Because pickleball requires both hand-eye and foot coordination, says Casper, “your balance, your movement, and your coordination all get better as you play more.”

From this Time magazine article.

I know Arnett will come around though, probably when he’s a bit older. And let’s hope he has the whiffle balls to admit this:

The Fame Game

Folks who create comic strips for a living are funny.

But they can be deep thinkers too! And Dan Piraro, the man behind the Bizarro single-panel comic, an example of which is featured above, just published a very profound blog post about the “trap” of fame.

Matthew Perry’s passing prompted the piece, but Dan’s thoughts could — and do — apply to anyone with a modicum of fame.

To achieve lasting self-esteem and a feeling of belonging in the world, we need a more intimate connection with others than fan worship can provide.

The post is well worth reading. Even if you’re not “famous” by the usual standards, this thought rings true:

I began to realize the most valuable things in life are not wealth and fame but relationships and community. I started paying more attention to the 3-dimensional people in my life than the number of followers on my social media accounts and have found it a much more satisfying use of my energy.

Nailed it! Who needs the A-list when we’ve got 3-D friends?

See you in the funny papers!

Songs and Substance (and Silliness)

If you’re old enough to remember the 1990s, and if you’re even slightly into music, and you appreciate great writing, you really owe it to yourself to check out the 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s podcast.

Rob Harvilla, a senior staff writer for The Ringer, spends each episode breaking down a song from the ’90s. Actually, he spends about half of each episode on a series of digressions, often about his time growing up in northern Ohio in the 90s, before finally getting to the featured song. And the digressions are great – brilliantly written, completely engaging, and typically hilarious… and the humor is usually self-deprecating.

Writing about this podcast doesn’t do it justice… especially when it’s my writing. Just listen to the first three minutes of one of the episodes — pick any one, they’re all great — and you’ll be hooked.

Here’s the opening of the episode that covers Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”:

The series (which is well over 100 episodes/songs now… Rob himself calls it “the world’s most inaccurately named music podcast”) covers all sorts of tunes from the ’90s – from pop to country to R&B to hip-hop to indie rock. Some songs were monster hits… some have been mostly lost to the mists of our memory. It doesn’t really matter, as they all offer Rob a chance to wax eloquently about music and life (not necessarily in that order).

(Apparently this podcast is the #1 music podcast on Spotify, so I’m probably about three years late in touting it… sorry, I was busy.)

Rob Harvilla just released a book to accompany the podcast.

This book description does the podcast justice:

Ringer music critic Rob Harvilla reimagines all the earwormy, iconic hits Gen Xers pine for with vivid historical storytelling, sharp critical analysis, rampant loopiness, and wryly personal ruminations on the most bizarre, joyous, and inescapable songs from a decade we both regret entirely and miss desperately.

From the Hatchette Books description of Rob’s book

Listen to the podcast now and thank me later!

Nothing Compares 2 Sinéad

This is the story of a Prince, a Pope and a young woman.

Sinéad O’Connor was 23 when her second album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got rocketed up the charts, mostly based on the strength of her cover of Prince’s song “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

She didn’t just cover Prince’s song… she made it her own.

Sinéad was just 25 when she appeared on Saturday Night Live and performed Bob Marley’s “War.” She didn’t just cover Marley’s tune, she made it her own… by changing the lyrics to reference child abuse. Oh, and as we all know, she did so while tearing up a photo of the Pope.

For doing so, she was “cancelled” before cancel culture was even a thing.

In a post-Spotlight world, when we know much more about the child abuse being committed by members of the clergy, and about the coverups by the higher-ups, I hope people can better understand the motives of Ms. O’Connor. She wasn’t just protesting clergy abuse either, but child abuse in general. It was something she had firsthand experience with.

The photo itself had hung on the bedroom wall of O’Connor’s mother, who O’Connor later said had physically and sexually abused her as a child.

Source: this New York Times article

At 14, Sinéad was sent to live at one of the infamous Magdelene Laundries in Ireland.

“We were girls in there, not women, just children really. And the girls in there cried every day. It was a prison. We didn’t see our families, we were locked in, cut off from life, deprived of a normal childhood. We were told we were there because we were bad people. Some of the girls had been raped at home and not believed.”

Sinead O’Conner in this Irish Times article

Nine years after she tore up his photo, Pope John Paul II sent an email apology to the victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and other clergy in Australia and the surrounding region, acknowledging the scandal for the first time in his papacy.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said in an 18-page letter that he was “truly sorry” for the abuse suffered by victims at the hands of Catholic priests in Ireland, O’Connor’s home country.

Source: CNN article

Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, we can see Sinéad’s protest as a clarion call… and we can see Sinéad as more prophet than pariah.

In a tribute to O’Connor following her death, Irish comedian and actress Aisling Bea wrote on Instagram that “everything she stood up for and against then, including racism in the music industry, has been proved to have been needed and right…She was the original truth sayer who wouldn’t go easy into the night.”

Source: CNN article

“Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame.”

Sinéad O’ Connor

Meet the Press – Cincinnati Style

A tiny radio station that went off the air nearly 20 years ago, and shut down online in 2010, is “having a moment” as they say. It’s garnering all sorts of “ink” (as they used to call publicity) for rounding up more than 30 DJs who worked at the station to present a 40th anniversary of the signature “Modern Rock 500” countdown of the top modern rock/indie/alternative songs from their massive library o’ tunes. And author Robin James just released a new book (The Future of Rock & Roll: 97X and the Fight for True Independence) that chronicles the history of the station and why its independent spirit still matters today.

The press parade started back in March, when the press release for the Modern Rock 500 came out.

Full story here.

Steven Rosen (who wrote the definitive article about 97X back in 1985 for the Cincinnati Enquirer) came full circle when he highlighted Robin’s new book in CityBeat in April.

Full interview is here.

On May 8th, Robin James, my podcasting pal Dave Tellmann and I appeared on the local NPR affiliate’s “Cincinnati Edition” program to talk about the book, the station, and the revived Modern Rock 500.

Listen here.

On May 11th, Robin did a book event at The Mercantile Library – co-hosted by Dave and yours truly. That gig was sold out… and an absolute blast!

Robin James was interviewed by Jason Cohen in the June issue of Cincinnati Magazine. (Editor John Fox is a longtime friend of the station – he used to appear on the air when he was editor of Everybody’s News and later Cincinnati CityBeat.)

The longer interview is here.

And in this past Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer, Jeff Seuss did a nice feature on the station and the Modern Rock 500 countdown:

Here’s a lengthy article in the Journal News by Don Thrasher:

We even made The Daily Yonder! Liz Carey talked about what the station meant to her and like-minded listeners:

Full article is here.

And Mike Taylor, who orchestrated the radio revival, did a Q&A in the trade publication/website All Access:

Full Q & A is here.

The press coverage is nice… but honestly, this means more to us than anything else:

We’ve been able to reconnect with a small-but-mighty community through music. And that’s more precious than all the “ink” (or gold) in the world.

“From WOXY I learned it is important to support your local scene. If you care about independence, being creative and really having the ability for both yourself and for other people to innovate and do things that are new and different, then you would care about the story and example of WOXY.”

Robin James in the Journal News article by Don Thrasher linked above

If you’d like to tune in for yourself and find out what all the fuss is about, you can do so today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (the Dolly Parton shift) on Inhailer Radio, and then again over the Memorial Day Weekend at that same spot on your internet radio dial!

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