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by Jason Gross

13 May 2009

After rumors were flying yesterday, Paste Magazine finally made it officially- they’re in trouble and need help.  They’re a fine music publication and they do deserve your support- their coverage of rock/roots/films is something we need more of.  And you can say all you want about print being a dead medium but supporting them means that they may be able to continue in some form.

So what can you do?  Well, the first thing is that you can do is to subscribe to Paste.  Not only does your subscription money support them but it also helps them attract advertisers with an increased subscriber base- ad dough is life blood to mags. 

The other thing you can do is to donate to Paste.  Here’s what they offer:

Join 75+ of our favorite artists in the campaign to save Paste and get rare & exclusive tracks as a thank you.

Artists include The Decemberists, Neko Case, She & Him, Cowboy Junkies, Of Montreal, Indigo Girls, Jayhawks, String Cheese Incident, G. Love, Josh Rouse, The Hives, Matthew Sweet, The Avett Brothers, Joe Henry, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Over the Rhine, Bob Mould, Arrested Development, Brandi Carlile, John Doe, Josh Ritter, Marc Broussard and more. We also have a number of goodies (such as signed R.E.M. and Band of Horses posters, an ocean-view cabin on next year’s Cayamo cruise, and more) to give to donors in random drawings.

So please help ‘em out.  You’ll be glad that you did and you’ll be supporting a good cause.  You’ll also keep getting good coverage of music and movies and make sure that other people do too.

ADDENDA: Blurt Magazine has an good, detailed article about the situation at Paste now

by Rob Horning

13 May 2009

This post from Mike at Rortybomb is the most lucid explanation of what banks got out of making loans to people who obviously had no chance of keeping up with their payments. As long as prices were rising, it worked out better for the banks if borrowers were subprime, fell behind on their payments, and had to refinance, paying fees and prepayment penalties to the banks.

Let’s assume that the bank thinks house prices will rise. If house prices rises 10% during that 2-year time period, the homeowner now has ~12% equity in the home, ~3.5% (4%, adjust for the new house cost) of which is transfered to the bank in form of the prepayment penalty. In addition to a high interest rate, they get a jackpot 4% every time this crap loan is recycled.
So this loan has value for the bank if housing rises, and lower value if housing decreases. Because of the quick recycling of these loans, where they refinance every two years, it is direct exposure. Instead of providing consumers with loans so they can buy homes, they are instead taking bets on house prices, using consumers as people who sit in and look after the homes they are betting on. The purpose is less to get consumers to build good equity but rather find ways to transfer equity from the home to the bank itself.


As Mike explains, the upshot of this is that banks were actually looking for bad borrowers—they weren’t forced by the Community Reinvestment Act. And the idea that the banks were performing some kind of civic service by expanding the pool of homeowners is now exposed to be the bogus alibi that it always was.

Banks are generally in the brokering business, matching investment funds to worthy investments and managing the risk associated with that to earn their keep. They aren’t supposed to be in the business of making bets themselves—their advantageous position when it comes to accessing capital comes at the cost of not putting themselves in risk’s way themselves. The sort of thing that Mike describes in the post exemplifies how banks inflated the housing bubble and expanded the percentage of the profits that went to the financial industry. We have yet to see any regulatory changes that would put a stop to it. Mike recommends reinstating the ban on prepayment penalties—that seems a good place to start.

by Sarah Zupko

13 May 2009

Back in 1972, the London Symphony Orchestra recorded a live version of the Who’s Tommy over two nights at London’s Rainbow Theatre. Many special guests appeared, including most naturally Who lead singer Roger Daltrey. This version of Tommy is being reissued on 26 May by Ode Records and here’s a sample.

Roger Daltrey with the London Symphony Orchestra
“I’m Free” [MP3]
     

by PopMatters Staff

13 May 2009

Wilco’s new album drops June 30th on Nonesuch with the understated title Wilco (The Album). The band is streaming the record over on their web site.

Wilco
Wilco (The Album) [Stream]

by Mike Deane

13 May 2009

When Cam’ron released “I Hate My Job” a number of months ago, I was very impressed, but as single after single from his latest album, Crime Pays, leaked (of course they weren’t real leaks), I held less and less hope for the the album. And then, yesterday, it came out, and it was about as strong as I could have hoped for, but with some real stand outs.

There was a lot of build-up for this album, but as it turns out, Cam’ron was just hyping the album with weird lies. It’s like when he claimed that “Killa Season” the movie was going to be a musical, it was most certainly not (I think there was one performed song in the movie). Cam’ron came out with some big talk - that none of the songs that had leaked (“Bottom of the Pussy Hole”, “I Hate My Job”) would be on the album (they are); that there would be no guest spots (there are); that he was going to release a video every week until the album came out (he didn’t). And so, what we get is another sort of good Cam’ron album.

It’s certainly better than Killa Season, as he’s gone away from the darker beats and has returned to some of his old playfulness, but it’s not what it could’ve been. I write this, but for me, Cam’ron is still the most exciting character/lyricist (I am not a lyrics purist or aficionado) in hip hop, but like a number of fans, I want Cam to return to his Purple Haze days.

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