Hostile Gospel Part 1 (Deliver Us) [Video]
One Pure Thought (Streetlab Mix) [MP3]
Rocky Took a Lover [MP3]
Love Your Spaceman [MP3]
New Direction [MP3]
The Beaches Are All Closed [MP3]
Once upon a time, I wouldn’t venture into a Cracker Barrel because I just assumed it was for NASCAR fans and Yankee Candle lovers only, but my shameful weakness for sausage gravy has forced me to reconsider in recent years. But even when you take into account the way the novelty gift store subsidizes the food and makes it absurdly cheap, it’s hard to understand its popularity—it seems always to be crowded, no matter how remote the highway exit it’s situated by or how confusing its tractor-trailer-accommodating parking lots are to navigate. It seemed a reminder of the reality of so-called red-state America, of just who it was that voted for George W. Bush when I couldn’t think of a people in my (extremely limited) acquaintance who had done so. Eating there seems unpleasantly like an expression of a political preference, an endorsement of the commercial exploitation of a folksy corniness (much like G.W. Bush’s) that serves to mask an underlying xenophobia for everyone involved. There’s a fireplace and a checkerboard with rocking chairs in front, and a little wood-block puzzle on every table and nary an immigrant in sight. No, this is “real” America, with the dopey Christian tchotchkes on sale to prove it.
So I can’t really say I was shocked to discover, from this FT article today about upcoming Supreme Court discrimination cases, that a black ex-employee has filed a suit against Cracker Barrel (apparently aptly named), alleging he was fired when he complained about racial discrimination on the job. You would never ever expect, of course, that a company that rose to prominence on the Interstate-exit-restaurant scene by promoting itself as anti-urban through a variety of old-timey tropes meant to stir nostalgia for an era when “country” and “down-home” values reigned, would be suspected of racial discrimination. It’s not like its whole marketing approach seeks to evoke an America in which minorities don’t exist or anything.
Sad news to report and you might as well hear it straight from the horse’s (or editor’s) mouth below… I’m floored by this not just because ND was/is such an important publication but also because it was such a quality publication, and I’d still say that if I didn’t occasionally contribute there. It will be sorely missed. From the reasons that the editors state for closing (higher postal rates, less print ads), it makes me wonder if a stronger online presence would have saved them.
by Edward Wasserman
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
Beneath the somber tales of shrinking revenues and staff cuts is an even more somber reality about the news business: The nearly 2-century-old marriage between consumer advertising and journalism is on the rocks.
In the United States the union dates from the advent of the penny press in the 1830s, when newspaper owners realized that by slashing what they charged readers they could send their circulations soaring and get rich off advertising sales. News found a durable source of funding, and manufacturers hitched a ride into the homes of the burgeoning masses of American consumers.
That era is now ending, not because the public no longer needs news or because people mistrust news any more than they always have - but because new technologies are churning out better ways to reach customers who are shopping for cars, jobs or homes.
The result is a calamity for the news business. Newspapers get the greatest attention, but all news media are being shaken hard, and the luxuriant growth of online news initiatives shouldn’t be mistaken for a rebirth: Most of those sites are still burning through their start-up money and haven’t figured out how to sustain themselves except by praying to advertisers who, it seems plain, will never be back with anything like the money they once lavished on news.
Funny, ain’t it? Just peep Howie Klein’s article reprinted at Alternet about bassist/candidate Mickey Huckabee’s appropriation of a Boston song, much to the dismay of the band’s leader/songwriter.