Friday, November 20, 2009

The Next Big Thing



The Next Big Thing
20 November 2009
Missoula, Montana

This is a response to Lori Harfenist’s The Resident video, “The Next Big Thing”.
 




I was trying to think of something witty to say as to it being something unpopular or obscure, but for a moment I was interrupted about the reality of what it could be.  Then it was plain and simple what it is.  It's you Lori!  It's the millions of people that upload a piece of themselves to the internet each day.  Whether it's someone singing like "Miranda Sings" or Charlie biting his brother's finger or just some really good free runners, it's us.

With reality TV becoming the big slice of popular viewing, American Idol indulged our vocal and visual interests.  A lot of the TV shows that are really popular right now don’t have too many stories lines outside the realm of what many people’s daily lives might encounter. 

We are the next big thing.  Everyday individuals.  Yeah, some of these individuals are going on to be big, but most people don't latch on to them like we use to and starts looking toward the direction of the next hopefully that just might be a friend, neighbor, classmate or coworker of ours.

Look how many podcasts there are of individuals or a few people sharing something of interest or a passion of theirs for little to no pay at all to the world.  I don't have to say anything about YouTube!  The internet has connected the world.  People are less interested in the nicely boxed products big industry puts out.  People are searching out people just like them.  Some of the most viral videos on YouTube are of "just some person" doing their thing.  Take "Evolution of the Dance".  It makes us feel closer to our fellow humans and gives us a better feeling about what we can do as an individual. 

Also, look where the politics in the U.S. is trying to head.  It's trying to head down to a "grassroots" level—now some of these roots aren’t getting along well at all, but that’s beside the point.  This is kind of why I have a hard time getting why some think Socialism is bad and evil.  It's about looking out for the good of its people, as a whole.  It's not Nazis or Communists (even though Communists are a part of Communism, which is not Socialism--something else that makes me go cross-eyed). 

Anyways, we are headed in a direction of the individual again.  People are getting sick of corporations putting out crap, destroying competition (namely the little guys--US!), making insane amounts of money and not caring about who or what they hurt because of it.

We're starting to think about what we are doing to the environments around us and how we can better coexist. 

We are finally looking for ourselves.  Yeah, some of us will always be too lazy or greedy for that, but as long as a majority keeps looking around us and not over or beyond us, we'll all be better off...that isn't until it's not cool anymore or until an asteroid or climate destabilization wipes us out : )

Thanks for making me think about this Lori!

--Adam

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Failing of an Orchestra

The Failing of an Orchestra
15 November 2009
Missoula, Montana

In response to the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra filing for bankruptcy and canceling its season.


It would be interesting to know how much of their former budget was spent on conductors and executive staff.

Here in Missoula, Montana, our "professional" orchestra is commonly referred to as a community orchestra by players. This is mostly because they pay $10 per service unless you're a principal player (which would be $15). This is laughable from my experience living in all other parts of the country. Well, Missoula's population isn't that much, about 70,000, with a major university here. The state of Montana doesn't even have a million people. The biggest budget orchestra in Billings pays around $40 per service. OK, it makes sense, right? Not when the music director makes about $60,000 a year. And I'm lead to believe the executive director makes about the same. That's for a 5 to 6 concert season. Utter nonsense.

Now I'll be the first to admit the MD is a great and knowledgeable conductor and I've really enjoyed playing for him, but this isn't a reasonable ratio of pay. The Lyric Opera of Montana here pays a little more; $30 per service for core players. I understand good leadership and direction is very important, but if you can't attract good players and give them good reason to feel they need to practice to earn their pay, you've got a situation on your hands.

Years ago when I first learned that MDs in major orchestra pulled in seven figures a year in most cases, I couldn't believe it. My first reaction was, and still remains, you do know without the players, there is no music. It's one thing if it was a profitable venture, but these are non-profits that survive on donations and government aid (which can't be counted on in this country). To pay a 2nd bassoon or a section string player $100,000 and a MD $1,000,000 (for just a hand full of concerts with guest conductors taking the rest of the season) is bit off the scale of reason. It's not as if they are running the organization like the president or executive director. Now if they were doing both jobs, there would be more justification.

I think these orchestras are doing it to themselves in many cases. Yeah, our culture generally doesn't care for orchestral music on the whole. You've got to adjust for your environment. Although, most people aren't aware how much they actually do listen to an orchestra due to all the films they watch or when they are watching a Seth MacFarlane animated series (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show).

Orchestras can't spend money like their product is as popular as an iPhone or is a major sports team. Overvaluing the higher-ups will limit or destroy any organization at some point.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thinking...


Thinking
13 November 2009
Missoula, Montana



 







Take a good listen to this.  For those of you that call yourself a Christian (good or not) or religious in any way, and appose socialized medicine, for instance, or anything that isn't for the social good, I have to question your religion, adherence to it and your moral self.   

I have no problem giving 50% of what I make if it's for the greater good of our society.  My only request is that my money is spent well.  I’m sure that’s what most people want for what they have to pay in taxes.  That's where voting often and paying attention to what those that we vote into representation are doing.  Many of those more heavily socialized countries that pay more in taxes than use--which is everyone but South Korea--get a lot more for what they pay than us.  

Those that are Christian know about tithing.  That’s 10% of what you had since most people didn’t have much money back then—barter and trade.  That’s socialism folks.  Doing your part to take care of the greater good, whether it’s the church and it’s community or a nation.  

Remember when the bible was written.  Now think of the type of civilization that existed in Iraq then—in Rome—in Greece—in Egypt.  You depended on others for survival.  That was the entire point of creating a civilization!  It’s a social obligation.  SOCIAL.  It’s not a bad word.  We’d still be hunters and gathers if we didn’t socialize.  Yes, some can do it on their own, but if you aren’t, well, you best think about how you get all the things that make you happy and give you such a good life.             

Our problem is the Capitalist side of our socialized nation.  When factoring in inflation, people of the U.S. generally made more in the 70s than today.  That's because healthcare is such a large portion of our expenditure by employers, and ultimately eating up more of what we spend after we get paid.  In the not too distant future (about NINE years!), we're looking at spending about 50% of our income on healthcare if something doesn't change  (this was reported on NPR by "This American Life" - http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=391).  We spend more than 50% more on healthcare than ANY country in the world and it sure isn't buying us any better health.  We rank 45th in infant mortality in the world--behind Cuba--and 50th in the world at life expectancy--behind Bosnia (these stats are pretty much from This American Life--which is well trusted with their research).  What happened to people in the health field wanting to take care of people as why they wanted to become doctors, surgeons, ect?  Looks like some are taking care of their second and third homes and their social status more than their patients.  

Take for instance something I read in the University of Montana’s student paper today.  Montana State University just hired a new President.  That person’s salary will be quite a bit higher than the previous President and more than UM’s President.  The board of regents is talking about raising our current President’s salary from $205,000 a year to $285,000 a year to make up for it, even though there was a freeze last year on professor salaries.  Justification is that even with the increase, it’s still below average for the position at most comparable universities.  To me, a good leader of anything would say, until the enterprise/group as a whole is taken care of, I am last on the list.  I’ve lived a pretty decent life on $15,000 a year.  I can’t see any skill worth that much over something livable for one person.  That doesn’t mean it’s not earned, but more of it is that needed.        

Too many people want to be millionaires rather than being able to provide for their family and live a decent life.  Comfortable has really lost a rational meaning.  We're not just a throw away nation, but a nation of stuff.  You don't need a two story, 3,000 square feet house for two people or four people.  I've never seen some many people that have a decent-sized house with a one or two car garage and can't keep their car(s) in there for the JUNK!  There are people that still live in mud huts on this planet!  I'm not saying we should give money to improve their lives, because you know what I think--we'd just make their lives worse.  The people I met in Africa seem a WHOLE lot more happy than your average American…

It’s not about redistributing wealth, even though that’s what some think is the way to go.  It’s about giving people basic services over anything—like healthcare and education.  Don’t give people money—give them something real.  Welfare should be food, then shelter, then healthcare and finally education.  Nothing more, noting less.  Giving people money sometimes is along the lines of giving a street beggar money—which will spend it on alcohol or drugs or something long those lines most likely.  

People are right not to trust politicians.  We’ve sent lawyers and rich business people on the average to Washington to represent us.   We need to take a stand and not just go with the flow.  We need to send people like us that know what it’s like to make minimum wage and work a job that doesn’t bring in six or more figures a year.  Now that doesn’t mean we send unintelligent, uneducated McDonalds employees (not to imply all are—Jay Leno worked at McDonalds when he was young).  We just need to send more people that are in touch with the entire country; the entire world.   

The big hurtle is our differences.  We all believe different things.  Some believe in a god in the sky has is all planned out.  Some believe in equal rights for all.  Some believe in the right to do what they wish.  Some live in a fantasy world.  We have to find common ground!  And I know for a fact there is some no matter where you go on this planet.  I’ve been to four continents and have talked with people of all six with indigenous peoples.  WE just have to think more.  We can’t ignore certain topics because they are uncomfortable for us and because they are hard.  We can’t allow a TV show or a sport or anything so trivial to dominate out time, our thoughts and our lives.

Whether you believe in evolution or not, we have changed in the last 10,000 years of recorded time.  It all comes down to choices.  I’m not say we all have to make the right ones all the time—I know I sure haven’t—we just need to be aware of what motivates us to make these choices.  I have to make the choice every day walking across campus to my next class to not jump and rape one of the many beautiful woman I pass—I really like beautiful women!  It’s not always the easiest of choices, but I choice to restrain myself for the good of everyone.  Not all that long ago that kind of situation didn’t have only one acceptable outcome.  

All this rambling I’ve done really comes down to one thing—thinking.  Do it for yourself.  Do it OFTEN.  And do it critically!  We can’t have a large portion of a population doing a vast amount of their thinking about the offense or defense of a sports team or about whether they should consider stainless steel appliances or not.  
 
Just think about it...on your own...without resorting to what you've heard on TV...or what you were told growing up...without thinking about that new 56 inch flat panel TV you want or a new car that costs what a decent house cost 20 years ago...just think about it without greed for yourself…

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