Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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No way, eh!

I’m too busy to think this week, let alone blog, but I was inspired by my colleague Richard Parent’s wonderful “Holy Crap!” posting earlier this week to pull together some of the things I’ve been meaning to blog on for the last week or so. Channelling the spirit of the great Bob and Doug McKenzie, I thought I would provide a Canadianized version of my colleague’s exclamation that I occasionally hear him shouting from his office from time to time. 😉

Bob and Doug McKenzie

No way, eh! The Weakerthans‘ new album Reunion Tour came out last week and NPR has an interview with the band’s John K. Samson. There’s also a good feature on the band at the Arts site. Great to see them getting some well-deserved acclaim for this album. Make sure to listen to his interview with Grant Lawrence on CBC Radio 3, too. If you’ve not heard The Weakerthans before, you can listen to some of their songs here.

Check out their “webisode” on curling that The Weakerthans have posted on YouTube.

No way, eh! Maybe it’s not so bad that I’m more a Jack of All Trades than a master of one or two…

No way, eh! This news made my week! Radiohead is releasing their new album In Rainbows next week. I heard a lot of the new material last year at their amazing concert in Montreal and have been waiting for this day ever since.

In a completely game-changing move, fans will be ordering it directly off their website and paying whatever they see fit. Issa (formerly known as Jane Siberry) has been using this self-determined pricing model for years now, but we’ve yet to see a band as big as Radiohead (is there a more important band in the world these days?) give this a try. What you can see from Issa’s store at is that the majority of people who pay do so at the suggested rate or above.

Check out these stats from the Sheeba website:

Avg Price/Song $1.18

% Paid Below Suggested 6%

% Paid At Suggested 80%

% Paid Above Suggested 14%

If Radiohead comes anything close to this, and I expect they will, this might really change the face of how music is bought and sold.

As usual, Bob Lefsetz has some interesting things to say about this on his blog, and I think he really nails it here:

It makes no difference that you don’t like Radiohead. Makes no difference that they get no radio play. They’ve got their own cottage industry. Which they’re managing brilliantly. Rather than burn out the field, they’re not taking every opportunity, they’re letting certain aspects lay fallow. Who are endorsements going to reach? Oh, you get a check, but the newbies aren’t for keeping, and the core is thrown off. You’re THEIR band, not Madison Avenue’s, not Cadillac’s.

And there’s enough money in the core. Maybe not enough to get on the Forbes list, but what does that list represent, is that where you really want to be? Is our culture really winner take all? Is it really all about the money? Tell that to the Radiohead fan. He just wants to revel in the band’s music. That’s as good as sex to him. Maybe better if he’s not getting any.

Think about that. Radiohead has created something its fanbase can’t live without. And that’s the music. It’s a return to basics. We’re back where we once belonged.

No way, eh! A shout out to my pal and former bandmate Brad Clarke for tipping me off on an up-and-coming band from Edmonton, the perfectly named The Wheat Pool. I’ll buy their CD for that name alone, though it doesn’t hurt that they have songs about Whyte Avenue and Emily Carr either.

No way, eh! The Edmonton Oilers‘ first game of the season is tonight and the team is looking great. The only trouble is that it’s nearly impossible to catch the Oilers on television here, aside from when they appear on Hockey Night in Canada.

No way, eh! If only our governments would be as quick to realize that Nourishing the mind and the soul are as important as food and clothing. Over the next two years, the Chilean government will be donating care packages of 49 books to over 500 000 needy families. A three-person jury worked to select these titles and announced the results of their deliberations this week. It’s a pretty phenomenal list, and reading it reminded me of a great Harpers article I used to have my Composition students read back when I taught at Mount Royal College in Calgary. It’s by Earl Shorris and it’s called “On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As a Weapon in the Hand of the Restless Poor.” It’s companion piece in that issue, Mark Edmundson’s “On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students” is also well worth reading, and it perhaps even more relevant now than it was ten years ago.

The Chilean jury’s reading list is fascinating, and it includes Gabriel García Márquez, Jack London, Pablo Neruda, Aesop’s fables, Daniel Defoe, Franz Kafka, and Oscar Wilde. If your French and Spanish are up to speed you can read these articles for the full story.

No way, eh! A few more interviews with William Gibson in the Canadian press over the last couple of days about his new book Spook Country. Dying to read that book…

No way, eh! The Arctic ice is melting far faster than anyone could have imagined. Something tells me that this scary news should have been listed above all of these other stories.

1 comment

1 cosmicray { 10.03.07 at 8:12 pm }

Too busy, eh?
Your posting about the Chilean book program and the two Harpers articles reminds me of an article in Esquire or GQ about 20 years ago – The 100 Books that Make a College Education. Or maybe it was 101, or maybe a Liberal Education. With a little help from a babel fish call google, I can probably manage the French and Spanish.