Friday, July 1, 2011

I love NPR, so Shut Up Already: The Babuska Edition

On today's edition of "why I love NPR," three of the most informative and stimulating stories of the week on planet Earth.  They should change their motto to "When the Story Matters...NPR."  First...a nice breakdown of how much it costs to make a good solid stab at a pop hit.
In any case, to return to our approximate tally: After $78,000 to make the song, and another $1 million to roll it out, Rihanna's "Man Down" gets added to radio playlists across the country, gets a banner ad on iTunes ... and may still not be a hit.
So here's the real craziness--all of this and it still doesn't guarantee ooogobs of money for the musician or record company, and certainly not the songwriter.  This model is unsustainable in the world of YouTube and D.I.Y.  Why o why do we not insist on musicians who can perform and write lyrics?  People know when they are in a manufactured home and they know when they hear a manufactured "hit."  Pitiful and woefully expensive.

Next up, a man I desperately want to have dinner with.  I shall call him GrillMaster with affection, but his name is Steven Raichlen, author of the Barbecue! Bible.  Take a listen to the savory detail, the respect for mustard-based traditions, the importance of controlling the heat.  In honor of Independence Day, enjoy this tutorial on the Great American Hamburger...

Finally, the 1# story of the week is about old women and how they came to redefine themselves.  Check out this story of Russian Women who have managed to carve a path in music and friendship after being widowed.
"We can't lose heart, or get depressed," Koneva said, before bursting into a song she knows from church about life moving on.
"Life goes on; it's impossible to stop," Koneva said. "That's what we sing."
Galina Koneva, 72
That they didn't win at Eurovision is not terribly surprising, but that they made it on the strength of their Spirit is another thing altogether.   I don't care if it is hip to be a babushka, but I do care that women who society has mostly decided are not worth paying attention to, have demanded attention, expression and independence.

If this doesn't make you a bit lighter, then you are a lost cause.  You must enjoy misery to resist the joy.  So thanks NPR, for once again making my world both larger and smaller at the same time.  Send those pledges!!!

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