Saturday, February 19, 2011

BORDERS SONG - Sung by Aretha, Writ by Elton

"Holy Moses, I have been removed…"
In filing for bankruptcy, the Borders book chain will be removing 6,000 jobs, and shutting down 200 stores.

"Holy Moses, I have been deceived…" they're the latest bunch deceived into thinking what worked for the past century would still work now.

For over 100 years, creative artists could make a living by selling recordings, having a career on radio, photographing or writing or editing for periodicals, or writing books.

I've been involved in all the above, and I can tell you that it was never easy, and now it's almost impossible.

"Now the wind has changed direction. I think I have to leave…"

Remember when people said music sharing doesn't hurt anyone? Then Tower Records went bankrupt and CD sales plummeted, and sales of legit mp3 music leveled off. Remember when they said torrents pumping out movies and warez wouldn't hurt anybody? Blockbuster video filed for bankruptcy as did Circuit City, and there have been less movies made, less choice in electronics, and fewer TV programs that aren't cheaply produced "reality" fare, quizzes, or dumb talent contests.

While Amazon relentlessly pushed their Kindle, we were told it was "good" for the publishing industry. Instead, newspapers and magazines have gone under and advances for books are a joke. Used book and magazine stores began to disappear as soon as pdf versions became easy to download of forums and Google began digitizing entire libraries. Has Amazon hired all the talented bookstore personnel now out of work? No, they don't need 'em. They already have enough minimum-wage people putting toasters and blenders into boxes...and shipping them via UPS while the U.S. Post Office runs further into debt and post offices around the country are closing.

"He's my brother…let us live in peace."

No, if your brother's a songwriter, a photographer, a magazine editor, a singer, a novelist…then he's the nigger of the world, and he should do his work for free, and if he objects or stands up for his rights, he should be whipped. If he was the honest working man who ran a bookstore or worked in a record store he can go fight with an immigrant for a job washing floors somewhere.

Mp3 files, avi, pdf etc. are easy to duplicate and toss to the great army of "zero should pay." One copy sold, ten copies stole'd. Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake." Today, it's "let them sell t-shirts." Or "what the (movie, publishing, record) industry needs is a new paradigm." This, coming from people who don't have an idea what that paradigm might be, and aren't in those industries.

Let's also remember people out of work because their jobs were connected to the industries hit hard by piracy. For example, the Sony CD pressing plant in Pitman, New Jersey that was also affected the mom and pop diner that relied on those workers to buy breakfasts and lunches. Also destroyed, the take-out places that brought in coffee and donuts. Cleaning people who served that factory are out, too. As you could read, free, at, the factory closure meant "300 employees out of work….There’s no question that iTunes and piracy have helped to kill off the CD….the piracy culture that started way back during the Napster era has flourished, and now people have an even more difficult time swallowing the price of a CD." Apple doesn't need to hire those 300 people to process mp3 files for download, they have a small staff that handles it easily.

Which brings me to the photo of Elisha Cook Jr, which movie buffs will recognize as a climactic moment from "House on Haunted Hill." His character in the film knows that he is going to be destroyed. His pursuit of happiness is over. He speaks the reality: "They're coming for me now…AND THEY'LL COME FOR YOU."

If you're a retired teacher or union man, you might find your pension shaved down. If you're young and want to go to college, or old and want social security, you'll find a small government check that doesn't pay for tuition or a new comforter for the bed. As the domino effect continues, because "we want free" means less money going into the economy and more people fired, you may lose your job and be treated with the same scorn and indifference as the workers from Tower, Blockbuster or Borders.


The anonymous Internet that we love so much, which gives us the opiate of free downloads of music, movies, warez and books and magazines…is the same faceless, soulless place that will cyberbully you, steal your identity, invade your privacy, and swindle you with impunity. In the past you could talk to a store owner, but you can't talk to someone at eBay or Paypal or Google. The faceless Wikileaks people who so heroically expose secrets…may choose to expose yours. If they don't somebody on Facebook might. These are anonymous people who think nobody has a right to remain anonymous - except themselves.

At one time, progress didn't mean destruction. The factory that made 8-tracks simply made cassettes. The factory that made cassettes simply made CD's. But now an mp3 blip and an avi speck are so innately worthless you can't re-sell 'em on eBay for a penny. There are people who say we should have no laws regulating the Internet, no rules, no moderation. They don't want borders on the Net. And hey, there's 200 less Borders in real life. The chain will probably shutter completely in a year. Maybe the stores will reopen as Starbucks…but not everyone will be able to afford a cup of coffee there. Many can't afford it right now. Holy Moses!

BORDER SONG by ARETHA Listen on line or download…no pop-ups, pop-unders, Paypal donation request or wait time extortion.


Duncanmusic said...

I have to agree with your perception . ..and it is a shame to have stores like Borders disappear, although they surely put a hurting on our local record stores when they first arrived in our town. FYE is shuttering in our toiwn, Media Play is long gone and Barnes & Noble hangs on as a college bookstore here and one other upscale highly liberal populated location in town.
The independent stores locally still survive, many having embraced the vinyl resurgence and they have strong local customersw who still love the music. But I'm already hearing one shop owner say it's time to sell his own considerable collection in favor of the near weightless MP3s. Have to say I'm guilty, too in switching to mp3s. But in my defense I accumulated over 250,000 records in my life (still have about 30,000 CDs, cassettes, LPs, 45s and 78s and still buying and looking in garage, rummage and yard sales) and have spent myself into poverty in the name of music several times though as a record store employee & buyer at several independent stores AND Borders (1971-1998)I received many freebies which I shared liberally with my friends. I don't regret it a bit. Nor do I regret moving to MP3s as it has allowed me to revisit those artists and songs I used to own (often in multiple formats) and find music I searched for LONG and HARd but never found physical copies of. In fact I'm still looking for some today.
Perhaps we're moving into the future styled Star Trek paradigm (computer: second track side one Sgt Peppers; PLAY) and musicians. poets, writers, film makers and artists will move to a new distinction in our society. I can't imagine life without any of these arts, nor do I envision them disappearing from our lives. +I think those that would disembowel funding for the arts are sadly mistaken in their purpose and will regret the bland results. Maybe they will be happy with with limited choice. I won't and will continue to share with all of my friends whatever I can. Somethiong new will arrive. I am 60 now and have seen it change from 78s to mp3s. I had to move over 150,000 records the last time I moved before I sold the collection off. I am anticipating selling off what I have accumulated since the sell-off in 1993 once again as i don't want to burden my wife should I pass.
I can't damn the internet as now there may exist a copy of almost everything ever recorded out there in cyberspace and I'm grateful to be able to continue my discoveries as long as I can.
That said, I am sad that Borders is going down. It is a sign of the times, that are always changing.
Nice post BTW.

Anonymous said...

Napster was I guess the stone that was cast into the water and all that has happened since then has been an ever enveloping ripple with the destructive power of a Tsunami. In just ten years we have seen the entire entertainment and media industry get turned inside out and upside down thanks to digital technology with catastrophic results that have destroyed the livelihoods of many many thousands, probably millions if one looks at the even bigger picture bringing in those small cafe businesses that depended on employees that are no longer in employment...

Of course, here in Britain it has been extremely noticeable. EVERY high street boasted it's own record store. The average small town would have at least 2 or 3 such stores. Now? They're virtually all gone. The one remaining music retailer HMV is currently in the process of closing 200 stores meaning many towns will now no longer have ANY presence of music retailers.

The indies have mostly jumped ship too. Those old collectors stores? The owners couldn't afford the escalating rents and simply shut down figuring it was quicker and easier to sell via eBay instead.

Watching the Book Publishing industry stupidly embrace and encourage the purchases of Kindle type devices in the wake of the music industry being decimated by digital "sharing" is downright perplexing and akin to committing Hara Kiri. They fail to comprehend let alone acknowledge the fact that once something is digitised it can be and is copied and shared infinitely for people to grab for "free." And what's now happening? Libraries are shutting down left right and centre as well.

The total devaluation of Creativity is probably the most depressing and crushing thing I have ever had to witness in my lifetime. The bigwigs who should know better and could had prevented much of this calamity for happening sat back on their fat lazy arses for far too long and now it really is too late.

It is criminal that new creative talents are now denied the opportunities their predecessors once had - the chance of making a living from their creative talents. How the Hell can one be Creative when one is forced to work crappily paid 9 to 5 jobs in order to pay the rent and put food on the table?

The times they are a changing, but why does it always keep changing for the worst?

Reena Yadav said...

Very Nice Post

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