Why Arrested Development on Netflix is the MP3 of Television

Michael Cera as tweeted about by Jason Bateman

Michael Cera as tweeted about by Jason Bateman

My social media feeds are full of grumpy people complaining about the new episodes of Arrested Development not being as good as the old ones. Guys, you are missing the point.

Do you remember what your musical life was like before MP3′s? I do. It sucked. Record companies chose what was popular. Then they, along with radio stations, chose how often those songs got played. If you didn’t like what everyone else liked, you were out of luck. If you did like a song, you had to buy the artist’s whole album to get it.

It was as though the entire popular musical spectrum was made of primary colors.

Now, on the other hand, there is not only a band to suit every possible musical taste, but often times an entire genre, and you can get nearly any song at any time for very little money.

That change happened because someone figured out how to make money selling content directly from the content producers (musicians) to the content consumers (you and me). Sure, record companies and radio stations still exist, but they’re not the titans they once were.

This is the best situation for everyone, when the consumer is allowed to purchase content directly from the content producer. When there is any kind of middleman, that middleman is going to do everything they can to maximize profits at the expense of user experience. That’s why a 30 minute TV show is 22 minutes long, is stuffed full of every possible product placement allowable, and even has network advertisements played over top of it around the edges.

Advertisements pay for television, which means that the corporations who place those advertisements play a big role in what gets said on TV. That conflicting interest disappears when the content producer is supported directly by the content consumer.

This is why everyone in the world should be watching Arrested Development on Netflix. I pay a few bucks a month subscription fee and I get commercial free content directly from the creators. This is a good thing. It is an unbelievably good thing.

If you ever want to watch what your favorite comedian, reporter, politician, musician — anyone! — really thinks, or really can do, you should support every effort to cut out the middleman.

Open Letter to Experience Hendrix: Please Let Jimi Hendrix Die

Dear Experience Hendrix, LLC, Janie Hendrix, et. al.,

I implore you, owners of the Jimi Hendrix estate and guardians of his legacy, please let Jimi die. Please stop releasing compilations, previously unreleased tracks, all of it. Just stop it.

PHOTO: A. Vente

PHOTO: A. Vente

If you want to go on making money off of Jimi’s amazing work, well, this is America and that is your right. Just please stop releasing music. As far as I’m concerned, you can keep selling posters and tee shirts and re-released vinyl and the rest, but, for the love of God — no, for the love of music — please stop diluting the catalog of the greatest guitarist to ever live.

You lost Jimi in 1970. I know that must be hard. I know it breaks your heart because I also have lost people I loved. I remember them and celebrate their lives as you must Jimi’s.

But his catalog was a love letter to all of us — for all of us — and you are chipping away at it with each new release.

Jimi released just three studio albums during his life; three rockets to Venus so amazing, so complex, so subtle. You have released over fifty studio albums and compilations since that time. Fifty! Five Zero! Please stop it!

I say this now as you are releasing People, Hell and Angels. I have listened to “Somewhere,” the first single. Naturally, it is amazing, because it’s Jimi on guitar and Stephen Stills, of all people, on bass. But these tracks are unreleased because they aren’t finished.

How long are we meant to go on hearing “previously unreleased” tracks? Until we’re just listening to Jimi tune his guitars? Do you have any recordings of him walking through a studio? I don’t want to hear them. Keep them to yourself.

Granted: raw, unpolished Jimi Hendrix is still light years better than the polished releases of a myriad of other folks, but that doesn’t mean it should be released. It shouldn’t. You should stop putting out Jimi’s music.

Now, you may say “But people love Jimi and they are hungry for more.” Of course they are hungry for more. I am hungry for more pie, but eating more will do nothing except mark me as a glutton.

Jimi was the greatest who ever lived. But giving people more doesn’t make him any greater. He is already the pinnacle. Releasing more music just earns you money and makes his colors fade.

Please stop it. Let Jimi go. Seal up the “vault” and stop releasing tracks and let us enjoy Jimi’s work the way he released it.

Sincerely, beseechingly,
James C. Hodgson, Jr
Guitar player and Jimi Hendrix Fan

The Regular Guys Roast

On Friday night, I got to help roast The Regular Guys, an Atlanta morning radio show. It was a super fun event. I worked all last week on my jokes, with help from lots of friends. They went over pretty well, I’m happy to say. Here they are!

It is my unhappy duty to announce tonight that Rock 100.5 has flipped formats and is now a power pop station. Hold on, I’m getting a text… Nope, they just flipped again. Sports talk. [wrote this joke at the event, so I did it first since I was least rehearsed on it. It went so-so.]

I am delighted to be here, I don’t really get outside the city too much. When I’m crossing 285 I feel like a vampire at sunup. I was going to say here that you guys are making me reconsider, but you’re not.

When I look out over this crowd, it is with a sense of awe, that a big budget Atlanta media outlet manages to appeal to so few black people.

54% of the city’s population just says no thanks. That is amazing, guys.

I was a huge fan of the Regular Guys back in 04 when they got caught saying some naughty words and got kicked off the air. It ruined my mornings when that happened. So glad you’re back, guys.

Unfortunately, that summer I moved into a town called the present, where there was a thing called the iPod, so I have no idea what they’ve been up to since.

Of course I remember the roles these guys each play on the show, having been such a fan.

They’re like the Three Stooges, but instead of Larry, Moe, and Curly, it’s Smarty, Neck, and Whiny.

The person with whom I’m least familiar is Tim Andrews, although I gather that he, like me, lost a lot of weight. Congrats to you, Tim.

Speaking as a former 325 pound person, I can tell you it’s not easy. Overeating is like an addiction, but it’s worse, because you can never really quit. I’m gonna say that again. It’s like an addiction, but you can never really quit.

Heroine addicts bitch about how hard it is to kick, but it’d be a lot harder if they had to do a tiny bit of heroin three times a day for the rest of their lives. Pussies.

I probably identify most with Eric, because he’s able to read. He’s a little bit socially awkward, though, I hear.

He runs from interacting with listeners almost as fast as single women are running from Wachs. [abandoned this joke and didn't tell it because I decided before show time that it was weak]

Now, I’m a southern boy, so I might have been raised differently to some, but I received a few pearls of wisdom from my father, a Vietnam veteran.

For instance: how do you know if there’s a pilot in the bar? He’ll come right up and tell you. [abandoned and not said due to being not my joke]

How do you know if there’s an asshole in the bar? He’ll be wearing a hat or sunglasses inside.

I don’t know that much about Larry Wachs’ personal life. Does anyone happen to know what religion this man is?

It’s not like he mentions it. Seriously, only Jesus is more Jewish. Sorry, Christians, I know that stings.

Probably the guy I’d most like to have a beer with is Southside Steve. He’s the rill dill.

People love to talk shit about a guy who gets laid, Steve, I know you don’t listen. Any grown man with a ponytail that long in this day and age clearly doesn’t give two shits what people think about him.

Even ponies think that thing needs a trim. [I didn't actually say this because Marshall Chiles said this exact joke earlier in the show. Dangit.]

I hear you have a girlfriend now, Steve, which is great. I hear she’s just almost enough to remember when radio was relevant.

I watched last year’s roast videos on YouTube. Seemed like a long series of gay jokes to me. Even gays don’t talk about being gay that much.

I think it’s in poor taste to make fun of a man for his sexual orientation, something he cannot control, rather than something he can easily choose not to do, such as opening an enormous bar in a town just south of nowhere.

Truth is I’m jealous of these guys. Sure, they have to wake up really early, but all they have to do is sit around and talk shit for a couple of hours.

The only thing you guys have in common with real working people is you still think radio means something.

Some people say terrestrial radio has gone down like the Titanic. I say you’re only just now getting your feet wet.

Thanks to my friends at Rock 100.5 for inviting me to participate!

What Would Twitter Be Like Without Names? Why The Uncertain Rainbow Makes Me Mad

At the end of most rainbows there is gold. This one has shame. PHOTO: Clive Darra

Every time I write an article, or a blog post, or a tweet, or draw a picture, or work on a design project, I am trying my best to crystallize everything I have learned about life so far and break off a piece of it.

Sometimes I get paid to do it. Sometimes I do it just because I’m inspired to or because I think people will like it. But every time it’s my face out the window, ready to get punched (ouch), kissed (thanks!) or, worst of all, no reaction whatsoever (disaster).

That’s the game, and I accept the terms. I’ll get ignored most of the time, beat up every now and then, and once in a blue moon, if I am really tuned in and I do good work, something nice will happen.

The Greatest Luxury

Here’s my most-retweeted tweet ever:

I think it was popular — albeit on my infinitesimal scale — because a bunch of other content creators like me saw it and related to it. We all know what it feels like to get ignored, and I think a lot of us also know what it feels like to obsess over how many people follow us or like us.

But I also believe that there are people, maybe even the majority, who only ever consume and/or regurgitate. Pop songs are basically the same thing over and over again. Internet culture is highly self-referential. Hell, a lot of television shows now are just reading out people’s tweets, or showing internet videos and commenting on them.

So, why not solve the problem by taking our names off everything and just letting the content be the content?

The Uncertain Rainbow

Well, a programmer has done just that. The Uncertain Rainbow is a twitter plugin that lets you enjoy your stream with the names and faces of the tweeters replaced by squares of color.

It is probably the worst idea I have ever heard, and it makes me mad. So mad that I want to tell the author “fuck you,” and he’s clearly an intelligent person and probably very nice as well.

His name is Chris McDowell (@fogonwater of twitter), and here’s what he says:

Connected life is kind of bullshit.

Social media apps constantly pressure us to perform. We yearn for the prized stream of ‘likes‘, the clutch of ‘favourites‘, the elusive mass ‘retweet‘. It’s ridiculous.

He’s absolutely right, it is ridiculous, but it’s also necessary.

When I create a thought, Chris, I stick my name on it. This does a few things. One, if people like it they know who to pay attention to in the future. If not, they know who to ignore. If I’m being violent or dangerous, they know who to call the cops on.

Surely you understand that people should be recognized for the work that they do, even in small, token ways, because you stuck your own name on the application that removes everyone else’s names.

We already know what happens to content without names, because we’ve read a million racist, illiterate, misogynist YouTube comments. Ever seen bathroom graffiti, Chris? I mean, some of it can be funny at times, but I wouldn’t retweet any of it. Well, not much of it anyway.

Are you working on an application next that removes all the URL information from web comic images so they’re easier for non-creators to rip off?

In Chris’s defense, I’m sure he’s just trying to create a perfect world where information flows freely or whatever, but speaking as someone who lives and dies by their personal brand, I’ll keep the names on my tweets thanks very much.

Houses are the Worst Thing for Cycling.

PHOTO: Archibald Ballantine, Flickr

Why is it that driving, something that is unquestionably awesome, is so god damned boring? No wonder people are texting and tweeting and facebooking as they drive. Getting around the city by car is a tortuous, futile experience. Just as you start to actually progress toward your goal, the light changes, a cop sticks his hand up, or some asshole cyclist gets in front of you. Son of a bitch!

I think one of the biggest problems is houses. Yeah, I said it. Houses.

The American Dream

Let’s say you’ve been lucky enough to meet the man or woman of your dreams and you want to get hitched up and start a family. Congratulations to you and your future pack of pants-tuggers. Now, where are you gonna stick ‘em? You need a house, preferably a big one so you can do whatever you like to do on one end and they can get into whatever dangerous mischief takes their fancy on the other end. Quietly, though. Quiet mischief, please.

Now, let’s say you can afford a house that costs $250,000. In town that will buy you a shack so small you have to sleep with your feet out the kitchen window. Plus, it will have been built many years ago, which means it’ll be about as good at holding in heat or cooling as your average shopping cart. The basement, if it has one, will have been constructed entirely of black mold and roach carcasses.

You could buy a condo, of course, but you could also just dig a hole, stick half your money in it, and then have extensive electro shock treatments to forget where it is.

Or you could buy a larger, newly-constructed house in the suburbs. See how devious they are, houses? They make it so easy, the bastards.

We can work it out

Now all we have to do is get your ass to work so you can make some butter to cover all this toast. That’s going to put you back in town, though, unfortunately. Companies just love to stick their headquarters in town.

That means you’re going to have a commute, which means your brain is going to shut off every morning when it isn’t squirming like a toad. They say you’re not supposed to text while you’re driving, but people post funny stuff on the facing book and a little comedy would help break up the monotony. Everyone knows the pain of the rush hour drive.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. You could ride a bike.

Just try it, dummy

Yeah, a bike. Just like when you were a kid. Sure, there are concerns about safety. You’ll be at risk of being flattened by one of the mindless zombies scrolling through their twitter feed at the wheel. They will roar around you with engines screaming, only to slam on the brakes and turn right in front of you. That can be extremely irritating when it isn’t actually killing you.

Here’s what riding a bike will do for you, though, and this is why a lot of us pedaling dorks do it. That brain miasma that you get in the car goes away.

I know it sounds weird, but if you haven’t ridden a bike in a while, you really should give it a shot. It’s possible to get on a bike and get places without praying for your own death merely to give you an excuse to stop sitting in traffic. You can arrive at work happy rather than numb.

Of course, it might not be a fit if you live too far away for a bike commute to be feasible. If you do, I don’t blame you. I blame houses.