This Is Why Writing For Free Is Bad For Everybody (And Creates Headlines Like This)

 

Back in the day, right around 1997 or so, I was a struggling musician.

This is, of course, a lie. I was driving a brand-new Infiniti G20, going to school on a full scholarship, and dating a girl whom my brother liked to call a “better looking Julia Roberts.” But, I was struggling with finding ways to advance my musical career. I was playing a lot of blues with a young Sean Carney, a prodigiously talented guitarist who would go on to win the Albert King award some years later (you can hear what we sounded at that point by clicking the above Spotify link), but it was tough to find jazz gigs. Columbus, Ohio had a limited number of jazz clubs—Dick’s Den, The Dell—and they only had music Friday and Saturday nights. Those slots were occupied by the jazz royalty of the town, mostly music faculty members at Ohio State and Capital University.

So, in a bit of desperation, I did something that I thought was a pretty smart move. I went to the proprietor of The Dell and proposed that I would play for free once a month. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m going to pretend like you never came here. And, for your sake, you had better hope that none of your teachers who play here find out that you were here, either.” Turns out that was called “undercutting,” and it was a definite no-no in the professional music world. In fact, that sort of practice is what led to the formation of musicians’ unions in the bigger cities and symphony orchestras of America.

Fast forward twenty years, and I’m no longer peddling free music. Instead, I send pitches to the editors of automotive publications. However, now I’m one of the guys who’ve earned the right to be paid for their craft, like my teachers were before me. The difference is that when the young bucks try to undercut me or my esteemed journalist colleagues, there are no shortage of editors who are willing to let them do it, for as little as $25 a post—or, in many cases, for no money at all.

This is bad for everybody.

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Weekly Roundup: There’s A Generic Available For This Prescription Edition

There is a long and well-respected tradition of Japanese automakers copying the styling of German automakers. Sometimes it’s blatant: think quad-headlamp RWD Corolla sedan. Sometimes it’s semi-blatant: think Nineties Civic coupe. And sometimes it’s not copying at all. The eighth-generation and ninth-generation Accord coupes look quite a bit like the Mercedes W204 C-Class Coupe — but in this case, it was the Accord that arrived first, by four years.

Of course, if you’re a true snob of the Fatherland you can always point out that both of these cars owe quite a bit to the BMW 8-Series coupe. There’s always a bigger fish…

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How Not To Recycle A Piano

NOTE: Another amusing article my my uncle, David Klockau. -TK

One of the fun parts of my job with City Carton Recycling is when I don my “Community Education Coordinator” hat to make environmental presentations at local schools. These student groups have ranged from pre-school to college. While the most fun groups are the 3-4th graders, a few times I have felt I was losing an audience. Let’s face it; recycling is not always the most exciting thing to discuss. When this has happened, especially with the younger audiences, I ask them if they would like to hear how I launched a grand piano out of a pick up truck. This usually gets their attention, since it involves an adult screwing up (that would be me), action, drama, and property destruction.

Before I joined the recycling industry, I worked in the waste business as a service manager for a local waste hauler. Every now and then we would get calls from people wanting us to haul and dispose of something a little unusual. These calls were usually directed to me. One day, I took a call from the local community theatre group. They were making their seasonal move from the local fairgrounds exhibit hall and needed to do a clean out. I started to quote them a price for a dumpster, when the caller cut me off to say that they needed to dispose of not one, but two big old upright grand pianos.

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From Avatar to Voldemort: How Our Infantile Stories Create An Infantile (And Racist) World

It is only reasonable that many readers here at Riverside Green occasionally mistake something that Bark wrote for something I’ve written, or vice versa. We have the same last name, we have written for the same outlets, we agree on a reasonable number of subjects. (Areas where we disagree include: the music of Nickel Creek, the ability of a woman to wear a size 12 dress and still be attractive, whether or not soccer is a real sport.) All I can say it this: If you’re confused now, wait until my son writes his first new-vehicle review, which should happen in the next few months depending on certain delivery schedules and various eminently unreliable manufacturers.

In this case, however, I feel compelled to make it explicit and plain that I (Jack) am writing this, because while Bark might agree with me that modern Western society has restructured itself around several explicitly infantile and irrational ideas, I doubt that he would be willing to place the blame for this situation on the consumption of “young adult” media by people who should be consuming “regular adult” media. Bark is a big fan of the Harry Potter books. He watches the “Guardian Of The Galaxy” movies. I believe that he would defend those stories and that media.

As for me, however, I come to bury Potter, not to praise him. And in this, I have a rather unlikely ally from the mainstream press.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Three

I like stereotypes. They save time. You like stereotypes as well, and you use them. They are cognitively efficient. In fact, they are utterly necessary. Every day, you make thousands of tacit assumptions about the environment around you: there are no tigers in the bathroom, buildings will not fall on you for no reason, the person behind you in the line for lunch can be trusted not to hold you down and rape you. You assume that the sidewalk will not collapse and the floor is not, in fact, actually lava. You purchase food and eat it without submitting it to a full battery of chemical and biological tests. If you’re American, you speak English to people you have never met before. (The future demographic shift of this country will teach you a lesson about that.)

The only people who cannot effectively “stereotype” are deeply autistic people who have no ability to ignore and/or generalize things. Autism is defined as the inability to form abstract concepts — in other words, stereotypes. When two normal people have a conversation, they can use an abstract concept like “car” or “refrigerator” without difficulty. Their ability to stereotype and abstract allows them to simply glide past the idea of “refrigerator”. The person who suffers from a degree of autism needs to know all about the refrigerator. This is not them being difficult; it is literally the manifestation of their illness.

It’s probably no coincidence that modern popular culture is so obsessed with “breaking down stereotypes” and focusing on the exceptions to a rule rather than focusing on the rule itself. After all, we are experiencing unprecedented rates of autism and autism spectrum behavior. The autistic mind is obsessed with exceptions to the rule. It loves Malala and Obama and the Harlequin Golf and every other case where somebody or something deviates sharply from expected behavior. The autistic mind is comforted by cases where stereotypes don’t apply because the autistic mind is fundamentally troubled by stereotypes. The autistic mind likes rules because rules are expressed in absolute and concrete terms. It does not like stereotypes, because stereotypes are abstract generalizations that, like language, are used as a sort of cultural and personal shorthand.

As someone who demonstrates the occasional touch of Aspie behavior, I will confess that my fondness for stereotypes is not quite as strong as it would be were I completely sane and neurotypical. And that is why I’m so annoyed with “pmirp1” and his dutiful conformance to pretty much every aspect of the “stupid Vette owner” stereotype. An entirely normal writer would just nod his head and say to himself, “Another dumbass with a Vette.” I, on the other hand, am compelled to flap this bug with gilded wings just a bit.

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SiXT Can Get FuKT

I just touched down for a bit of a long-term assignment in the Miami area—I’ll be in SoFlo until 7/21/17, so RG readers, holla—and as a result, I decided to investigate some different rental car options. Normally, I’m National 4 Lyfe kinda guy, as I like the ability to pick my own car and exit the airport as quickly as possible. But, in this case, National was the most expensive option by far, clocking in at nearly double the price of some competitors.

As a result, I decided to investigate SiXT Rent a Car.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Misapplied Chicken Edition

I saw this extremely ersatz Trans Am in Atlanta last week, sitting in the parking lot of the “Bandit Run” event. Here’s the disturbing part: It was one of THREE recent Chrysler products that had received an inappropriate Firebird bonnet logo. One of those three was a white Chrysler 300. With a V-6.

It’s best that we don’t think too much more about this. Instead, why don’t we catch up on what I (and Bark!) wrote for publication last week.

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The Supper Club: Dwindling, But Not Gone-Yet!

(NOTE: This article was originally published as a guest editorial in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, by my uncle, David Klockau. I thought RG’s regular readers might enjoy it! -TK)

The classic Midwestern supper club, once a regular sighting on the old pre-Interstate highways in the heartland, are getting harder to find in this day and age. However, I disagree that the supper club as we know it has “ended.” They are still out there, and still worth seeking out.

Dave’s freeloading nephew (that’s me!) provided transportation to the Ced-Rel on our last visit.

In fact, friends of mine organized an informal supper club club. While I live in Iowa City, our group makes regular trips to the Ced-Rel Supper Club on Highway 30 just a short drive west of Cedar Rapids and the Lighthouse on the opposite side of Cedar Rapids in Marion. Both restaurants are always busy. The Ced-Rel serves a fantastic hot and cold multi-level relish tray, and in addition to excellent steaks, they have bacon-wrapped, cheese stuffed jumbo shrimp in a tempura style-batter. And Lighthouse has an outstanding prime rib cut.

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A Delayed Response To A Relevant Question

 

As y’all may have noticed, we don’t follow any sort of posting schedule here at the Green. Yes, it’s true that we should be posting everything at 11:00 Eastern time on Mondays and Tuesdays for maximum traffic, but since the total lifetime revenue generated by this site is slightly less than one cent, it really doesn’t matter. The result of this is that I often don’t read all the comments on each post, because they sometimes trickle in days later due to the fact that we might go a day or two without a new post from time to time.

That being said, there is a comment that I want to address, and I want to ensure that it doesn’t get buried in the comments section on a post from two weeks ago. The comment, from Duong Nguyen on the “Green Heck” Weekly Roundup, goes a little something like this:

This Lotus and Acura drives are really stepping a wee bit close to the journasar buffet line for my taste… I mean Bark is mentioning Acura PR flacks in his instagram posts and Jack gets a free ride in a one off Lotus painted in his favorite car color? I just don’t see how these things don’t influence what gets written.

I’ll still keep reading, just wanted to point this out. I know there’s not really an ideal way around it.

Excellent comment/point/statement. And as one of the more vocal critics of the “journosaur buffet line” culture, myself, I think it requires an answer.

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