Thursday, October 13, 2005

Evel and Derry

C.I. passed something and wrote in the e-mail, "Do you want to take this?" I read over it and just think, "Oh Kelefa." The New York Times has a lot of bad writers. They have only two writers who know anything about music. Kelefa Sanneh is one of the two. (The other is Stephen Holden.)

Today Kelefa made a big mistake. Not a mistake in judgement. This wasn't an opinion. This is the sort of factual mistake that puts the "OH!" in Lola's work and it's honestly beneath Kefena.

The article is "Cracking The Code In Hip-Hop." The mistake:

The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chart and has yet to drop out of the Top 20, with a hit single that just reached the Top 10; it has already been certified platinum, for shipping more than a million copies to stores.

When I read C.I.'s note there was no indication what the mistake was. So I'm reading along for the writing but also like I'm working my way through a puzzle. Then I come across that and know I solved the puzzle.

Checking my calander, I see the year is 2005 not 1975. In 1975, for instance, Warner Bros. put out The Best of Carly Simon vol. I (the "vol. I" is in small print and most people omit it from the title). In 1975, that album shipped gold.

Many albums did back then.

Back then Billboard based the chart positions not on sales but on orders from stores (orders being requests that X number of albums be sent to their store). If your label had a dog but needed it to bolt up the charts, they could release a small amount and because everyone was putting in orders, the thing would move up the charts even though it was not selling. In 1979, and Joni Mitchell talked about this to Musician Magazine, her album wasn't selling. She heard about it because Carly Simon's Spy was selling but Joni was on high on the charts.

That's when chart positions were based on orders.

These days, chart positions are based on sales. On point of sales at the stores. And you no longer get certified for what you shipped, you get certified for what you sell.

If Kelefa had written this in 1975, she wouldn't have a problem but in 2005 she is wrong. No album today is certified anything based on how many units it ships; they're certified based upon sales. The bar code allows them to track this.

Now to answer a question about childhood that an e-mail came in on.

The most tense situation of my childhood involving toys.

It was the Billie Jean King v. Bobby Riggs match in real time.

My brother, who's two years older, was facing me down from the other side of the hall.

Derry Daring v. Evel Knievel.

It was a month or so after Christmas. We'd each gotten the toys for Christmas. We'd seen them in the store with their pretty photographs of the toys on the front. Obviously, Santa shopped at the Sears outlet store because they came in plain cardboard boxes as we saw when we ripped off the paper.

Bruce had been a pain in the ass for a month. So much so that Mom wouldn't let us play with them in the house if we used the crank. See you put them on the base, with their motorcylces, and you cranked it up with your hand and they'd zoom off their base wheeling off somewhere. Bruce kept letting Evel hit the wall and Mom had had it.

She was out on the porch talking to a neighbor who she didn't want to let in because the neighbor would never leave. She would come over at noon and still be there when it was time for dinner. So lately Mom tried to head her off by keeping her on the porch.

Bruce said that gave us exactly a half-hour.

With brothers and sisters watching, and choosing sides, we had two ramps in the middle of the hall via the encyclopedias. Who would jump the furthest and the highest?

Bruce was doing his usual trash talk.

"Oh Derry looks so pretty in her pink and white."

She did look pretty. She had a year round tan, long blonde hair, and, yes, a pink and white costume. With flair cuffs on the pants of her jumpsuit. So nah nah nah.

Meanwhile, Evel was in this all white jumpsuit like he was going to grab the scoop and top off your ice cream cone. He had a cape for God's sake. And a cane.

I can trash talk with the best of them.

"Does Evel have his cane? Is he afraid he's going to get a boo boo?"

"It's a walking stick!" hollered my brother too loudly.

We all froze. Had Mom heard us?



It was time to put up or shut up.

We both started cranking. As fast as we could. This was going to be extreme.

I can feel it, I'm going to win.

You know how you get the feeling and you just know how it will turn out.

But crap. Bruce is whining.

His crank broke.

No fair, no fair, no fair, he's hollering.

"Pipe down," I bark at the big baby.

So to make it fair, we agree that I won't use the crank. We'll both just hold them in our hands, zoom them along the floor immeidately in front of us repeatedly and then on "Go!" we'll both let go and see which one jumps the highest and the farthest.


We let go.

They're off and zooming.

Derry's hair is flying. She's a toy. She doesn't need to wear her helmet.

Evel needed his. Right away because Bruce had the worst aim.

Right away Evel crashes into the wall. Misses the ramp. Goes straight into the wall.


She hits that ramp.

She's soaring.

She's flying.

She's airborne.

She's hitting Mom right in the stomach.


Even though Derry obviously won since we both got punished for playing with them in the house and since Evel's tires once again left a black skid mark on the white walls, Bruce wouldn't admit he lost. He never would. He was always that way. Still is.

But he lost a lot of face in front of of our brothers and sisters.

Now check out Mike's interview with Tracey. And read C.I.'s "NYT: Laura uses 'sexism' on Today and the Times says it's 'news.'" After you've read C.I. call it like it is with regards to Laura Bush, check out C.I. & Ava's "TV Review: Threshold Surpasses the Audience's" which is hilarious as always. Rebecca's covering Senator Meow Meow and yesterday she had a poll that I wish I'd have participated in. Elaine's reposted a hilarious comic by Isaiah and also is running down a number of topics. I really enjoyed Cedric's church discussion so check that out. Betty's working on a new post but until that is up, don't miss the latest in Bettina's hideous marriage to Thomas Friedman. And Seth's discussing what he's reading and apologizing for not being able to post that much lately. Seth, say it with me, "It is what it is." No guilt.