Week 4, 2/7/18: John Capouya Prep, Wambsgans Reflection, Stratechery and Stratechery and Derek Thompson

John Capouya, Florida Soul: Chapter 2, Ernie Calhoun

We (the Royal “we”) hear about this flourishing black section of town throughout the country in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It flows from the Harlem Renaissance all the way down to Tampa Bay where many of the clubs were named after places in Harlem (The Apollo Ballroom). Black artists, bookkeepers, doctors, even lawyers, according to Calhoun. My journalism coverage has really gained a focus on people and businesses in Eugene who are working to build a better community in this city in their own way. I am fortunate enough to witness people coming together in ways unique to much of this nation, which seems stuck in a disparate and antagonistic rut, rivals camped out on the edge of a trench they aren’t willing to cross. We are a very white town here in Eugene. This historical reflection makes me wonder where and how communities of color might be coming together in other areas of the country. I have a good friend, for example, in Portland, who is a principal in north Portland, a traditionally African American section of town that’s also being diversified by an influx of Russian, Southeast Asian and other immigrants in the last 10 years. The school (with my friend’s lead) is helping to create a more verdant community through their relationship with the surrounding population and by improving school performance.

Love that Calhoun’s mother made her primary living gambling.

Whoa, my grandfather was in the Korean War (receiving a Bronze Star, in fact), but I have never heard stories about Chinese propaganda broadcast to black men; fascinating historical detail. It’s too bad that the message was true: why would black man go and fight for a country that did not even respect them as human beings?

That is an intriguing transition from the alto sax to the tenor sax, becoming a ‘slow man.’ From Calhoun’s kind, provocative glance, I can easily imagine the man as a Pied Piper.

Love Calhoun’s assertion that, like Coltran and Hawkins, it does not matter what kind of chops you got, you’ve got to have soul. Besides the mainstream pop machine, an artist’s popularity is so much based upon this soul. This intangible quality transcends fields as well: we are attracted to people who have charisma. It is such a human thing that genuine, magnetic talent trumps almost all else.

Jazz and blues are African American institutions. The impetus for blues comes from lamentations in the bonds of servitude; the motivation for jazz comes from exploring the possibility of improvisation in music. It almost makes me like jazz more. But blues ‘s got more soul. 🙂

 

Jason Wambsgans, Photographer, Chicago Tribune

Wambsgans was amazing to start. This is probably not an earth-shattering revelation, but he’s a level-headed man for working in a warzone. I know a lot about Chicago, but not a lot about the South Side. I worked in urban schools and heard a lot about what he talked about, but did not experience it first hand like this man.

One of the many things that I take away from this conversation is that traditional media, especially conglomerates like Tronc, could care less about community-engaged or solutions-based journalism. I am making this journey into journalism at a time of great uncertainty in the field that offers wonderful opportunity to grow in a multitude of new ways. And yet, we still still see this opening for innovation ignored by tradition and by unwieldy corporate blocs that refuse to adapt. This only strengthens my resolve to get into a small paper that encourages independent thought and breeds an organic network of readers from a community-based perspective.

 

Why NFL Ratings Are Plummeting: A Two-Part Theory, Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

According to Thompson, “(t)elevised football has a problem with both form (television) and content (football).” Content I agree with. As an American, I’ve grown up with American football, I played in middle school and high school and suffered a concussion or two (which I can still feel to this day). While my allegiance to my college team remains, my interest in professional football has waned because we, the audience, are watching these men kill themselves, in no uncertain terms. Let’s see what Thompson has to say…

Yes, as pay TV is disappearing, ad revenue is falling. This will not stop, in my opinion. I don’t watch Sunday football almost at all anymore. After moving away from the Sunday games and then trying again to take them in, the constant commercials are not worth the experience. It’s almost like watching one long ad interspersed with 200 pound men destroying themselves as they crash into other 200 pound men at full speed. I do not have a cure for what ails professional football, but they had better become proactive before they react too slowly. The plummeting numbers that Thompson cites indicates that it might already be too late.

I don’t believe that the NFL will necessarily fold, but I am not sure that cable television will even exist in 10 years. On demand TV and action at the viewers’ fingertips makes this made for TV sport an instant anachronism.

 

Apple’s Middle Age, Chris Thompson, Stratechery

This article comes on the heels of Thompson’s assertion that while Apple is not innovating, they will retain market share. I tend to side with this article for reasons outlined in my previous blog entry as well as for the value of developing and asserting network dominance as explained in Bharat Anand’s The Content Trap. For example: Microsoft. Not a major market player in cell phone hardware, tablets, search engines, social networks and the plethora of tech that creates new wealth. But, Microsoft still retains massive profits and revenue. Why? Their network dominance established with their operating system, almost 30 years ago.

(Don’t buy Ikea Thompson. I am also a frequent mover, well within middle age, but, I buy used goods—they last longer, they’re better quality, they reinvest in the community and you can resell them…)

(Thompson is quoting himself in this article? Is there some sort of law against that? Ah, bloggers, so meta…)

Thompson makes a cogent argument for Apple’s status as an incumbent: they will continue to develop products incompatible with other hardware companies. This, I agree with Thompson, will continue to maintain Apple’s status as market leader as long as they continue to develop new products that compete favorably. The innovation, though, that Apple continues to show in extending revenue flow not through developing new customers, but broadening market reach is integral to their continued success.

I for one, have no interest in Apple’s music service. But, by offering the HomePod (which I yet to hear of), Apple is able to align their native software into new hardware that streams their recent dip into service. Genius. For now, Apple customers will stick with them. The trick is keep them on board. At some point, though, like anything, the market will threaten to outpace their progress. We will see if Apple can keep up. For my money, however, Google’s Alexa seems like a much better deal.

 

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