Friday, October 16, 2009

Street Economics 4Q 09

What happened to 3Q? I pulled the covers over my head as soon as people started saying “jobless recovery” with a straight face. Rest of the year? I’ve got lots of blankets and comforters to protect me.

A consumer-driven economy relies on consumer spending which doesn't exist without income of some sort.

Got it?

Thank you.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Malibu Beach Madness

See that cool house third from the left? It’s on the beach in the Malibu Colony west of LA.

Seems the owners couldn't’t make the payments because they lost all their money in the Bernie Madoff Scam and Wells Fargo Bank foreclosed.

Also seems that Wells Fargo SVP Cheronda Guyton – head of foreclosures – grabbed it as a no-cost, personal $12 million party spot. To keep her perk, she blocked efforts to show the house to potential buyers.

Wells Fargo’s a bit upset about the L.A. Times on this and it’s likely Guyton is on the fast track to unemployment.

But she could still be sleeping off hangovers to the sounds of Pacific waves if only she had connected with the right people.

You see, the people Guyton's bank kicked out had friends in the neighborhood and when they figured out what was going on, they ratted her out to the Times.

Ow. Yet, all she had to do in defense was to install some hip, young, unemployed people as house sitters. They (using her credit cards, of course) could have fronted the parties.

Nor would she have had to fend off potential buyers to maintain a westside presence. It’s the beach, she’s the head of foreclosures and the party is always on the move.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sarah Palin? Sarah Who?

Sarah Palin's idiotic claim that proposed healthcare reform legislation provides for "death panels" failed to make Google's Top 100 Trends.

See ya around, baby.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Puppies and Babies Always Win

Anyone who hasn’t heard of Lilly, the five-legged puppy, is tuned into the wrong station.

Lilly now has just four legs thanks to Allyson Siegel from Charlotte, N.C., who paid $4,000 to rescue the Chihuahua-terrier mix and have the extra appendage removed.

Get out your checkbooks, though. There are rumors of lawsuits from the freak-show owner Siegel outbid.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cheney's Freaky And Crazy But, We Dump On Him for This?

WASHINGTON — Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials.

The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, canceled the program last month.

-- New York Times

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wanna Buy An Ad? Talk to the Editor

An interesting discussion is emerging at the New York-based American Society of Shitcanned Media Elites vis a vis getting the revenue end of Web or even print publishing closer to the editorial operation without tainting either.

Former gossipist Drew Grant takes the position that bloggers should seize complete control of income generation, including selling advertising. More thoughtful than my description might make her, Grant recognizes the inherent potential for corruption but remains adamant that a solution is possible.

Most commentators so far are skeptical, including Grant's putative boss, Aaron Gell, ASSME's president.

To me this is not a new issue. Editorial calendars, special issues and so on have been around forever and exist to give the sales force something against which to sell. That automatically creates tension between what you write about and what you write. So what?

Is it wrong for an editor to ensure the inclusion of a health-care story in the September issue if it will cement a multi-issue ad deal? Only in the halls of J-schools. Is it wrong for the advertiser to review and comment on the story before publication. Yes, everywhere.

The real difference between inkonpaper and Web-based communications is the difference between institutions and individuals.

An advertising 'department' can easily co-exist with editorial within a larger framework. But the blogosphere is entirely individual and boundaries between the two worlds are impossible to maintain within a single entity.

But I believe Grant will be proven right. My work, my money. How we get there is the question.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Street Economics 2Q 2009

It's Revenge of the Parents Time for young people who assume they can move back in after graduation. Articles offering mom and dad advice on how to get rid of the kid are popping up all over the place.

Not so long ago I sneered at the extended adolescence of young people who assumed it was socially OK to live with the parents well into their 20s. Now, instead of emailing get-rid-of-the-kids stories to friends, I'm taking a more understanding tack.

After all, unemployment nationwide is at 9.4 percent and there are many states and regions with official jobless rates well into double figures. Also, multiple reports say a scant 20 percent of this year's grads have jobs lined up. Experienced workers are duking it out with them for entry level jobs. Even MBAs are taking hits in salaries and status.

So, at least until Q3, I will forgo eye-rolling when a young person ruefully admits to cohabitating with Mum or Da because it might not be their fault.

Besides, a bit of sympathy might get me a free drink.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

California v New York - The Last Word

“The quintessential thing about New York that makes it different than Silicon Valley is that people here are much more focused on the idea than the technology that is the plumbing for the idea.”

-- Media mogul Stephen Brill in The Wall Street Jounal

Translation: “New York talks a big game, but California delivers.”

Monday, June 01, 2009

I've Got A Few Questions For You, Cheney

WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated his praise for waterboarding Al Qaeda terrorists on Monday, calling it a "well done" technique that gathered valuable information from unusually bad guys.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Beware of Portland

People in Portland, Oregon are nice. They even spare the lives of pedestrians who step in front of their cars, which, of course, are traveling at or just under the speed limit.

This is really disconcerting to those of us who come from places like California or New York and are far more accustomed to viewing nice people through a veil of suspicion as in "What do they want from me?"

Among my recent discoveries in this vein were:

-- A bellman who actually seemed grateful for his tip.
-- A bus that halted when I attempted to cross a street with the right of way.
-- A man who asked if he could help with directions as I stared at a street sign.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Tough Love for Ex-Journos

The fear and trembling among journos both ex- and employed is reaching seismic proportions. Take this quite real missive I received yesterday.

"I was all bummed out last week b/c apparently everyone I socialized with (when I had a job) was at the opening for Tracy Westmoreland's new bar and I was all, "Omg nobody even TOLD ME, I am that out of the loop."

There, in just 43 words and acronyms, is the fundamental issue every ex-journo must cope with beginning the second they hit the bricks: People didn't love you, baby, they loved your job.

This is a bigger blow for out-of-work media types than it is for people in other gigs. Simply calling oneself a "writer" or "editor" and being able to back it up can provide most of the basics in life, including shelter if she let's you stay over. And for free. Therefore, missing Tracy's opening has ramifications well beyond a bruised ego.

I've found the best way to deal with suddenly becoming uncool is to get cooler than you were when you were a journo. What, you think there's no one cooler than a member of the media elite?

Most of my post-biz magazine income comes from freelancing for a private eye. (Transferable skills, eh?) So whenever some patronizing editor/PR bunny/whoever from my past asks what I'm doing, I simply hand them my business card and smile.

I got invited to a party last week. How about you?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Why Brit Newspapers Aren't Dying - No. 1

Better Stories

"A lapdancer has opted for the most dramatic of 'career' changes and become a nun."

- Daily Mail

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Take The Bonus Omid, Please! notes Google sales chief Omid Kordestani turned down his $1.4 million bonus in 2008. And, according to the company, "Omid also declined to receive any equity awards in 2009.”

Bad Omid. Bad Omid.

Amigo, I understand you're a billionaire and want to make a statement about -- something. But you're returning a ton of money to a company with a market cap bigger than a lot of national economies.

Think, Omid, think.

Take the dollars, take the equity, and invest it in ways that help people survive the economic collapse. Health insurance premiums? Education? Health insurance premiums? Support for non-profits trying to help? Health insurance premiums?

And, really, it's a decent tax deduction no matter how complicated your retrun.

Are we square on this Omid? Thanks, man.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The End Of A Free Press?

Let us hope the proposed Newspaper Revitalization Act never becomes law.

A seemingly well-meant attempt to prop up failing newspapers, such a law would be the beginning of the end for a free press in this country.

The legislation would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code.

They could report on all issues, including political campaigns but would be prohibited from making political endorsements. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt. Contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

In effect, the law would give government more than a toehold in every news paper that adopts this model. What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. Regardless of what anyone says, that simple fact will always be with all-too-human editors and publishers as they plan news coverage.

And if a president doesn't like what the subscribing papers say about her she can simply drop a dime on the IRS suggesting an audit of the offending publication's tax-exempt status.

Nor would this kind of help cure what's ailing newspapers: An archaic business model and declining readership.

The newspaper industry -- just like the automakers -- is paying the price for its arrogance and short-sighted attitude. Rather than prop up either one with direct or indirect subsidies, it's time to let them die off so more agile, forward-looking replacements can step in.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Bill Is Back

Secret assignments, kidnappings, brainwashing. No, they cannot stop me.

I am back.