Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive:
American Mediocrity. . .
Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Van Morrison perform on the PBS television show 'Austin City Limits'. I have been a fan of Van Morrison since back when I was a long-haired kid. Morrison was a long-haired kid then, too. That was back in 1971. Though not his first, Morrison's Album 'Tupelo Honey' was the first in my vinyl collection.
I doubt anyone with the talent of Van Morrison could ever make it to the finals of 'American Idol'. His appeal is not broad enough. Wouldn't 'Idol' judge Simon tell Van Morrison he sings through his nose?
Born 1945, Morrison grew up listening to the music of American blues and jazz recording artists. He states he was strongly influenced by the work of Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. As a teenager, Morrison played guitar, sax and harmonica with a series of local bands before forming his first band called 'Them' in 1964.
Such is the nature of the bell-shaped curve. In a system where the viewers place votes for their favorite contestants, only the most popular survive. By definition, 'American Idol' will gravitiate towards rewarding mediocrity. As the number of voters increases, so does the likelihood that the largest vote-getter will be the one that has the most general appeal. For true 'American Idols', Van Morrison had Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. But those talents wouldn't have made it past the first audition of 'American Idol'.
Likewise, I presume the 'Idol' judges would have mercilessly harpooned Jimmy Durante for singing "Make Someone Happy". If George Burns tried talking his way though "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again", the judges would probably moan, "This is a singing competition!"
I have no doubt the 'Idol' judges would eliminate Rod Stewart for a raspy voice and Willie Nelson for off-time phrasing. Would Louis Armstrong, Barabara Steisand, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman Ringo Starr or Leo Kottke stand a chance? Probably not. I suppose Frank Sinatra MIGHT have made it if he had been able to prove to the 'Idol' judges that he could be "more than just a crooner". Mic Jagger? No way - he doesn't have the 'Idol Look'.
And so, in the end, a totally unremarkable singer is crowned "Your American Idol".
Watch 'American Idol'. Notice how the talented get swept away alongside the untalented to finally leave the ordinary remaining. It is the nature of the bell-shaped curve. Unlike Darwin's 'Natural Selection' where the best and the fittest survive, this is the selection process we call Democracy.
More Gloom and Doom . . .
New York Times : "Analysis: U.S. Mortgage Crisis Looms"
By Gretchen Morgenson
From: Free Internet Press
On March 2nd, Federal regulators reacted to the distress in the mortgage market by asking lenders to tighten their lending policies.
Meanwhile, Wall Street waits to see whether the spring home selling season will shore up the mortgage market. If home prices do not appreciate or if they fall, defaults will rise. Pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds that embraced the mortgage securities market will be at risk to sustain losses. Analysts speculate they will likely retreat from the market which would affect the overall economy.
Thomas A. Lawler, founder of Lawler Economic and Housing Consulting, is quoted by the New York Times: "It's not that the mortgage industry is collapsing, it's just that the mortgage industry went wild and there are consequences of going wild.
"I think there is no doubt that home sales are going to be weaker than most anybody who was forecasting the market just two months ago thought. For those areas where the housing market was already not too great, where inventories were at historically high levels and it finally looked like things were stabilizing, this is going to be unpleasant."
A paper published last month by Rosner and Mason, Drexel University College of Business, assessed the potential problems associated with disruptions in the mortgage securities market. It stated: "Decreased funding for residential mortgage-backed securities could set off a downward spiral in credit availability that can deprive individuals of home ownership and substantially hurt the U.S. economy"
BOHICA . . .
Here is a handy list of military and civilain acronyms that can be applied to nearly any F**king situation