I need to get out the door, so rather than tackle anything lengthy, let me thin my "URLs to stuff I want to write about" list by three and give you two quick takes:
Coincidence? Or Ancient Astronauts? In the wake of the crackdown on broadcast "indecency," ur-shock jock Howard Stern's radio show is getting literally fined out of existence by the FCC. Stern famously doesn't think that this has anything to do with Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, or the several-year-long parade of boring anal sex jokes that he keeps telling. He thinks it's not a coincidence that the first investigations into his show were announced the same week that, for the first time, he criticized President Bush. Given how many people he's offended over the years, it's probably paranoia.
But this might not be. He's been saying for a couple of weeks now that he's considering moving his show to satellite radio. Satellite radio and Howard Stern would be a good mix, truthfully. Nobody gets to claim that they were offended when they have to pay a monthly fee to hear it. And satellite radio has been looking for a "killer app" to get people to buy the service. But what do you know, no sooner do articles appear suggesting that "Satellite Radio May be 'Shock Jock Haven" than right-wing mega-corporate darling Clear Channel steps in: "Broadcasters seek ban on local satellite radio."
Of course, it could be a coincidence. And politics may have nothing to do with it; when Clear Channel is involved, "monopoly protection" is all the motive you need to posit to suspect a conspiracy. (Which has a lot to do with why I now get most of my music through Live365.com.)
Incoming Thundering Herd? You know the tiki music that I wrote about on March 31st and April 18th? Tiki revival may be about to become a huge fad. This wouldn't be the first time that I got to a subcultural or artistic movement just barely before the "tourists" arrive; that keeps happening to me.
On my way home from brunch today, I stopped by my favorite party supply store, Midway Carnival Supply on the Rock Road just west of Lindbergh. kukla_tko42 has an idea for a party/ritual for Elf Fest based on tiki culture symbolism, and wanted me to stop by and see if they had any worthwhile stuff at a reasonable price. What I remembered from before was that they had about 1/3 of one side of an aisle worth of "luau" themed decor. Well, they've rearranged the stock since I was in last, and that was only about two months ago. Now tiki-themed party decorations and supplies take up the entire back wall. We're talking about an increase from about 10 linear feet to about 50 linear feet. What's more, they've left empty shelf space with labels; there's more coming. And that doesn't even count the pirate stuff. The cash register clerk told me that faux-Polynesian chic is huge this year.
Billy Joel famously sung that when "there's a new thing in town, ... you can't catch the sound from a story in a magazine." But there's an interesting article I found through Google, from the January 4th, 1996 issue of the San Jose Metro (weekly newspaper) that pretty much sums up the history involved: "Tiki Time."
My favorite quotes from the article: "At the tiki parties of the 1950s, [author Sven] Kirsten suggests, 'the generation of our parents, for the first time, were ridding themselves of the Christian heritage of Puritanism. Also, to them, it was as far as they could go with their Puritan upbringing. Tiki style was almost like an alternative lifestyle, like what the hippies wanted to create with drugs and free love. Our parents were dreaming of free love in the South Seas, and their drug were these potent cocktails, their rebellion was dressing in Hawaiian shirts.' ... The craze for tiki ended slowly but decisively with the arrival of the hippies. ... Scorning artificiality and alcohol, and discontent with seeking hedonism halfway, '60s kids went off not to dream of paganism but to live it."