Believe it or not, last night, I had dinner with an old co-worker from my former California office who, up until about a year ago, had never heard of Fenway Park.
I know that doesn't make sense. Even I, an admitted Yankees fan (who would probably be as irritated about having my college graduation ceremony at Fenway as Red Sox fans would having theirs at Yankee Stadium) understand why Fenway Park is such hallowed ground, and that it should permeate the ignorance of non-sports fans.
I wouldn't expect the casual American to know where places like Jacobs Field (Cleveland), or Camden Yards (Baltimore) are.
But Fenway? Really?
So, I picked her up at her hotel last night - The Westin Waterfront (remarkably close to my part of Southie...) and gave her a quick driving tour of The Waterfront, The North End, Faneuil Hall / Government Center, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Kenmore, a drive across and back on the Mass Ave bridge (driving from Cambridge back into Boston being my favorite nighttime view of the city), The South End, and (after dinner) my part of Southie.
Approaching Kenmore, I pointed out the CITGO Sign (she had never heard of it).
Then, at Fenway, I drove down Landsdowne Street and mentioned that we were behind the Green Monster (she had never heard of it).
It just goes to show, what is something tantamount to breathing for many around here, isn't even on the radar of others.
I admit that this is likely a rare case of someone simply having no connection whatsoever with Boston landmarks and sports.
So, I did my part - if nothing else, I wanted her to realize that Boston was much more than the empty, windy streets outside of the Westin Waterfront and BCEC.
And that Fenway Park actually did exist.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Believe it or not, last night, I had dinner with an old co-worker from my former California office who, up until about a year ago, had never heard of Fenway Park.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I thought I was in the clear this flu season, but I seem to have caught some type of minor irritant. Nothing flu-like, but what started with a throat tickle last Friday night has turned into some congestion, some coughs here and there, and simply general blah-ness.
I have been sucking on throat drops for the past few days, and have enjoyed blissful sleep induced by the miracle drug, Ny-Quil.
I'm ready for the cold season to be over, and for the Spring to come.
Last weekend, I decided to print some of my photos for the frames I had purchased a while back. They were still sitting in their boxes almost a year later.
One of the photos that I framed was this one - a close-up of some of the sweet basil I was growing on my deck last Summer. I love using a shallow depth-of-field to emphasize the foreground and blur the background.
This reminds me of warmer weather, sitting on my deck, and taking in fresh air that wasn't 20 degrees or filled with sleet.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
At game night on Saturday, I happened to mention this, and that I just couldn't figure out where (or if) to go. I happened to mention Seattle as an option. Brian reminded me that I could link up with Mort & Alanna, our former Boston friends who moved there after we all traveled to Croatia together in 2005.
Good idea (although I have since found out that they will be skiing in Tahoe that weekend - bummer). I loved my last (and only) trip to the Pacific Northwest in 2004. Great photo ops, food, and day trips to fun outdoorsy places (i.e. Mount Rainier, Olympic National Forest, Bainbridge Island). I love this shot behind the sign to the Pike Place Market. Yes, I'm wearing a driver's cap.
JetBlue had a perfect flight schedule, leaving after work on Friday, and returning Sunday night/Monday morning on a redeye.
So, I'm headed to Seattle in a couple of weeks.
I love last minute trips!
Jamen mentioned that he could watch Rosie for the weekend, which I definitely appreciate. I will be sure to keep the fridge well-stocked with plenty of beer, just as I did for Ryan when I left for the Super Bowl.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I haven't posted here in a few days - probably the combination of not having all that much new to say, a minor sore throat, and just a bit of general lethargy....another snow storm, and more unnecessary Southie parking battles, pretty much a Groundhog Day week.
I left work early on Friday, in anticipation of the snow storm, and had a super productive day working from my kitchen table. It reminded me of working from home at my old job (which I did all the time when I wasn't in Airworld).
I was going to cook a lamb roast today, but I was just invited to an early dinner with some friends. I might still roast the lamb and eat it for dinner and lunch during the week. Lately, most of my Sunday meals have been large enough for days and days of leftovers, and anyone who knows me well is aware of my cheerful willingness to consumer leftovers.
Last night was game night at Phil's (once again). It was become a running joke that I keep saying that I'm going to host the next game night, but never seem to step up and organize one. I am sensing that I'm going to become uninvited to game nights unless I actually host, so I already tentatively scheduled he next one for late March. I'm assuming Guitar Hero III will be a minor part of Game Night, but we usually stick to board games that work well in party settings (last night was Balderdash - and I played better than the last time. Kelly was the winner by a mile).
Posted by Jason at 10:56 AM
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Scene 1 - "Mrs. Obvious meets Captain Redundant"
Setting - Southie (Boston MA, USA, Earth)
Jason: (silent, with Rosie the Wonder Dog, staring up at the lunar eclipse)
Random Lady: "Hey, do you see the eclipse?"
Random Lady: "We should all sing 'Total Eclipse of the Haaaaat' together"
Jason: "Yeah. In unison"
Posted by Jason at 7:23 AM
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This is one of my favorite songs from the 90's. It came up on my ipod yesterday, and for some reason, realizing that I had never seen the video for the song, I thought I would check it out on You Tube.
Turns out that it's one of those songs that sounds much better without having the video in mind. This clip is pretty awful.
I always pictured the backdrop of this song having a very Trainspotting feel to it...a bleak setting, grungy characters, and a grey, urban feel.
Instead we get a brightly-colored video with Jarvis Cocker's over-the-top mannerisms front and center.
I interviewed Jarvis (the lead singer) back in '94 or '95, whenever their first US album was released. I distinctly remember him autographing the CD insert "Jason, thanks for the chat. Listen to it in the bath."
...those eccentric Brits.
Posted by Jason at 6:59 AM
Monday, February 18, 2008
1. My car is now clean, after having been assaulted by an army of birds on Saturday.
2. The nuisance that was the ratting, hanging-by-just-one-bolt Southie Resident Parking Sign that stood atop a pole outside of my residence is no more. It thankfully succumbed to Father 40 mph Wind Gusts. I brought the sign inside so it doesn't end up through someone's car window or causing damage elsewhere. As my decor style doesn't include many "street signs on the wall," I'm happy to return this sign to the city if they promise to bolt it appropriately next time.
That's it. Nothing else good about this. Walking the dog in these conditions was no fun (even Rosie took a look back at me a couple times, as if she was saying "Um, are you kidding? Get me inside.")
Friday, February 15, 2008
When I hopped in my car this morning to drive to work, I realized that 104.1 WBCN was the station I had last listened to when I returned home last night. I don't often listen to Opie & Anthony beyond flipping through on occasion, but this morning, I quickly realized that they were discussing Lost with someone who sounded suspiciously like the character Ben (the leader of The Others). It turns out it was indeed him live in the studio.
THIS is good radio -relevant, unique, and topical. It's not a faceless music format. It's what stations should strive to be in 2008. It's nothing I could have heard on CD or on my ipod this morning (sure, I suppose I could have downloaded a Lost podcast recapping last night's episode...if one has already been uploaded...but nothing with one of the main actors giving an interview with the context of last night's cliffhanger).
While one caveat to such programming would be excluding listeners who don't watch Lost, I would imagine that the demographics of the show match those of O&A's audience well, and that those listeners entirely captivated (like myself) would balance those who flipped to other stations.
Regardless, it sucked me in for the entire drive. I didn't touch the dial once.
Posted by Jason at 8:25 AM
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
February temperatures always catch me by surprise...for some reason, EVERY February, I think we're moving into Spring, yet arctic fronts like the ones we're currently experiencing here in Boston catch me off guard. I should know better.
Nonetheless, last February - actually almost one year ago today - I spent a weekend in Portland, Maine with a friend. I had a free Hilton hotel night that was going to expire, and figured an overnight in a nearby city was a good way to spend it. Hit up the outlets in Freeport and York, grab a nice dinner, take some photos, and my favorite part - stopping at the NH State Liquor store on the way back.
Southern and Coastal Maine are not much colder than Boston, but thermometers are generally a few ticks lower. While we were fortunate to have beautiful sunny skies, it was cold.
I forget where I found this lighthouse, but I thought the shot of it on the rocky coastline captured an icon of New England quite well.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Across the Universe featured some terrific arrangements of Beatles music, performed by a talented cast of singers, a couple of which sang during the Beatles montage at the Grammys last night. The plot had some odd twists and turns, but the music made it worth the rental.
On Sunday, we went to The Playwright for lunch, and my impulsive feelings consumed me, to the point that I found myself back at that Blockbuster soon thereafter, purchasing Guitar Hero III. I played it once before for XBox 360, and saw its addictive qualities.
Sure enough, I'm hooked.
Good thing, because, well, I ROCK !!!
I tore through Barracuda and Bulls on Parade, and beat Tom Morello himself on the axe in a guitar duel. My band is named Zebra Rock, and my character looks like a cross between Vince Neil circa 1985 and Lita Ford circa 1988.
I noticed little baggies of silica desiccant in the guitar box. I'm going to have to toss them out, as I would hate to rock even more and have the game encourage me to snort them in my tour bus.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Because the douche who owns this piece of crap Jetta let his (or her) blaring car alarm irritate everyone within earshot in the middle of the night.
Finally, after 90 minutes, the car was towed away.
I had the fortune of living across the street from the nuisance.
I tried to get a picture of the license plate, but it didn't turn out...even with photo enhancements. Bummer. I had every intention of posting the plate number, distributing it to my neighbors, and beginning a witch hunt for the owner, hopefully ending in slashed tires or a stoning.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
When I was in Arizona at the Super Bowl, 92.9 WBOS, one of my favorite local stations, flipped to a 90's-based rock format.
I am a bit late to the party in discussing this (I have been following the links and comments on Universal Hub and the sites to which it linked about this), but since I worked in radio for 15 years, many of them on the air for an alternative station, and many more as a researcher / consultant for all formats, I thought I would offer my two cents.
This is a huge mistake.
And I'm not simply in "complaint mode" because I did indeed enjoy the old WBOS. I believe it is a mistake because of many logical reasons.Greater Media did this because WBOS had terrible ratings, and they are in anticipation of the arrival of a new ratings measurement mechanism to Boston - Arbitron's Personal People Meter.
In both of the PPM test markets - Philly and Houston - early returns showed rock stations being underrepresented in the way ratings had been collected with written diaries submitted through snail mail. After the PPM ratings were released, all of a sudden operators saw better ratings for rock stations with a Grunge-to-today focus. Not great ratings, but much better than they had been.
With the PPM rolling out nationwide in the next year or so, operators recently began flipping underperforming stations to rock stations that sound very similar to what "Radio 92.9" sounds like right now.
But still, even with this information, I just don't understand why this was necessary - a FOURTH rock station in Boston playing this era rock music (modern / alternative rock, however it's labeled).
WFNX, WBCN, and WAAF are fighting over a 6 share of Boston radio listening. (Share is determined by number of listeners and length of listening - so a 6 share is 6 percent of all radio listening done in a market). Add up the 12+ (people 12 and older) shares of these three stations combined, and the triumvirate would lose to either Jam'n 94.5, WBZ, Kiss 108, or WEEI.
The pie isn't that big to start, and it's not exactly growing. But, just for kicks, let's say that the PPM ratings show that there are 8 or 9 shares for this type of music in Boston, instead of 6. Now there's a fourth player in this arena, going up against three stations with fairly loyal followings, stations that have been consistently sticking to their respective corners of the rock market for many years.
Will those "new" shares uncovered by PPM simply all go to the fourth one to the party?
Of course not.
There's no reason for the FNX/BCN/AAF listener to ever convert to being a favorite of this station. Not without a morning show. Not without good, local content. Not without something different.
The future of radio in 2008 and beyond is custom local content - not a jukebox on autoplay. This type of radio will never work again. Ever.
Right on their new website - http://www.bostonradio929.com/ (a horrible URL), their brand statement is there in blue text - "Want more music and less talk? Then 92.9 is the only place on the dial to get exactly that!"
More music / less talk? Yeah, that positioner worked in the past. But today, the world of entertainment consumption is far different. It's immediate. It's on-demand. It's personalized and customized.
More music / less talk = my ipod.
Those who enjoy this brand of music are exactly the folks who own ipods, and can build their own custom stations as playlists on their ipods. These stations will play their personal favorite songs much more regularly and precisely than any radio station can.
If people who like this era of music are irritated at Toucher & Rich, or The Sandbox, or Opie & Anthony, or The Hill-Man Morning Show, they are probably either ipod only, or listening to XM or Sirius. They have not been longing and waiting for Radio 92.9.
The "more music, no chatty DJ's" position got you to a 1.5 share in the first place, WBOS. So now, Radio 92.9 is hanging its hat on this same irrelevant position, but playing music that is readily available elsewhere (unlike a format with much greater passion, such as the old WBOS).
When I returned from the Super Bowl, I wanted to listen to WEEI to hear their opinions on the game. When I tune to NPR or WBZ, I want to hear news, traffic, and weather. When I listen to Kiss 108, I want to hear the acerbic wit of Matty in the Morning and his crew.
I pulled a monitor of WBOS from Wed night 7pm-9pm. Here's what they played:
GREEN DAY - Brain Stew
LINKIN PARK - Bleed It Out
BODEANS - Closer To Free
NO DOUBT - Don't Speak
JET - Look What You've Done
SMASHING PUMPKINS - Landslide
JACK JOHNSON - Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
RADIOHEAD - Bodysnatchers
BEASTIE BOYS - Intergalactic
TALKING HEADS - And She Was
NIRVANA - Come As You Are
AUDIOSLAVE - I Am The Highway
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND - Stay (Wasting Time)
EDDIE VEDDER - Hard Sun
BLINK 182 - Dammit
BETTER THAN EZRA - Good
STEREO MC'S - Connected
FOO FIGHTERS - Long Road To Ruin
HOUSE OF PAIN - Jump Around
RAMONES - Blitzkrieg Bop
LIVE - I Alone
FUEL - Shimmer
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - Otherside
TONIC - Open Up Your Eyes
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS - Plush
MUSE - Starlight
GREEN DAY - She
MODEST MOUSE - Dashboard
BOB MARLEY & WAILERS - Jamming
A solid list with a few surprises. I get what the station wants to be.
But, I already own every one of these songs. Lots of people in Boston do. I can put them on my ipod in this order, and not have to listen to the commercials. Or, I could flip around among the AAF, BCN, and FNX and hear things that sounded quite similar to this.
Nothing differentiates this station from what is already available, or from what I already own.
It's unfortunate that Greater Media did this. They had a loyal (albeit not-so-big) audience, a great brand, a great signal, and probably great qualitative metrics on its former audience. I am guessing they were relatively affluent, active, and socially conscious.
WBOS' old format worked elsewhere in the U.S., notably in Denver (KBCO) and Minneapolis (KTCZ). Both of those stations have been around for many years, have stuck to their respective brands, have built personality, events, and unique content around their stations, and have built strong local followings. (Unfortunately, both of their websites are stuck with the awful Clear Channel web templates - but trust me, they are both good listens).
WBOS had all of this - Studio 7 music, Earth Fest, Copley Summer Concerts, Sunday morning Over Easy - but had poor ratings. It's weird, I truly don't believe the ratings ever accurately reflected WBOS' actual audience.
Perhaps they never did accurately reflect the true audience, and never were going to either. And unfortunately, when it comes down to it, commercial stations sell their ratings first and foremost.
When it comes to branding, they had it. Now, they are a faceless format, fourth in the race, playing the ratings game in anticipation of the Personal People Meter.
Any research company that advised WBOS to do this has done them a disservice. If they were looking for a new format, there were no other format holes? You're kidding. Smooth Jazz? Urban AC (older R&B)? You wanted a 25-39 format, and picked a very crowded lane on the highway.
The radio industry needs brands like WBOS to survive and remain relevant well into the future. It's a good thing the WEEI's, Z100's, KROQ's, Magic 106.7's, and Jam'n 94.5's of the world still exist. These stations fill a need, understand their audiences, and are RELEVANT. People care about them. Their audiences hear programming and content that they can't get elsewhere (sure, Jam'n plays the same 80 songs all week long, but they always play new music, do tons of mixing, and have a great morning show in Ramiro & Pebbles that deliver unique content every weekday).
There appear to be far more loyal, angry "old WBOS" listeners than thrilled new listeners to Radio 92.9.
This posting is not designed to be a rant. I am attempting to think about this logically, something I would imagine Greater Media also attempted to do.
But Radio 92.9 is irrelevant. It never will be relevant. Greater Media should be smarter than this.
Last night was the first night all week when I slept well. No 5am drives to the airport, no late nights re-watching a game on my DVR, no post-game celebrations in Arizona. I'm assuming I will, therefore, be much less cranky at work today.
While viewing the broadcast, I happened to notice a crowd shot of our section (124) during the opening series following this kickoff. Through the magic of HD telecasts, I was able to spot my head in the crowd. It's tiny, and I'm on screen for less than a second, but I suppose I was (technically) seen by 97.5 million Americans, and millions more around the globe.
Give me a couple speaking parts on camera, and I'm ready for my SAG card.
Posted by Jason at 7:44 AM
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
I have now flown what is very likely to be my final Elite flight with Continental Airlines. What began as an airline of convenience when living in New Jersey grew into an odd consumer-business relationship that extended well into my years in Boston. For a while, during my 8-10 annual cross-country flights, I went out of my way to fly Continental, racking up tons of flight segments and Elite qualifying miles to keep me on their ranks of Platinum (that name should ring a bell) for years. I was almost always taking four flights to get to and back from my destination, as the vast majority of Continental’s flights from Boston traveled to one of their hubs in Cleveland, Newark, or Houston.
Sometimes, there was no way around connecting to get somewhere from Boston (my five trips to McAllen, Texas for example). But, mainly I found myself heading to Los Angeles and Las Vegas the long way, with the sheer interest of inconveniencing myself to both take advantage of the benefits of my status, and maintain my status. It’s a dirty feedback loop – fly a lot, earn status, receive tons of bonus miles, fly a lot more (a bit more comfortably), and then they have you. Stop flying as much and lose status. So what do you do? Keep flying a lot, skipping the direct flights to keep it all with Continental.
I reached a point in 2006 where I made the conscious decision to begin my divorce with Continental. Nothing against them – they were good to me, and I think they are the best of the stogy legacy carriers. But my priorities changed. During my final year at my old job, I began flying more Delta and JetBlue non-stops, knowing that my Continental relationship had to end. Continental was a drug. I needed Delta and JetBlue rehab.
Time became more important to me. Avoiding connections and flying non-stop was my new main goal. For a while, when Delta was still flying their Song planes, I tried booking Song or JetBlue whenever possible – free live TV, more legroom, leather seats – flying Continental just to keep status and hope for upgrades was no longer a priority.
I still somehow managed 25,000 miles on Continental in 2006, so I again qualified for 2007 Elite status (albeit Silver). But, I took my current job in mid-2006, and my time on the road (thankfully) diminished significantly. Being a Road Warrior is fun for a while, but it eventually grows old.
Since Continental extends Elite status through February of the following calendar year, here I am, still a Silver Elite on Continental, but having flown my final Continental Elite flight, after my last jaunt through the Elite line at Logan, and my final walk down their blue Elite carpet.
While this likely won’t be my final Continental flight (I still have 275,000 miles to burn with them), it’s probably the last one where they view me as being one of their better customers.
That’s OK. Continental, it has been fun. Thanks for all of the upgrades, preboards, and exit row seats.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Our hotel in Tempe is quite convenient to Scottsdale, where we spent most of this afternoon. Most of the shops in Scottsdale were either art galleries or de factor souvenir shops, filled with Super Bowl paraphernalia.
Part of why we ventured into Scottsdale today was for the WEEI Patriots block party, to which I was given free tickets. Even though I'm technically on the Giants side this weekend, it's difficult to pass up freebies, especially when they were charging $200 a pop.
I thought this was a great shot - three dudes in three different Tom Brady jerseys. We also saw a few Giselle jerseys (number 00).
ESPN is featured quite prominently in Scottsdale this weekend, as they broadcast a number of SportsCenters live from one of the main squares there.
Thanks to my 300mm zoom lens, I took a few close-ups of Emmitt Smith (here sticking his tongue out, alongside Trey Wingo).
Well, we made it to Phoenix after a long delay at Logan. We had something working in our favor, and this had never happened to me before. Our Boston to Cleveland flight arrived two hours late, and the connecting flight to Phoenix had been held up, awaiting us – 18 of the 50 or so passengers were connecting to Phoenix.
I think Continental evaluated the options – leave 18 Super Bowl bound customers stranded in Cleveland, scrambling to put them onto flights the following day (most of which were likely full or overbooked), or hold the plane. They held the plane.
While the Cleveland to Phoenix flight was also delayed, by the time we arrived on the plane, everybody else had boarded and were waiting for us. The Boston flight. They were likely thrilled, especially the Giants fans.
My uncle called me while we were walking down the center aisle on the plane, asking our whereabouts. As I explained to him that we were boarding the flight to Phoenix, and mentioned the reasons for the delays, I had already-seated passengers in the background chiming in about their displeasure sitting and waiting for us – the Boston flight. One told me (kiddingly, I think) that we owed him drinks.
Another was seated in my assigned seat 31D, who informed me that he was already settled and not about to move for me, even though I had that seat assigned. They were moving folks around to correctly weight-balance the plane, so I’m guessing more people were in seats that weren’t supposed to be theirs. I’m assuming this dude had a middle seat in the front, and jumped at the opportunity for an aisle when they asked for volunteers. Either way, he was a prick about it. No big deal, we took the two seats in row 30.
Later I saw him reading a NY Daily News. I knew it. Typical douche from New York.
We checked in to our hotel is Tempe, and I didn't realize how close we were to the campus of ASU (Arizona State) until we drove into downtown to find some food. The place was hopping, tons of bars and retailers, and a stone's throw from Sun Devil Stadium (NOT where the Super Bowl is being played....that's in Glendale).
Today, we're heading into Scottsdale for a couple block parties. It should be able 60-65 degrees today, so not summer weather, but certainly nicer than Boston this weekend!
Friday, February 01, 2008
There is a problem. Still in Boston and now we're rapidly moving toward Plan B....
Flight to Cleveland is delayed, flight from Cleveland to Phoenix is not. I have a bad feeling that we're missing our connection.
As I'm assuming all flights to Phoenix will be booked this weekend...Plan B consists of flying somewhere within a drive to Phoenix, which would include Los Angeles (6 hours) or Las Vegas (5 hours).
I certainly do not miss Airworld.