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Wednesday, 20 August 2014


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Wonderful column, Mike, came from the heart. Had to do a real estate shoot today. Bread and butter, .. low return, but welcome,...been slow over the past three months in the southern winter. Had to do a front shot of a rather beautiful house, but it had a huge poster for the local candidate in the up-coming state election stuck plumb in the front yard. She and I don't see eye to eye. Her views are right of George Bush 2 ... Am I ethical to remove the poster in Photoshop, or do I leave it there, thus putting off half the potential buyers? What's XM Radio?? We only have FM and AM in Australia, and the current Federal Government are contemplating selling the only free to air dedicated classical network without adverts. We live in interesting times....

OMG Mike! You're sounding like a socialist. a slippery slope to full blown communism that will have you hounded out of town. Don't just visit Great Britain, move here!

You get what you pay for. Free (as in beer) radio gives you [the] same 500 songs interminably, in predetermined percentages, to formula, with just a very few entering or falling off the playlist now and then ... along with unending brain-dead obnoxious commercials for car dealers and bars.

Not-free radio (XM) sells you what you want. Or not. Your choice.

Another choice is to plug your portable-phone-device into the car and program your own -- music you own or live from "radio" stations around the world.

Technology: If we didn't understand it, it would be magic. If we didn't have it, we'd have fewer choices.

I like this post and Janis Joplin voice, great song. Yes, it is difficult to find a good radio stain with a good music...

You really should try the alternative. As in, practical communism. That would quickly shift your paradigms, take my word for it.

Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder about XM as well. The so-called deep track/ classic rock choices are sounding more and more like consumer pap to me. Enough with the damn Eagles and Fleetwood Mac already. And why is it that you never hear Frank Zappa, or say, Spirit, for example? I could go on and on, but why bother.

I listen to Jazz.fm in Toronto. They are one of the remaining independent radio stations that operates on a not-for-profit basis.

You can listen to them on FM radio at 91.1 in Toronto and Buffalo and they have an Internet streaming service and apps for your favorite mobile device.


Give them a try.

Re: Broadcast music radio: If I ever hear any song by Fleetwood Mac again, I have a Pavlovian regurgitation reflex.

BTW, in my recent move to Indianapolis, a city I'm not quite taken with, they have a public radio station (88.7 ) that plays jazz from noon to midnight, and classical from midnight to noon. The jazz has some 'softer stuff' mixed in with some hard bop and standards, and amazingly listenable for most of the time it's on. That, and the Jazz Kitchen jazz club, are the only things that have kept me from walking out of my new job, and Indianapolis!

Console yourself, Mike. Socialism is very close to winning, and if there aren't enough people like me, it will. The Cloward-Piven strategy is moving ahead full speed.

I don't have XM; I run Spotify or Google Music (or, more often these days, audiobooks) on my phone and plug that into the radio. Every so often, I will turn on the FM receiver. I am never surprised by what I hear.

Oh man, don't get me started on commercial radio, the ultimate wasteland. Why is it that in a so-called free market society, the only networks on the air (TV or radio) worth watching or listening to are publicly funded? Now that's irony.

I thought the marketplace was supposed to supply us with what we want? Do we only want crap, is that it?

Or, put another way, why did we give the public commons radio spectrum over to private companies so that they could charge us money for the crap they put on the air? (I know, I know, the radio spectrum is sold, not given away. So what.)

I recommend "The Rebel Sell" by Joseph Heath, a U of Toronto philosophy prof.

There are lots of people who actually believe that all interactions between humans are (or should be) economic in nature. Every kiss, a transaction? Every conversation, a marketing pitch? Can we monetize a chat over tea?

I find this pathetic.

Fries with that?

Before my site got hacked, I had this that I did in 2009.

I found it with Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/web/20091011083513/http://www.photographworks.com/2009/09/14/the-leica-m9-song/">http://www.photographworks.com/2009/09/14/the-leica-m9-song/">http://web.archive.org/web/20091011083513/http://www.photographworks.com/2009/09/14/the-leica-m9-song/

The Leica Song

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Leica M9 ?
I’m done shooting Nikons, I want to shoot prime.

It’s full-frame or nothing, and a big LCD,
And manual focus, please explain that to me.

Oh Lord, how I wanted a Leica M8,
But now I am grateful that you made me wait.

Worked hard all my lifetime, to get what is mine,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Leica M9.

Oh Lord, do this one thing, this one thing for me,
And Lord I’ll review it – I’ll do it for free.

©2009 David Bennett

From an idea of @FrasSmith and words of Janis Joplin

No comment. Just good morning to you too, and good night (bed time in Melb. Oz). Enjoy your coffee.

Mike - have you seen this video?


It's very obviously 'inspired' by Ryanair, many British & Irish people's least-favourite budget airline. However, it's also very, very funny; and for a while, I gather that Ryanair's own website had a link to it....

capitalism. You know I haven't the slightest power against it and it doesn't need defending. It won. It rules. We know.
Unfortunately for us, it appears that Chinese Communism may be going to win in the long run. Right now they're running a close second and gaining.

You are so absolutely correct about corporate radio and it's homogeneous character.
Video did not kill the radio star, corporate radio fired him!

Except for a few rare exceptions, commercial FM has died a sad death, but college stations and public radio are still very much alive and kicking.

Dear Mike: I hope that you know of WKCR.org, the free online stream of Columbia University's mostly jazz station. The station's repertoire of jazz, which has included the Bird Flight show with Phil Schaap every weekday morning for the past forty years, is one of the pleasures of life. Live and recorded shows are available on the website. - Yiorgos

I'm kind of amazed that some insurance company uses the 80's song, "I'm only Human".

If you read the lyrics, it appears to be about a couple satisfying their "needs" when they weren't around each other. I've been wondering for quite a while now when that part of the song would get noticed.

>>Janis Joplin, Michael McClure, and Bob
>>Neuwirth's song "Mercedes Benz" was
>>actually used for a Mercedes-Benz commercial

As a side note: over here in Germany it was used for a BMW Z3 commercial. The driver pushed a cassette tape (it was a while ago) into the Z3's player, listened to the song, showed a puzzled expression when he heard the words 'Mercedes-Benz' and casually threw the cassette tape out of the car.

I found the Sirius stations I listened to regularly to suffer from the same "calculated and focus-group tested and computer-controlled" playlists as the FM wasteland that is now American radio. The only difference is there is a greater selection of channels and genres so now you can really get sick of the same 100 songs from the 70s, or classical music, etc.

"classic rock"—has long since been co-opted completely into the power structure and is now simply a sop, pablum for the ears, ubiquitous, toothless."

This is not a plug: Listen to WXPN; it will change your mind and your mood.


Sometimes irony can be winning. Apple used a Pixies song that's about a giant penis ("Gigantic") in an iPhone ad. So there's that.

I remember that MB commercial and my bewilderment that it ever reached the air. It reminded me strongly of Reagan's famous citation of "Born in the USA" as an example of patriotic music: the song is, of course, a splendid example--just not in the way the speech intended to convey.

Good Morning Mike.
Here in Alberta Canada we have the good fortune of having CKUA. The radio station broadcasts on 16 FM transmitters across the province as well as on the web so feel free to check it out at ckua.com. We are very proud of our local and fiercely independent broadcaster. Where else can you hear a weekly program dedicated to the music of the Grateful Dead (Dead Ends & Detours) all the way through to "The Road Home" where the music is intermixed with poetry. Keeping this on topic, I would argue that The Road Home is the closest one can come to photography on the radio. Spoken word and imagination can conjure up some great images. Naturally, you can expect several, especially good Jazz programs; handcrafted by the various hosts just for you. I could go on mentioning every genre that exists (and I do mean every genre), but it is much more fun to explore personally. CKUA is our little corner of intelligent radio with conglomerates and focus groups expressly disallowed. Probably worth mentioning that CKUA first hit the airwaves in 1927 and even predates our beloved Canadian Broadcast Corporation's arrival. Just imagine a record library that old and what an empowered and intelligent music loving DJ could do with all that choice.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest". I think you can probably change "democracy" to "capitalism", and "government" to "economic system", in that phrase and it would still hold.

Mike, I know you're younger'n me, but are you old enough to remember Ron Cuzner, who did an all-night jazz show on a Milwaukee station in the 60s and 70s? Now that was original programming. There was also a progressive rock DJ on a station in Wauawtosa, appropriately signed WTOS. Can't remember his name, even though I photographed him in '69 for a high school newspaper article. The first words out of his mouth during that interview: "I grew up in culturally deprived Whitefish Bay, and you can quote me on that." I found his words profound back then, but with the wisdom of my years, I realize he was just pandering to his rebellious young white middle class audience. Then there was a more "sanitized" progressive rock station up in Menomonee Falls called WZMF. I miss those radio days.

Mike, take a listen to KBEM FM (streaming at jazz88fm.com) A fabulous local station run by the Minneapolis public schools. I think you'd like it.

I have Sirius/XM on the car radio, and I often wind up turning to the PBS FM stations. The problem is the Sirius/XM is going the same way as the mega-conglomerates. I listen mostly to "Outlaw Country," which started out, roughly, as a kind of Americana roots country-blues station (a lot of Texas singers) with some pretty rough and uncommon stuff on it. It has been getting softer and stupider by the month, and there are now guys on "Outlaw" who would be much more at home on the old corporate Nashville Grand Ol Opry b.s. I so wanted to get away from it the other day that I actually switched to "*0's on 8" and inadvertently listened to a part of a Michael Bolton song, and in a panic, nearly plucked my earballs out.

You might want to check out CKUA.com when you are near a computer. It started life as student radio in Edmonton Canada back in the 20's I think - before CBC anyway. It got provincial funding and set up transmitters across the province as the emergency warning system. When the government money died, it went to the fans, and now it is supported by the listeners donating twice a year.

The real claim to fame is that it is hand crafted radio. The announcers are knowledgeable eclectic real people that you can email and talk to. They play every genre under the sun from Baroque through Jazz (all eras) and Rock through Country (all eras of those too). They have a huge library of 78's and shellac through to the music that hasn't been released yet. They see their mission as connecting artists (with a preference for local) with audiences (around the world now with the net) and using the announcers to curate and educate in the nicest possible way as they do it. You literally never know what you will hear next, but it will NOT be Top 40 or pablum. If an artist with a new album is in heavy rotation, you might hear the same song twice in the same week - as they say, there is just too much good stuff out there to repeat too much. They are huge promotors of live music too, and have artist interviews when ever someone comes to town.

Try it for yourself. Listen at different times of the day and you will hear something different each time. I'm lucky because I can catch it on FM everywhere here, but I also listen to it online just like thousands around the world do.



Yeah, but don't you know, '..those things can put your eye out!!!'

(Channeling Mom, God bless her)

PS, I have XM, or Sirius anyway, same thing I think. Talk about not local, play lists repeating, fake DJs, come on now. Or, is XM not Sirius, and is somehow local to you??



The last time I really listened to music on the radio was in the late 60's to early 70's. Much of that was spent in the army and music was more of a cultural touchstone than it seems to be now.
Even AFRTS radio had more teeth than what you hear today.
Maybe all the passion is in hip hop but I'm just too old to connect.
Or maybe the passion is just out of us. I hope a century from now the historians aren't saying "the world went to hell and America went to the mall".
Sorry, I'm having kind of a black Wednesday. May have to go home and put on some Ella and snap out of it.

I worked for a Giant Radio Company from 2002-2007. During that time I watched our market slash jobs and local programming for syndicated shows time and time again. Around the time I decided to quit, they were voice-tracking (recording) even local programming. In other words they took the same jock who was on the air from 10-2 each day, had them record their show in advance, and had that same jock do another job at the station. It was cheaper to have them voice-track the breaks and work a second job in the remaining shift time than to have them work the board the entire time. This is why you'll sometimes hear local shows with no references to anything real-time like the weather; it's hard to comment on how the blizzard is going when you recorded the show the day before.

Somewhere buried at the bottom of a stack of papers at the FCC there is a paragraph or two about how radio stations - public or private - have an obligation to serve the communities in which they operate. This has been all but forgotten by most stations as they have slashed jobs, slashed the benefits of their remaining workers, cut back on events that are beneficial to the community, and finally have even done away with most local programming. It's a shame.

Can't you see,

it all makes perfect sense,

expressed in dollars and cents,

pound, shillings, and pence.

It all makes perfect sense.

- Roger Waters

And I see a parallel to the camera industry, where most companies (especially the big ones) try to "play it safe" by releasing new cameras that match their competitors closely in looks and features without really daring to stick out from the crowd. In musical terms: Going by a sure-fire "hit formula" rather than to make a personal mark or artistic expression.

Hi Mike,

What is "Wisconsin Beef"?

I had some last Sunday dining out. It tastes like American Black Angus beef. (I'm no expert.)

We're (Philippines) a net importer of beef. Mostly on the hoof from Australia. Locally grown beef, not readily available, is also good esp. when bought warm at the source. (We have good butchers; no complaints yet from OZ animal activists:)

My favorite is Wagyu (Kobe beef). But it's too expensive I only have it on my birthday every two years or so.

Topic proposal: it would be great if you could write about how to best determine print exposure and contrast in the darkroom. Do you recommend using test strips or working with full sheets of paper? Any tips for a novice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

I hate going to my dentist.

Not because it hurts when he's hammering away at my crumbling tombstones, nor that it costs so damn much for him to swing the hammer, but because of the "music" coming out of ceiling-mounted speakers throughout his office.

I don't know what the industry term for this crap is, but a friend and I have christened it "secretary music."

The playlist: godawful pop from bands you hated in the 80's & 90's sprinkled over a mix of contemporary faux rock/hip-hop/"r&b." All of it is painfully upbeat, even the cheesiest ballad.

What really makes me want to kill is the inane banter between a group of people whom I assume to have taken the place of actual DJs. They natter manically about the latest celebrity goings-on, what they drank last night and what they're thinking of eating today. It's hell.

Each time my dentist cheerfully informs me that it appears to him I've been grinding my teeth during sleep, I can only sigh sadly, reminded once again that John Mayer, Pharrell, the Bangles and countless other dross emitters... must be performing a never-ending gig in my dreams.

Hi Mike,

I've been enjoying your morning coffee posts immensely. The other day you mentioned we could send you suggestions for different topics. Personally I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on your dream BW sensor camera. I'm still utterly amazed at the amount of people who just couldn't understand your point of view. Please keep on writing about this sensor, we really need this option and I can't afford a Leica monochrom.

Growing up in post war rural England it was less difficult to get your hands on guns than it is now, although still nothing like the US. So I was pretty familiar with shotguns and a few ex military firearms (that we weren't supposed to have) but most days between the ages of about 11 and 16 I was armed with a fairly high-powered airgun. Usually this was a BSA .22 or .177

At that time, even amongst schoolboys, the appropriately named "Daisy" airguns were considered a complete joke.

Well now, that was a lovely and heartwarming Morning Coffee despite your (probably, sadly, justified) conclusion about the absence of the impact of your beliefs. Have a great day Mike and may you get your jazz back soon.

check out http://www.rrr.org.au/
independent radio playing quite a wide range of music, plenty of independent label artists (Courtney Barnett gets a good run) and plenty of individual thoughts and commentary. You can stream it and you can get it as podcasts.

Could you maybe post a quick pix of something that goes along with the Morning coffee? Your B&W dog shot was neat... Maybe a shot of your old radio or something you're moving or tossing might've worked with this post... If you have time, of course.

Bob G.

Mike, down here in central Arizona we have a hidden gem of a radio station. KCDX is one of several stations owned by the same man. Most of his stations are rural stations playing predictable music and news. But KCDX is his personal station. There are no DJ's, only occasional advertising (gotta do the public service stuff), and the music format is what the owner likes, not what surveys and demographics and advertisers demand. KCDX plays eclectic mix of rock, pop, country, whatever pleases the owner. Sorry, I don't recall hearing jazz on there.

The station doesn't even broadcast every day but it does most days. Compared to the homogenized drivel of the mass market stations in Phoenix, KCDX is a huge breath of fresh air.


If you want real jazz try...


and stream it

Back in the late 20th century I had a girlfriend who would sing the lyrics to the M.A.S.H. theme song when it came on the "inoffensive music to shop by". Fortunately it was in a time and place where at least a few people were able to point out to the offended that the shopkeeper was to one who put "suicide is painless" on the loudspeakers in the first place.

Blimey! You're a Situationist! I'm impressed - I reckon you are quite a rare species in Waukesha.

And you would like to live in England . Not many Americans would say that, most seeming to think that to do so would somehow undermine the status of the USA as current most powerful country. There is plenty wrong with England, but plenty right with it too. The best bit, of course, is the bit where I live - if you don't believe me, this album (not mine - if only I were so talented) might convince you:


Hate to say it, but these "Morning Coffee" items are every bit as good as the regular blog content.

When I was in my teens I used to listen to the radio in the chance of hearing new and interesting music. The late British DJ John Peel's ecclectic taste played a big influence on my own musical tastes. Now radio is just background muzak. It is not where you go for anything new, interesting or innovative. The local stations here are fixed permanently in a loop, it got to the point if I heard that bloody track about going through the desert on a horse with no name one more time I would have lobbied my MP to bring in the mandatory death penalty for radio programers. I want to listen to something different not the same few santised safe hits that happened 30-40 years ago. Thank goodness for the interwebs.

Sure, here's a capitalist question: how did "Turkey in the Straw" become the default tune for ice cream trucks?

Just wonderin'...

um, 're-up' ????

[Military slang for re-enlistment, here meaning renew. --Mike]

Dude - 88.9 WMKE. I'm too lazy to put an iPod interface into my S2000, so that's all I listen to. Unless the Brewers are playing.

[Yeah, I do listen to a lot of them. I especially like that I can go online and find the song name and artist later, just by noting the time.

But I can't quite forgive them for taking away the last broadcast jazz station in town. --Mike]

I didn't even remember radio existed.

As with much of capitalist-corporatist culture, it all makes economic sense—for the owners—but culturally, intellectually, emotionally and artistically it's sterile, sad, cynical and debased.

Very nicely put, Mike. We're headed down that path in all walks of our daily lives, unfortunately.

Sheesh. You must be an Eagles fan.
But did you ever hear the story about the snarl on Elvis Costello's face on the album called "This Year's Model" (i think)? The one with with the Hasselblad, anyway.
The way they got him to snarl was to put on The Eagles, whom he detested. I might add that "the Dude" got thrown out of a cab in The Big Lebowski for saying bad things about the aforementioned musical blowhards.
I hope you're not a fan.

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