Segarini: A Midsummer’s Bitch and Moan

I am trying to quit smoking.

Partly because I should.

Partly because I want to.

And partly because cigarettes now cost more than a box of Fruit Loops and a quart of milk, and you can’t smoke them anywhere without risking pneumonia or heatstroke.

One of the reasons for this is straight from the Canadian Government’s crack You Can’t Raise Your Own Kids, Look After Yourself, Or Know What’s Good For You Without Our Help panel of suits, ties, and myopic visionaries.

They say, among other things, that less smoking will ease the pressure on hospitals. Has anybody seen the stats for weather-related deaths, flu, frostbite, muggings, marriage break-ups, fist fights, bad moods, and incidents of pestering starting with the incorrect phrase, “Hey buddy, got an extra cigarette”? The correct phrase, of course, is, “Hey! Give me a fucking cigarette before I beat you to a pulp with this Sun newspaper box!”. Everybody knows there are only 20 or 25 cigarettes in a pack. An extra cigarette would make it 21 or 26…so quit asking for an extra cigarette…no one will EVER have one.

And while I’m at it, please explain to me how those pesky folks that pry into our normal lives like the nosy neighbor on Bewitched, (Mrs. Kravitz), have eliminated the funds and support that tobacco companies used to sponsor the arts and sporting events with, without replacing them, put diseased body parts on packaging  and promote the dangers of smoking, (everybody knows that the quickest way to get kids interested in something is to tell them not to do it), made it impossible to smoke anywhere except under your bed, tried to blame smoking for all that is wrong with people and the world, created a lower class that never used to exist, and then continually raise taxes on the evil habit without so much as a, “Thank you very much, you stupid morons. We know you have an addiction, but instead of funding research to lessen the amount of nicotine in a cigarette, then create a cigarette that no longer contains nicotine, we will just make you pay and pay and pay…because no one can stop us!”

I would rather they make smoking illegal, so we can just get smokes illegally and pay way less.

Of course, the Government could admit they are hypocritical, greedy, bastards that laid down the law when the “Think Of The Children Club”, (the same folks that want tits and ass off of the TV because they can’t be bothered to keep an eye on their own kids, who, if I’m not mistaken, have genitalia of their own they can look at any time they want), started whining to the Government instead of going to the already-in-place smoke free areas in a restaurant or bar, in the first place.

If bar and restaurant owners are paying taxes and employing people that pay taxes, they should have the right to allow smoking or not. Put a little sign on the door and let people choose, not the Government…or do we not have freedom of choice anymore?

Now there are non-smoking patios, apartment buildings where you can’t smoke in your own apartment, and (only in Los Angeles so far) areas outside on the street where you are not allowed to smoke! Why can’t businesses just put a sign on their door, “We are a smoking (or non-smoking) establishment”, and let the damn public decide where they want to go.

We let our governments get away with far too much. Telling us what we can and cannot do and creating laws that favour one sector of the public over another would probably be struck down if we ever managed to speak up and let the Supreme Court rule on some of these intrusive and undemocratic decisions, but as a people, we do nothing. We just bitch to our friends and write a Letter to the Editor. Some of us even blog about it.

The Government should do exactly what they want us to do:

Butt out.


How Much Was That Lifetime Subscription?

WTF! Radio from Outer Space???

There was a time when I thought Satellite Radio was going to re-invigorate radio as a whole. Save terrestrial because of its very nature, (in order to compete, terrestrial would just HAVE to focus on local community and play unique, local music), bring personality back to the airwaves, and play all the music shut out because of those little-bitty playlists that consultants, and the casual listening Hit Seekers just love to death.

I couldn’t have been more wrong had I run for President of the United States with a Bush endorsement and Annie Oakley as my running mate.

I was between firings when I first heard about this new and exciting concept back in 2000, and breathlessly followed its progress through its launch in the U.S in January of 2001, to its attempts to find the blessing of the Canadian government. Up here, in North Mayberry, The Cautious Foot Dragging Council for the Preservation and Forced Consumption of Home Grown Entertainment, was not too keen on the idea. A hold over from the days when our artists had NO chance in the rest of the world, used steam powered amplifiers, and ended every show with a tribute to the beaver, hockey, and snow accumulation.

Those days, of course, were long gone even in 2004, and everyone has known it except the CRTC, a handful of luddites, and a couple of folks in an ice fishing shack on Lake Mooseflop.

When some visionary and risk taking folks tried to bring the satellite service to Canada, they ran into that OTHER diligent and stalwart collective known as The Alliance of Insecure  and Frightened Canadian Music Businesses & Broadcasters United In The Belief That We’re Not As Good As Everyone Else, And Need The Government To Pass Rules And Regulations To Insure Our Artists And Culture Remain Safe From The American Devils. It was at this point that the people that wanted to bring this seemingly fail-safe service to Canada enlisted several people to speak up on their behalf.

So it was that I found myself sitting on a dais with the Canadian president of one of the big automobile companies, a few celebrities, some P.R types, and the men behind the application who came armed with supportive telegrams from a clutch of very successful Canadian artists who were unable to attend, as they were presumably too busy to be there in person.

We sat, looking out at a room full of media types, reporters, TV cameras, and non-believers and made our pitch.

After a few of these ‘press conferences’ and God knows what else, the deal was rubber stamped, the  competing sat/rad services were up and running, and birds chirped,  unicorns frolicked in rainbow meadows and all was right in the world.

For a while…

Happy Fun Time from Ensenada to Gander

Before we went on the air on Dec. 3, 2005, SIRIUS supplied all of us with American enabled receivers so we could get a feel for the service of which we were about to become a part.

The wonder of satellite radio was awe-inspiring.

Songs I hadn’t heard in years, or EVER. On-air personalities that knew the music and the artists, an ‘Oh Wow!” track every 2 or 3 songs…this was a dream come true.

No 10 minute clusters of repetitious commercials, no limit to the musical choices you could make, and most importantly, that feeling of once again being at ground zero. On the tip! Unexplored territory!  We were going where no man had gone before. We were pumped!

…and what was this? Who was leading the way at SIRIUS Iceberg 95, where I was about to broadcasy to ALL of North America?  A program/music director that was cutting edge, that wanted to play new and untried artists and material? Sure, our mandate was to play new or uncharted artists, but Liz Janik not only looked long and hard for the BEST of it– she had us all in the music meetings, voting on tracks, discussing the merits or lack thereof inherent in every tune. Imagine asking the on-air people to express an opinion of the music they were going to play. Was she on crack?

I don’t know what it was like at the other Canadian stations, The Verge and CBC 3, but the atmosphere at Iceberg 95 was like a bunch of 12 year olds with a six pack of beer and a fully loaded X Box 360. We were allowed to be ourselves on the air, try new things…and have a good time.

And the music! OMG, the fucking music! I will NEVER understand some people in radio complaining about HAVING to play Canadian music. How there’s not enough quality material, how the bands just aren’t up to snuff. We played 100% CanCon and STILL couldn’t fit all the good stuff in. We got to play so many new artists early on whom no one else was playing, and now most of them are regularly up for Junos and other awards, (and WINNING), being played in the US and elsewhere, and generally competing on a level playing field world-wide.

I won’t go as far as to say that satellite radio opened a lot of doors in the US for our Men and Women of Music, but judging from the emails and calls, (most of them from the States), I’d like to think that we did our share. Our first year on the air was an absolute joy.

Then…there was a tremendous disturbance in The Force.

Enter the Jar-Jar

I have no idea what the Jar-Jar was. Was it a person? I don’t think so. Was it a shifting concept of what sat/rad should be? I don’t know. Was it consultants, investors, management, bean counters, the iPod, a bad piece of fish? I don’t have a clue. Whatever it was, it was the Jar-Jar…and things changed.

Suddenly there were rules…and formatics that changed seemingly overnight more than once. Suddenly we were no longer able to do what we wanted, or be ourselves.

The playlists stayed fairly long, but now it was deeper tracks from fewer artists, and some of those artists were getting played a couple of times a shift. And there they were. The usual suspects. The Major Labels. The ‘Radio Friendly Artists’. The same old songs. The mood in the hallways changed, and where we used to all be in on everything that was happening, now we were mostly out of the loop…and not knowing what was going on ate away at everyone’s confidence, playfulness, and excitement. I couldn’t tell you what it was, but it completely sucked the life out of what we had been doing…at least that’s the effect that it had on me.

…”And Now…The End Is Near”… (Thank you, Frank)

I spent a lot of my time defending satellite radio. I truly believed in it. Great music news, sports, talk, and entertainment, at such a low cost to the listener, a fraction of what satellite and cable television cost you, and portable to boot. I mean, you can’t take your cable TV or satellite dish in your car or to a friend’s house. So how, after less than a decade, can satellite radio be in such deep, dark, poop? Let’s look at the suspects:

1. The iPod

Nah. Well maybe. No, because an iPod can’t turn you on to new artists or music, local news, NASCAR, or Howard. It can’t even turn you on to OLD stuff you might like. All it can do is repeat what you put on it. Like a parrot with a limited vocabulary. It is also probably the largest cause of the sudden upswing in fatalities caused by not being able to hear that train/bus/streetcar/unicycle coming up behind you like a pissed off rhino. Maybe, because most Casual Listeners over 35-40 don’t want to hear ANYTHING they hadn’t already heard in high school, or college, or the first time they got laid.

2. Internet Radio

Maybe. It’s free and offers more of the same thing, and you can now hear it in your car or anywhere you are that has a Wi-Fi connection with even more connectivity on the horizon

3. The Economy

Definitely maybe. There’s a big chance that this is the leading cause of the shitstorm that satellite is facing. Car subscriptions are fading fast, nobody has any disposable cash, and who has time to listen to the radio when they are looking for work or selling apples on a street corner.

4. Evil Moles within the Company

Could be, except they’re not evil, just playing by old rules in a new world. A mistake made lately in damn near every business there is. That, greed, and the stubborn belief that everything can be forced back into working like it used to and the status quo reinstated and profitable like the good old days. So delusional are these people that I would seriously check their vitamin water for acid or mescaline. Terrestrial Radio group-think definitely had a negative effect on Sat/Rad.

Whatever the reason or reasons, something has pumped a round into this Deathstar’s 2 meter wide hole, and it looks like it’s going to blow.

It’s a shame, really, and I honestly hope that the idea will survive in a form that allows us to have the options that satellite offered us, but not enough of us took advantage of.

There are millions of people who do love this service who may end up very disappointed. Believe me, I’ll miss it too, and if ‘copyright’ holders and some music/radio interests and uninformed government committees make it impossible for Internet radio to survive, well…that would be dire indeed.

But I still have great hopes for terrestrial music radio. There are now some stations I can listen to and enjoy, and there will be more as the Corporations sell off their under-performing properties when an alarm goes off in the Bean Counting Dept.

Patience, like they’ve always said, is a virtue.


Segarini’s column appears here every Monday

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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

9 Responses to “Segarini: A Midsummer’s Bitch and Moan”

  1. Very timely, Bob. I dropped my subscription to sat/rad yesterday because a) the cost, and b) hearing the same songs over and over…

  2. You finished your rant on sat radio with =0= instead of =30=.
    Pick pick pick…must be the nicfit

  3. -30- means “pretentious twats at helm, beware”.

  4. …..i think that if we’re going to be oppressed by intrusive bureaucracies, at least segarini should get to name them

  5. David Basskin Says:

    I wish you every success on quitting smoking, really I do. But spare me the rant about how the world treats you so badly. I’m old enough to remember the world you so fondly recall – smoking in restaurants, smoking in offices, smoking in CRTC hearings, smoking on planes, smoking damn near everywhere. I hated it then and I hate it now. Because cigarette smoke, to the non-smoker, smells worse than a freshly-deposited heap of dog shit. Bit it’s worse: where smoking was allowed, there was no such thing as a non-smoking area. Remember smoking on planes? You couldn’t smoke in front of, say, row 9. But the fumes didn’t care. You had to suck ’em down, like it or not. And smokers were, with just a few exceptions, arrogant, vicious and outraged of you asked them not to smoke. It was their RIGHT to smoke, eh?

    Well, fuck that. I put up with it for decades and I couldn’t be more overjoyed that smoking has been constrained to do few places. You had all your years riding high, smokers. You can STILL smoke. But now the rest of us – the MAJORITY – don’t have to suffer that appalling smell quite so much.

    • I did mention that there should be a choice between smoking and NOT smoking establishments.
      Equality…and the decision should be made by the people, not the Government.
      Confined spaces like elevators and planes, I agree with you 100%, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
      When the government mandated separate rooms for smokers in bars with ventilating systems and they complied at no little expense, only to have the Government declare those rooms illegal…THAT was when they stepped over the line.
      I’m sorry you met ‘arrogant’ smokers. I’m sorry I’ve met arrogant bicyclists, food nazis, and health nuts. I’m also not fond of loud, violent drunks, people who stand in doorways, block sidewalks, and hold up lines in supermarkets…yet the government rightfully minds their own business in those cases, not to mention their refusal to do anything about the horrible smell of overly-cologne’d, Axe-wearing individuals, some of whom smell like rotting fruit. I do wish they would pass laws to make sure the bicycle people paid their way by having to have insurance, a license, obey the rules of the road and pay for parking.
      ..and I would love to see proof as to where all those taxes that smokers, drivers, and drinkers pay actually go.
      I don’t think the world treats me or ANYONE else badly.
      …but I think Governments do.

  6. al mair Says:

    I suggest that high salaries and shareholders looking for returns aare behind satrad;s attempt to lower artists’ fees…

  7. Good luck on quiting smoking. I did it cold turkey when I decided it was time. It wasn’t easy, but I’d tried a dozen times or more before it took. It’s all in the mind ya know (and the nicotine). Do it for Mom.

    On the radio front, once anything looks like it’ll make a buck, the coporations will be back to f..k it up with reseach to max the bottom line. The only good radio is unencumbered radio. But you know they can’t leave well enough alone.

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