JAIMIE VERNON – I AM NOT THE DROID YOU ARE LOOKING FOR

Valentine and VerminI work with a guy who is a monster Classic Rock fan – he has Zeppelin’s ZOSO symbols tattooed on his arm. He genuinely loves the music on Toronto’s Classic Rock leaders Q107-FM without judgment or cynicism (unlike little ole me). But he seems entirely clueless about anything related to the genre. Without a hint of irony he seemed taken aback to find out that “Let It Be” wasn’t just a Beatles or an album but also a MOVIE….or that Spinal Tap was made up of actors Truckinwhen I gave him a lift home from work last weekend. He was flabbergasted. It was like I just told him that Rosebud was a sled. [Oops…’Citizen Kane’ spoiler alert!] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4mQqVqRB7I


Cone of SilenceThis guy is as old as me so it’s not like he’s living in a generational cone of silence [that’s a ‘Get Smart’ TV reference for you young whipper-snappers]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsNR9FnxOdY

He genuinely just doesn’t care about pop culture – specifically the musical kind. He likes the songs he likes and not because his peer Zeppelingroup told him to. Though I’m pretty sure his original love for Zeppelin probably came at the hands of some fellow teenage partiers back when he was young – cause Lord knows, nobody gets into Zeppelin while they’re fully sober.

He represents the ideal demographic for Classic Rock and his very existence means there’s probably others like  him – which answers the age old question: who the hell would listen to any station that plays the same 300 songs ad infinitum? The station that knows what non-complaining, passive, listeners want.

McDonalds.

McDonaldsNostalgia radio represents the musical Big Mac. When you bite into it you get the same taste every single time. No surprises, no disappointment (once you accept the reality that it’s disappointing BEFORE you embark on the meal). It’s an advertiser’s wet dream. There’s no second guessing on what to sell these people – give them the beer they’ve always loved, the cars they’ve always driven and the sports teams they’ve always steadfastly cheered for. They will tune in until either they are dead or the station switches to an All News format.

jimi_jim_janisAh, to live in the bliss of simplicity. Never once questioning your own slow, passive slide into oblivion. And that audience is sliding fast. The audience that created Rock and Roll long ago passed the torch to my generation and we are quickly decaying at a Carbon 14 rate of Jimi x Janis + Jim2 . There’s not much time left to sell these people an old ideal. Old values and the products that those values once represented. But when the Boomers are gone what’s the game plan then, marketeers? The size of the valley of differentials between us and our offspring is larger than any generation gap that came before.

cpromptI was explaining the concept of “C-prompt” (i.e. C:\ ) to a 30-something at work the other day. A computer that took commands by typing them onto a blank screen. No mouse. No browser. No Adobe Flash. No Shockwave. No downloadable app or plug-in. It was the equivalent of chalk to a blackboard. Now our children have multi-purpose computerized whiteboards that can be used to draw on or surf the web. That’s a huge leap in only 25 years. Forget grandpa the clueless dinosaur, it’s you and I who are soon to be extinct. And pop culture is moving at breakneck speed away from us. Oh, we’re attempting to fight. And to the detriment of many. Some of us are even joining the parade but barely keeping pace (if you’re not Miley’s age the word twerk is creepier than your cankles and 1980’s power suits). Remember when the idea of multi-tasking was when you took two bags of garbage to the curb at the same time? We’re from an era where this stress-inducing way of life had yet to be invented. Most probably by the guy that invented Red Bull. Now both are necessary evils just to pass off the illusion of productivity – either at work or in our pastimes. We fill every waking hour with activity. Sometimes productive, mostly not. And there are consumer appliances and conveniences designed just for you. Or rather, for your children because they’ve grown up in a world where life is 360 degrees 24/7. You, however, are stressed, graying, overweight, in debt and just plain miserable trying to keep up with the Jones’s, the Wongs and the Sharmalayalums.

electronicaI stepped off the bus and grabbed a transfer for the bullet train. And, yet, some would now call me a Luddite. Technology doesn’t scare me. I enjoy a LOT of new music. I dig the re-ignited energy of TV and movies regularly. The issue to be overcome by sales and marketing weasels is how can they can separate me from my wallet and my time. I have no money so continuing my youthful vigor as a consumer glutton died an unceremonious death when the economy tanked in 2008 and I tread water for three years in the Sea of Tranquilize Me. I have less leisure time as I work unrealistically dreadful hours. So, am I going to waste the free time I do have watching a reality show that reminds me of the work-a-day existence I am already fully drowning in? Or music that’s vapid, mechanical and as wholly unsatisfying as 1990s German Electronica? I don’t think so.

mousetrapCorporations believe they’ve built a better product when what they should be building is a better mousetrap. One that can brainwash me into believing they’ve got what I need. I’m sure their products are wonderful. But I’m not the droid they’re looking for. If I wanted what they were selling….I’d already own it. As a cognitive, free-thinking human being I’ve learned to go get the things I want…and leave everything else behind. I don’t need my air ducts cleaned (even if that’s what the scam artists were actually selling). I don’t need a time-share condo – and I’ve endured a number of hucksters trying to bully me into doing so.

salesmanI am salesman proof. No one has ever convinced me that they are selling a product so great that I can’t live without it. At one point I was briefly forced to live without soap and shampoo, motherf**kers, so what hope do you have of selling me anything? I am not complacent in my activities or my interests. I am an unwilling participant with the status quo. I am not part of the Classic Rock demographic mostly because I don’t drink beer, I don’t watch sports and have never bought a brand new automobile.

I believe we’re in a transition where this is becoming the norm. The new generation is having none of this. Their bondage to consumerism is dot comfleeting and corporations are falling over themselves trying to keep up and hold onto what little market shares they can grab. Apple can’t get new iProduct updates out the door fast enough. The consumer’s appetite for demand exceeds the ability to supply.  Companies like Blackberry – on the heels of similar narrow visionaries like Motorola, Atari and even IBM before them – is close to having its empire fall. It’s the 2010’s version of the Dot-com meltdown of two decades ago.

netflixTelevision has been the entertainment leader initially introducing cable and satellite, then pay-per-view, and now it’s Netflix’s option of bypassing networks and gorging endlessly on your favourite show – multiple seasons at a time; The movie industry is learning quickly – they’re now offering instant movie downloads of the film you just watched the minute you walk out of the theatre. Plus Blu-Ray sets featuring digital versions and DVDs all for one package price.

asshatIn comparison, the music industry has utterly failed to keep up and has effectively stuffed its head up its own ass. Old models die hard (another repackage of Loverboy’s greatest hits? Really?). Old distribution and access systems die-harder. Old industry thinkers are already dead. The fact that labels still announce release dates for products when the material is leaked long before the date is astounding. They can’t parse our current on-demand world. They’re still packaging music as ‘albums’. They still release radio ‘singles’. They still think videos should be as pretentious and as mind-numbingly long as Arcade Fire’s entire catalog.

sharpenerThey are like those knife sharpeners you still see once in a blue moon. Catering to the few and needed by absolutely no one. If my workmate needed knives sharpened he’d be the final customer they’d ever have (rather than just buying new knives). As it is, he just refuses to turn the radio dial – having given years of his life to the antiquated utopia that the music industry once harboured. You’ll be hard-pressed to find people like him in 10 years time. The music biz better brush off their resumes because no one’s buying what they’re selling anymore – even if they decided to finally give it away.

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA

=JV=

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

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