by RIP RENSE
BREAKFAST WITHOUT THE BEATLES
Aug. 9, 2006
“It's all across our lives
Like a weed it's spread
'till nothing else has space to grow
The devil's radio.”---George Harrison
those late ‘50’s/early ‘60’s propaganda films about the threat of
communism? You know, there was always a cartoon sequence of the planet with
dirty commie countries in red. The bass-baritone narrator would
declaim about the “red menace!” and brass would blare like the theme from
Time for an update.
Change the color to green, and the title to “The Capitalist Menace!” No,
that’s not quite right. We are beset with a form of capitalism no one ever
quite envisioned. I have referred to it in ungainly fashion, as “capitalism
without conscience” and “capitalism amok,” but I have a better name now:
This film should be made,
and it should be shown in every elementary school classroom. Bring back
Alexander Scorby to narrate, or the late Thurl “Tony the Tiger” Ravenscroft.
Peter Coyote, at least.
Crapitalism is sworn
to destroy you, your way of life, your family, your churches, your
synagogues, your morals, your ethics. The invasion is insidious.
Crapitalists are in your movies, the music you buy, the programs you listen
to. They might be hiding under your bed!
It is not news that
somebody finally figured out that making money need have no socially
redeeming purpose. Maybe it happened during the callous Reagan “me” years,
or maybe it’s just an outgrowth of the American worker being sold out to
international slave labor. Desperation, every man for himself-ism. Or
maybe it’s just the worst aspects of human nature winning out,
But it all comes down to
this: if it makes money, it’s good. The rich and famous (that’s
nearly redundant) are idolized, lionized, deified, all but beatified.
Doesn’t matter how they made their bucks. “Outsourcing” (the greatest
euphemism since "collateral damage"), technological alienation, taxes,
inflation, deficit spending, war budgets, dot-com busts have created
Huckster Nation. America the Loot-iful. Evidence? I give you. . .
Is there a more odiferous
manifestation of crapitalism than the theft of airwaves for profiteering?
Advertorial? These are not words, they’re cons; marketing inventions.
Give a name to a cheap trick---preferably in several syllables---and it
acquires legitimacy, cache. As if it is a potent item/concept/phenomenon of
our time. Infotainment? It’s. . .a. . .commercial.
Kids grow up with
these things now, accepting them as reality. Television---cable-less
television---is almost entirely given over to half-hour slots featuring
flop-sweating sleazebag punks yelling about how “placing tiny classified
ads” can make you rich. Or hordes of middle-aged Amerryguns revealing how
they averaged $20,000 a month by “investing in real estate.” (Read: buying
up foreclosures. Read: profiting from tragedy.)
Thank goodness for corny
old Jack LaLanne, who only wants to sell machines that enable you to drink
You would think that
people like to watch these crapitalist programs, and marketing types
would probably claim that they do, judging by their popularity. But this is
the old demographic ruse. Ratings are a measurement of what people will
respond to, not necessarily what they like. There’s a sucker born every
minute. Don’t touch that dial.
It’s like everything else
these days: if it can be more profitable, there’s something wrong with it.
Magic Mountain, the amusement park in Valencia, doesn’t make as much money
as a housing development might, so it will be torn down. Your house is worth
$700,000, but if you demolish it and build eight condos, you can sell them
for $700,000 each! Never mind the density. Never mind the neighborhood.
And what’s wrong with
that, crapitalists moan? It’s what the market will bear. Just
this: most women can make a hell of a lot more money as prostitutes than at
their present jobs, but you don't see most of them changing their names to
Tiffany and advertising in the back pages of the L.A. Weekly.
All of which finally
brings us to The Beatles.
Or rather, to Breakfast
With The Beatles, the long-running (23 years) original Sunday morning
Beatles radio program, here in L.A. It was started by the late and
much-loved local radio lady, Deirdre O’Donohue, and has for the past five
years been percolatingly hosted by Chris
Carter. (Read The Rip Post Interview with
Twenty three years for a
radio show? That’s even longer than a pause in a George W. Bush sentence.
Longer than it took Larry King to marry and divorce three or four
times. Longer than Oprah.
When you think of radio
prime time, Sunday morning has always been about as lucrative as. . .well,
there is no less lucrative time slot. People are hungover, snoring, just
getting to bed, fornicating, watching televangelists, watching
televangelists and fornicating, even sitting in church.
Sunday morning radio was
mostly a dumping ground for tax-exempt flim-flam artists---er, that is,
radio preachers. Until “Breakfast With the Beatles.” Some programmer
figured, maybe we can make a few bucks from those nutball Beatles fans
who get up early to hear “Twist and Shout” for the ten-thousandth time.
. .and. . .
The Beatles, at least
in Sunday morning radio, confirmed John Lennon’s assertion: they were
bigger than Jesus. BTWB imitators sprung up around the country. Locally, the
show racked up strong ratings and a hell of a lot of advertising. Listeners,
it turned out, were not confined to old Beatles fans. A lot of people just
found that it was rather pleasant to hear those bankably beautiful
Lennon/ McCartney/Harrison harmonies on the most peaceful morning of the
most peaceful day of the week.
The show came to be taken
so seriously---religiously, you might say---and O’ Donohue so loved,
that the audience was invited to pick her successor. Carter was actually
voted in(!), and promptly set about expanding the format (and popularity.)
Along with The Catalogue came outtakes, rarities, rehearsals---sometimes so
rare as to stun hard-core devotees of unreleased Beatles music. Like. . .me.
I’ve heard Beatles music on Carter’s show that I’ve never heard anywhere
And in the equivalent of
a Papal blessing, Paul and Ringo have phoned in.
Yet these really were not
the best things about BWTB---not the guests, not the genuinely witty Carter, not even the music.
The most important aspect was that this was creative, spontaneous live
radio---something that is about as easy to find on the Clear Channel-dumbed
down dial as homely, flat-chested young women in Woody Allen movies.
Well, it’s done. “The
End,” to quote the final Beatles song title. The Green Menace got it.
We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, we hope you have enjoyed the
show. Welcome to Breakfast Without The Beatles. I'm your host, Mean Mr.
The station changed to a
new format" a few months ago, with the hilariously ironic name of “Free
FM" (a clone of many other identical bold, new "Free FM's.") Last
Sunday, Carter announced that BWTB is soon to be free of the FM airwaves.
Sept. 3 is the final broadcast, despite solid ratings and ad revenue. Why?
Free FM owners Infinity
Broadcasting's bold, new thinking is that they can make more money with. .
. infomercials. Get-rich-quick schemes are replacing “Baby, You’re a Rich
All the lonely people
promptly phoned in, of course---tearful, outraged, shocked---and Carter took
most of the calls personally (as he usually does.) The BWTB e-mail box is a
mess. One listener created
http://www.savebreakfast withthebeatles.com. Carter has pledged to try
to go elsewhere, but there isn’t much of an elsewhere left in L.A.
So I am inviting you, the
23.7 weekly readers of The Rip Post, to do something. It does not matter if
you care for The Beatles. It does not matter if you live in L.A. Call (323)
971 - 9710 or drop an e-mail to Free FM program director Jack Silver:
Take a small stand
against the Green Menace. Take a small stand against Crapitalism.
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