Howdy y’all, thanks for dropping by. New for 2019, I’ve re-launched the web site over at Chester Jankowski – www.chesterjankowski.com. This site will now go into archive mode.
I haven’t written anything about politics for quite some time, even though that is more on my mind than probably any other topic during this Trump crisis in America. That will probably change. Along with everyone else I know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we got to this point and how we can recover. For one thing, it seems that we have suffered a great crash in journalism, akin to the great stock market crash of 1929. In particular, I am referring to print journalism, and to further refine, the print journalism of our elite newspapers, e.g., the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
One of the remedies to the great crash was the Glass-Steagall act, which created a hard separation of commercial and investment banking. If we could implement something similar in journalism, with a hard separation of news and opinion, that would be a step in the right direction. Much of the news reportage in the elite newspapers is still of fairly high quality. News reportage of political events is a little trickier, in large part because journalists haven’t figured out how to report on a president who lies most of the time. But opinion content, especially, and most importantly, in the top elites, has probably never been of poorer quality. In addition to the poor quality of the opinion columnists, we now also have the illiterate, nonsensical toxic garbage which comprises the comments section, which inexplicably accompanies almost every article.
Fire the opinion columnists. Turn off the comments sections forever. Set a target of 100% factual accuracy in reporting. That’s a newspaper I would subscribe to, one that might help our democracy in crisis, and would that would have a legitimate claim to being the “paper of record.”
How does that song go, “Do you remember rock-and-roll-Clickradio?” Maybe not quite. Clickradio may have died young, but the fight over the beautiful corpse it left behind continues. The New York Post (ick) reports that a trial opened April 5th in Manhattan Supreme Court to settle whether the company was scuttled to allow a group of investors to buy its assets at firesale prices. The piece goes on to tell the story of the rise and fall of our little startup:
Clickradio was founded in 1998 as a free, advertiser-driven, digital radio service that played over the computer and downloaded programming from the Internet.
The company held licenses from six of the seven largest record companies in the U.S. and several independent labels. Before it went under, Clickradio had signed potentially lucrative distribution deals with Kmart and Wal-Mart, and its software was being bundled with new Gateway computers, according to the suit.
Sensing Clickradio’s promise, Drazan’s firm Sierra Ventures invested about $8 million and took a stake in Clickradio in 1999. Baystar pumped more money into the firm in 2000. The investments gave Baystar and Sierra majority ownership of Clickradio and two seats on its four-member board of directors.
Philips Electronics also put $8 million into Clickradio and Merrill Lynch threw in $2.5 million.
When they took control, Syncom claims, Goldfarb and Drazan conspired to oust Williams and Clickradio co-founder David Benjamin, repeatedly lashing out at Clickradio’s Williams in meetings, calling him “a moron” and working behind his back to kick him out as CEO. An e-mail from Goldfarb to Drazan read: “I would like our first action to be to fire Hank and David.”
By May 2001, Goldfarb had installed himself as chairman of Clickradio, as the company added new subscribers and geared up for a massive distribution campaign.
All the while, Drazan, Goldfarb and Hicks were consolidating control and scheming to sink Clickradio and buy its assets out of bankruptcy, the suit alleges. This time they would own the firm outright, dispensing with other shareholders and minority investors with whom they might have to share profits.
In August 2001, Clickradio’s board notified other investors that the company needed an immediate infusion of cash to stay alive and recommended the company try to secure a $5 million bridge loan. Hicks, who had not invested in Clickradio, was asked to provide cash for the bridge loan but passed on the chance.
And we all know what happened right after that. Suddenly, after September 2001, investors, some of whom had just had their offices blown up, were in no mood to re-up their investment in a risky start-up. A handful of us kept things running, pro bono, right through the first three weeks of October.
From the “things-that-make-Joey-Ramone-cry department…”
After the Plaza closes, what’s next? Well, CBGB Might-Be-Going-Bye-Bye. This due to a long-standing rent dispute with the current owners. The Bitter End went through similar gyrations recently, but managed to save itself at the last minute. Let’s hope we see a similar miracle here…
This from the NY Times story:
In an arrangement known to few of the club’s patrons, CBGB subleases its spaces at 313 and 315 Bowery from the organization, which shelters 175 homeless people in the floors above the club. In 2001, the organization began efforts to collect more than $300,000 in back rent from the club. Although much of that has now been paid, the club faces eviction over remaining debts of about $75,000, both parties say.
Both organizations have dug in their heels and claim a moral right to the property.
“We’re an institution,” said Hilly Kristal, the grandfatherly 73-year-old who started CBGB – with plans to stage “country, bluegrass and blues,” not punk – in late 1973. “I think we’re an important part of this community. The city uses us in their Olympics ad, along with the Statue of Liberty.”
The story doesn’t mention whether the homeless people also happen to be deaf. Better come visit NYC while it’s still here!
So we were sitting in the Oak Bar, having cocktails with friends who had traveled from Toronto to see the Gates, when B. said, “it’s a shame about the Plaza closing, isn’t it?” “The Plaza closing?” I replied with my trademark incredulity, “no, you’re probably thinking of the Gramercy Hotel, which just closed to go condo.” I think it was the next day when I saw an ad from the union protesting the hotel’s closing–and then it sank in. $400 a night for a room and a grand for a jr. suite just isn’t enough to make money in NYC anymore. Not when you can carve the place up into $50M condos…
One of the prettiest small parks in New York is Gramercy Park. What was interesting to me when I first saw it is that it’s not open to the public. In fact, is has a tall wrought iron fence around it and big locked gates. It’s a private park, and one of the privileges of living in this square (hi Julia!) is getting the keys to the park. Coming from Canada, this notion of a locked park struck me as a bit odd, a bit in the same way that bringing a credit card to the doctor’s office did. But New York has always been comfortable with this interplay of public and private. The Villard Houses were originally built as private homes, now they are the New York Palace hotel. But the current real estate boom is driving everything in the private direction. Earlier this year, the Gramercy Hotel ceased operations, sold off its furniture and now is converting to condos. This had been sort of a shabby-chic version of the Plaza, a place for rock stars to smash furniture when they couldn’t get into the Chelsea. And another fine hotel-bar watering hole.
Spending a weekend at the Plaza has always been on my to-do list, but low on the priority level because I live just down the street, and because, well it’s the Plaza, it’s not going anywhere! A few years back, a similar to-do was dining at the Rainbow Room, which also closed its doors before I could enjoy it. I think this means I have to re-evaluate some other entries on that list: seeing Bobby Short at the Carlyle, Les Paul at Iridium on Monday nights and maybe even Woody doing his thing. Not that these guys are about to be privatized…
Here’s what’s on the Hotel’s web site at present:
The owners of The Plaza have announced that on April 30, 2005, the hotel will close for extensive redevelopment into a mixed use retail, residential and hotel complex, at which point Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will no longer manage The Plaza. […]
The crown jewel of Manhattan’s fabled Fifth Avenue, The Plaza reigns over New York with a grace and glamour that has drawn visitors from around the globe throughout the century. From glorious meeting rooms and palatial ballrooms to the brilliance of the legendary restaurants, The Plaza dwells in a class by itself. Whether for business or pure pleasure, a stay at The Plaza entails the ultimate in gracious luxury, attentive personal service and the pleasures of an incomparable location at the foot of Central Park.
There’s more in a section on the Hotel’s history:
The Plaza opened its doors on October 1, 1907, amid a flurry of impressive reports describing it as the greatest hotel in the world. Located at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, it was constructed in the most fashionable residential section of New York. […]
Construction of the 19-story building (a skyscraper back then) took two years at a cost of $12 million – an unprecedented sum in those days. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, who also designed the Dakota apartments, the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. and The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston, set about his task to provide all the pomp, glory, and opulence of a French chateau. No cost was spared. The largest single order in history for gold-encrusted china was placed with L. Straus & Sons, and no less than 1,650 crystal chandeliers were purchased. […]
Although The Plaza appeared fleetingly in earlier films, the hotel made its true movie debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest – the first time a crew, director and cast assembled on site to make a picture. Before then, movies were shot almost entirely on Hollywood soundstages and rarely on location. The Plaza has provided the location for other motion pictures such as Plaza Suite, The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Cotton Club, Crocodile Dundee I and II and Home Alone II: Lost In New-York.
For the love of God, let’s hope they keep the Oak Bar open.
From the “wow-this-took-longer-than-I-thought-it-would” department:
Welcome to the new home of cyberkrunk! As you can see, we have gone completely from one extreme (simple html) to the other (a full-function blog~portal). I hope that everyone finds useful and entertaining stuff here…
What should you post here? Well, how about news, upcoming gigs, CD releases, reviews (music, books, films, concerts, restaurants), or whatever else you’re working on and would like to share. Click on the ‘contribute story’ link at the bottom of the page to get started.
Stay tuned for more to come.