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Keep Hope Alive

The folks at WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium, radio station WEXT, and local music portal Crumbs.net are revamping the monthly “CRUMBS Night Out at the Linda” event. Starting next week, this local-music networking event will feature not only a free performance by a local musical act, but a roundtable discussion about things of interest to working musicians and music fans. They’ve dragged me in to curate the roundtable part of it, and I’ve pulled in fellow local show-biz attorney and pal Paul Czech, and we’re busily putting together some programs for the coming months, some of which might just take your hand and, slowly, blow your little mind. Stay tuned.

Next Thursday (Oct. 30), CRUMBS Night Out will feature a performance by the lovely and talented Bryan Thomas, who’s been leaking his spectacular new album 1369 Lights off his Web site (bryanthomas.com) for a couple of weeks, and yes, you must go there now and get some. His last album, 2002’s Ones and Zeroes was Metroland’s album of the year, and based on what I’ve heard so far . . . well, you tell me. Our inaugural roundtable will feature a discussion among local music critics, including the Times Union’s Mike Eck and David Malachowski, Metroland’s John Brodeur and Josh Potter and the Berkshire Eagle’s Jeremy Goodwin. Find out what they want, what they think they’re doing, why they think Nickelback sucks, and what your band should be doing to get their attention. I’ll, uh, moderate. Whatever the hell that means with this freakin’ panel. See you there.

With the election coming up in less than two weeks, you might be wondering what the candidates think about the things that are covered in this column—intellectual property, privacy, tech stuff and the like. As would be expected, in a campaign that’s about military wars, internal culture wars, financial collapse, a sickening vice-presidential nominee, and what Joe Klein last week called John McCain’s “mud tornado” strategy, these important but nuanced issues have gotten short shrift.

Which is perplexing, because as I’ve said before, these issues defy red/blue categorization. The liberal Democratic aristocracy has had its head up Hollywood and Big Media’s ass for so long that it really is the true enemy to a rational intellectual-property policy. And the Republicans? For the most part they don’t understand IP, or the tubes that make up those Internets, or people who want to give them a Google. They know “regulation bad, ugg ugg” but beyond that they are basically clueless. So they just vote with who pays them the most: Hollywood and Big Media.

It appears that Obama is in favor of net neutrality, favoring equal free access to the ’Net, and McCain’s sort of against it, because net neutrality requires government regulation. But since definitions and details are sketchy, it’s hard to tell what they mean, exactly.

I just looked, and Bam-Bam’s got a 9 page PDF on his site entitled Barack Obama: Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation. This document, as the title suggests, is a whole lot of nothing, really, just a series of nice-sounding platitudes devoid of detail or substance.

And goofy old Walnuts, what’s he got? From JohnMcCain.com: “John McCain has a broad and cohesive vision for the future of American innovation. His policies will provide broad pools of capitazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . ” Oh, sorry, I’m back. More whole lot o’ nuttin’!

If it wasn’t all so predictable, I’d be depressed. So I guess what we are left with is this feeling that maybe Obama and his folks have demonstrated, by the conduct of their campaign, an understanding of the power of the Internet. It’s clear that the members of Team Obama have highly-wired existences like most of us living here in the 21st Century, so that they’ll at least have the aptitude to address issues regarding information and privacy from a position of familiarity.

Which isn’t terribly reassuring, but it’s more than we’ve got from McCain, who appears to be entirely offline, to whom the Internet is this new-fangled mystery he refuses to grasp or try to understand. His aides’ assurances to reporters the candidate actually uses e-mail are about as convincing as Charlie Crist’s fiancé. And his party is responsible for the greatest disintegration in personal privacy protections that we’ve seen in generations.

We’re left with vague impressions that reflect the overriding theme this presidential race: that Obama represents a generational transition, one that should have happened eight years ago except that the unholy Christianista/corporate alliance stole the transition and installed a moron-puppet who’s nearly ruined the nation.

So I guess we just have to go on faith. And dare I say it: hope.

—Paul Rapp


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