Thursday playlist: I am still walking the line

This was the scene last Friday. (We’re standing in front of the building that blew up in “Die Hard.”)

Why’re we all gathered? Because…

Why we are striking? Because…

We had a little help from the local cops…

And because we are writers, there had to be some free food around, courtesy of the nearest agency (they did keep 10% of these churros)

This is where “House” comes from…

And this is where “Smallville” comes from…

(Nick Counter is the MuckyMucks’ negotiator…)

What kind of residuals does He get?

And finally, two playlists from The Source of strike-related news…

Mixtape For Striking Writers’ Picket Line
“Fool Me Once” George W. Bush
“Know Your Rights” The Clash
“2+2=5 (The Lukewarm)” Radiohead
“Here’s Your Future” The Thermals
“Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” Okkervil River
“Rebellion (Lies)” Arcade Fire
“The Big Payback” Bruce Springsteen
“Sixteen Tons” Bo Diddley
“Gimme Some Truth” Pearl Jam
“21st Century Rip Off” The Soundtrack Of Our Lives
“I Won’t Back Down” Johnny Cash
“Kicking Television” Wilco
“The Revolution Starts” Steve Earle
“I Will Survive” Cake
“The Underdog” Spoon
“Even A Dog Can Shake Hands” Warren Zevon
“Mr. November” The National
“The Star Spangled Banner” Jimi Hendrix

to which the following additions’ve been made:
Burn Hollywood Burn – Public Enemy
Us V Them – LCD Soundsystem
Get Well Paid – Beck
You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A
Millionaire – Queens of the Stone Age
The Man Don’t Give Fuck – Super Furry Animals
Instant Karma – John Lennon
Forecast Fascist Future – Of Montreal
Don’t Bring Me Down – ELO
Way Down Now – World Party
Can’t Go Out, Can’t Stay In – Whitey
One Vision – Queen
Mr. Suit – Wire
C’mon Every Beatbox – Big Audio Dynamite
Money – Peter, Bjorn, & John
Under My Thumb – Rolling Stones
Respect – Otis Redding
I Think I Smell A Rat – The White Stripes
Bring On The Terror – Robbers On High Street
We’ve Been Had – The Walkmen
Bang Bang You’re Dead – Dirty Pretty Things
Wave Of Mutilation – The Pixies
Wolf Like We – T.V. On The Radio
Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin
Brothers – Delakota
When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Karazzee – !!!
I Just Want To Get Along – The Breeders
Queen Bitch – David Bowie
Two States – Pavement
You Talk Too Much – Run D.M.C.
Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles
Going Nowhere (Digitalism Remix) – Cut Copy
Community Revolution In Progress – MSTRKRFT
Shadows – Midnight Juggernauts
Express Yourself – N.W.A.
Step On – Happy Mondays
I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes – Tom Vek
The Comeback – Shout Out Louds
Nothing Can Stop Us – Saint Etienne
Part Of The Queue – Oasis
Dirge – Death In Vegas
We Are All Made Of Stars – Moby
Hey Fuck You – Beastie Boys
Here To Stay – New Order
Original Control – Meat Beat Manifesto
Together We Stand – Marvin Gaye
Apply Some Pressure – Mark Ronson
Subterrean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
Clampdown – The Clash
Gimme Gimme – Brit Brit
Winning Ugly – The Rolling Stones
Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones
Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines
Coping – Blur
Speaking In Tongues – Eagles of Death Metal
Standing In The Way Of Control (Soulwax Nite Version) – The Gossip
We Are Your Friends – Justice Vs. Simian
Television Rules The Nation – Daft Punk

41 responses to “Thursday playlist: I am still walking the line”

  1. i loved seeing the faces of shows. nice move.

  2. hey — it’s me again. thought this story from the times this morning was interesting. reactions from a writer’s end?

  3. Rachel says:

    Are those Reno 911 cops, or does someone just really like short-shorts?

  4. Dave says:

    What do we think about Ellen DeGeneres as a scab?

  5. Ruben Mancillas says:

    i’m the union rep at my site so please don’t take this wrong but i’m sick of the coverage of the writer’s strike. maybe it’s the celebrity focus, just like with the fires, if it affects a famous face it must be news, etc. also have to laugh considering the quality of some of what i see on my screen. ww, i realize that there are many talented people involved who deserve to be justly compensated but to hear a ben stiller interview where he threatens that movies “won’t be as good” invites a wince inducing visit to his imb site-looks like his writers have been on strike for some time now.

  6. WW says:

    those are the 911 cops, Ellen is a WGA member so, technically a scab, and Ruben — there are as many bad writers as there are bad teachers. And for every shitty Stiller movie, there’s an equal, opposite reaction in the universe of an incredible “Sopranos” or “Dexter” episode, or a movie like “Little Miss Sunshine.” It’s like the “Facts of Life” theme song, you take the good you take the bad.

  7. WW says:

    And Bryan — it’s an interesting article but other conventional wisdom has said the opposite — that the strike will kill struggling shows — b/c it’s easy for a network to cut their losses at this time and those shows bleed money — unless of course, there’s a show that becomes a giant hit.”Bubble” shows are up agianst the same script deficiency that hit shows are — and so if those shows are aired again, they will be reruns, which hardly ever do well. But who the fuck knows anything anymore?

  8. Tim Wager says:

    Ruben, movies and TV (and web content!) from the major studios are by far the dominant industry in Southern California. The entire economy from Chatsworth to Irvine depends on these productions on a daily basis. This strike IS big, big news here, because it affects almost everyone, not just famous faces. It seems kinda cold, dude, to say you’re tired of the coverage, when there are a lot of hard working people — not just writers and stars, but grips, best boys, animal wranglers, etc., and the people who make their sandwiches and coffee — who are threatened with being out of work for a long time.

    Yes, it’s true that because Hollywood stars are directly involved there are a lot of silly stories on the entertainment shows and in the papers. Hearing Ben Stiller say such things, though, should just remind us that we’re a lot better off when someone else is writing his lines.

  9. Scotty says:

    …not just writers and stars, but grips, best boys, animal wranglers, etc., and the people who make their sandwiches and coffee — who are threatened with being out of work for a long time.

    It has been interesting how both sides have used this point as a way to garner political leverage among the public.

    I have to admit some ambivalence when it comes to this strike (and most contemporary American strikes, for that matter). It is a little ironic to see some of the more privileged members of society taking part in a ritual that seems more in line with the experience of teamsters or ship-builders. This isn’t a knock — it’s just where the root of my ambivalence in located.

    On the flip side, there was a story on NPR yesterday about a carpenter’s local that has outsourced its picketing duties to homeless people.

    I was wondering if this experience has changed or moved your political or critical views?

  10. Ruben Mancillas says:

    knew what i was getting into…

    stiller is a wga (and dga and sag) member and likely as responsible as any for his oeuvre, the merits of which i will leave to your personal taste.

    ww, i imagine, just by sheer numbers, that there are more bad teachers than bad writers but mentioning the immortal facts of life is always a bit risky when speaking up for well written shows.

    tim, my being cold, cold, cold like an ice cream cone may very well be true but i am very concerned about the decline of organized labor in this country and the attendant effects on people throughout our economy. my complaint was with the superficial coverage of the strike, not with the rights of underpaid union members (like myself, for example) to collectively bargain.

    while i’m at it though let me dig myself a little deeper hole. do any of you feel the slightest bit culpable in all of this? many GW’ers seem tech saavy (i can’t link to the many comments about HTML formats and the like but that is the point-i don’t own an ipod and can’t even scan a digital photo) and more than willing to download/share content. do you feel like you have been paying your fair share? how much is being able to use youtube worth? yeah, yeah, i know, it’s the corporate suits who have been stealing from the working man, not you, but still…

    can’t wait to start talking about 10-year-old kids in india making the clothes our gap red t-shirts.

  11. Dave says:

    do any of you feel the slightest bit culpable in all of this?

    The dispute is essentially about producers and networks not wanting to share revenue from digitally distributed content with writers, right? NBC makes money from iTunes Music Store downloads and other digital distribution channels, and presumably will make more money from these channels in the future as digital bandwidth increases on landlines and wirelessly. What does the share of these revenues received by WGA members have to do with people downloading content without paying?

    In general, the big media companies have been quite stupid about digital distribution, more concerned with guarding intellectual property rights than with exploring how to make the changing market work for them. I recently downloaded the fourth season of The Wire from a free network. It was a pain, since the file was huge, and I would have gladly paid a reasonable price for an easy download like on iTMS, but HBO doesn’t distribute its shows that way or any other way I can get without paying a fortune for cable. The big media companies — music, film, and TV — are losing out on money they could otherwise be making because they haven’t adapted to the digital reality. But again, this has nothing to do with whether the writers should get a share of revenues from particular distribution channels.

    In general, I support unions when they strike. The power to strike backs up all other power a union might have, and the costs to union members of striking are sufficiently hight that they don’t do it lightly.

  12. LP says:

    If I could just interject for a moment: Yes, there are bad TV shows and movies. Yes, it’s arguable that many who are fortunate enough to make a living in Hollywood are “privileged members of society.”

    But the reality here is, Wendy and her guild are striking because they perceive they are being treated unfairly. She and many thousands like her will have no income from their primary positions, perhaps for months on end. And she, and all those other thousands, have bills to pay. Can we just give her the love for a moment? Wendy, hang in there, baby.

  13. Bryan says:

    In terms of the playlist, I think “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” by Okkervil River is perhaps the cleverest entry. Also liked “Kicking Television.”

  14. Tim Wager says:

    Yes, Scotty, in reply to Ruben’s retort to Stiller’s appeal to quality control, I pulled out the worn rhetorical trope of an emotional appeal to “think of the common people” (and don’t forget their puppies and babies!). Perhaps this is not the soundest approach, intellectually speaking, but it seemed the easiest way to try to hotwire Mr. Mancilla’s cold, cold heart.

    The issues at the core of this strike are simultaneously very similar to and very, very different from the issues that are at the core of almost all labor strikes. This similarity and difference, I conjecture, are at the heart of your ambivalence.

    Fair compensation for work done is a real part of what the WGA is after, yes, and I think that your sympathies generally lie with the working people of the world, instead of the owners of the means of production. However, this particular strike also has to do with continued compensation for ownership of intellectual property rights, and that’s where things get kind of blurry (for everybody, I think, not just you).

    “Are the writers workers or owners?” is the squirrelly issue here. The answer, of course, is that they’re both, which sort of screws with our typical notions of labor. A Teamster who drives a forklift has a very different relationship to his or her labor than a writer on “Two and a Half Men.”

    Stiller’s appeal to quality control depends on the wrong rhetorical trope. Yes, we want unionized forklift drivers, because they need proper training and oversight to do their jobs efficiently without killing somebody. Nobody’s going to be harmed physically (emotionally stunted, perhaps, but not harmed physically) by watching a bad episode of a sitcom, so the analogy doesn’t really hold. The WGA does not, to my knowledge, make judgments about who is a good or bad writer.

    However formulaic movies and TV shows seem, though, they still have an element of creativity to them that puts this kind of labor in a different category. Copyright exists in these shows in the first place because the production companies that make and distribute them want to make a lot of money off of them. They don’t want someone else to air their products without compensating the holders of the copyright.

    How does one establish copyright (as intellectual property) in a show? By claiming that it is somehow special and different from any other show. What makes it special and different? The situations and the characters and the words that come out of their mouths, i.e., what the writers create. Ergo, the studios’ argument against piracy rests entirely on the product of the writers (in that they are the people who make the movies and shows “special” and “different”). For the studios to make billions of dollars off of digital media distribution of these products and turn around and pay the writers a pittance (all the while resting their claim to intellectual property rights on the writers’ work) is total fucking hypocrisy.

    Perhaps your ambivalence, Scotty, is rooted in your aversion for the greedy corporatized system of intellectual property that often enough squeezes the life out of art. I, too, have my real reservations about this system. However, it’s sorta here and we have to deal with it. Why not call it to task when we can?

  15. Jeremy says:

    I don’t even want to get involved in this debate, except to say that it seems pretty clear that WGA writers have been treated unfairly… So hang in there, Wendy!

    That’s one happy-looking bunch of picketers, though, I must say…

  16. WW says:

    I’m taking a break from picketing right now — it’s like 95 and H-O-T — there was an ad in the paper today stating from the AMTTHPTHP producers that we are compensated for downloads. That compensation is: one third of one penny. We are asking for 2 cents. Our 2 cents worth. To put into perspective: the dude that makes the plastic boxes that house your favorite DVD’s makes 50cents.

    Ok. More later when the sore feet are up and the sunburn is cooling.

  17. WW says:

    and thanks to all for your support. thanks thanks thanks. hear me honk honking your way.

  18. Ruben Mancillas says:

    wait a minute, their babies and puppies too?

    i have love for wendy. being on strike is a scary thing and not done lightly. i hope you win and soon.

    i suppose the next question is: what will such a victory look like?

    dave, thanks for helping me sort things out a bit regarding my ignorance of most things technical/media related but i guess my larger question of fairness is something that tim hits on a bit more.

    in terms of doing the right thing; are we part of the problem or part of the solution if we download The Wire from a free site? too simplistic a formulation? probably, but if i buy or rent the dvd wouldn’t the writer see more benefit than if it were downloaded for free? but who wants to pay a fortune for cable, right? the big media companies have been stupid, and greedy, and will likely continue to be so and i understand that “the problem” belongs to such corporations in that they profit either way but aren’t we contributing to this inequity in compensation, especially if we understand the different media platforms better than they do? to use only one example that has been linked to from this site, should we all boycott youtube because they give away copyrighted material? as tim rightly notes, where is the line between producer/owner of collaborative content?

    these questions of purity remind of issues regarding the environment or other labor practices-how much would i really be willing to pay to be green or to ensure a living wage for the flower grower in south america? i can usually buy myself off by thinking of the overwhelming volume of corporate polluters in comparison to my not unplugging my cell phone charger overnight but i know better.

    there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around, perhaps more than we’d like to admit.

    i’m such a labor insider that i am surprised when i realize that everyone doesn’t automatically support unions, strikes, the worker vs. the man, etc. i will offer this nugget from my time as an nba fan as a possible corrective to the idea that all workers are in fact the same. an all-star center was president of the players association during contract negotiations and was interviewed wearing his glasses that he wore to look serious. his plea for understanding? “sure, nba players make a lot of money, but we spend a lot too”

    dude is like the norma rae of the hardwood, is he not?

  19. Dave says:

    I’m sorry I clouded the issue by talking about the stupidity of big media re: digital stuff. The bottom line is, the writers are demanding a better deal and backing up that demand with a strike. If you think the writers deserve a better deal, you support them. If, like me, you don’t know all the little details but suspect the writers know their own business and understand the enormous downside risk of their actions and still find it necessary to strike, you support them.

    Let’s all agree that pro athletes are freaks and their economic problems don’t rise to the level of injustice.

    Hypocrisy is an odd charge when used in these kinds of situations. We are all thoroughly enmeshed in a situation in which we pollute, exploit, damage, injure just by living. There’s a certain amount we can do to minimize the greatest harms we cause — reducing energy use and trash output, buying stuff not made in sweatshops (if you can find and afford it). But the real problems are systemic, and I’m not bothered by people who advocate for systemic change while still participating in the system. You can’t expect people to be Ghandi and spin their own clothes.

    For specifics (and I know this hardly rises to the level of pollution or exploitation, but it’s the subject at hand), I would gladly have rented The Wire, but it’s not on DVD yet and I wanted to see it. And I won’t get cable, because when I have cable I waste hours and hours, whole weekends, watching absolute shit. And it costs something like $100/mo. to get this shit piped into my apartment. So forget it — I’m going to download what I want, paying for it if the convenience is worth it and if it’s available. If the networks want to make more money from me, they can figure out how — it’s not my job to make them money. And if they care about putting food on the table for their employees — hold on, who are we kidding here, the networks care about their employees? It’s up to the employees to take what they can from the networks, production companies, etc., and that’s why the writers are on strike.

  20. Ruben Mancillas says:

    who wrote the hours and hours of “stuff” you’re talking about? name names!

    it’s not my job to make them money. you’re right, but does that put us all on a hamster wheel of everybody trying to figure out how they can get a bigger piece of the pie/not pay what the suckers do? it goes back to the idea of choosing to buy something that you know was made green or produced by someone earning a living wage, health care, etc. what is the number you would put on however it makes you feel to buy this product rather than the one made in a polluting sweatshop? like i said, i get bogged down in the concept that it doesn’t make too much of a real difference unless a large number sign on-why should i change my lightbulbs if someone is burning acres of rainforest as i type this?

    but to use the wire as an example, would waiting for the dvd be the equivalent of buying green in that people are getting paid more equitably? wendy, you want to chime in on this? and where is your love for the guy making the dvd cases? bet he doesn’t pocket all that much in the big picture-hell, dude probably has a puppy or two himself. don’t let management divide and conquer us, workers of the world uni…oh never mind.

    seriously, would waiting until the dec. 4th release of season four of the wire (it’s number one on my netflix-which i pay for and which pays for the dvd’s they ship to me) or downloading it from some kind of pay service in any way be “the right thing” to do as concerns the writers and the thousands of ancillary employees in the entertainment industry or is everything so muddied and compromised that we should grab what we can and pay whatever we deem the convenience is worth?

  21. Dave says:

    does that put us all on a hamster wheel of everybody trying to figure out how they can get a bigger piece of the pie/not pay what the suckers do?

    We are all always already on that hamster wheel.

    I actually didn’t know Season 4 was coming out so soon. Probably should have waited, although what I really should have done was download the whole thing back when it aired (more peers=faster downloading).

  22. cynthia says:

    Wendy hand in there and were here for you.

  23. LP says:

    In this YouTube clip, a Daily Show writer explains the issues. Hilarious.

  24. Dave says:

    Ruben, more seriously, I don’t really know the answer here. My basic feeling about these things is that I want to support the creative people who make good stuff so they’ll keep making good stuff, but I don’t really care that much about the larger apparatus that surrounds marketing the output of the creative people — it can rise or fall, and it’s inevitably changing because of digital distribution. My understanding is that dowloading doesn’t hurt artists so much as media companies, and even then the illegal downloading of movies and TV shows is a tiny dent in profits, if anything, especially compared to DVD piracy. I wish everyone a meaningful job that pays a decent wage. But I’m not going to subscribe to cable TV because I feel bad for unemployed gaffers in Burbank, as much as I recognize that gaffers are essential to making good (and bad) TV. I’d totally support a gaffers’ strike, though.

  25. LP says:

    Dave, this is an odd little contortion act you’re performing here. Though it may indeed hurt the big companies more than the artists when you download something illegally, wouldn’t you agree that it ultimately hurts the artists too, if only because the media companies are pissed off about lost profits and more likely to clench onto their bigger share of the pie?

    I think if you make the decision to download something illegally, you can’t justify it by saying, “It doesn’t really hurt the artists.” It does, but you (and millions of others) have obviously made the calculation that it doesn’t hurt them enough for you to be concerned, or perhaps that the whole setup is so flawed as to be illegitimate.

  26. Demosthenes says:

    Although this doesn’t directly apply to the TV industry, I think the ease at which the public can access media (especially music) is a good thing. It forces mainstream artists to be more creative and allows other artists to gain popularity. The barrier to entry into music seems much lower than in past years and I like that. And It doesn’t always hurt artists either. For example, Radiohead just released their “In Rainbows” album online which can be downloaded for free, legally none the less. According to Rolling Stone they are making loads off of it too.

  27. WW says:

    I wanted to download The Wire months ago — even found out how to do it, but couldn’t bring myself to do it — I ordered the DVD’s months ago — which are now coming out the day before my birthday — happy birthday to me! I do believe in paying artists whenever possible — I also pay to download music.

  28. WW says:

    PS –thank you cynthia! Who are you? Do I know you? It’s great to have you here.

  29. lane says:

    cynthia,

    what’s up with “hand in there”

    ?

  30. lane says:

    whoa,

    10:16 and then 10:17

    that’s wierd

  31. G-Lock says:

    Oh, my dear LP at comment #23, anyone who knows me can easily figure out why that link kills me on so many levels.

    I support the writers, as do a vast majority of my colleagues, even the ones who don’t make a ton of money and are facing imminent layoffs as a result of this important, historic strike.

  32. Dave says:

    I was waiting for LP to call me on my contortions, as she usually does. And OMG, that video is great.

    It doesn’t seem like a good idea to roll over and do what the media companies want just because a failure to do so would piss them off and make them clench their sphincters around their reduced cash flow.

    And ultimately, I don’t think the choice is really between the system as it is now (with big conglomerates calling the shots in the culture industry) and complete anarchy. The last few years, particularly in the music industry (which is further along this process than the movie and TV industries for a lot of reasons), have let us imagine different systems in which artists and the technical people who support artists can do better, on the whole, and in which the suits have less control over what the general public consumes. My downloading something is a self-centered rather than a revolutionary act, but all the downloaders put together have already changed the culture for the better.

  33. Beth W says:

    Does anyone else think it’s funny that the post about writers has the longest comments?

  34. Scotty says:

    Until now.

  35. LP says:

    If only I could figure out how to put footnotes in these damn comments>

  36. LP says:

    whoops – rogue carrot bracket!

  37. Dave says:

    Just do this.* It ain’t pretty, but it works.

    *Here’s your footnote.

  38. LP says:

    Um*

    *I was kidding.

  39. Trixie Honeycups says:

    hmmm

    *heehee

  40. LP says:

    The WGA’s official hip-hop song.