The Check's in the Mail...Sorta
Remember way back when we reported that because of a settlement between the Attorneys General of 43 states and the Big Cheeses of the music industry regarding the illegal inflation of "pre-recorded music products," that if you filled out a simple form you could get $20 as a result? And then do you remember when, after several months went by, we all scratched our collective heads and thought, "What the hell ever happened to my sorta free money?!" Well, in December numerous media outlets reported that the settlement had been approved, $12.60 had been determined to be the appropriate pay out to each person who filed a claim, and that the "check was in the mail," so to speak. What they didn't report was that it wasn't all entirely true. The $12.60 bit is; in fact, that had been agreed upon back in June. However, as of December 15, one of the appeals that was filed still remains pending, and until that time you will have to patiently twiddle your thumbs and wonder what you're going to spend your money on. Too bad most major label music still costs a third again as much.
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Yoko Rewrites History
It seems that Yoko Ono has taken a chapter from a George Orwell book in what appears to be in attempt at revenge against old nemesis and former Beatle, Paul McCartney, as well as May Pang, who was a former lover of Ono's late husband, John Lennon. In an apparent response to McCartney recently reversing songwriting credits from Lennon-McCartney to McCartney-Lennon on the Beatles tunes he wrote exclusively (an ongoing feud between the two), Ono has deleted McCartney's songwriting credit from "Give Peace a Chance," a tune widely known to be written solely by Lennon.
And in a piece of video editing devilry, on the newly released Lennon Legend DVD, Ono has digitally inserted herself into the video for Lennon's "#9 Dream," also going so far as to mouthing the word "John" which, according to May Pang, is actually her singing backing vocals. Says Pang: "She is trying to erase everyone who had anything to do with John with her alone. I am definitely upset at her misleading everyone into thinking she is on '#9 Dream.' She had nothing to do with this particular album."
According to news reports, apparently this isn't the only case of Orwellian revisionism Ono has taken up. It is rumored that she also put herself in the video for "Stand by Me"; and in a fall 2001 TNT tribute to Lennon, Ono edited all of the Beatles' footage of Lennon to show no other Mop Top but the spectacled one. Can you say "control issues"?
"Boy, do I understand how Paul feels," Pang furthered.
I Put a Spell on You
And in other bizarre music control issue news, Kevin Carlyn, High Priest of the British White Witches, it was reported last month that Ozzy Osbourne's missus (that would be Sharon to the viewers at home), sought out his help in putting a spell on UK Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell, who claimed that Ozzy's recent quad bike mishap -- in which Osbourne prettied himself up like a pretzel when his quad flipped, landed all 600 pounds on him, fracturing eight ribs, his collarbone and a neck vertebrae, putting the dark one briefly in a coma in critical at the local hospital -- was none other than a publicity stunt.
"Cowell has caused a lot of distress to Ozzy's wife Sharon and his family," said Carlyn. "He should suffer in some way and if it means dabbling in the darker side of our witchcraft, then so be it."
Carlyn, along with "several hundred" Scottish witches, were said to be casting a spell on Cowell that would rob him of his voice. "Our spells are powerful," said another Witch. "I know that he will wake up in a few days with a very large frog in his throat."
"People have been trying for many years to shut Simon up," responded Max Clifford, Cowell's publicist. "Nobody has ever come close."
Carlyn and his merry band of pointy hat wearing, broom riding tricksters are also purportedly using their great powers to help keep Ozzy's recent duet with daughter Kelly, a remaking of the great Black Sabbath track "Changes," on top of the charts. [Insert chortling sound and deep anchor plunge here.]
Oh yeah, and apparently they're also casting magic to help the Ozz heal from his terrible spill -- something that we actually commend them for. At last report, he was back home on his estate in southern England wearing a neck brace and an arm sling.
Get well soon, Ozz! And stop it with the witches, already. And, please, stop recording with your daughter. We know you love her, but her singing sounds like cold porridge. Tell her to give it up, already. Thanks, bud! Love ya!
Alex Lifeson: 0, Police: 1 (Alternately Titled: Alex Lifeson Shows Police He Still Has a Few Hits in Him)
In other smash 'em up news, Naples, Florida police arrested Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson (born Alex Zivojinovich) on New Year's Eve on charges of resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly intoxication. According to reports Lifeson was at the Ritz-Carlton that evening with son Justin, and Justin's wife Michelle, when the 33-year-old son jumped up on stage, interrupting the holiday band that was playing, to "sing a song for my wife. I was singing Happy New Year's, that's all I was doing, singing to the whole crowd. That's all I said, 'Happy New Year.'" But police report that when hotel security approached Justin to leave the stage the younger Zivojinovich became verbally abusive, shouting "Fuck off, I'm going to sing a song for my wife." Security called police and when the 5-0 arrived to remove Justin from the property he physically resisted, forcing the police to user a taser gun on him. When father Alex saw how his son was treated, he flipped his wig as well and attacked a female officer, ripping her radio from her person and shoving her down a stairwell. The police responded in kind by tasering the prog-rock guitar god as well.
According to the Zivojinovich's, they were indeed asked to leave and were complying when the police used excessive force. "I was ready to leave," said Justin. "I was asked to leave, and I said, 'Okay, I'm going to go. I'll grab my wife and be out of there.' They didn't want that. They didn't want me to leave on a high note. They felt they would lose. They decided to aggravate me. They stunned me, as well as my father, with a stun gun." The Zivojinovich's have hired a local attorney to fight the charges.
Jagger Knighted, Richards Rages, Bowie Bows Out
In more expletive-ridden recent news, in an interview with Uncut magazine, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards lashed out at fellow bandmate Mick Jagger over Jagger's recent knighting by Queen Elizabeth II. Said Richards, "I told Mick it's a paltry honor. It's not what the Stones is about, is it? I don't want to step out onstage with someone wearing a coronet and sporting the old ermine." Can't really argue with that, can you?
With Jagger's knighthood the London Sunday Times published a list of 300 people who have been offered British Honors since 1945 but instead decline. The list includes author Aldus Huxley, comedian, John Cleese, and the Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie, who, on declining a Commander of the British Empire honor, remarked, "I seriously don't know what it's for."
Rosa Parks Sues Outkast over "Rosa Parks"
On Monday, December 8, the US Supreme Court let stand a US appeals court ruling reinstating Rosa Parks' claim that the song "Rosa Parks" by Outkast infringed upon her right to publicity and constituted false advertising. The song does not mention Parks by name, but does contain the lines, "Ah, ha, hush that fuss / Everybody move to the back of the bus."
Parks claim was dismissed by a federal judge in 1999, who ruled that the First Amendment protected Outkast's use of her name. An appeals court upheld the dismissal of defamation and business relationship claims by Parks, but allowed her false advertising and right to publicity claims to stand. Outkast's attorneys (along with lawyers for LaFace Records, Arista Records and BMG Entertainment, who were also named in the suit) appealed to the Supreme Court. The court rejected Outkast's appeal without comment, thus allowing Parks to proceed with her lawsuit.
In 1955 Parks was arrested when she refused to give up her seat to a white person and move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her arrest and subsequent 381-day boycott of Montgomery buses by blacks ignited the US civil rights movement.
Three Indicted in Nightclub Fire
Also on December 8, a grand jury investigating the February 2003 fire at Warwick, Rhode Island's Station Nightclub handed down criminal indictments against the club's two owners, brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, and Dan Biechele, tour manager for Great White, the band who played that night and whose pyrotechnics ignited the club into raging fireball that killed 100 people. Charged each with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter (two for every death), all three pleaded innocent and posted bail.
Started moments after Great White's set from pyrotechnics that quickly ignited highly flammable soundproofing foam, the fire rapidly spread and engulfed the one-story building, killing 100, injuring twice as many, and causing the worst nightclub disaster in US history. Among the dead was Ty Longley, guitarist for Great White. Biechele maintains that the band received permission from the club to set off the pyrotechnics, but the Derderians have insisted that consent was never given. In a statement, Biechele's attorney Tom Briody said, "While we are deeply sympathetic to the victims, the fact remains that Dan Biechele is not guilty of the charges brought in this case. [Biechele] could not have known of the dangerous conditions that existed inside The Station." In his own statement, Attorney General Patrick Lynch said, "They say there are six degrees of separation in this world. In Rhode Island, there's a degree and a half."
Canada: Let's Download!
In December, the Copyright Board of Canada ruled that copyrighted music from peer-to-peer networks is legal under Canadian law, and imposed a few of up to $25 on all MP3 and related players, which effectively put such electronic devices into the same category as audio tapes and CDRs. The money levied from the ruling will go into a fund to pay musicians and songwriters. Said Copyright Board Secretary General Claude Majeau, "As far as computer hard drives are concerned, we say that for the time being, it is still legal." While the board did rule that downloading was legal for the time being, in its decision the board said that uploading or distributing copyrighted works online was prohibited under current Canadian law.
See RIAA: you don't have to litigate your consumers to be in the right. Oh, Canada!
US Court: RIAA Subpoenas Not Authorized
And while we're on the subject of the Recording Industry Association of America, downloading, and various court rulings, shortly after the Canadians flexed their sexy "let's make everyone a winner" muscle (I bet you're wondering just which muscle that is, aren't ya?), a US appeals court ruled, in rather strong words, that the RIAA's methods of forcing Verizon Communications and other Internet service providers to reveal the name of subscribers the RIAA claims were illegally downloading copyrighted music, are not authorized under current law. Verizon's argument was that existing copyright law did not allow the violation of customer privacy, a point of view a lower court did not agree with earlier in the year. But in a strongly worded ruling, Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg differed: "In sum, we agree with Verizon that (the law) does not by its terms authorize the subpoenas issued here."
A person's right to privacy: 1 - RIAA: 0. Perhaps they should take a cue from Canada.
Rest in Peace
Rest in peace Rick van Santen, co-president of LA area music promotion company Goldenvoice. Santen's dedication to the burgeoning LA punk scene in the '80s and his tireless support of its up and coming bands helped launch dozens of careers. "There cannot be any L.A. band since the early '80s that was playing edgy rock that doesn't owe Rick," commented Brendan Mullen. "He loved the scene and fit in where he could make things work, like putting on gigs," said bassist Said Mike Watt. "Rick was so generous." Santen died of complications due to pneumonia. He was 41.
Rest in peace Buena Vista Social Club player Ruben Gonzalez, whose amazing piano playing found new fans alongside members Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer in the '90s thanks to the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club album and accompanying documentary, produced by Ry Cooder. Gonzalez died in Havana, Cuba. He was 84.
Bottom Line Evicted
Finally, rest in peace to New York's Bottom Line nightclub who, after being unable to negotiate a deal with its landlord, New York University, over the $190,000 in back rent the club owed, was ordered by a civil court judge to relinquish the Greenwich Village location it has occupied for the past 30 years, a location in whose hallowed halls everyone from Miles Davis to Simon and Garfunkel to Bruce Springsteen has played. Said NYU spokesman John Beckman, "It is simply not right to have a not-for-profit educational institution subsidizing a for-profit entertainment business." Which is kind of funny considering the financial behemoth that is NYU and the educational behemoth that has been the Bottom Line, but ultimately saddening when so many places with so much history are rarely afforded the chance to survive. You would think an "educational institution" like NYU would understand the history it holds the keys to. Obviously not.
Editor-in-Chief (or so they keep insisting)