Friday, December 08, 2006

I Speak for the Trees

Every year I have this pretend argument with my family about cutting down a live Christmas tree. “But why must something die just for my own pleasure?” I say piously.

“Oh, Mom, it’s a Christmas tree farm,” they chide me. “For every tree you cut down, they plant six more.” I suspect the tree farm marketing people have gotten to them.

But of course we get a live tree, and on the way home from the “farm” I dream of being an old lady with an artificial tabletop tree.

I love the TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” My favorite line is when Linus and Charlie Brown are in the tree lot, passing row upon row of shiny aluminum trees, and come to the tiny little pathetic live one they will eventually take back to the other kids and be ridiculed for. Linus says something like, “I didn’t know they still made those.”

I have live tree issues, I guess. They work so hard, they take soooo long to grow, and then the electric company maims or kills them to protect the power lines.

It’s true, I still have Arbor Day (and what a celebration that’ll be), but in the meantime, happy holidays and don’t kill trees! Except tree farm ones. Even then, it would be a goodwill interspecies gesture if you felt a little guilty about it.

Your friend,

Do Your Part for the Trees

Alternaville is not available online. You can pick the December issue up at Grimey’s, Great Escape on Broadway, or Davis-Kidd—or email me at and I’ll get one to you somehow.

Why There Won’t Be Another Issue of Alternaville ’Til Spring:

’Cause Ashley’s got a huge freelance writing gig that’s due in March

Some Other Good Stuff

Good Places to Buy Socially Conscious Gifts

Ten Thousand Villages
3900 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215

Scarlett Begonia
2805 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203

Good Place to Buy Quality Toys

Phillips Toy Mart
5207 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205

Good Place to Avoid This Season

All Malls

Good Way to Incorporate Good Deeds Into Your Daily Life

Friday, October 27, 2006

Welcome to Alternaville!

There ain’t much here at this point. I was doing the best I could just to create the print version.

But here is an article from that first issue that might pique your interest—or ire. Please comment! We want to know what you think!

A View From West and East of Nashville
Over-Exposed and Commercialized: Handle Me With Care?

By Peter S. Cruttenden and Perry Talley

There’s been a buzz around Nashville these days as to whether the public should boycott musicians who shamelessly use their music to sell everything under the sun, the moon and the stars. Well, we have some thoughts on that very subject.

During an interview in 1965, someone asked Dylan if he would ever promote any commercial products. He sardonically replied, “Yeah, I think that I’d like to advertise women’s underwear.”* And almost 40 years later, there was Dylan providing his music and image for a Victoria’s Secret commercial. On one level, who could blame him for cavorting around Rome in the company of beautiful women dressed (or undressed) in lingerie? On the other hand, Dylan’s contribution to the world of high fashion was nothing less than crass commercialism while lining his ever-bulging pockets. (Doesn’t he ever know when to stop touring?) Yet in all fairness, Dylan has not been the only musician to make a devil’s bargain with Madison Avenue.

Over the past few years, we have seen music of The Beatles (“Revolution”) and The Troggs (“Love Is All Around”) hawking sweat shop-produced apparel for Nike and The Gap, respectively. Moreover, the music of Led Zeppelin, Nick Drake, and The Cult have helped sell foreign and domestic cars. Eric Clapton, in all candor, nicely reworked “After Midnight” for a Budweiser advertisement. While the “new” version of “After Midnight” was great, it certainly didn’t improve the taste of Budweiser one iota.

At the same time, Alice Cooper (School’s Out) sells school supplies; while the music of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators (“You’re Gonna Miss Me”) is now heard on a Dell computer television commercial. Imagine the idea that those highly compensated advertising whiz kids on Madison Avenue have resorted to using a self-admitted space alien to propel us into the high-tech stratosphere. Lastly, the music of Donovan (“Happiness Runs”) is the background music for a Cheerios commercial.

What we have noticed and which is truly baffling, at least to us, is that with the exception of Alice Cooper and Donovan (where happiness runs in a circular motion—Cheerios are, of course, circular) is that these songs have absolutely nothing in common with the products that they are purporting to sell.

We will leave Donovan alone in that the Cheerios commercial is stylishly psychedelic; sort of Madison Avenue intersecting with Haight and Ashbury. We won’t necessarily beat up on Alice Cooper, since Alice has been—in the view of one of us—laughing all the way to the bank since 1974. And poor Nick Drake, with his career trajectory, probably couldn’t get himself arrested even in his heyday. Hopefully his family has been taken care of since the untimely misuse of his music.

As for The Beatles and Nike, we reserve our venom for Michael Jackson, who prostituted the Fab Four in order to pay off his attorneys, his kids, and his little boy-toy plaintiffs, past, present, and future. However, we both seem to recall a TV commercial in 1966 for Old Gold cigarettes which featured someone whistling the Lennon-McCartney song, “And I Love Her.”

And speaking further of The Beatles, we hardly need to mention how Paul McCartney sold his soul to the Boston-based Fidelity Investments to be their pitchman for selling Fidelity’s retirement products to aging baby boomers. Needing even more talent in order to market to those LSD relapse-laden ancient mariners with long hair (or at least those with badly receding hairlines and ponytails) who still think it’s 1973, Fidelity has purchased the services of Rick Derringer, formerly of The McCoys. We are of the opinion that Rick Derringer has the right to make a couple of bucks in his golden years (however, in wake of the Bush Administration’s attempts to privatize social security accounts, we hardly think that having our financial adviser telling us to “Hang On Sloopy,” gives us much comfort for retirement). Suffice it to say that we’ll take social security, thank you very much, Mr. President.

As for McCartney, as you all know, given his marital problems, his own retirement plan is in great jeopardy. We’re not about to take retirement investment advice from a company whose main advertising foil is about to lose $300 million due to his less than prudent personal judgment. Yes, Paul, the cottage on the Isle of Wight is about to get too dear.

The ultimate question is why do these musicians shamelessly allow themselves to be used for the sake of the almighty dollar? In the view of one of us, the reason lies in that this demonstrates the bankruptcy of the lost art of jingle writing, whereby Madison Avenue is foresaking all of that creative musical talent currently inhabiting Music Row. On the other hand, one of us believes that the public is so incredibly gullible that it will just have to have a product if “hip” or once “hip” music is part of its marketing. But what we both agree on is that greed is driving this engine.

Whether the reader should boycott such musicians is up to you; and one should never heed the advice of a couple of partisan hacks like ourselves. But we feel (and hope that you do as well) that it’s truly sad the musicians who were once seen, in the words of the Jefferson Airplane, as “outlaws in the eyes of Amerika” and the music they wrote and performed as the “forces of chaos and anarchy” have been swallowed up in the cogs of the machine, à la Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. But unlike Chaplin, these folks have willingly and gladly jumped into the cogs of the machine, embarrassed their craft and made a lot of money in the process.

Lastly, we are hopeful that this shameful tide will subside, or at least turn. We truly believe that we will never see the day when there is a television commercial for Loreal featuring a beautiful woman leaving her home after coloring her hair, accompanied by Billy Bragg crooning, “Greetings to the New Brunette.”

In the interim, if you feel like you just might want to boycott anything that Toby Keith is involved with, that would be fine with us. Just let us know; we’ll join you directly.

*We would like to express our appreciation to Jon Richstein, a true Dylan fan in every sense of the word, who kindly shared his extensive knowledge of Dylan with us in connection with this article. However, he truly doesn’t share our rather less than kindly view of Bob. That responsibility is ours.

Perry Talley works for a television station in Nashville and is the host of One Part Harmony on WRVU-FM. Peter S. Cruttenden is employed by a law firm in Washington, DC, and is a graduate student at the American University.

What do you think? Email

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

hi i just made this blog