November 4, 2004

Jack Johnson as Consolation
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

Tuesday was a sad day for America. I will try not to exaggerate the issue, but I feel sincerely afraid of what might happen in our world during the next four years. For the moment, I can find no energy for protest. There is something so alarming about what I see occurring in my country that I cannot confront it directly.

In times like these, I escape to music. At its very best, music can do something that I cannot: It can simultaneously condemn the ugliness and celebrate the beauty in the world. On a day when Americans in 11 states have decided to vote homophobic bigotry into marriage law, I don't need music to remind me of the injustice that surrounds us. Today I need music for hope, or at least consolation. Here hip-hop can't help me, and instead I turn to the simple poetry of surfer guitar player Jack Johnson.


Jack Johnson "Times Like These"
Liberals are inclined to talk about the president's re-election as if it marks the end of the world, but the slow, cyclical life of the Hawaiian surf has taught Johnson not to overreact to bad waves. From his perspective, the endless back-and-forth power struggles of politics, filled with "those for peace and those for war," are as meaningless as they are inevitable.

His words are simple, but his subtle wisdom is reassuring: "In times like these/ In times like those/ What will be will be/ And so it goes." All I can do now, Johnson seems to say, is ask God to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. From the beaches of Honolulu, the politicking in Washington, D.C. seems distant and relatively unimportant to Johnson. When listening to Johnson, I'm not trying to forget or ignore the dirty politics in D.C.; I'm trying to remember the beauty that exists everywhere else.


Jack Johnson "Cookie Jars"
The problem is not George Bush. The problem is the 59 million Americans who voted for him. Johnson sings, "We only receive what we demand/ And if we want hell then hell is what we'll have."

Why are so many middle-class Americans willing to support a president who does not support their interests? Because the television media coverage of the election was so poor that most voters were woefully uninformed. I understand exactly how Johnson feels when he sings, "I would turn on the TV, but it's so embarrassing." The right-wing bias of Fox News doesn't bother me as much as the general incompetence of television news. Jon Stewart rightfully criticized the political hacks on Crossfire for hurting America by turning politics into some sort of entertainment spectacle. "You're doing theater when you should be doing debate to inform citizens so that they can be knowledgeable," Stewart said.
Online TV from BC Grad
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

In 1998, Drew Massey had a great idea, but the world wasn't ready for it yet. Six years later, his dream of combining television and the Internet has become a reality. The result is ManiaTV!, the first online streaming live television channel, which has left plenty of people asking themselves, "Why didn't I think of that first?"

With nothing more than the Windows Media player free software and a broadband Internet connection, like the one available at Boston College, viewers can watch music videos and shows for free, without registration.

Massey graduated from BC in 1992 and began work with Forbes before starting a professional men's magazine, POV. He eventually sold the magazine in 2000 to GQ, which gave him time to begin working on ManiaTV!

"In some ways, we're going against the grain," Massey said in an interview with The Heights, "but in another way, it makes total sense. We broadcast on the medium that is the favorite of the youth market. We're playing music videos, short films, sports features, skateboarding videos, all the stuff college kids with high-speed Internet access want to see."

Without the FCC regulating the channel's programming, ManiaTV! is free to broadcast music videos like Eminem's new controversial video, "Mosh," though it is still edited.

When Massy first envisioned ManiaTV!, the Internet wasn't ready. Instead of rushing into pursuing his dream before the Internet could support it, Massey waited until broadband Internet access hit a critical mass.

"We waited until there were 20 million viewers with broadband, which is the same number of cable TV subscribers there were when MTV launched," Massey said.

The comparison with MTV, or at least what MTV was when it first started, is an appropriate one. ManiaTV! is leading the way into uncharted territory, earning comparisons to William Paley's CBS and Ted Turner's CNN.

The biggest advantage of ManiaTV! over MTV is that Cyber-Jockeys (CJ's) host live shows and chat with viewers in real time over webcams and Instant Messenger.

Massey said: "We believe that the viewer will enjoy the community. You can chat with the CJ's and request a song. Within a few seconds, everyone is watching your video. People already have TiVO, they have OnDemand, but most people would prefer to watch something live."

ManiaTV! is not only the first online live channel that broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the only television station anywhere that is live all the time. That means no repeats.

Since going online on Labor Day, has enjoyed more than 12 million hits in eight and a half weeks. The site's October traffic doubled from September and Massey said, "We haven't even really started marketing yet."

ManiaTV! specifically targets the young, hip, and technologically savvy, and the station has found major interest from advertisers. Whereas a regular hour on television might contain 16 minutes of commercials, there are only a few minutes on ManiaTV!.
The New Danger
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

For the last few years, Mos Def has been all over the place. He's been acting, performing in his rock group Black Jack Johnson, and hosting Def Jam Poetry on HBO. The only thing he hasn't been doing since he released his classic debut Black on Both Sides is rapping. Not surprisingly, his new album, The New Danger, is also all over the place. Sadly, Mos doesn't actually rap all that much on the album but instead alternates between inaudible mumbles and soulful wailing. The result is an album filled with musical genius that fails to congeal into a cohesive unit. The album sounds a lot like a very diverse live performance, jumping from classic blues rock to Kanye West. The New Danger begins awkwardly, but after a few songs, Mos settles down and that lasts through the end of the album. Standout tracks include "Sex, Love and Money," "Blue Black Johnson," and "The Beggar."