Thursday, February 17, 2011

La Seule Chose Que Je Peux Faire

Battered by competition from Internet retailers and burdened with too much debt, Borders Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection Wednesday with plans to close about 30% of its stores and emerge with a new focus on e-books and non-book products. ... Last year, Barnes and Noble dramatically expanded its offerings of educational games and toys.

Ils ont changé ma chanson, Ma
Ils ont changé ma chanson
C'est la seule chose que je peux faire
Et çe n'est pas bon, Ma
Ils ont changé ma chanson

“Look What They’ve Done To My Song”
Melanie Safka

Books were the only thing I thought I’d ever be able to do half right and it’s turning out all wrong.

I’ve just got a fairly pointless bit of personal wandering around to talk about today, but before I get to that I want to say one thing about the Borders bankruptcy.


I hope everyone notices that this is at least the third example of a particular business dynamic at work.

Two generations ago, every neighborhood had a family-run grocery store on almost every block. Then national chains opened up stores in every neighborhood and put the little family stores out of business. Then the national chains closed their neighborhood stores and opened up big warehouse stores.

Similarly, one generation ago every neighborhood had two or three independent video rental stores. Then the national chains opened up big stores that drove the independent stores out of business. Then the national chains all closed up.

And now the national bookstores have driven the independent bookstores out of business and the big warehouse stores are closing up.

All of commerce is being reduced to Wal-Mart shopping at two or three stores per city.

Who can fight this craziness? How can anyone fight this craziness?

A while ago I did a story touching on some of this:

T. J. Pughe: Chip-Making Fool


Books were the only thing I thought I’d ever be able to do half right and it’s turning out all wrong.


I just have a quick story to tell today. I’m only telling this because it’s a keyboard story that kind of mirrors something that happened to me with a guitar nine billion years ago.

Normally when I’m out there, you know, in the real world, mingling among people, I usually just assume that the people I’m mingling among would rather I was somewhere else. Every now and then, by some twist of fate, I manage to make myself useful somewhere. And it feels kind of cool.

A long time ago here at the blog I recounted a fun experience I had in a guitar store trying out a new model Steinberger guitar. The manager actually invited me to stay and play as long as I wanted because he said I was the kind of guitarist they wanted to have playing in the background. I told that story here:

Get Well Soon, Marianne Faithfull! #4: The Twenty-Six Muscles Of The Human Face

That was decades ago. But something like that happened yesterday. With keyboards.

I stopped in at a Guitar Center to see if new music magazines were out. While I was there, I wandered over to their keyboard room and checked out all the music workstations.

I’m not buying a second keyboard. I just wanted to try out the machines.

There was nobody in the room, so I started on the right and worked my way around the room counter-clockwise, turning on everything and trying out everything, playing what little I could play. Old movie music. A bit of jazz. A bit of pop.

After I’d worked around the room, I looked up from the last machine I’d tried—a Korg R3. There were four or five other people in the room now, also trying out various keyboards. I saw the manager standing in one of the entranceways, his arms folded. He was smiling.

I approached him and apologized for turning on everything and trying out everything. I said when I got there nobody else was in the room.

He laughed and said people came in to hear me play. He said I did good demos of the equipment.

I thought he was joking, but he was serious because he stood around talking with me about how sometimes they get people coming in and blasting out raucous crap that drives other customers out of the room.

We talked about workstations versus arranger keyboards and he gave me some inside info. He said if I was interested in workstations I should wait a couple of months or so. He said this spring Korg was going to release an entirely new machine, the Korg Kronos, and the feedback from musicians who have beta tested the unit has been extraordinary.

When I got home I looked up the new machine. Instead of having one or another modeling engine to drive the sounds, the Korg Kronos will have nine modeling engines, essentially the entire Korg array of synthesizer technologies in one machine. It looks like very fun technology but, of course, it costs as much as a used car. Click on the image to visit the Korg Kronos site:

I’m pretty happy with my Yamaha arranger keyboard.

But it was fun to think that some customers enjoyed listening to me trying out workstations.

I’m guessing that between now and spring I’m not going to be selling any novel manuscripts—since books are effing dead!—to boost my bank account. But if I can figure out anything else I might be able to do half right, it’s nice knowing that there will be wild technology out there like the Korg Kronos to play with.

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