What makes the media check their brains at the door when the story is about dead celebrities and psychos?

What makes the media check their brains at the door when the story is about dead celebrities and psychos? What Jeff Jarvis said: “Anyone who has spent more than six months reporting, editing, or watching the news could have guessed that John Mark Karr was just a sicko who was looking for attention.”

I will see Jeff’s quote and raise him one: The only experience anyone needed to discern the guy was a mental case is a modicum of walking-around common sense.

Earlier this evening, I was in a drugstore and saw the sick People magazine cover that seemed to yell out the editors knew the guy was crazy, but they still were committed to a belief in the magic formula of selling magazines that was articulated by their legendary founding editor, Richard Stolley (someone I’m sure Jeff may have spent some time with a few years ago): “Young is better than old. Pretty is better than ugly. Rich is better than poor. TV is better than music. Music is better than movies. Movies are better than sports. Anything is better than politics. (and, he later added) Nothing is better than the celebrity dead.”

Pathetically ironic is the sad fact that the only reason JonBenet is a celebrity is because for years before she was brutally murdered, her mother dressed her up to look like a celebrity on a magazine cover.

Nickel Creek says no more recording, touring

Nickel Creek says no more recording, touring after 2007: Nickel Creek, the innovative and influential bluegrass-folk-Americana (hard-to-niche) group has announced they will no longer be recording together and that a tour scheduled for 2007 will be their last for an “indefinite” period of time. In other words, they are breaking up, but leaving an opening for performing together in the future. The news is breaking with an article on Billboard.com and with an announcement on the Nickel Creek website.

Quote from Billboard.com:

“After seven years straight of touring and three records behind us, it’s in our best interest to suspend Nickel Creek by the end of next year,” says group member Chris Thile, noting that he and Sara Watkins have been in Nickel Creek since they were eight years old. “If we were to go in and do more writing, we might be in danger of forcing that process,” he continues. “It’s always been so natural, but lately it hasn’t been quite as natural and we’re running the risk of actually having to break up. We would rather leave it for a while, while it’s still intact and healthy. We want to tell people about it now to dispel rumors and so that our fans aren’t taken by surprise.”

Quote from NickelCreek.com:

Dearest Listener,

After seven years of extensive touring in support of three records (seventeen years as a band), we’ve decided to take a break of indefinite length at the end of 2007 to preserve the environment we’ve sought so hard to create and to pursue other interests. It has been a pleasure to write, record, and perform for you through the years and we’d like to heartily thank you for your invaluable contribution to our musical lives.

Yours,
Nickel Creek
(Sean, Sara, and Chris)

Over the past five years, I’ve mentioned Nickel Creek on this blog several times. While Nickel Creek — a brother and sister, Sean and Sara Watkins, and Chris Thile — are from southern California and their record label is in North Carolina, their “business” is one based in Nashville and what they have created here represents the best of what Nashville is and could be.

So who’s the Yoko Ono in this news? Anyone who has followed the group closely knows the over-sized talent of the individuals in the group has resulted in several independent projects. Brother and sister Sean and Sarah regularly perform in southern California as the Watkins Family Hour and Sean has released three CDs (ITMS link), the last two of which are an extreme departure from the Nickel Creek sound. Sara has an angelic voice and is a solid fiddler who, as a solo act, would instantly be among the top female bluegrass, folk artists. According to Billboard.com, “Sara Watkins plans on collaborating with other friends and groups, as well as releasing a self-produced solo album within the next six months.”

However, I’m guessing this breakup is about mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile‘s desire to push the boundaries of his talent which appear to me to be without limit. Over the years, on this blog, I’ve hyperventalated with praise for Thile. (Below, I link to some flashbacks.) On my iPod/iTunes, I have a playlist with all of the tunes that I have on which he plays — he’s a in-demand studio musician in addition to his Nickel Creek and solo recordings. I’m sure that I have only a portion of his discography (I can’t find a definitive discography online) but my playlist of his performances include over six hours of music.

The announcement of their breakup corresponds with the release of a new CD by Chris Thile and a band he’s created called How to Grow a Band. (Here’s his MySpace site. Others in the band: Chris Eldridge [guitar], Greg Garrison [bass], Noam Pikelny [banjo] and Gabe Witcher [fiddle].) It’s hard to realize that Chris is just 25, as he’s been recording independently and with the two other members of Nickel Creek since he was 12 — including six solo albums. Indeed, some of the early recordings are among my favorites.

Related links:

  • Nickel Creek website
  • MySpace.com/ChrisThile
  • Sean Watkins’ website and MySpace/seanwatkinsmusic
  • +Creek”>Sugar Hill Records

  • Recent articles about Thile:

    “Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile: His solo effort, divorce and finding bluegrass inspiration in the White Stripes” | The Coloradan.

    “Nickel Creek fans shouldn’t sweat it that front man Chris Thile has yet another solo album coming out this fall. “It’s very normal for bluegrass musicians to have a lot of irons in the fire,” said Thile in a recent phone interview from Peoria, Ill. where the band was just starting another leg of its American tour. “You’re not going to find the project that’s so fulfilling that you’re not going to look around for something else to do. When you really love music it takes a lot to satisfy you.”

    Nickel Creek’s Thile ‘grows’ a new band |Nashville City Paper, August 23, 2006

    “Like the character in the album, Thile’s wounds may have healed, but that doesn’t mean How To Grow a Band is a one-project collaboration. Thile said Nickel Creek will be taking the fall off and he plans to throw himself entirely behind cultivating his new band.

    Rexblog flashbacks:

    July 10, 2002:

    “How does one begin to describe (Chris Thile’s) talent? Other-worldly? Godlike? On a stage with three other titans of accoustical music, Chris Thile tranformed his mandolin into something beyond magical. Chris Thile reminds me of Pete Maravich. In the way Pistol Pete redefined what ball handling is all about, Chris Thile is in the process of changing the way the world perceives the mandolin.”

    April 21, 2005:

    “I’ve heard him perform with Nickel Creek in front of 10,000 people at Dancin’ in the District and at the Ryman during the taping of a PBS special, and with Mark O’Connor at the Ingram center at Vanderbilt, but I must admit, hearing him from about four feet away in a basement concert is perhaps the most incredible musical performance I’ve ever witnessed.”

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    A year of Katrina blog posts


    Photo: One year after Katrina, a house in New Orleans’ 9th Ward.
    [Credit: K. Hammock, August 20, 2006.]

    A year of Katrina blog posts: One year ago, at 8:45 a.m. on August 28, 2005, I made my first Katrina-related post: “New Orleans mandatory evacuation”.

    As I’ve explained before, I’ve followed hurricanes on this weblog because my brothers, their families and my mother live in Mobile and my wife grew up in the Tampa Bay area and all of her family still live there. I tend to watch where those hurricane tracking maps are heading.

    Katrina caused floods and major damage in Mobile, but in comparison to the damage along the Mississippi Gulf coast and in New Orleans and the rest of southeast Louisiana, Katrina’s effect on Mobile and bay area did not receive much media coverage. My family was spared any direct damage. However, a brother who is an ER doctor in Mobile worked for weeks (months) straight on patients streaming into Mobile from the affected areas. When I learned of my family’s safety, I was grateful, but I couldn’t comprehend what was taking place in New Orleans.

    I did the only thing I knew I could do: start linking. A lot of those early posts were links of frustration. There were lots of people trying to set up survivor databases, but it became apparent that creating ‘silos’ of missing people was not the right approach. And so, bloggers and other tech-savvy folks moved fairly rapidly to form an open-source, cooperative approach to merging together the data being collected.

    I also posted whenever I saw a response by groups and individuals in my hometown, Nashvhille. I noted then that volunteers from Nashville have a 200-year-old precedent for defending New Orleans. I don’t know how much help those posts were in actually guiding people to certain resources, but I received some appreciative e-mail from some folks who found loved ones via the online efforts I pointed them to.

    Last night was the first time I re-read any of those posts. Now many have broken links and dated facts. Their only likely purpose from now on is to provide me a personal and chronological recollection of my emotional reactions to the disaster. It may sound selfish — especially considering the situation but having that personal record of what I was thinking at the time is one of the most compelling reasons for why I blog. I figured out a long time ago that I could probably have more readers if I’d stick to one topic and run top-ten lists, but when I look back over those posts, I know this is the reason I blog.

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