HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!

HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!


However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Accidentally On Purpose ► Throwback Thursday

I'm not going back all that far for today's Throwback Thursday, just to the end of October. The 21st, to be exact, which is the day I had the accident in the Buick. 

Sometimes when looking back on an event, one can see all the incremental steps that led to it. However, that's only in retrospect. That's the Butterfly Effect for you. Nothing really happens in isolation.

Little could I have realized on the 21st of October that the accident would change everything for me. There was no way I could know how that falling domino would impact the one next to it, and the one next to that. Slowly, but surely, each domino fell against the next until I was faced with the inexorable decision to move the Not Now Silly Newsroom to Toronto, Canada, something I would have never contemplated on the night of the accident.

Have a Happy Throwback Thursday and DON'T FORGET to contribute to my Go Fund Me account for getting back home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Where We're At & Where We're Going ► Unpacking the Writer

Pops and I soon after I moved to Florida 10 years ago.
I opened this joint (originally called "Headly Westerfield's Aunty Em Ericann Blog") in April of 2012 to publish Johnny Dollar Has Proven Himself To Be A Very Dangerous Person. Then I had to decide what else to do with it. It has metamorphosed into what you see here today, the Not Now Silly Newsroom.

When I fired up this place, I had no real plan; I still don't. I merely followed my interests, writing about whatever rang my bell at the time. I took the position that my interests, as interesting as they are, would be of interest to other interesting people. And, I also assumed, that my droll, tongue-in-cheek writing style would be endlessly entertaining, not to mention interesting.

Not following a road map has led me to some very interesting places.

F'rinstance: I never thought I'd be writing about Coconut Grove, which is 35 miles from where I live. I was still disguised in my Street Performance Art Installation as Aunty Em Ericann, when I discovered the Charles Avenue Historical Marker, the E.W.F. Stirrup House, and the shuttered Coconut Grove Playhouse. I distinctly remember getting home that day and telling friends I had found a story at the corner of Charles Avenue and Main Highway. I just wasn't sure what it was yet.

That first encounter with Coconut Grove gave me an almost endless supply of stories about that community and its rich history. It's the oldest neighbourhood in Miami and, at one time, had the highest percentage of Black home ownership than anywhere else in the country. Today the 33133 Zip Code is considered one of the most exclusive in the nation, while gentrification of The Grove continues to bulldoze the rich Bahamian history the original village was founded upon.

But it wasn't just Coconut Grove history I got sucked into writing about. I also wrote about Trolleygate and Soilgate, long before the Miami media discovered those stories. I wrote about [allegedly] corrupt politicians and the Distrct 2 election campaign. I've written about the continued encroachment of Marler Avenue, which became the third chapter of my popular Where The Sidewalk Ends, Racism Begins series. I've written about bad neighbours and rapacious developers, who just so happen to be the same person. I've written about parking problems and valets run amok. And, of course, I've written about my campaign to save the E.W.F. Stirrup House for something other than a B&B for rich White folks.

It took me quite a while to realize why Coconut Grove was one of the few places in Florida where I felt truly comfortable. To begin with, the Grove isn't suburban, which is really what the rest of South Florida feels like. Hugging the east coast, it's just one long, sprawling suburban landscape; gas stations and strip malls separated by gated communities, and indoor malls, all connected with ribbons of highways, each radiating the midday summer heat.

Coconut Grove is different. It still has faint echoes of the original Bahamian culture that built the neighbourhood. Later those original settlers were joined by artists wanting to capture the tropics in paintings, and one can still feel that vibe throbbing under the surface. The Bahamians and Bohemians got along together famously and, by the '60, were joined by folksingers such as Fred Neil, John Sebastian, David Crosby, and Joni Mitchell. On a quiet day you can still hear their songs in the off-shore breezes.

There's a deep Hippie vibe in parts of the Grove, the parts where I felt the most comfortable.


Montage by author

The overarching rubric for all of my Coconut Grove stories was Unpacking Coconut Grove. Right now I'm feeling nostalgic because I am Packing Coconut Grove; trying to tie up all the loose reportorial ends as I prepare to leave South Florida.

I've taken care of Pops for the last decade and I'm simply burned out. It's time for me to return to Toronto, the city I call home, to recharge my batteries.

Ironically, I'm returning to Kensington Market, which has a similar Hippie feel as Coconut Grove. I lived in Kensington Market many years ago, but was able to experience it again anew when I visited Toronto in September. I spent most of my time in the Market and felt comfortable and at home. Soon I will be able to call it home.

Help me get to Kensington Market
by contributing to my Go Fund Me:

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Hit Parade ► A Musical Appreciation

The first issue of The Billboard Advertiser
It was 80 years ago today that Billboard Magazine launched The Hit Parade, a countdown of the most popular recordings in the country based on sales and radio play. While the chart has changed over the years -- and has been balkanized into just about every genre of music known -- the main list is now known as The Hot 100.

We know Billboard today as a music magazine, but when it was launched in 1894 it was a circus magazine. At the time the circus was the biggest form of entertainment in the country. Atlas Obscura tells all in Number One With A Bullet: The Rise of the Billboard Hot 100:
According to a history written by his grandson, Roger S. Littleford, Jr., the founder of Billboard, William H. “Bill” Donaldson, built the magazine to serve an entirely different need. Donaldson worked for the family business, a Newport, Kentucky-based lithography shop that churned out advertisements and posters for the circuses, fairs, and other traveling shows that criss-crossed the country. Donaldson realized that most of his clients—the managers and owners who ordered the posters, and, especially, the billstickers tasked with staying one step ahead of the shows and pasting the posters to every available surface—lacked permanent addresses, and thus were unable to communicate with each other.

In 1894, Donaldson started to spend his nights and weekends putting together Billboard Advertising, a trade publication dedicated to gathering all the news that might be relevant to his more itinerant peers. The first issue, published that November, had eight pages of relevant tidbits, laid out in columns like “Bill Room Gossip” and “The Indefatigable And Tireless Industry of the Bill Poster.” Now the “advertisers, poster printers, bill posters, advertising agents, and secretaries of fairs,” as the issue categorized them, could pick up a magazine at a newsstand anywhere in the country and know what to expect on the opposite coast.

This is the first #1 tune on the first Billboard Hit Parade in 1936

Over the years as the entertainment industry expanded, so did Billboard's coverage of it; from sheet music, to plays, to movies, to musicals, to radio, to recorded music, to downloads. It was all a natural progression to follow what was popular in 'Merkin entertainment and technology. The WikiWackyWoo picks up the story:

On January 4, 1936, Billboard magazine published its first music hit parade. The first Music Popularity Chart was calculated in July 1940. A variety of song charts followed, which were eventually consolidated into the Hot 100 by mid-1958. The Hot 100 currently combines single sales, radio airplay, digital downloads, and streaming activity (including data from YouTube and other video sites). All of the Billboard charts use this basic formula. What separates the charts is which stations and stores are used; each musical genre has a core audience or retail group. Each genre's department at Billboard is headed up by a chart manager, who makes these determinations.

For many years, a song had to be commercially available as a single to be considered for any of the Billboard charts. At the time, instead of using Nielsen SoundScan or Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems (BDS), Billboard obtained its data from manual reports filled out by radio stations and stores. According to the 50th Anniversary issue of Billboard, prior to the official implementation of SoundScan tracking in November 1991, many radio stations and retail stores removed songs from their manual reports after the associated record labels stopped promoting a particular single. Thus songs fell quickly after peaking and had shorter chart lives. In 1990, the country singles chart was the first chart to use SoundScan and BDS. They were followed by the Hot 100 and the R&B chart in 1991. Today, all of the Billboard charts use this technology.


IRONY ALERT: When I worked at Island Records Canada, I promoted this tune

There was a time in my life when I lived -- literally -- and died -- figuratively -- by the Billboard charts. When I worked for Island Records Canada as a Promotion Rep, I spent hours with each new issue of Billboard, trying to discern trends the same way astrologists look for signs in their charts.

Trying to get Bob Marley played on FM radio in Canada was a nearly impossible feat at the time. This was when Rastaman Vibration was just released. It was such an uphill struggle because few people even knew who Bob Marley was and Reggae still confused a lot of people. I told people it was just like Rock and Roll, except the beat didn't go KUH-thunk, KUH-thunk. It went Thunk-kuh, Thunk-kuh.

We badgered one radio station in Canada after another to add Marley to their playlists, with almost no luck whatsoever. Only the odd campus radio station were sold on Marley's power as an artist.


CHUM-FM was the station we worked on the hardest because it was the biggest station in the country. Consequently it was a leader among Canadian radio stations. CHUM's music committee consisted of Benji Karsh and Brian Masters. They hated Marley. Week after week, we'd pitch them Bob Marley. Each week we'd send them photostatic copies of charts from around the world, showing which radio stations were smart enough to jump on the Bob Marley bandwagon. Every week they just laughed. Finally one week they said, "We won't play this until it charts in Billboard."

Guess what?

A few weeks later Rastaman Vibrations finally appeared on the Billboard chart. We were able to go back to CHUM-FM and make them eat those words. From that day on Bob Marley was heard on CHUM-FM. Later I was amused to hear them pretend to have discovered Bob Marley, even though they had to be dragged kicking and screaming all the way.