Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Business May 23rd 2012, "The MVPs who are VIPs that came from LA to SF" Edition

We love LA. Century Boulevard? We love it. Victory Boulevard? We love it. Santa Monica Boulevard? We love it. Sixth Street? We love it. That street where a hooker beat me up with her dick after I called her out for selling me Baking Soda instead of cocaine WHO DOES S/HE THINK I AM , A RUBE?!?! We love it.

That’s why for this edition of The Business, we got some of the finest comics currently residing in the City of Angels to drop by:

Andy Haynes was born in the shadows of Mt. Rainier in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, raised on salmon and caffeine. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works as comedian, and writer. Part camp counselor, part debate team captain, he’s bringing his immature take on serious issue to audiences around the English speaking world. With recent performances on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show, and at the New Faces showcase at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Andy is becoming a must see performer.

Nick Turner is a humble comedian. He did TV once. He recently moved from NY to LA and he’s LAving it.

Karl Hess is a person & stand-up comedian & actor who lives in Los Angeles. He enjoys tacos and leisure. He has performed at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, The Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland the past three years, the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in Atlanta at which he was a finalist, HellYes Fest in Austin, and numerous others whose inclusion might render this biographical blurb unwieldy and verbose. His stand-up has been featured on G4 TV, and he plays reguarly at the top shows in LA, as well as colleges and clubs across the nation.

Scott Boxenbaum is a stand-up comic and writer living in Los Angeles. Scott has performed at clubs and colleges around the country such as Stand Up! NY, Comix NY, Yuk Yuk’s Vancouver, the Comedy Underground in Seattle, and Morty’s Comedy Joint in Indianapolis.

All this for just $5!! That’s SO CHEAP that the SF Weekly says we're the BEST at being cheap.


Your Business regulars will be there as well, except Alex, who we sent off to personally shake Randy Newman’s hand (cause you have a friend in any one who loves LA and hates short people).

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Business May 16th 2012, "The Tallents of the Fantastic Dr. Foxmeat" Edition (with extra Vannini!)

The Business gets feral this week. Our corporate office will be inundated with wild animals, as Sam Tallent, Cameron Vannini and Dr. Foxmeat get all up in our habitat.

Since all bios for Dr. Foxmeat have been either scratched into bark or howled at the moon, there is no written record from which to draw data. What we can conclude is that he is from Arcata, California on some kind of southward trek (which is weird, cause harvest isn’t for months).

Cameron Vannini is a dapper, young SF comic and philanthropist. Also known as the San Francisco Treat, Cameron performs regularly at the SF Punchline and is a AAA card member (even though he doesn't have a license). He has been spotted at Cobb's Comedy club, the San Jose Improv, and the Sacramento Punchline. Ingredients include the 2010 SF International Comedy competition and semi finalist in 2010 SJ Improv comedy competition.
Sam Tallent's from Denver. Alex Koll and him have done some very bad things together. Sam has been described as 'the black flag of comedy' and a zine in Denmark said 'Sam is the surreal voice of an earnestly silly generation'. Reggie Watts, TJ Miller, Joe Rogan, Kyle Kinane, Sean Patton and other quality gigglesmiths have worked with Sam and not complained to management. His home club is the Denver Comedy Works and he curates Too Much Funstival! at the end of August in Denver. His interests include Genki savory crepes, short haired women and writing in the third person.”

We will miss Chris Garcia and Bucky this week, but never fear, they will return from their walkabouts with new stories of misadventure and poop.

Bring your burritos and $5 to the Dark Room and get your wild thing on (RIP, Maurice). Come on, when’s the last time you had Foxmeat?!?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Is the future of digital journalism an outside job?

Making small digital news providers sustainable has become the holy grail of journalists and the search continues for workable business models and revenue streams.

Advertising may produce some revenue, but it will never generate sufficient resources to support digital journalism because so little advertising money is available for sites with small audiences. About three-quarters of all online advertising goes to the top 10 sites and Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo account for about 60 percent of all online revenue. This leaves very little advertising expenditures to be contested among all other players--of which news providers are only a small fraction. At the same time, the prices paid for online advertising are falling because there are so many sites offering advertising, the advertising inventory is nearly infinite, and audiences continue fragmenting.

This means the majority of funding for start-up digital journalism must come from elsewhere and online news sites—especially start-ups—are having mixed success trying to construct multiple revenue streams from philanthropy, memberships, events, consulting services, and payment systems. Both large legacy news organizations that dominate provision of news in the digital space and free automated aggregators are hampering efforts of small sites to develop audiences. The primary successes that can be observed have been for start-ups carrying out special forms of journalism or concentrating on highly specific topics.

The answer to sustainability may not lie in the business creation and business operational approach. The key to making emergent digital news providers sustainable may lie in the 18th and 19th century approaches to journalism, in which journalism was an avocation and not a profession (or at least only a part-time profession).

If one reviews the history of newspaper start-ups around the world, one finds that the bases of journalistic compensation were not journalism itself. It many cases it was funded by public employment—serving as postmasters, teachers, or other civil servants—or by operating commercial endeavours—such as printing firms, taverns, and retail shops (Even brothels funded the costs of newspapers in some towns in the Western U.S. during the nineteenth century).

The current inability to effectively fund small-scale digital journalism means that we all need to be thinking more broadly about how we can support the functions and people involved in them. If the past is a guide, we may need to return to provision of local journalism as community activism, political activity, or business support service—all of which played significant roles in establishment of news provision in years past.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Business May 2nd 2012, "Seregina & Dhar" Edition

This week the Business loses Chris and Chris, but welcomes back two local faves Anna Seregina and Rajeev Dhar to make up for our Chris-less-ness.

Anna Seregina is a San Francisco-based stand-up comic and performer. She was born in Moscow, Russia, which could explain her deep-rooted cynicism. It could also explain nothing. After being involved in theater and improv for nearly a decade and being funny for nearly a lifetime, she decided to take the plunge into stand-up comedy. Her style can nearly be defined as vocal and un-lady-like, drawing heavily on what little life experience she has. She has been described as having the “worst aura.” Most facts about her are true. Most truths about her are facts.

Rajeev Dhar (Phd) has a Tumblr page, but it's password protected, so I couldn't lift his bio from it word-for-word like I did Anna's. Regardless, he is very funny and runs the Tuesday night comedy show called The Break Room at Amnesia in the Mission, not far from yours truly. I've only caught him looking in the mirror at himself once, but I don't blame him.

Bucky returns to us this week from Portland, and Alex, Caitlin and Sean will also be on hand. Will Hologram Bucky confront his flesh-and-blood counterpart? Come down and see.

As always show is at 8pm, only $5 and all burritos welcome.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

NYRA: First, Let's Kill the Lawyers

Lots of coverage already on the NYRA cover-up: here, here, here and here, for starters. Here's what we know:

  • The New York statute permitting an extra 1% takeout (to 26%) on certain exotic wagers "sunsetted" on September 15, 2010. At that point, the takeout was supposed to drop back to 25% -- still way too high.
  • NYRA CEO Charlie Hayward was alerted to the upcoming change by an internal email from NYRA's vice-president for simulcasting before the deadline. Charlie apparently referred the matter to NYRA's $400,000-plus-per-year general counsel Pat Kehoe.
  • In September, 2011, a year after the deadline, Steve Crist of the Daily Racing Form passed a message on the Hayward from a DRF reader asking, hey, what about that takeout change? Hayward said he'd take care of it and asked Crist not to go public with the matter.
  • In December, 2011, the takeout problem finally became public and NYRA said "oops" and took steps to refund the $8 million-plus in overcharges, along with temporarily reducing the exotic takeout to 24%
  • Yesterday, the state's inspector-general connects the dots, charges NYRA with a cover-up, and NYRA chairman Steve Duncker, a proud graduate of the Goldman Sachs School of Business Ethics, promptly jettisons Hayward and Kehoe.
Much of the commentary so far has focused on the relative culpability of Hayward and Crist. Charlie's a very decent guy who's sincerely tried to improve NYRA, but he's repeatedly shown himself to have a tin ear when it comes to anticipating the reaction of state officials, the press and the public. Cases in point:  his initial refusal to disclose NYRA's budget and executive salaries to state auditors and the recent bizarre decision to charge low-volume NYRA Rewards phone bet customers $1 a call.

Apparently, his defense will be that he thought the takeout reduction was optional; at least that's what Crist suggests in the latter's not-quite mea culpa on the DRF website. I'm inclined to believe that; Charlie may be a bit arrogant -- that goes with the territory at NYRA -- and he may be a bit oblivious to the likely response to his actions, but I have no reason to believe he's a liar.

But if it's true that Hayward had an incorrect interpretation of the takeout law, then there's only one person to blame: NYRA's overpaid general counsel Pat Kehoe. CEO's of billion-dollar corporations aren't supposed to keep up with all the laws that affect them; that's why corporations have in-house legal staffs and compliance officers. Although the evidence hasn't surfaced yet, the only logical scenario is that Kehoe dropped the ball when Hayward first forwarded the email from NYRA's simulcast vp, and then dropped it again after Hayward's email exchange with Crist.

Under New York's Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers, an attorney owes his or her client the duty of competent representation. General counsel Kehoe's client is NYRA. By any standards, missing a legal deadline and then mis-reading the relevant statute is something less than competent representation.

So, I guess it's inevitable that Charlie Hayward will be thrown under the bus by those he made look good. But if he's going down, he shouldn't go alone. Pat Kehoe and anyone else in the NYRA counsel's office who gave bad advice should be right there in the next cell.