The opportunity cost of photo opp’s – Social Media election Ep2

Abbott - a photo opportunity waiting to go wrong

Fairfax photographer Alex Ellinghausen captured this moment when, well, I am yet to hear any good explanation for what is happening.

As you can imagine, the bizarre photo has been gratefully received by political junkies on social media, myself included. Its is simply Abbott meeting a family as he toured a factory.

But if Rudd is a chronic nerd, Abbott is an expert at gawk. The leader of the Liberal Party seems to have a knack for leaving his mouth gaping, for showing his bare chest and for looking down his nose at journalists. To these skills, we can now add hair-sniffing.

If you re-live that horrendous minute of silence Abbott shared with Channel 7’s Mark Riley, you’ll notice Abbott can make at least two of those mistakes at once.

By this point, we must assume that no amount of media training will solve the dilemmas Tony brings to media appearances. His avoidance of an interview with Leigh Sales – he was eventually interviewed by Sales’s colleague Chris Uhlman after months of requests – suggests that the presence of women only exacerbates his problems.

The critics of Abbott on Reddit enjoy hashing over the moment, again on 7.30 Report, when he let his guard down and conceded some speeches are fudged, not a true reflection of his position, not ‘gospel truth’.

Go on, re-live it. The nodding?! Why is he nodding!

I feel certain that to meet Abbott is to encounter a man with good social skills but a poor sense of personal space. He may have more in common with Mark Latham than Kevin Rudd.

Abbott even reminds me of Bob Hawke, with his tendency to “aaahhhh” his way out of answering any question quickly.

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It is time for One Nation to change their name to FacePalm.

Stephanie Banister, the One Nation candidate for the Queensland seat of Rankin has become this week’s real political star.

The only thing more astounding than her factual errors are the basting she has received from international media.

I can see Islam from my house

I can see Islam from my house

The Huffington Post's take on our own gaffetastic candidate

The Huffington Post’s take on our own gaffetastic candidate

SMall Brooklyn zine HEEB even picked up the story

SMall Brooklyn zine HEEB even picked up the story

This kind of merciless mocking could have happened just as dramatically without the great amplifier of social media, yet social media has enabled a few new angles to keep this rather entertaining story alive…

But unlike Palin, Banister’s gaffe tape is being cut short…

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The social media election – Ep1

If the politicians are going to do some
electioneering in the social domain, it’s only fair that we cast judgment on their strategies (or lack thereof).

The potential for awkwardness, hilarity and/or humiliation is very high. And that’s just within this blog.

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Channel 7 reporter Alex Hart uncovered a certain level of awkwardness in political videos previously reserved for Rudd’s off-the-record rants or Tony Abbott’s minutes of silence.

Enjoy it – or, at least, watch it.

What’s wrong with it?

Bernadette wants to be cool. Her first barrier to having us believe this is her first name. She’s your aunty who wants to be your best friend despite forgetting all your birthdays and re-gifting you some crap from CopperArt. She then describes your particularly non-rockstar lifestyle in ho-hum suburbia, punctuated only by realisation your dreams are unattainable (cue Liberal three-word slogans).

Also, she says ‘LOLCATS’ out loud.

Bernadette is big L Liberal with tragically small production values, broadcasting from a world of macro-suede, friends called Suzie and dreams of making a difference beyond her weekly bookstall down the arcade.

 

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Despite the fact it was posted on his party’s Facebook page one week ago, Fred Nile’s Australian Christian Democratic Party gained considerably more attention today when it was spread more widely on twitter.

Before long, Fred’s post – nothing new for a group who likes to target the homosexual lobby’s ‘Equality’ slogan – was being compared to racist discrimination

What’s wrong with it?

Nile’s team pushes a very conservative Christianity agenda using techniques as old and tired as I imagine his average supporter is. The decision to focus on divisive issues and approach them with bitterness means that his efforts online will never resonate widely. Indeed, In the context of social media context where messages need to be truncated, Fred’s approach replaces any complexity or nuance with cheap, often offensive one-liners.

I think that the result of his approach will be to narrow his appeal – even while his posts may get enormous reach within social networks.

This is an example of a post everyone feels safe to retweet without fear of people thinking you endorse the views.

Let me know of you see any good or sensationally bad examples of social media campaigning in the next five weeks. Such a shame it’s not eighteen months like in the US.

5 reasons we can’t resist Rudd

“I’m the glasses-wearing kid in the library.” – Kevin Rudd.
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Male nerds have an undeniable appeal to our society. Men with a mixture of oddness and sincerity are the focus of much fascination right now and this obsession with the nerd is reaching dangerous new levels.

Their awkwardness beguiles us as their quirks and smirks distract us from the chance they may not be as intelligent as they seem. Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy, Brett from Flight of the Conchords, media whore Joe Hildebrand and our spasmodic Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

In the case of Rudd, I don’t think many Australian men would aspire to his high-calibre dorkiness – the giggles, the hifalutin diplomatic vocabulary alongside the chummy teen-speak – yet we continue to embrace his personal limitations.

I belieb it is because of these tragically nerdy features…

  1. We need a leader with big, obvious, awe-inspiring flaws
    He swears, he works too hard, he likes seeing himself on TV. Sounds like most people I know.
  2. He’s a hopeless fan of his own family
    While Abbott can speak all he wants about family values, I know Rudd values family because he tweets it, they’re with him at the church gate and he won’t stop droppong them into conversation, sorry, press conferences.
  3. Rudd loves loves Jesus and supports gay marriage
    Most Christians I know can’t reconcile these two things. That doesn’t mean most Christians are against gay marriage but for many people it’s a difficult, complicated issue that is painted as black and white in the vitriol blasting from both sides of the debate. Rudd handed down a considered response with heart, soul and a supporting feature in Woman’s Day.
  4. The man speaks frankly and in tweetable soundbites
    Rudd is a master of the media moment.
    https://twitter.com/KRuddMP/status/352378121971961856
    How many people do you know can send a tweet which fulfils none of the three tenants of viral content (funny, risque or original) and it still garners 1200 retweets?
  5. Rudd knows he is a nerd.
    Most nerds believe they are actually pretty cool, that they are not truly nerds. This group includes myself, Malcolm Turnbull, Kochie, Tony Jones, Tony Abbott and most male politicians. Now, ‘coolness’ is itself indescribable, except to say that once you think you are cool, it’s clear to everyone that you are not. Rudd is either uber-intelligent and overplays the nerdy card to precision, or he is a rare form of nerd who can walk the line of embracing his own nerdiness to the point of appearing cool.

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Could comedy save us?

Currently, our national conversation feels like being stuck at a dinner party full of people tweeting into their mobile phones.

I’m talking about our political debate and the current state of our election campaign, the stupidity of which is becoming intolerable. And we need relief.

Why does Australia linger on pathetic, trivial stories for as long as we do? I realise we are a small country but we are big enough to know better.

Our water cooler conversation is truly tepid. We make scandals out of misquotes and feature stories out of insults when we all know the topic will usually have blown over in 24 hours.

This campaign lurches from one petty scandal to another, this week focusing on a sexist menu, a shocking shock jock, and our nation’s co-dependent relationship with Kevin Rudd.

It’s a cycle more vicious than Howard Sattler’s camera face.

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Perhaps what we need is a good comic to make light of the day’s events, someone to skew the national conversation, to spike the watercooler before the 24-hour news cycle is through.

We’ve not had a sharp-shooter like this since Graham Kennedy. (I am excluding half-baked attempts like Steve Vizard, Mick Molloy and Rove – do remind me if I have missed someone).

I’d back Adam Hills, The Chaser team in their CNNNN format, or News Limited’s Joe Hildebrand. (Give that man a talk show, seriously.)

Stephen Colbert and John Stewart have been doing this for years in the US (albeit to a much larger audience) bringing a hilarious new perspective to issues the nightly news will leave you thinking are actually important. (Scroll down for a good example)

We need talented writers and fast-working producers who will expose the shallowness of it all, shining a light on how pointless all the political hypocrisy really is.

John Clark and Brian Dawe did a great job of this but this stuff needs to be nightly. And sharp. And popular. Like, Daryl Somers popular.

Please, I can’t get no relief. Soon, the only option will be to ignore people discussing these trivialities, which I’ll probably do by tweeting into my mobile.

Searching for Australia in Koaland

Shopping for souvenirs in Cairns – a world away  from the nearest koala, emu or sheep.

I enjoyed reading a piece by Nick Bryant on Australia’s national identity and how it has been misshapen through our self-reflective cliches. The way we call ourselves ‘Down Under’ to Americans is cited as one example of how we tend to belittle ourselves. (I would add that our failure to put Americans in their place when they use the term also shows a tendency to ignore our success and pride.)

Nick’s article included this paragraph to help explain our fond attachment to phrases most of us don’t even like or use …

…as the database at the Australian National Dictionary Centre in Canberra reveals, “She’ll be right” gets at least two outings a week in Australian newspapers, while “Tall Poppy Syndrome” has been a weekly fixture for years. As the Centre’s director, Sarah Ogilvie, notes: “People are still using phrases which to an outsider seem anachronistic.”

Nick is a talented journalist whose biography shows he has moved regularly during his time as a foreign correspondent.  Nick’s decision to stay in Australia since 2006 shows, I believe, his admiration for our country, plus some sense of hope in our future. If you thought our best years were behind us, you wouldn’t move here. You would just visit, grab some souvenirs, then head home to where you belong, right?

I have just returned from a week in Cairns, in Far North Queensland, where the souvenirs tend to define a city having its own identity crisis. Stifling nostalgia is passed off as a historical discovery tour. Surreal caricatures of our fauna trivialise any natural beauty that lies outside our cities.  If you subscribe to my Facebook Feed, you would have seen my gallery of the region’s eclectic architecture and other oddities but neither of those begin to explain the schizophrenia  Cairns suffers trying to balance as a home for locals and as an international tourist destination.

As Cairns tries to position itself as the first stop for Asian visitors to our shores – something record airport arrivals would suggest it is doing very well – what greets visitors is a parade of tackiness and a clichéd approach to our emblems, wildlife and culture that presents an Australia unchanged since the 1960s.

Here is what confronted me on my first wander through the town centre; Opals, Ugg boots, koala backpacks and, for when you feel peckish… emu jerky.

Which of these resonates the most with your knowledge or concept of Australia?

Opal shop owners are doing us all a disservice. The romanticised depiction of a man down a mine grabbing a precious stone has kept Sydney’s The Rocks alive for much too long. It’s a tragedy that Cairns is going the same dusty, irrelevant way. Few Australians will ever head to Coober Pedy, and just because even fewer tourists will, doesn’t mean we should shovel such a flawed idea of mining down their bejeweled throats. Yes, we are the world’s largest producer of opal – being responsible for 95% of production – but most of it comes to us not by a rugged man in King Gees and a torch-helmet but like this…

…especially the opals coming out of Queensland.

Ugg boots are a peculiar fashion statement, at best. Wearing Ugg boots in Cairns – as I am told people do when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celcius – is truly gormless. Trotting out Uggs and sheepskin rugs is also a quaint throwback to an age before polarfleece and cotton blends, when we were all wrapped in wool because there was a shearing shed down the road. But the fantasy must stop that put Australia forward as a sheepish, agricultural economy built on grazing animals for which the export market is rapidly dwindling just as the our ownership of the word ‘Ugg’ is under threat.

No Australian would think of skinning a koala, let alone wearing one on our back. The myth of the ‘Koala Bear’ should really have died off along with Matilda, the winking kangaroo inexplicably wheeled out at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982. Let’s be honest with our tourists – most people who manage to see a koala find it snoring and if they choose to hug one of the heavily clawed, disinterested beasts, they had better not be in NSW or Victoria where it is illegal in Victoria for anyone other than a Koala’s handler to hold them.

As for emu jerky…

There could be no more superficial Americanisation of Australian wildlife as this. Jerky is a US fascination and employing our national emblems to enjoy a salted chewy treat makes me sick for all number of untreatable reasons.

Cairns used to see most of its tourists arrive from Japan, however China and Germany are now the biggest contributors to the local tourism industry, no doubt due to the relative strength of those two nations. I was surprised to hear German used as the second language after English to give instructions on the Scenic Kuranda Railway.  Likewise, many signs in the town centre are also displayed in Chinese. The local paper, the Cairns Post, reports peak tourism bodies are striving to bring Chinese flights direct into Cairns which would send arrivals from our biggest export market into the tens of thousands per year.

So far, the nation we feel safest putting forward is still tied to the outback and way out-of-touch.

Will we present the world with a decades-old view of our nation’s brightest points; one of a dusty rural paradise where so few drovers actually roam and precious few miners dig for opals by hand, or will it be one that shows off our colours, talent and enthusiasm for life, exhibited in our stunning capital cities and across countless regional centres each with their own appeal? Let’s promote the brands and outfits we stand by, the artists and home-grown designers we know by name. Let’s leave The Kens behind. Ken Duncan and Ken Done, your time has past. Our tourism has become entrenched in a dated value system that elevates our strange marsupials and landscapes above our achievements as a wealthy, warm people who have accepted millions of migrants, built glorious cities, a diverse society and a robust national economy and we will happily share our glorious nature with anyone who visits.  We will even let some of them stay.

That awkward moment when Social Media appears on TV

If the addition of social media to a broadcast is not intended as a distraction to the main game, why is that so often the outcome?

This is something I have wondered as I look at Australia’s attempts and those by networks around the world.

I thought it was self-evident that viewer opinions, when integrated into a television programme, are there to enhance the primary content. But perhaps the pendulum has already swung too far.

Why is it that many shows that have tried out social media on-air are not using innovative techniques, not conjuring up their own clever use adaption of this new community, but instead throw up some clunky graphics or even use the frustrating ‘stop/read a tweet/continue with show’ method.

Exactly who benefits from that?

Poor implementation risks offending both sides. It shows those on social networks that you don’t understand how the stream flows relentlessly on, while those who’ve never signed up for Facebook or Twitter are peeved that their show has new awkward, trendy interruptions.

Good implementation can keep viewers hooked and boost ratings – The Voice in the US is seeing a great response from their use hosts and judges live-tweeting and responding personally to viewers.

One reason TV shows should and are trying to bring social media into the foreground is fear. It’s the fear of any switched on executive producer that the social media stream will become more entertaining than the show itself. People will watch their second screen (mobile devices) more than their first (TV).

Certainly, there’s no better influence for you to switch channels than if all your friends and those you follow are tweeting about #TheVoice.

Hence, broadcasters all over the world are battling with how to bring the social stream into the live TV event. They need to show viewers they are listening to their views, but some integrations of Twitter, especially, are wearing very thin.

I like the UFC‘s approach – use social media to build up hype for the event a week out. Have your main talent interacting with viewers on various platforms throughout the day and then following the event. They understand that owning the conversation is more about taking people in behind the wall of the TV screen than it is the chance to display a highlight reel of the sharpest or fastest tweeters.

Sadly, I think Australia’s one-time leader in this area is now dragging the chain.

QandA is making a mockery of what has become known as Social TV. The show, which can still command large audiences, has long held the torch for social media integration in our country.

Several programs still limit their social network integration to a back-announce of their hashtag as the show ends. (Bit late guys!)

(Lateline is the main offender there, but, I should say, I like the show’s latest idea to give a political or topical personality the reigns as ‘Guest Tweeter’. If you’re going to tell people to “join the conversation”, it makes sense to lead it. This limits carping and provides a loose thread people can join if they wish. If not, your hashtag is just an invitation for everyone to ‘Shout! Now!’)

But back to our beloved QandA.

Each week, an increasingly silly list of tweets are flipped up on the screen.

These days, it’s hard to spot any comment that adds to the discussion. Intelligent questions? Fact-checking? It’s more a procession of punch-lines that would never be appropriate to be read out loud on the show.

It’s more a ticker of sniping, witty retorts and clever word plays that often denigrate a guest. Cardinal Pell was a good example. As was John Howard…

It’s a technique that’s not showing the best side of Twitter, nor is it helping boost engagement for the audience watching at home.

Viewers, as a result, must now tolerate these tweets interrupting the actual debate, on top of Tony Jones’s regular interruptions of panelists (something he’s long been known for). Who benefits? No one but the wise guys who – no doubt – congratulate each other on their televised tweets the next day over the ad agency water cooler.

Imagine the real-life equivalent; You’re in a pub trying to enjoy the footy but you can’t hear the commentary because all the biggest smart-arses in the room have lined up to whisper their witty interjections in your ear.

Tweets that flash up and then disappear only adds to the distraction. (It’s very hard not to look at them. I tried hard and only skipped two. Tell me how you go.)

How about a ticker that continues scrolling in the bottom third – that way I can dip-in if I wish?

But how about some more creative uses of social media?

Get your hosts to tweet LIVE on air and ask for responses.

Give characters in a drama series real-life accounts, updated mid-week, to add to the storyline – and intrigue. (Packed to the Rafters recently started a character blogging – an interesting move.)

Contests can be easily managed via social media. Tweet your trivia answer to this hashtag… Find and LIKE our hidden Facebook page for the next clue… Start a Pinterest and name a Board after our show (Microsoft and Harrods have each tried something similar)

Philosopher Alain de Botton said that the main challenge of smartphones is for us to be more interesting than they are – to stop people’s eyes drifting back to their tiny screen.

The same goes for TV.

There are many ways we can take this Australia. Let’s not leave it as it is. Please?

Pretty soon, my second screen will be much more interesting than my first.

Best tweets from #BDO (#BigDayOut 2012) so far….

The Big Day Out is, for many youths and music fans, an unrivalled day of Australianising – a chance to yell things only Aussies understand loudly and in any direction. The event appeals, primarily, to bronzed, boozed, southern-cross-tattooed teenagers.

And now, Twitter has given this much-maligned but witty bunch the perfect platform for their straight talking.

I promise to update this as #BigDayOut heads around the country…
(Well, I might.)

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Cinemas are for suckers… like me.

I ventured out to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, along with thousands of other Aussies this week.

The main reason I went was to be convinced, once again, that despite his oddness, shortness, and proboscis, Tom Cruise, is still fantastic in action films.

Seriously, Cruise gets the same look hanging from the world’s tallest building as does a two-year-old in a sandpit.

But, the cinema experience was slightly betrayed by yet another leap in cinema ticket prices. Prices had even risen since I last saw a film… last month.

$21 per ticket. Twenty-One Dollars.

I can accept Australia’s high taxes as we receive great services. Likewise, I can accept Sydney’s preposterous real estate prices because it’s the best city in the world and supply-demand means I’m going to pay more to live here.

But why, when the prices of DVDs are still tumbling (thanks eBay) and my options to watch films are always increasing (downloads, file-sharing, smart-TVs, Netflix, RedRoom, T-Box streaming) does the cost of seeing a movie continue to rise?

Cinemas have had me annoyed ever since I had to confront the manager at Hoyts in Sydney CBD after I spent an entire Batman film sitting in the floor in the aisle. I was not alone in the aisle. The film was so over-booked there was ten or more of us who slummed it just to see a new release blockbuster.

And that’s not the only madness going on at one of Australia’s biggest movie franchises.

Cinema customers wanting to see a film at Hoyts these days must jump through several hoops that did not used to exist.

1. Plan your night early, allowing time to use the glitzy hoyts.com.au website.
2. First-timers must sign up to the Hoyts Rewards Program, which does offer one free introductory ticket.
3. Pay $21 per ticket for any friends you mistakenly thought to invite.
4. Pay a $1 booking fee per ticket.
5. Print tickets to scan at self-serve cinema.
6. Sell soul to devil to partially replenish your bank account.

Although that is only six points, there are several things wrong with this.

Being an avid user of the internet, I can’t help but use a web-based analogy.

If you had to install a Flash plug-in every time you used a particular website, would you return to that website often?

Or, if you like shopping, imagine you had to call Myer to warn them you were coming, prior to any trip. Absurd.

I certainly recieved a good movie on a big screen with loud sound, but, as the cinemas try to deter illegal downloading of films, what more are the cinemas offering me at this grand event?

They’ve replaced the staff selling tickets with vending machines. The toxic choc-tops are still a ludicrous $5. The chips cost so much I had smuggle in my own Cheezels to save $3. Why do I still put myself through this for two scenes that would still look pretty good on my own 42″ TV, assuming I sit really close?

The screen has been given a special name like Vortex or Mammoth-Vision or something.

This cynical strategy is to hide the fact that as prices have increased, screen sizes have reduced. More films can the be shown more often to more people.

In the industry, it’s probably called “Sucker-Churn”.

(It may also explain why the price of my ticket was $3 more than lat week but the website was unclear.)

Be warned: If your cinema screen is not called Senstadium, Mega-Visiontacular, or some such, be sure it’s barely bigger than your wall at home. And at home, you can put your feet up, make your own popcorn and tell people to keep quiet without risking a fight.

Plus, no one has to sit on the floor.

ARIAs cement their irrelevance by ignoring social media

Last night’s entire event played out like one of those prolonged montages – a chance to pay our respects and remember the late Australian Music industry.

The Arias are traditionally lame. It’s just the Logies with more tattoos, isn’t it?

I was especially appalled by its use as a vehicle for music acts with new albums coming out. I used to have a crush on Missy Higgins, but she has been completely off the musical radar for about four years so her appearance was largely based on nostalgia and because she has a new album pending. The nostalgia continued with extended Billy Thorpe tributes, The Wiggles reaching the Hall of Fame, and then it got truly bizarre when Delta serenaded every music artist who has ever died – right back to Dame Joan Sutherland!

WHAT WAS THAT?

Dame Joan Sutherland - a posterchild for the forward-thinking ARIAs

Twitter had no presence on the night, and so, with the broadcast failing to lead the conversation, the #Arias feed became an entertaining sideline of barbs and witticisms. It becomes a real problem when tweets taking the piss are undeniably more entertaining than the actual on-air event.

The ARIAs facebook page also failed to make a real dent. It has just 17,000 fans and most comments (85) came for a pic of Altiyan Childs.

How unsurprising that the producers didn’t care about social media. The night has always been a few years behind whatever is cool.

The Telegraph painted an even uglier picture back in October, saying

“The dwindling ARIAs are a microcosm of Australian music as a whole. The glitter has gone. Once, the charismatic superstar power of a key group of stellar artists kept the whole industry revolving – but today, there is a distinct staleness at the top of the charts and a general malaise across the genres, from pop to hip-hop.” Read more…

In the same article, Sarah ‘Superjesus’ McLeod says

“We are definitely in a pickle, it sucks being a musician right now.”

Indeed, the Arias’ national irrelevance is confirmed each year in the following day’s ratings report.

@MJGAL: #ARIAs ratings are in. 369,000 tuned in. (almost half last years audience)

The industry is in a different kind of pickle. Record sales continue to plummet. The labels keep dumping staff…

So, where did it all go wrong?

    • Was it the moment Guy Sebastian shaved his afro? (Does anyone like his head better how it is now?)
    • Was it the removal of the A4-size ARIA charts from record store counters? (What gives? No one starts up iTunes just to check the charts, guys.)
    • Was it the astronomic rise of concert ticket prices thanks to a few large promoters running an oligopoly? (I paid $100 for U2 to bring me a spaceship. I shouldn’t pay that for Roxette at the Entertainment Centre.)
    • Was it the disappearance of our most lovable music presenter, Jabba, from Channel V? (It’s not too late to go back, Jabba.)
    • Was it Australian Idol? (You can’t beat the emptiness of realising all those singers you thought would make it are now back on the scrapheap… )

Anyone have any other ideas?

Dear Aussie music industry, it’s not 1982!

I get it, we all like nostalgia, but is any 70s or 80s band beyond reforming? They ALL seem to be touring – look at the list!

And I know a singer’s death never stopped INXS from touring but didn’t the guy from Dragon also die?

As I cheekily looked into the actual cost of a John Farnham ticket ($99-$149) I was appalled at the number of bands touring as if it’s still 1982. That’s 30 years ago.

The trend of bands reforming – probably to help them pay off debts/illegitimate kids – has been around forever, but I am pretty certain there are now more bands from the 70s and 80s touring than there are new bands.

Let’s blame the internet and cashed-up Gen-Xers.

Meanwhile, I still await a BROS reunion.

me tweeting

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