Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coverage and Carlin and cars

Just a few thoughts and observations:

NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer Brian France made the keynote speech at the Associated Press Sports Editors convention Thursday in Minneapolis.

A decade earlier his father had addressed the same group at a convention in Richmond. Bill France Jr. told the nation’s sports editors that they should devote more attention and space to NASCAR because its popularity was growing.

This time, Brian France had a similar message from a different perspective. A lot of newspapers did ramp up their coverage of the sport in the early part of this decade, but in this world of staff and travel cuts fewer and fewer papers are assigning reporters to a NASCAR beat.

France urged sports editors to send their reporters to more races, and he was dead right to do so.

NASCAR is supplying more statistical services and things like video highlights for use especially in the growing online coverage of the sport. But coverage generated or backed financially by the sport itself is only going to go so far.

Fans will tell you they dislike the media and a lot of them were nearly giddy when Tony Stewart went off on TNT reporter Marty Snider after last week’s race. But Marty was simply doing his job, and his job is to ask the questions fans want to know the answers to.

With more good reporters covering NASCAR in the past 10 years, fans know more about the workings of the sport than ever before. That’s not always pretty, but it does serve the fan.

As the numbers dwindle, the ones who’re left are still working hard to do the job but there will be stuff that doesn’t wind up being reported. Ultimately, that’s bad for the sport.

* * *

People who’re my age or a little older got a big jolt earlier this week when George Carlin died.

If you ever got into Carlin’s comedy, he had an impact on how you looked at the world. That’s especially true if you love the English language. Carlin had a way of taking the things people do with the language and calling them on it, and I know he made me do the same thing.

Perfect example. Thursday I flew to Boston and went to pick up a rental car to drive on up to New Hampshire. They gave me a Subaru Legacy, which is neither here nor there, but on the back it has initials identifying it as a PZEV. That stands for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle.

Partial Zero? Good grief.

Carlin could have done five good minutes on that alone.

* * *

People laugh at me because I get worked up about why more people don’t serve crushed ice, and that’s fine. I can’t help it that I am in tune to the big ideas in life.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t be turned on to something new myself. That has happened to me recently, and I will share it with you now. I’m that kind of guy.

Ready for it? OK, here it is.

Go to Panera Bread. Get a plain or cinnamon crunch bagel, your pick. But whatever you do, get the honey walnut cream cheese.

Thank me later.


Monkeesfan said...

When France Junior made his 1998 speech urging more newspapers to have NASCAR beat writers, it was a bit of overkill on his part because by then there was already proific coverage of the sport; there was (and is), though, a need for more divergent viewpoints, ones that dissented from long-established viewpoints about the sport, where it was going, and whther it ought to go where it was going; also needed were and are more viewpoints that rebut driver views on varied issues.

On his angle you have a good point, David. Chances are there are angles of the sport going unreported.

Brian France's agument, however, is more than overkill, it is absurdity. Newspapers didn't cut their NASCAR beats because of staff and travel cuts as much as they cut their NASCAR beats because the sport's popularity stopped growing, and with the neart-tota dearth of good racing and concurrent closing of the sport's competition loop to where just 11 teams have won races since 2002 with no new winning teams since October 2002, there wasn't as much worth writing about - how many Hendrick/Roush/JGR stories does the media need to write?

Also hurting NASCAR is, contrary to apparantly popular belief, the sport does not have too many "vanilla" drivers; instead it has too much flamboyance and too little professionalism. Flamboyance gets tiresome faster and the boredom lasts longer than with professionalism.

George Carlin's impact on the language was overblown - his "seven words you can't say on TV" bit was deliberately aimed at attckng good maners, except Carlin never grasped that good manners are what make good people. His anti-Vietnam War shots were and remain offensive and despicable; they were comedy for the enemy's benefit. I didn't shed any tears when he died; he didn't deserve them.

Anonymous said...

Monkeesfan, Carlin was one of the most imaginative comics to ever come along.
He looked at his time on stage as an opportunity to push boundaries and confront stupid things that people continued to accept as normal.
Unless you long for the Bill Cosbys and Henny Youngmans of the world, you have to tip your hat to Carlin (and Lenny Bruce) for what he's done.
He viewed his job's function as to make people laugh and make people think. Almost every single comedian today can tell the way that Carlin influenced them.

Anonymous said...

Marty Snider WAS just doing his job - that's why he asked the question, to which Stewart replied that he hadn't seen the incident yet at that point and didn't want to comment. When Marty regurgitated essentially the same question immediately thereafter, he was properly and appropriately bitch-slapped on national TV.

David, I am sorry to learn that you've been missing the honey walnut cream cheese until now. Nobody should have to endure that void. Glad to hear the situation has been rectified!

While I personally view Carlin's comedy as genious, I also respect that he offended people, such as monkeesfan. That's fine, everyone is allowed to have their opinion. He made people think, and that's cool. Like Dale Sr. once said, as long as they're talkin' about 'ya, it doesn't matter whether it's good or bad.

Anonymous said...

My .02, "pit reporters" try to cause trouble where there is none for ratings- period. I put George carlin in the same catagory as Hanoi jane and the best way to sum up his passing is- I hope there is a place in the afterlife where he can meet up with some of the 68,000 guys who had a different view of our involvement in 'Nam- nuff said. Panera breads shmears are the cats PJs!

Anonymous said...

Monkeesfan is a goof ball caught up in his own world of group think. He is right of the goose stepping fools we left behind in the 40s. Carlin could offend but so can Rush Limbaugh. But he is the Messiah to people like Monkeesfan. They always blame anyone who believes in the tooth fairy for all the ills in the world. Next thing you will hear out of his mouth is that the left is responsible for the oil crisis, not realizing of course the right has given free reign to Big Oil the last 8 years, even having an Exxon exec write oil policy from inside the White House (hmmm, the Fox watching the Hen house, that's a novel idea). Goes to show you Carlin was pretty much on the mark. What would he say? I dunno, but maybe it would go something like this: The White House white washed America with it's Gulf of Iraq Resolution disillusion so that we could stop those dam Homeland Security color-coded messages that came to us every day pre-2006 election. Anybody ever noticed that we no longer see Red? Or Orange? Or Yellow? Or hell even Green? We don't see those Homeland Security colors anymore because Karl Rove and Bush got re-elected. And does anyone think that for one second the actual terrorist threat has lessened today than pre-November, 2006? Dream one...There was a Middle Eastern leader who said in 2003 that Bush's policy in Iraq would create and I quote many "Bush fires" across the land. Well just look at what governments are lighting those "Bush fires". We can't even control Libya nowadays. That little noting country is about to have a large impact on our life...Good luck W Lovers and Carlin haters.

Anonymous said...

Yeaman. Anybody a Monkees fan has to be a little weired out. I saw a clip last night on America's Funniest Home Videos of a Monkey who stuck his finger in his fanny and then smelled and tasted his do. Is that what a Monkey's fan likes?

Anyway Carlin was cool. We needed a guy like him and Lenny Bruce and Dr. Martin Luther King and Abbie Hoffman and Andrew Young and Daniel Ellsberg and Arlo Guthrie and Judy Collins and Gloria Steinem and Bobby Kennedy and others like them to shock us and awaken us from what kind a nation we had become. Idiots like Howard stern and Rush Limbaugh can prosper just because of the trail that many people like Carlin blazed. Of course we are going backwards these days with PC behavior that defies logic.

But on to more important things, like NASSSCAAARRRRR. Vrrroooom. France, as in Brian Z, has accused the media of under covering the sport, which he is correct to a degree. I think the media has come to the table a lot but continuing coverage hasn't caught on. I have noticed in even traditional southern media in the hotbed of the the sport's roots a lessening on off days and weeks. But at the same time I have seen mainstream publications give many column inches to stick and balls sports personalities that fart in the off season. That's a little curiosity that doesn't compute. And it goes on all the time. On the other hand there isn't hard news to report Tues thru Thurs. But again many of the non-stories in stick and ball sports get published on down news days.

Anonymous said...

"I hope there is a place in the afterlife where he can meet up with some of the 68,000 guys who had a different view of our involvement in 'Nam- nuff said."

I'm guessing when y'all nam/iraq lovers reach the heaven you like to talk about you will find 68,000+ young american kids who will look you straight in the eyes and ask, why did you do this to me and my friends?

Anonymous said...

Getting in touch with your Southern roots ? It's called the Southern 500 (look it up) Not the California Boredom 500
Is it COT Racing NASCOT or Stock Car Racing I'm confused.
Tony Stewart is bothered by the fact he's no longer the biggest jerk at JGR

Anonymous said...

"I'm guessing when y'all nam/iraq lovers reach the heaven you like to talk about you will find 68,000+ young american kids who will look you straight in the eyes and ask, why did you do this to me and my friends?"

Well said whomever did so.

Yep it's a curious thing that those who are alive and never served in "nam" would pretend to care about our dead or make some supercilious remark about their service. How many young men and women that could have solved poverty or invent a new drug (good drug; healing drug) that could stop an illness in its tracks? How many did we lose in that unjust war? And just as soon as we are about to put that unjust war behind us we get involved in the sand dunes in another unjust war with lies to get involved. Man history does really repeat itself. And just like in the Vietnam era we
are now leaving those mangled men and women with shattered lives and limbs when they come back home. But those bloggers like Monkeesfan want us to think differently. They want us to believe that these wars are for some noble reason. Well I can tell you that I love the warrior but hate the war. As a Vietnam era veteran I bet the same people that are blogging now so self-righteous we the same people that called me a baby-killer when I came home in the 1970s. My peers treated me with utter disrespect and disgust. Now they want me to think they cared? Bull Sh.t. Yall are phonies.

Anonymous said...

I was a little (but not by much) too young to see Carlin in the early days, but when my Dad mentioned him (Dad is 77), I watched his stuff and ended up buying and reading all of his books - a comic genius!!! He will be sincerely missed! As far as Panera Bread, if you get there for lunch, try the Frontega Chicken sandwich. Heaven on bread, I swear.

Anonymous said...

Daysof thunder,... What would you define as a "just" war?

Anonymous said...

The partial-zero thing reminded me of another Carlin Quote: "Near Miss...heck that was a Near-Hit!"

Anonymous said...

Hey, the Cook out restaurants in and around have crushed ice or possible ice pellets. It really makes a good drink.
Also, we need more hootchies, that is what we need . There are some hootchies working at the Cook out near Belmont, NC. Hootchies and crushed ice.

Most of y'all on here need to chill out and show the love. Get a hootchie.

Anonymous said...

daysofthunder - I care and always have. I grieve for the warriors who suffered and the families of the dead and maimed from both wars. Thank you for your service.

Anonymous who posted at 6/27/2008 3:26 PM - After reading your comments, I'd be ashamed to post my real name too if I were you.

Monkeesfan said...

Those 68,000-plus won't ask Americans "why did you do this to me?" They'll ask the antiwar crowd, "Why did you fight for the enemy?" BTW, you can't love the warrior and hate the war, because to hate the war is to hate their mission, and by extention the warriors. Yes, there is nobility to their mission as there was nobility to the Vietnam mission. We want them to be safe, absolutely - we also want them to succeed.

If you were in Vietnam (the utter incoherence of your posts leads me to suspect you're a phony) you saw the good we were doing and the evil of the Soviet-sanctioned enemy. Those who scorned their mission are not worth of respect anymore than those who scorn their on today. Vietnam was indeed a noble cause (real Vietnam vets already know this; it's the antiwar crod playing CYA who remain in denial); we should have seen it through to victory and the world would be a far better pace if he had.

There also is no "Big Oil," one of the most absurdly regulated industries in he country. Where people get his idea of the existence of "Big Oil" is beyond understanding.

Carlin was not only off the mark, he was at times willfully dishonest, and that mad his worse than unfunny.

"We can't evn contrl Libya nowadays." Libya has been neutered. And yes, the actul threat of terrorism has lessened, if for no other reason than the Middle east's largest sanction satte of international terror (Saddamite Iraq) was overthrown and is now a democracy.

Monkeesfan said...

paulb, Bill Cosby and Henny Youngman were funnier than Carlin because they didn't insult the intelligence of their audience. Carlin didn't make people think; he told them what to think. That's what leftists who predominate the entertainment industry always do.

Monkeesfan said...

One more thing, daysofthunder - where are those "Bush fires?" this supposed Middle East leader predicted?

Monkeesfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

David: Our local newspapers are covering nascar now more than ever - they don't get it all right though which proves they are not going to the races themselves. I have seen them put wrong #'s to drivers and then don't spell their names correctly. As far as George Carlin - I took him for what he was a smart comedian who made a lot of money.

As far as the Tony Stewart deal with Marty Snyder - Marty deserved what he got and in fact, Tony handled that media circus around him better than I could have after having been crashed out of second place - as a fan I am still mad! Marty was looking for TV drama and I heard him on your show and he down played the whole thing admitting it was crazy and couldn't wait to get out of there himself. Lastly, monkeesfan needs to get a grip - does he ever have anything positive to say = why does he watch nascar anyway! Forgot - love that panera bread.

Anonymous said...

Since this has rapidly deteriorated into a non-NASCAR blog, I will make this short but sweet, and provide a shock for the regulars out here...

I agree with Monkeesfan 100%. Yes, it pains me to write that, and no, it’s not a typo.

Carlin was boring at best, at worst, he was offensive and not funny at all. Carlin was one of those who paved the way for today’s generation of Hollywood left wing elitists who have no sense of reality.

Those of you who continue to bash our foreign policy and our current president really honestly aren’t paying attention.

Anonymous said...

BTW... daysoftunder... why aren’t there any new oil refineries being built in the US? And why don’t we provide our own oil from Alaska and off the Florida Gulf Coast when there is as much there as in the Middle East? Oh yeah, the left wing whackos. I keep forgetting. Oil production (including diesel) in this country is overly regulated and taxed by the left, which is why we are at $4+ a gallon.

Oh, but I keep forgetting… gas taxes, which give us nothing in return, are ok, but corporate profits which help to feed my investment portfolio are not.

Anonymous said...

monkees[butt]fan - "Newspapers didn't cut their NASCAR beats because of staff and travel cuts as much as they cut their NASCAR beats because the sport's popularity stopped growing

Really? Better tell that the the Tribune Company:

"With the increasing demand to produce local news, we've decided to eliminate our national NASCAR coverage and focus more on local sports coverage. Following a joint decision by the Sentinel, Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Sentinel, we won't be covering as many NASCAR races and will spend more of our budget on local news."

That aside, your premise is absurd on its face. To think the media would drop coverage (of the second highest attended and watched sport) because a sport is no longer "expanding" is another example of an anal extraction on your part.

Did the media drop coverage during the years when the MLB's ratings and attendance was down?

The same can be said of the lean years in the NBA, did media pull back it's coverage?

Monkeesfan said...

marc, your Tribune Company quote doesn't disprove my point. You apparantly expected them to say, "People are demanding we stop covering NASCAR." Newspaper companies never say things like that in scaling back coverage of something.

And yes, media does stop covering a sport as its popularity stops growing - it's why the NHL is struggling to get coverage, and yes, coverage of MLB and the NBA did drop as their popularity dipped; NBA coverage in particular isn't even close to what it was early in the 1990s.

Marc, why are you always this myopic on everything?

nh_nascarfan said...

The amount of media coverage NASCAR gets is simply a matter of supply and demand. If the readers want it, they will get it. If not, they wont. Here in New England, the Boston Herald scaled back its NASCAR coverage by no longer hosting David Exum’s blog. Its been gone for two months, and New England race fans haven’t rallied to bring it back. Try getting any NASCAR news in any of the major New England Media outlets... unless its one of two race weekends, coverage is bare minimum at best. Even on WBZ radio - all news - this morning, yesterday’s race results were mentioned as an afterthought during the sportscast.

The truth is, for whatever reason, the members of the mainstream New England press just don’t perceive there to be that much support for auto racing out there.

Thankfully, in this age of technology, I don’t have to rely on them for my racing news, I just tune in to my Sirius radio in my car or log onto my computer at home and get all the information I would ever need.

I disagree with Monkeesfan that cutting of coverage has anything to do with what he theorizes, rather it’s just an uneducated perception by the editors of what NASCAR is and isn’t (drive fast, turn left, yeeeeeehaw! lets drink a Bud!).

Of course, its difficult to grow a sport without the mainstream media coverage which is the best free advertising you can get if done right.

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