A Night From The Sixties

Eric Burdon was next… Hold on… That can’t be Eric Burdon. It looks like someone from my folks condo… and not one of the younger residents.

It’s nearly 1:00 AM. While gorging myself on fruit, I sat down to watch a little TV.

Click. Click. Click. What’s the average length of time a man spends on any – click – channel?

CPTV, Connecticut’s public television network is running a special with music of the sixties. Hey, that’s my era. I put down the remote.

I’d like to tell you what it is I’m watching, but CPTV is officially listed as “Off the air.” Go figure?

As a vintage clip of the Loving Spoonful ended, the very laid back female announcer read some over-written overly dramatic copy. I think it’s Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas,

The Zombies came on, performing “Tell Her No.” Nice job. One of the guys looks a little old, but they sound good.

Eric Burdon was next… Hold on… That can’t be Eric Burdon. It looks like someone from my folks’ condo… and not one of the younger residents.

He doesn’t look burned out (and you could almost understand that). He just looks old!

Quick, to Wikipedia. You’re kidding? That’s what I’ll look like in nine years? Shoot me now!

The next act, The We Five (interestingly enough, with at least seven on stage), old too! Is there an epidemic?

The lead singer, a very middle aged woman whose name I never knew, had a hair color never seen in nature and certainly not available north of Orlando.

A vintage clip of Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction was next, and then Jackie DeShannon.

Hallelujah. She looks great! She’s not a twenty year old, but she’s trim and pretty with great legs and that amazing voice.

Jackie – you’re still a babe.

As it turns out, this is a pledge break special, used by local PBS stations to raise money. Regular PBS programming… Nova, Frontline, Bill Moyers, The News Hour and Nightly Business Report, no longer pay the freight. That’s a shame.

When the commercial networks do this, run unusual programming just for ratings purposes, it’s called stunting. The sad truth is, there’s little difference between this and a late night infomercial, except the CDs being shilled here are priced much higher.

I don’t know where PBS’ place is in today’s channel lineup. I don’t think they know either.

Begging for cash is demeaning.

I Am Not An Economist

Let me repeat the title of this entry: I am not an economist. I’m just making sure no one is confused that I might have some expertise as a I ponder the plight of Wal-Mart.

To call Wal-Mart the world’s largest retailer is to underplay their significance in our economy and the economy of the rest of the world. They are the 500 pound gorilla. It’s not tough to look past them – it’s impossible.

Don’t let Wal-Mart’s country bumpkin beginnings fool you. This is one sophisticated retailer. Everything that’s sold in any Wal-Mart store is accounted for within a few minutes on massive computers at their Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters. Wal-Mart distribution system is second to none. Stores are restocked, items are re-ordered with minimal human intervention.

With all this going in Wal-Mart’s favor the revelation that their Christmas season sales lag the rest of the retail sector is stunning&#185. What’s going on?

Is it possible that Wal-Mart has become a victim of the recent spate of bad publicity surrounding the retailer’s practices? Within the last year there has been labor unrest in Southern California where other stores blamed their problems on Wal-Mart’s wage and insurance policies. Then CNBC and Frontline (PBS) both did long form documentaries on Wal-Mart – not all positive. Then there’s the objections raised in many communities when Wal-Mart came to town.

A backlash – even a small backlash would be enough to account for what’s going on. Meanwhile we still have 3 weeks until Christmas and it’s possible that Wal-Mart can make up what they’ve lost.

It will be interesting to watch.

&#185 – It should be noted that early season data is very sparse but some credit card numbers have shown an exceptional growth in sales.