Lovely Parting Gift


Well, this is a crummy picture of a lovely objet d’art– the paperweight TechTV gave us last Friday at the end of the meeting in which our layoff was explained. It’s a heavy sucker — exactly what you’re looking for if you’ve got a homemade trebouchet. It took a certain kind of courage, or something, to hand these things out (we actually had to sign for them) instead of just taking them out to the landfill. Our camerafolks took the one pictured and put it on a small turntable lighted from below. The effect was totally prismatic.

The Layoff

Wired News:TechTV to Lay Off 285 Lays Off San Francisco Staff

And there were other stories, too. Just to comment on one little detail in both of these: You’d think that Comcast gave us 60 days’ notice out of the goodness of its soft ol’ cable heart. Witness the quote from the G4 spokesguy (who is named David Shane in one of the linked pieces above and David Shone in the other):

“Today we gave notice to 285 employees that they’ll be impacted by the merger. We wanted to give employees as much notice aspossible so that they can begin to make other plans.”

Uh huh. As I noted yesterday, though, Comcast and G4 had no choice in the matter. The 60-day notice is required by federal law because shutting down a workplace of our size is considered a plant closing (the company needs to do other things under the law, too, like notifying the mayor of San Francisco that it’s putting a bunch of people on the street). So I can now consider myself the beneficiary of one of the few labor-friendly laws to get through Congress in recent memory.

The staff gets to meet with G4’s CEO, Charles Hirschhorn, on Monday and hear what else is in store for us (for instance, will we continue producing our daily show all the way through July, when the 60 days is up?).

I Was Going to Say …

… something funny earlier this morning. But then I, and just about everyone else at TechTV, got laid off. It’s not a shock — the station was sold several weeks ago and it was clear from the grapevine that the new owner (Comcast) wasn’t too interested in continuing our original programming. Anyway, it’s actually a relief to know what’s happening and that our office will be shut down.The down side — maybe it’s this way every time a shutdown or layoff happens, though we upper-middle-class types might not think about it when the closure involves a can factory or a poultry processor — is the hurt among all the people here who really have given their best to do something good here. The up side is that under the WARN Act,the federal law governing plant closures, we got 60 days’ notice plus a severance package. It could be a lot worse. More later.

Bobby Zimmerman’s Secret Victoria

DylanSo a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on during tonight’s “Survivor.” Nothing unusual in that. But there’s this music playing as the soundtrack — a Bob Dylan song. Strange! But I lost track of his career somewhere back there around “Blood on the Tracks,” so what do I know about him anymore (I didn’t even know the name of the song, which turned out to be “Love Sick”; it was just that his voice is so distinctive you couldn’t miss it). We’re watching this sort of odd presentation, and then suddenly, there’s Bob himself, looking sort of made up. Or maybe that’s just the way he looks. Everyone’s (everyone who’s not a Dylan fanatic) got the same general take (like this one from the Houston Chronicle) on this: what a weird clash of cultural — what? symbols? The major variation on the theme: Dylan’s a sellout (again). And there are the inevitable attempts — considered and reluctantly rejected here, though there’s a peach of a line from “Ballad of a Thin Man” you might use — to use Dylan’s old lyrics to send him up now (Montreal Gazette headline: “Hey, Mr. Lingerie Man.” I wish I had something real fresh to say, but all I’ve got is this: Now absolutely everyone is selling something. So Dylan’s to be congratulated for scoring a deal with the underwear company (as opposed to Pringles or something).

Farm Livin,’ the Life for Me

America’s near the end of its toughest yearly trial — the maw of sunless nothing that yawns between the end of fall “Survivor” and the onset of winter “Survivor.” Rupert‘s about to save us, though, if we can just wait till after Super Bowl XVIKPWOQ.

In the Jeff Probst-less meantime, high-minded Berkeley-ites residing beneath the dry-rot rafters on Holly Street have whiled away the empty hours by watching all six discs of the first season of “Law and Order” (“L&O,” as it’s known locally). Not sure how that happened. Kate hated the show when I’d land on it on A&E. But she, Tom, and I watched every episode together the last two or three weeks. Sure, everything’s a little bit too neat; and sure, the show relies too much on the unquestioned faith (as most of the cop shows do) that the system produces the right results (the ultimate refusal to kneel at the same altar was one of the chief reasons “Homicide” still stands out).

Now we’re done with “Law and Order” for awhile (the first season’s the only one on disc so far). And that has led us to another dimension of classic TV: the first season of “Green Acres” on DVD. Kate and I watched the first couple of 22-minute episodes this evening. Observations/confessions:

–The show really had a great ensemble cast, fine writing, and flawless comic timing.
–I never thought I’d think Eva Gabor was a looker, but now I do.
–She was a better comedienne than I remember, too.
–And the pig featured in the DVD picture looks more like Babe or a close cousin than the warty, hairy, ungainly pig from the show, Arnold.

What can I say? I’m easy to please. Sometimes.