Best laid plans, right? I was hoping to stay out of politics but that just isn’t going to happen. But on the upside, this isn’t about normal politics, liberalconservativeblahblah. It’s about what bureaucracies do, what I think they will always do as long as folks who are smart refuse life’s ample opportunities to become wise.
This week Youtube began shutting down many jazz sites. Half of my Favorites, it feels like, vanished in the middle of the night, because the hosting sites also vanished in the middle of the night. If you pop around Youtube, love jazz, I don’t need to mention the names. I’ve talked to some of you, there is shock, bewilderment, and most of all astonishment, there is always astonishment, every time something like this happens. It’s not the fault of Youtube. They are in the business of copyright violation, and just about everyone who posts is violating some law or another. Occasionally someone will threaten some serious legal action, and so Youtube does a purge. This is their morality, what is legally threatening is wrong, morally repulsive—as in many sites of hate they allow to exist, not so much. People who are filled with hatred also buy things to live every day, it’s a matter of eyes on the site overall. The fact that they are a business only means that they were acting in their own interest—which is eminently comprehensible.
So this isn’t about Youtube. It’s about a charitable foundation whose mission is to promote jazz and specifically to promote the jazz artist from which this institution derives its name. Just for the heck of it, reread the last sentence—several times. I’ll even rewrite it. Their mission is to promote jazz and specifically the music of their jazz artist, The Chet Baker Foundation. And here’s where I feel like the donkey, Benjamin, in Orwell’s Animal Farm, long memory, profoundly cynical to the point of never being surprised by the selfishness and pettiness of those who have even a modicum of power. Because it was the Chet Baker Foundation that put the legal screws to Youtube. What other medium, who else was doing more, right now, to promote jazz and the music of Chet Baker than those particular sites? Answer: no one. More Answer: not the Chet Baker Foundation.
And at this point, because there is logic, the Orwellian mode takes over. Here is the choice of the Chet Baker Foundation. They could continue with their mission or become their own antithesis. If they chose to continue their mission, here’s all they had to do. Set up a Youtube account, link it to their website, offer Chet cds, have someone write blogs about the life and times of Chet, post archival footage of Chet, publicize events related to Chet in the Youtube blurb explaining the video—in other words, join the 21st century.
To be honest, I am a technological clod. One of the proprietors of these now vanished sites is, compared to me, a technological wizard. He is amazed I can be so backward. He is astounded that not even do I not know things, I haven’t even heard of them. He also told me how to start this blog, which was like Marine basic training to me. But if even I get the idea, then something has to be wrong with them, who, to a person, must be more tech savvy. Because everyone is more tech savvy than I am. And I’m not kidding. My nine year old knows more than I do.
What the Chet Baker Foundation did though, was to completely abandon their mission, to become their own nemesis. They became their anti-mission by shutting down the promotion of jazz and limiting the access people have to Chet Baker. Their new mission is to continue to solicit funds for their foundation and keep their positions within their community. The Chet Baker Foundation now has nothing to do with Chet Baker, despite their website, despite all that they might say. And that, unfortunately, is the way of bureaucracy.
Four legs good, two legs better.