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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Ca$h-$pangled 4th

Is it just me, or was the televised version of the Boston 4th of July celebration just one large commercial?

It wasn't just the "live" show opening with the final minutes of the 1812 Overture, taped a good 10 minutes earlier. And it wasn't just the pre-packaged segment of one Craig Ferguson joke followed by one Neil Diamond song followed by about five endless minutes of advertising.

In some ways that was an improvement over when WBZ-TV killed time up to the 10 p.m. network join by interviewing their weather man.

The Esplanade is an experience everyone should have at least once. We actually went twice and were cured. The first year, a bench supposedly anchored along the Esplanade toppled when we got up and hit Mrs. OL in the ankle. She saw fireworks all right, not the same ones I did of course.

Year Two was the Bicentennial -- you know the year that Jack Williams said did not produce a turnout as large as the one last night that varied from a half-million to one million people over the course of the broadcast. Standing in the middle of the closed Storrow Drive, dodging the fireworks launched by the idiot nearby, was the ultimate cure.

So we've opted for other ways. There are some great fireworks viewing points in Brookline, but lately we've opted for the TV version. And it was terrific -- until organizer Stephen Mugar, looking for extra cash to finance the extravaganza -- sold the rights to CBS several years ago.

I can't blame the guy for trying to make a few extra bucks to defray the cost of the spectacular he gave birth to and has supported. But there should have been some quality controls.

Like not pretending to join the 1812 in progress. And I could swear the fireworks were joined in progress and were on a slight time delay (longer than the normal explanation of physics that says light travels faster than sound).

And not running five-plus minutes of commercials every 10 minutes.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

These overly ostentatious spectacles are probably doomed by their cost structure.

The BSO is a very expensive old hag with a 79 million dollar a year feeding bill and a bloated CEO salary for Volpe of nearly 1 million bucks, more than any SO save LA.

The Syracuse SO gets the same job done for 90 grand so it's more corporate welfare for John Volpe's kid.

Starting with that cost base for something that mainly extols old stuff from Europe on the birthday of America is also weird. Why not have Sun Ra's Arkestra instead?

Then you have all the other attending spectacle costs, pyrotechnics, media coverage, crowd management and so on.

I say scrap the mess and get back to something simpler and more American like a Louis Armstrong fete as his legendary birthday is 7/4/1900.

July 05, 2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of us that did watch on TV, the WBZHD coverage was standard definition with bars along the sides. I thought the deadline to go digital had passed.

July 05, 2009 11:04 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I noticed that too. Digital is one thing -- I did see the image freeze and break a few times. But HD is another. And I guess they didn't get enough from the sponsors to got for HD.

July 05, 2009 11:22 AM  
Blogger Quriltai said...

Guess you have to be there. I went, got there at 9, had some space in the oval. The weather was perfect, the food cheaper than at Fenway, the security and volunteers omnipresent, the American flags were free! It was a great time, surrounded by people whose greatest fault was not knowing the words to "Charley on the MTA". That's right -- the Pops plays during the commercial breaks, include Charley, and "Shippin' Up to Boston" which featured Keith and Colin clogdancing for the crowd. Neil Diamond reprised "Sweet Caroline" while my DVR-less friends were staring at commercials (seriously, who even watches TV commercials these days?).

Sure, if you watch a small portion of the televised package, or show up late to an event like this without a plan, you won't like any high endurance event -- whether it's the Fourth, DisneyWorld, or Obama's Inauguration. But if you commit, it's a wonderful time.

I like your stuff, Outraged Liberal, and maybe next year you and the lady can join our crowd and do it right to see how much fun the Fourth really is. Note, however, that the tentative plan for next year is to canoe down the Charles during the afternoon before anchoring within earshot of the speakers and near the barge -- so again, be prepared to commit.

July 05, 2009 11:24 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Thanks for the invite (and kind words). It does sound interesting but we're definitely in the "been there, done that" mode, even if we didn't do it right the first or second time.

I obviously figured the organizers had to be doing something right -- even if selling the TV rights is not one of them.

July 06, 2009 5:45 AM  

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