the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: YouTube

We Built Ankara with Rock and Roll!

Sometimes the God of Rock and Roll works in mysterious ways.   Consider Sunday afternoon —

It was hot in Los Angeles, and I was sitting around in my underwear, looking at different music videos on YouTube.  By chance, I hit upon Starship’s “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.”  I’ve always liked this song as a guilty pleasure.  At the same time, it was sad to see that the former members of the great Jefferson Airplane falling so low.  This 80’s music video had a self-importance to it, but I couldn’t figure out what was the “message,” if any.   What City were they talking about?   Was this a cry against corporate radio?  Who were all these teenagers running from the huge rolling dice in Las Vegas?  What was the symbolism behind the Lincoln of the Lincoln Memorial coming alive and singing the chorus, “We Built This City on Rock and Roll.”  Was this song about Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, who created the plans for Washington D.C.?  Abraham Lincoln was one of our finest presidents, but I doubt he would ever be about “rock and roll.”  I decided to write a post about this video.  I ran a contest.

The winner of this contest is the one who writes the best description of what the artists are trying to communicate in this music video.

As I expected, I received humorous comments from my readers.  After all, many of you were the “class clowns”  and “misfits” during high school.  But the most intriguing comment came from someone who didn’t even watch the video.  It was from Natalie, who writes the blog Tell Me About It.  She lives in Turkey.  The Turkey Turkey.  Isn’t that interesting?  I’m not exactly sure how this New Orleans girl ended up in Turkey, but I bet you that after drinking that Turkish coffee, she ain’t ever coming back to Starbucks.

Here was her comment concerning the music video:

— and once again i miss out because youtube is still banned in turkey. dadgum. i so wanted that prize!

“YouTube is banned in Turkey?!”  I asked.

Fascinated, I Googled the subject to learn more.  Apparently, this is not the first time Turkey banned YouTube.

According to the Huffington Post:

A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country’s founding father, according to reports Sunday.

It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death.

Some of the most offensive videos came from Greece, where the Turkish founding father was called “gay.”  This was considered an insult to “Turkishness.”

Turkey is not alone in blocking YouTube. Last year, the Thai government banned the site for about four months because of clips seen as offensive to Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

And in May, Moroccans were unable to access YouTube after users posted videos critical of Morocco’s treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1975. An official blamed a technical glitch, but could not explain its nature or why it affected only the YouTube site.

Suddenly, the music video made complete sense to me.  It wasn’t the “worst song ever recorded.”  It was a political anthem about freedom.   I even understood why Abraham Lincoln was singing along.  No country — Turkey — included should be allowed to prevent her citizens from rocking and rolling, even if it is to really crappy 80’s songs!  We as Americans must change the world and give everyone the chance to have big hair and giant dice… and make fun of their esteemed leaders.  And we shouldn’t be doing it through WAR and BOMBINGS!

We should be doing it through the POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL.

Free the bad 80’s videos on YouTube!

Natalie — here are some ways to work around your government’s censorship (via boingboing)

C’mon, Americans — it’s time to take our message of free speech to Ankara, to Bangkok, to Rabat —

We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock and roll

C’mon, Mt. Zion High School Swingsations — let’s show the world what America is all about!

Mom, Let Me Explain the Next Post To You


Dear Mom,

I know you read my blog every morning and I just realized that tomorrow, when you sit at your desk, turn on your computer, and start to read the next post — you will have no idea in hell what I’m talking about. 

YouTube?  Lonelygirl15? 

For this he went to college?

So, since you are already asleep and I will be asleep tomorrow morning, let me give you a brief explanation.

YouTube is a place where people put all sorts of crazy videos online, sort of like a homespun America’s Funniest Home Videos.   Like many things online, the age of most of the participants is 16. 

Now I had never even heard of Lonelygirl15 until this morning.   I was going onto Technorati (a resource for bloggers) to see if people were still searching for Suri Cruise as a subject of interest.  I wanted to know if my last “panda” post was old news already, so I could beat myself up for not publishing it LAST week when Suri Cruise was hot. 

Blogging is all in the timing.

While I was on Technorati, I saw that 9-11 was the #1 search of the day.  That made sense. 

But #2 was Lonelygirl15. 

“Lonelygirl15?  What the hell is that?  Some new girl band?”  I asked myself.

I’m sure you are as befuddled as I was.

Here’s an article explaining the phenomenon. 


Kids today!  They’re nuts…

Anyway, with Suri getting old, I immediately needed some “hot” topic to bring in the important “young” demographic to my blog.   I figured that by writing a “sexy” post about Lonelygirl15, I would show the kids that I’m “hip” to what they are doing.   After all, if I want advertising dollars, I’m not going to get it with the bunch of old fogies who usually read this site –  some of them are older than 25!

Anyway, Mom, now that you understand the background to the story, enjoy the next post!  We’ll speak later…

A Message From Our CEO


My name is Roger Hedgegood, CEO and President of ToughBoy Toys. 

Now that the popular Lonelygirl15 on YouTube, an inspiration to countless teenagers across America, has been outed as a fake, a mere marketing gimmick developed by filmmakers repped by CAA — I think it is time to come clean as well.   

As part of a promotion for our upcoming Christmas toy for boys ages 10-14, Fighting Ninja with Talking Penis, our marketing department developed a blog centered around a self-named “Citizen of the Month.”  Using the names of my two pet gerbils, Neil and Sophia, my marketing department, under the creative guidance of V.P. Marketing, Elaine Lansky-Kramer, developed this entertaining and poignant blog hoping to create a buzz about our new toys. 

I know many of you have grown to admire “Neilochka” and “Sofotchka.”   I hope you will continue to enjoy this exciting interactive storytelling experience.  Even thought they are not “real” in the traditional sense, you shouldn’t stop showing your love and affection.  It is you, the fans of Toughboy Toys, that are the real stars.  And here’s some exciting news – soon there will be “Neilochka and Sofotcha” brand “skinny jeans” coming to a Gap near you, from sizes 0-6. 

A special thanks to Pooja Rajghatta Associates of Bombay for all their assistance with Neil’s “emails” and “phone calls” and the William Morris Agency for supplying us with the actors who played Neil and Sophia on their “visit” to New York and the Berkshires.

Thank you and remember, “Fighting Ninja, Talking Penis!”  — on sale at Walmart stores starting on November 12!


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