This is a post from the early days of this blog (June, 5th ’07), originally entitled “Simple=Better”. Just in time for fish fry season…
As I was shopping today, I got to thinking that it has been a while since I’ve had some good fried fish. That got me started thinking about a friend of mine who passed away a few years ago.
His name was Jack also. Everybody I know called him Big Jack. I’m not going to get into statistics but this Jack was a big enough guy that when we were around each other, some people actually called me “Little” Jack.
Big Jack liked to fish. He was a good angler and actually dabbled at being a pro bass fisherman for a time. As much as he liked to fish, I believe that he liked eating fish even more.
I am a big fan of fried fish. I love fish and chips with good malt vinegar. In my travels I have eaten fried fish in all types of restaurants but I have found that the best fried fish is served at the old fashioned fish fry. I have made it a point to go to the small fish fry in every corner of the country.
I never did have much luck frying the fish myself so; when I was at these events I would always try to pick up some pointers. Sometimes the fish fry recipe and technique are closely guarded secrets. Everybody seems to have their own twist. Over the years, I have tried different formulas that involved a wide range of ingredients including, beer, 7-up, club soda, corn meal, cornstarch, corn flakes, flour, potato chips, eggs, milk and heavy cream to no avail.
So, I went to my friend Big Jack and said; “You have to show me how to fry fish”. Jack told me, “It’s no secret, next time I have a fish fry you’ll be right beside me”. Soon after, on a hot summer night, Jack called and said he was ready. I even brought a notebook to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. Big Jack said, “If you have your oil hot and follow this recipe exactly you can’t go wrong. You will never need another recipe.” Here is the recipe for Big Jacks’ Fried Fish.
1/2 Gallon of milk
1 bottle of Louisiana’s Hot Sauce
Mix the milk and whole bottle of hot sauce in a large bowl. Put some corn meal in a bread pan. Dip the fish pieces quickly in the milk/hot sauce mixture and coat lightly (one pass) with corn meal. Fry ’til golden brown.
Now, when I saw him pour that whole bottle of Louisiana’s in the milk, I thought this is going to be spicy. It isn’t, not the least bit. You may want to get two bottles and use one to spice up the fish after cooking. The hot in the hot sauce burns out in the cooking. If you don’t use the hot sauce the fish won’t be as crispy. Maybe it’s the vinegar, I don’t know. All I know is, if I follow the recipe exactly, it’s always great. If I use Tobasco instead of Louisiana’s, it’s still good but different. The half-gallon of milk and whole bottle of sauce makes more of the mixture than you will probably need but the ratio seems to be important. I don’t even mess with 1/4 gallon of milk and half bottle of sauce. If I have too much, I discard the leftover.
This is the best tasting and by far the simplest fish fry formula I have ever tried. So, Big Jack taught me a lesson I have learned many times. Simple is better.
In the latter part of ’08, I was hearing that MySpace was on the verge of pulling off some moves that would change the music landscape.
They were negotiating deals with the major labels that would allow users to freely add songs to their personal, profile playlists. Also, labels and label artists would be compensated when those songs were played on user profiles.
That right there is a big deal. Conceivably, any MySpace account could become a micro version of an internet radio station.
Right off the bat, the independent musicians were getting the short end. While label songs were allowed on user playlists, indies weren’t. But, that soon changed. Users were able to add indie songs but, unlike the labels, the indies would not see any royalties for those spins on user profiles.
Now, the promise was (and is) that, at some point, indies would get paid for their spins as well as the label artists. Which, seems only fair if the music is being used to drive overall traffic to MySpace and traffic to individual profiles.
As an independent musician/producer, I thought; “This could be the real leveling of the playing field. It is the opportunity to find listeners, build an audience, have direct contact with them and…access the same venue for spins as label artists.”
So, in April I started the MySpace Experiment.
Jack’s MySpace Experiment
First off, I had an existing MySpace Music profile that I started in 2006. I had under 100 friends and, I didn’t do much with it. I checked it every week or two to see if I had any correspondence.
The experiment was simple in concept; I was going to get pro-active with MySpace and promote my music. I set up some parameters…
1. I would not use any friend finding or spin generating software or devices.
2. I would approach people with friend requests but, I would treat those that accepted with the same respect and courtesy as traditional friends.
One thing I noticed right off from looking at other profiles of musicians/bands that I knew was, their friends were mostly other musicians and chicks in various stages of undress.
I have nothing against other musicians or chicks in various stages of undress but, the object here was to find music fans. I was looking for regular people that enjoy music.
After a bit of experimentation, I figured out a sort of system. I would pick an artist or band with whom I felt I had some common musical ground. I would simply look at their friends and find ones that looked like music fans and invite them to be my friend. I didn’t invite bands or obvious “model with portfolio” looking types. If a band or the like found me and invited me to be their friend, I always accepted but, I wasn’t seeking them.
When people accepted my invite, I always left a personalized comment on their profile. When people sent me messages, I replied and conversed…simple stuff.
I came up with a couple of tricks to encourage folks to return to my profile. I changed my “Influences” daily. I would just write a stream of consciousness thing every morning and my profile would show as being “Updated” every day. Also, in my status bar, I would write a daily question…”Are you a dog person or a cat person?”…something like that. People would leave comments and start a dialog sometimes, all good clean fun.
Here are the rough numbers after almost three months.
21,000 Profile Visits
Here’s the part that, for some reason, I didn’t expect; I met a lot of great people. I mean GREAT people. I met witty, intelligent, Spiritual, inspirational and down to earth people. I met people I would have never met otherwise that are and will continue to be real deal friends.
It didn’t last. It came to my attention that all of my emails sent through the MySpace system and all of my friend requests were being marked as spam. Why? I wondered…excerpt from an email from the MySpace team…
Our system detected that a significant number of users marked your friend requests and/or messages as spam. As a result, all of your correspondence has been routed to junk folders.
Fair enough…I was, after all, contacting complete strangers and, in essence, trying to get them to take a listen to my music. And even though many just don’t accept friend invitations from bands, some flag them as spam.
So, what do I do to get off of this double secret probation?
Your account will be unflagged if several messages that have been sent to users’ spam folders are specifically marked as ‘not spam’. Your messages will no longer show up in recipients’ inboxes until your account is unflagged, so users will have to go into their spam folders to mark the messages as ‘not spam’. This can be done with one user, or many, so long as enough messages are marked as ‘not spam’.
Amazing! MySpace is saying I could get one user to mark a bunch of my messages as “not spam” and I would be off the hook. MySpace is giving me tips on how to game the system to my advantage after I’ve been accused of gaming the system!
So, I started my experiment to see if MySpace was actually a viable way to reach out to people and build on a fan base. What I’ve learned is that it does have that potential; more so than Facebook or YouTube exactly because it is easier to approach people that you don’t already know. That and the fact that MySpace has at least promised to cut indies in on some future revenue are the most appealing features to an indie musician.
But, it isn’t viable if you have to game the system in order to keep on good standing. And, thus ends the MySpace experiment.
Hopefully the friends that I’ve met will follow me back to my own little corner of the web here, where I’m not being monitored by a “metric”. They will always be welcome.
Jack is busy with his move from the mini winnie, but called me earlier this evening. Internet won’t be going in until Wednesday, so he won’t be able to get online until Thursday, at the latest.
For your listening pleasure (hah) my guy, Paul Williams and Rowlf the Dog.