Trophy in a Morgue or on the Mantlepiece: Roll the Dice

“The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.”

That is part of a joint statement from Harvey Mason, Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy; Jack Sussman, executive vice president, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming [there’s a lot to unpack with that list], CBS [no there isn’t]; and Ben Winston, GRAMMY Awards® executive producer, Fulwell 73 Productions.

The three were announcing that the presentation would be postponed from January 31 to March 14. They made their statement on January 5.

This is being written on January 16. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Los Angeles County leads the nation in confirmed COVID-19 cases: 990,632. Cook County is in second place, at 429,270, or about 57% of LA. Deaths? LA County is number one with a bullet, at 13,504 deaths. Cook is at 8,939.

This is not to make light of those numbers. Not at all.

But it is to draw attention to the fact that things are not good in LA County—to understate things.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington, today (January 16) there are 391,609 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19.

March 14? The projection is that that number will increase to 540,433. Deaths.

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You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain
—”Celluloid Heroes,” Ray Davies

These will be the 63rd Grammy Awards. The first was held May 4, 1959, actually a dual-presentation as little gramophone trophies (“gramophone”/”Grammy”: get it—probably better than another consideration, the “Eddie” to acknowledge Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, who would have undoubtedly spun in his grave at 78 rpm had that happened) were handed out at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills (an unfortunate musical association with that hotel: Whitney Houston drown in a bathtub there in 2012, requiesce in pace) and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York (which is across the street from Carnegie Hall: practice).

The existence of the awards goes to some music industry execs who determined that the number of plaques and handprints that could go to music-related individuals. Consider this sampling: America, Jane’s Addiction, Paula Abdul, Backstreet Boys, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Chuck Berry, KC and the Sunshine Band, Michael Bolton, New Kids on the Block, David Bowie, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Alice Cooper, Johnny Cash, Chicago, Phil Collins, Sean Diddy Combs, Ice Cube, The Carpenters, Motley Crue.

I could have kept going—hell, I barely scratched the surface of the sidewalk, but there are more than 2,600 plaques on Hollywood Boulevard, “some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly ever heard of,” and you can see where this is going (and I don’t mean between Gower and La Brea on Hollywood Boulevard and from Sunset to Yucca on Vine Street (yes, the Walk of Fame now has two streets).

Those guys in the ‘50s were worried the music industry wasn’t going to get enough attention? KC and the Sunshine Band?

(Two things about the Hollywood Hall of Fame according to the FAQs on the site. (1) when it comes to nominating someone, it is fairly wide open: “Anyone, including a fan, can nominate a celebrity as long as the celebrity or his/her management is in agreement with the nomination.” What is the celebrity is against and the management is for? (2) Stars don’t come cheap: $50,000. “The money is used to pay for the creation and the installation of the star, as well as maintenance of the Walk of Fame.” And like a condominium association fee: “Price subject to change.”)

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There is probably nothing that puts the relevance of the Grammy Awards into better perspective than a poll found on its homepage that is titled, “What’s Your 2021 Musical New Year’s Resolution?”

The choices are:

• Be the biggest stan in the army
• Catch all your favorite artists’ livestream sets
• Cop all the best artist merch
• Discover more artists
• DJ like a pro on Twitch
• Expand your vinyl collection
• Get internet famous with YouTube covers
• Learn a new instrument
• Listen to more new music
• Perfect the next viral dance on TikTok
• Revisit your favorite songs and albums
• Other

Tiger Beat magazine was established in 1965 and actually had a run until the end of 2018. A big part of its coverage was to run lists of Q&As from their faves that were pretty much, like that Grammy list.

Which leads one to wonder about the thinking of those who are behind the 63rd awards: What were they reading, say, in the late ‘60s to mid ‘70s?

I’m thinking it probably wasn’t Rolling Stone (and I won’t reference the current version of RS’s offer of a subscription tote bag, something that the artists covered there in the late ‘60s to mid ‘70s would have set on fire).

Just as Tiger Beat has served its purpose, what of the Grammys?

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Look back at the COVID numbers for LA County right now.

When the Recording Academy and CBS made the announcement about postponing the event, it was January 5. On that day, according to the IHME, there were 356,949 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19.

Seriously: does anyone nowadays really need a Grammy?

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