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rant against folk festival sponsor

GUEST,Winnipeg 15 Jul 08 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Winnipeg 15 Jul 08 - 01:08 PM
SINSULL 15 Jul 08 - 01:09 PM
In My Humble Opinion 15 Jul 08 - 01:11 PM
Peace 15 Jul 08 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Winnipeg 15 Jul 08 - 01:30 PM
Peace 15 Jul 08 - 01:42 PM
bankley 15 Jul 08 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,Winnipeg 15 Jul 08 - 02:27 PM
In My Humble Opinion 15 Jul 08 - 02:32 PM
glueman 15 Jul 08 - 02:58 PM
Joe Offer 15 Jul 08 - 03:11 PM
Arkie 15 Jul 08 - 03:32 PM
Geordie-Peorgie 15 Jul 08 - 03:45 PM
In My Humble Opinion 15 Jul 08 - 03:50 PM
Santa 15 Jul 08 - 03:52 PM
PoppaGator 15 Jul 08 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Peace 15 Jul 08 - 06:08 PM
Beer 15 Jul 08 - 06:16 PM
oldhippie 15 Jul 08 - 07:11 PM
kendall 15 Jul 08 - 07:29 PM
SINSULL 15 Jul 08 - 08:22 PM
Ref 15 Jul 08 - 08:25 PM
DebC 15 Jul 08 - 08:38 PM
M.Ted 15 Jul 08 - 10:04 PM
Willie-O 16 Jul 08 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Winnipeg 16 Jul 08 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Jack the Sailor 16 Jul 08 - 10:19 AM
irishenglish 16 Jul 08 - 10:27 AM
topical tom 16 Jul 08 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Sanchez 16 Jul 08 - 05:24 PM
Neil D 16 Jul 08 - 05:32 PM
M.Ted 16 Jul 08 - 05:55 PM
PoppaGator 16 Jul 08 - 06:00 PM
Willie-O 16 Jul 08 - 08:41 PM
Beer 16 Jul 08 - 08:53 PM
M.Ted 16 Jul 08 - 11:01 PM
GUEST,Simon 17 Jul 08 - 12:57 AM
Ruth Archer 17 Jul 08 - 03:14 AM
GUEST,Betsy at Work 17 Jul 08 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Winnipeg 17 Jul 08 - 05:50 AM
Beer 17 Jul 08 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Besty at Work 17 Jul 08 - 09:05 AM
Peace 17 Jul 08 - 09:08 AM
goatfell 17 Jul 08 - 09:11 AM
Willie-O 17 Jul 08 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Winnipeg 17 Jul 08 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Jul 08 - 01:24 PM
GUEST 17 Jul 08 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Winnipeg 17 Jul 08 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Jul 08 - 01:37 PM
Ruth Archer 17 Jul 08 - 01:38 PM
Willie-O 17 Jul 08 - 01:39 PM
Willie-O 17 Jul 08 - 01:46 PM
Ernest 17 Jul 08 - 01:55 PM
Barry Finn 17 Jul 08 - 02:10 PM
olddude 17 Jul 08 - 07:51 PM
Willie-O 17 Jul 08 - 09:07 PM
olddude 17 Jul 08 - 09:18 PM
Willie-O 17 Jul 08 - 09:24 PM
olddude 17 Jul 08 - 09:32 PM
Greg B 17 Jul 08 - 10:00 PM
GUEST,JohnB 18 Jul 08 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Betsy at Work 18 Jul 08 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,WRI 22 Jul 08 - 01:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 08 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Jul 08 - 12:15 PM
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Subject: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:02 PM

There's quite a controversy happening on Maplepost after Geoff Berner, a performer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, ranted onstage about Volkswagen, a festival sponsor.

article from the Winnipeg Free Press


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:08 PM

Mitch Podolak, the founder of the Winnipeg Folk Festival (and father of Leonard Podolak of the Duhks), left little doubt where he stands on the issue when he responded to "Puzzled," who said that folkies shouldn't bite the hands that feed them.

Mitch's response:

Dear Puzzled, Hitler's car factory reminds us of his stinking memory, having Volkswagen even exist as a company is an affront to all decent thinking people. Hitler was not just a madman, he was a politician on the make and giving everybody an affordable car was good politics, which is why Volkswagen got going. Having Volkswagen on the grounds of a folk festival, especially a festival that historically was built by people who identified with anti-fascist thought (Seegerism), demonstrates clearly the lure of the almighty buck, especially among the unprincipled in our community and clearly shows a real disregard for all the people who were murdered.

I asked this question of Terry Sargent who is the current president of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and he justified it by saying that the same was true about all the car companies GM etc, which of course is a disingenuous load of crap. Hitler didn't start GM. Berners comments were exactly on the money and he needs to be cheered on. To be clear Berners comments were not anti-German, they were not racist, they were distinctly anti-Nazi and anti-racist and I'm proud to be in the same community as Berner. I think that the entire leadership of the festival needs an education in ethics and that includes my friends on the staff forever conceiving that Hitler’s political tool would be a fine addition to the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Biting the hand that feeds eh? Is that what you said? Don't be naive, Volkswagen goes to a folk festival for the same reason that they go to the CNE and that is to sell cars by inserting themselves on site, they like the festival demographics. It looked like the CNE rather than anything else. They don't give a flying shit about folk music.

The reaction among the festival volunteers was the most telling. The overt commercialism at this year’s festival was so noticeable that it was the main backstage complaint aired at this year’s festival including the Saturday rain. I kept hearing about it without raising it. It really offended a lot of the most experienced core people in the volunteer organization.

Because of my relationship to the festival, I tend to be a receptacle of all the complaints. People think that talking with me will change stuff. That is also naive.

Mitch Podolak
Founder
Winnipeg Folk Festival


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:09 PM

Controversy? He said what he had to say. The audience was apparently uncomfortable but did not boo or applaud. The organizers shrugged that this is what happens when you bring protest singers and corporate sponsors together.They rightfully refused to reprimand him. Even VW has not had anything to say.

The real question is whether or not they will fork up $15000 next year for the evnt. My guess is YES. They got lots more publicity than expected.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: In My Humble Opinion
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:11 PM

As exectutive director Trudy Schroeder says, there's no point to criticising Berner now, though for Berner to class himself along side the likes of Billy Bragg...Bragg has politcal savvy. 'nuff said.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Peace
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:20 PM

Would you explain instances or examples of the commercialism people saw, or is that a no-go area?

Bruce Murdoch


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:30 PM

Well, for example, people watching Geoff Berner on the main stage, saw him performing in front of the Volkswagen logo.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Peace
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:42 PM

was the performer aware before he went on that the Logo would be there?


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: bankley
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 01:50 PM

I don't suppose there were any 'deadheads' in their VW buses around this event....   just another 'bug' in the ointment...


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 02:27 PM

"was the performer aware before he went on that the Logo would be there?"

I have no idea.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: In My Humble Opinion
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 02:32 PM

If the logo was large enough I would imagine Berner was aware of it. The reality is, like it or not, coporate sponsorship of such events is going to happen. It's done at other music festivals why not 'folk' festivals?


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: glueman
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 02:58 PM

You could understand the complaint being anti-car, the damned things have killed more people since they were invented than world wars, but anti-VW? As I understand it British engineers got the plant running again post WW2 to stimulate an economy which would give people jobs and stop the fiasco of Versailles happening again.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 03:11 PM

I have to say I don't like the idea of blaming anybody from the present time, for the misdeeds of the Nazis of my grandfather's generation. Even those of my father's generation were in their twenties at the time of the Third Reich, and I'm sure very few Germans in their twenties had much power at the time.
-Joe-

Since this is a music thread, copy-pasting is encouraged. For the record, here is the original article, since such things tend to get lost with time:

Singer skewers sponsor
By: Bartley Kives
Winnipeg Free Press

Updated: July 14, 2008 at 12:20 AM CDT

BIRDS HILL PARK -- Protest music and corporate advertising have always maintained an uneasy coexistence on the Winnipeg Folk Festival stage, but rarely have the two forms of expression clashed like they did on the weekend.

On the opening night of the Birds Hill Park event, a two-song mainstage performance by Vancouver musician Geoff Berner sent festival organizers scrambling to appease one of the evening's corporate sponsors, Volkswagen.

Berner, a singer and accordion player known for his acerbic politics, began his short set -- a "tweener" in Folk Fest parlance -- by performing his Official Theme Song For The 2010 Vancouver Whistler Olympic Games, a sarcastic ditty subtitled The Dead Children Were Worth It!

Berner's song, which skewers the $1.63-billion tab for the 2010 Olympics, claims the British Columbia government closed down a $4-million coroner's office that investigated the deaths of children, in order to help pay for the Winter Games.

After repeatedly singing "the dead, dead children were worth it," the musician turned to the Folk Fest mainstage audience of approximately 10,000 and reminded them Volkswagen was the evening's sponsor.

"And they agree with absolutely everything I say," Berner proclaimed.

Before the nervous laughter could subside, the musician then began performing Maginot Line, a song about the ill-fated French effort to stop the superior German army from invading during the Second World War.

Standing in front of a Volkswagen logo on the corner of the stage, Berner reminded the audience of the automaker's association with Adolf Hitler during the 1930s, when production of "the people's car" was promoted as a means of alleviating unemployment in Nazi Germany.

More nervous laughter emanated from the audience, but officials from Volkswagen -- who spent somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 to sponsor the 2008 Winnipeg Folk Festival -- were not smiling.

"We have apologized to Volkswagen," Folk Fest executive director Trudy Schroeder said on Saturday, noting Berner's performance highlighted the inherent risks involved in placing protest singers and corporate sponsors on the same stage.

"Those are both important aspects of this festival. We have community partners and we have freedom of expression.

"We can't control what artists say. But on the other hand, we can't have people taking potshots at organizations who are trying to help us."

Berner, for his part, said corporate sponsors know what they're getting into when they get involved with an event that has previously played host to protest singers and political musicians, including Billy Bragg, Bruce Cockburn, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bob Geldof.

"Obviously, a folk festival is a politically left-leaning event," said Berner, who led a Vancouver punk band and penned a single for B.C. folk trio The Be Good Tanyas before going solo. "But I was only trying to make a joke."

Berner said Folk Fest organizers did not try to censure him following his performance and he commended them for the support.

"That took some intestinal fortitude," he said.

Director Schroeder, who will leave the festival to take over the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra this fall, said there was no point in criticizing Berner after the fact.

"It's part of the risks of having people on stage who observe society. They are going to talk about what they observe," he said.

A spokesman for Volkswagen could not be reached for comment at the automaker's Canadian headquarters in Ajax, Ont.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Arkie
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 03:32 PM

Hitler may have started Volkswagen. He is not running it now, nor is he profiting from stock in the company. My experience with Volkswagens has been the cars were well made, required few trips to the garage for repairs, and were more economical to drive while American companies were cranking out gas guzzlers with failing parts. As for a sponsor, if one is necessary, I would prefer Volkswagen to General Motors, Chrysler, or Ford. But then I know nothing of the Volkswagen corporation. I do not have a problem with someone, socially conscious or otherwise, using the brand name to remind people of a terrible time in history. Hitler is best remembered as he was than forgotten.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Geordie-Peorgie
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 03:45 PM

Billie Bragg?political savvy?

Mebbe once upon a time!


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: In My Humble Opinion
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 03:50 PM

I'll still take Billy Bragg over this Geoff Berner, who it seems to me graduated from the "Open Mouth and then insert foot" school


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Santa
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 03:52 PM

I find it difficult to accept that the evil done by Hitler is somehow merged with the idea of the Volkswagen. It seems to me that the idea of the VW (which actually failed to meet the desired requirements at the time) was a perfectly good idea in itself. Hitler did not create everything done in Germany between 1933 and 1945: not everything done in Germany between 1933 and 1945 was necessarily evil. The very concept, of evil that did exist affecting everything done in the area at that time, and since, appears petty and narrow-minded to an extreme. What about Ford, who produced much of the Wehrmacht's lorries?

As was pointed out, the survival and continued 63 year existence of the Volkswagen car company owes nothing to the Nazi regime. The protester sounds like the true bigot here.

No, I don't and never have owned a VW.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 06:06 PM

VWs were the vehicle of choice for thousands of lefty pinko hippy radical beatnik freaks much more recently than they had anything to do with Hitler. And before the 1960s, as Arkie points out, VW production was a critical aspect of West German economic recovery under Allied occupation ~ again, more recently than the Third Reich.

Corporations with sufficiently deep pockets to sponsor cultural events of any kind usually make at least some of their money in activities that many thinking people will find objectionable. VW is hardly alone in this regard.

Shell Oil has been a major sponsor of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival since Katrina; they stepped in at a time when a lot of help was needed and some previous sponsors were no longer able to contribute. Shell maintains a fairly visible corporate presence at the festival, including an exclusive VIP area with free eats and drinks for employees and guests.

But even more visible are various forms of anti-Shell, or at least anti-oil-industry, protests. (After all, the oil companies have done more to destroy South Louisiana wetlands than anyone else, and the loss of our wetlands "shield" is a major factor in our vulnerability to hurricane damage.) Many attendees buy and wear buttons and t-shirts with anti-Shell messages, which are sold just outside the festival gates as crowds arrive every morning, and there are even airborne banners towed by airplances circling the ground, some with commerical messages but many others with protest messages specifically directed against Shell Oil.

Everyone seems to accept this silent and generally civilized conflict, and to enjoy the proceedings without being too conscious of any controversy.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 06:08 PM

I hope I would have turned, pointed at the logo and said, "Batman's here!" Da da da da da da da da . . . .


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Beer
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 06:16 PM

If some of you can get hold of the Canadian legion magazine you will see that you can purchase on of those miniature vintage Volkswagens for x number of dollars. I would tell you how much but it just went into the recycling last week.
Point being, is if Dominion Command, Provincial Command, District and its members see no problem with Volkswagen advertising ( and I'm sure good bucks are made here.)than why not.

If there is a looser here it is Geoff Berner. As a small festival organizer, would I book him?
Beer (adrien)
Great response Mitch


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: oldhippie
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 07:11 PM

I think we need a rewrite here....

"Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Volkswagen Golf,

next line, anyone?


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: kendall
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 07:29 PM

Some time ago I was having a conversation with a friend, and he commented on Toyota cars by saying, "Brought to you by the folks who brought you Pearl Harbor." I pointed out to him that the people who did all that are long dead. I haven't heard from him since.

If this guy wants to get excited he should check into Prescott Bush who is reputed to have sold oil to the Germans in WW2.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 08:22 PM

Ahhhh the friendly folks Title line from Jerry Della Femina's book about the advertising industry. If you haven't read it, do. Hilarious.

I had a VW and loved it. Ich Lieben Meinen Volksvagen. 56 MPG. Wish I had it today although my aged bones might object to the iffy heat and bumpy ride.I never associated it with Hitler and am quite sure he never made a dime off mine.

I am confused. Is this about objecting to commercialism or objecting to VW? Two separate issues, I think. If The Nature Conservancy had their banner draped across the stage, would it have been a problem?


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Ref
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 08:25 PM

Berner sounds like a complete ass!


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: DebC
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 08:38 PM

I remember one festival a few years ago where the now non-existent Fleet Bank was a major sponsor and many of the corporate bank dudes were in attendance at the Main Stage Concert on the Friday night.

Cheryl Wheeler got up to do her set and her fourth or fifth song was "The Bank". I could see the organisers starting to cringe. There were huge Fleet Bank banners (and other corporate sponsors) all around the main stage.

I do recall though, that Cheryl, in her introduction made no mention of the Fleet sponsors, just how she came to write the song.

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 10:04 PM

I have to admire Canadian restraint--if this had happened in the US, both Berner and Mitch Podolak would have been eaten alive on the talk shows. Podolak would have been compelled to resign, Berner would have made a conspicuous public apology, and, in the fullness of time, been given a talk show of his own, perhaps on satellite radio.

I admire Berner, who, rather than defending freedom of speech, or pretending to be some sort of lone Nazi-hater, simply said that he was making joke. This wouldn't have worked in the US, where it is known as "The Imus Defense".   Americans are too smart to belief that an entertainer who does topical humor would ever say something he didn't really mean to get a laugh.

Podolak deserves kudos for taking such aggressive stand against Volkswagen fifty years after it made any difference to anybody, and of course, special nods go to the folkies who say, "Forget it, it's over, they'll be back next year, because they need us much more than we need their money."

A proud day for "Folk Music", all around.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 09:33 AM

M Ted you need to fact-check. Mitch Podolak cannot be fired from the Winnipeg Folk Fest, because he doesn't work there and hasn't for years and years. He is the much-loved and respected founding artistic director, whose vision made a mosquito-filled prairie park in the centre of North 'America, but far far away from anywhere, the site of one of the continents' premiere folk festivals for over thirty years. Nowadays he devotes his energy to organizing a cross-Canada network of house-concert bookings, much to the benefit of the musicians involved.

He's also an unapologetic hard-core leftist (obviously) who says what he believes, an interesting contrast with the current generation of please-everyone-offend-no-one professional arts administrators who tend to run such events these days.

Geoff Berner by the way is a great songwriter, and could go head to head with Billy Bragg any day. Look up "Don't play cards for money with Corby Lund". I hope this controversy causes more people to look him up! (Beer, check him out, seriously.)

I think it's depressing that VW or any other corporate sponsor could have their logo prominently displayed on the main stage of a festival...really messes with the visual. Wonder what Utah Phillips (a Winnipeg regular back-in-da-day) woulda said?

W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 10:12 AM

Wonder what Utah Phillips (a Winnipeg regular back-in-da-day) woulda said?


Utah Phillips used to talk about leaving Utah in 1969 driving his VW microbus that he called "Hitler's Revenge."


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Jack the Sailor
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 10:19 AM

I think that it was fair game as political commentary but a piss poor joke.

Folks here have made some good points about Volkswagon's role in the hippie movement. May I also point out that translated the name could be interpreted as "folk's car".

History of Volkswagon

Apparently the name "Volkswagon" was Hitler's idea and it is among his strongest and most lasting legacies. Geoff Berner made a valid point. I fail to see the humour.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: irishenglish
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 10:27 AM

Like the guy said, this is was happens when you mix politically aware singers with corporate sponsorship. One wonders however, would this guy have said anything if it had been a beer company, or Nokia, or some milder form of mega money corporation? I admit to feeling uncomfortable with all the corporate sponsorship being thrown about these days (although the MTA here in NY could do worse than asking for major corporate advertising, not just ads for chiropractors and tax attornies), but the fact is it is hard to stop that flow. There's also the BIG corporate sponsorship, ie, having the main stage be flanked with all manner of Volkswagen ads and banners, and the smaller forms of sponsorship-"beer at this festival provided by Labatts" in the program, etc.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: topical tom
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 11:14 AM

Corporate sponsorship is quite common at festivals in this day and age and not all of them are "folk-friendly". The logo was not that of naziism, e.g., a swastika or an SS lightning bolt so why the big fuss?Hitler also approved the construction of the autobahnen, though for nefarious purposes.That does not, of course, excuse his other monstrous policies.In my opinion, Geoff Berner was out-of-line in his protest.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Sanchez
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 05:24 PM

For criminy's sake people, it was a joke. Berner's rant was completely tongue-in-cheek, and my mainstage tarp-mates and I thought it was entirely hilarious. His jabs at VW were symbolic of the irony behind the festival's growing list of corporate sponsors. Lighten up.

His accordion playing however, outraged the hell outta me.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Neil D
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 05:32 PM

Tempest in a teacup anyone?


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 05:55 PM

Well, you see Willie-O, that was a droll "if this had happened in the US" scenario, intended as much as a comment on the hysterical media culture of the United States as anything else.
In the common parlance, it was a joke--as all of this is--

As to Mitch Podolak, I like to think that we are friends, owing to the fact that we both subscribe to Sister Rosetta Tharpe Radio on Pandora. And I like to think that, if we could just sit down and talk, I could explain why I have a Volkswagen, and he'd tell me that it was all right.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 06:00 PM

Some of the more recent posts seem to imply that the criticism of VW-as-Hitler's-legacy were lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek. If that is indeed true, then maybe these folks are not as unhinged as I first thought.

Looking back at the news article on Geoff Berner's onstage rant, linked in the opening post, and then at the quote from Mitch Podolak in the second post, I don't see any clear indication that either man was anything less than serious. Trying to read between the lines with as much sympathy as possible, I can see how Geoff might have been joking and was misinterpreted by the press (gee, wouldn't that be unusual?), but Mitch really seems to be quite earnest in holding a grudge against VW for its origins 75+ years ago.

The power and influence of Big Money is inescapable. Anytime anyone can persuade them to pay for a cultural event or anything helpful to the human community, I'm happy to hear about it.

Those guys' attitude toward Volkswagen reminds me of a "Curb Your Enthusiam" episode: Larry admits to enjoying a certain musical piece written by Wagner, and one of his more devout and militant Jewsih acquantances berates him mercilessly for liking Hitler's favorite composer. "You're nothing but a self-hating Jew!" the guy screams at Larry. Larry, enraged and absolutley beside himself, hollers back, "Oh yeah? Oh Yeah? Sure, I hate myself alright, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish!!!"


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 08:41 PM

"In my opinion, Geoff Berner was out-of-line in his protest."

What, he's not entitled to voice his opinion, or comment humorously on his surroundings on stage, because VW doesn't use a swastika as their emblem?

And M Ted, yes I got your satirical context (though I seriously doubt that anything that happened at a folk festival in the US--that didn't involve celebrity cannabalism--could get anyone onto network TV). The debate is pretty tame, but maybe that's because this is pretty minor stuff. The original discussion on Maplepost, as referenced by the original post, is similarly tame. It's just not that big a freakin deal, although some corporate apologists would like to keep it going. And come on, 10-15,000 is a nice chunk of change but a damn tiny fragment of the budget of this huge festival. It gets you a mainstage logo? I don't mind corporations kicking in money for festivals but the back page of the program is the place for their logos.

Well, back to makin music, I say.
W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Beer
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 08:53 PM

Most festival have different levels for contributors. If you throw in a hundred maybe your called "A friend of the festival", if to throw in say $500.00 you get your business card on the program. But if you throw in the Big Bucks you are plastered on the Stage. In some cases the stage is named after the sponsor.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 11:01 PM

I am ambivalent about corporate sponsorships--there are many arts and cultural activities that would not happen at all, except for the support that they receive from corporate sponsors. A lot of that money comes from their charitable foundations which have educational or cultural missions, and which are run independently of the business stuff.

A lot of sponsorship money is contributed to forward marketing and sales objectives, though, and it's managed as a promotional effort. They expect a return for their investment, and often demand a lot.

It isn't stretching a point to say that they tend to re-make events to suit their marketing objectives--which may be OK for sporting events, or even rock concerts, which are essentially commercial endeavors themselves, but you can argue credibly that it is out of place at a folk event--

As an aside, before I'd heard about this mini-crisis, I heard a curious little piece on NPR about how Hitler had not actually designed the Volkswagen--so the VW PR people were on the job, trying to counter the bad publicity. VW probably spent more on that than they actually contributed to the festival--


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Simon
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 12:57 AM

I take more offence from his statement "obviously a folk festival is a politically left leaning event".

He can only speak for his own political views on this, unless its a specifically left wing festival such as the one in England celebrating the Tolpuddle martyrs. I would not want to see someone perform who patronised me by assuming my politics.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 03:14 AM

"It isn't stretching a point to say that they tend to re-make events to suit their marketing objectives--which may be OK for sporting events, or even rock concerts, which are essentially commercial endeavors themselves, but you can argue credibly that it is out of place at a folk event--"

I'm not sure how true this is in the USA, but certainly in the UK corporate sponsorship tends not to interfere with the artistic objectives of the event. Terms are clearly agreed in advance, and they tend to revolve more around branding and corporate entertainment opportunities than around the content or structure of the event.

I did have an experience of something similar to this when working for a big UK comedy festival some years ago. Our principle sponsor was a cable television and phone company who were somewhat notorious for their poor customer service, especially inaccurate billing. Well, at one event there was a stand-up who did at least 5 minutes on how rubbish the company was, to the hilarity of the audience...and with the chief exec and a number of senior employees all sat round a table at the front.

You can imagine the atmosphere in our office the next day. There were definitely some ruffled feathers to be smoothed, but the company agreed that there was really no way to legislate against what had happened...I mean, what could you do? Put a clause into the artists' contract that they had to respect corporate sponsors? It's something that, as an organisation and given the nature to the event, we would not have been prepared to do.

I don't know if it was a coincidence that they failed to renew their sponsorship the following year...


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Betsy at Work
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 04:46 AM

If VW hadn't been sponsoring the event, then the Organisers may not have been able to pay this R Sole's fee.
If he knew VW were sponsoring the event, why did agree to perform if this company is so offensive to him. Chicken and egg I believe.
Maybe the next time he finds himself in a Thyssen lift (elevator) I hope he will elect to get out and walk the 15 flights.
I'm sure you all have examples of this type of thing.
We have not to forget the souls who died during the Wars (especially in Europe to which this R.Sole refers ), but this sort of thing is an inverted form of Nazi-ism , and destroys the understanding that warring factions can eventually,to come together and make something useful to both sides ,instead of bombing and killing each other.
Incidentally, over the years, I honestly haven't heard many complaints about the quality of this particular product.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 05:50 AM

Another folk festival founder has waded into the discussion on Maplepost. These comments are from Tim Harrison, himself a folksinger, the founder and former artistic director of the Owen Sound Summerfolk Festival.

Tim's comments:

Here I go again, weighing in on an issue which will do me no good as a performer at the corporate folk fest level...but I just can't help myself, and I just can't sleep knowing the compromises made, which do not need to be made, to keep folk music alive and well.

Firstly, corporate sponsorship was a slippery slope that many festivals latched onto, and along with the "big name" theory, was bought into by many boards of directors wringing their hands about festival economies which didn't have back up funds for rainy days, the bottom line always the concern,...and the folk "biz" was born...not out of need, but out of paranoia. Yes some festivals lost money, but winter concerts, draws, even smaller style community events would often make up the difference.

The truth of what happened in many instances was that the "rainy day" fund at several festivals got blown by paying too much money to recycled pop acts who demanded huge fees, which they could no longer get for their performances in other venues.   SO it was incumbent upon boards to find extra cash, and since they were drawing fairly large audiences to their events, the natural place to turn was corporations. Also, at least here in Ontario, the funding sources from government ENCOURAGED corporative sponsorship because they themselves were withdrawing funds for such events, even though they KNEW that corporate sponsorship was thin in Canada, and certainly there IS a shortage of foundations which support the arts here in comparison to say, the U.S.

And so festivals, who used to have autonomy as to who they booked, were led closer and closer to the "star" theory which Estelle Klein and others eschewed. Now it is accepted practice to book "pop" stars (albeit mostly re-treads), thinking that these folks are the drawing card for the event.

But surveys show, quite conclusively , that this is not the case. In the eighties, surveys in Owen Sound, showed barely three percent even mentioned an artist's name when asked why they came.   The same is true now. People go for the sense of community at the event, not specific artists, and frankly, they could care less about corporate sponsorship, and many, looking for a true community event, are surprised and abhorred by the idea, having already paid a hefty price for the ticket.

SO, it's up to the folks putting on the event to ensure it's integrity, which does not include censorship of artist's comments or songs to appease corporate suits who could give a damn anyway. Corporations kick in bucks because they know people are there, and that's their interest, as always, the bottom line comes first in every corporation, that's their reason for existence.

But the bottom line was never the goal of folk festivals, yes it was more comfortable to know it was it met, but the ultimate thing is to create community, share the truer human experience, share music that MEANS something to people...so the Utah Phillip's, and the Willie P. Bennett's, and the Tom Paxton's, and the Stan Roger's, and the Willie Dunn's, and the Nancy White's, and the Dave Van Ronk's, and the Winston Wuttenee's, and Bob Bossin's, and the Valdy's, and David Bradstreet's, and the Tony Bird's, and the Christine Lavin's, and the Friend's of Fiddler's Green, and the Stewart Cameron's, and Saul Brody's, and the Steve Goodman's, and the John Allan Cameron's, and the Eve Goldberg's, and the Maria Dunn's, and the Bruce Cockburn's, and the David Wiffen's, and Tom Jackson's, and the Cape Breton Symphony's and Marcel Messervier's, and the Eritage's, and the Odetta's, and the Ramblin Jack's, and the Tom Rush's, and the Silly Wizard's, and the Martin Carthy's, and the Waterson's, and the Ola Belle Reid's, and Rosalie Sorrels, and the Tahuantinsuyo's, the Bai Conte's, and the (plug in umpteen real performers of your choice) were the folks that kept people coming back and back and back, and were the real draw because they made COMMUNITY.

If you have to stifle a performer's comments at a folk festival, you ain't got a folk festival....you may have something else, a corporate field day, a compromised commercial event, but you ain't got a folk festival. At least not like the one's I knew, and I know that none of the principles of the festivals I knew are not out of date now, they just have become overrun by beauracracy and have forgotten where they come from, and the absolute importance to remember when, and to remember now, and take lessons learned into the future.

Tim
www.timharrison.ca


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Beer
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 06:59 AM

Thank you Guest, Winnipeg for that read on Tim's article. He reiterates what (I with little experience.)I have preached with the past festival I worked at and for the one that takes place tomorrow (Apple Hollow Music Fest.). Create a sense of community. I have been to festivals where by you can't even get to say hello to a performer because he/she is in their own little enclosed area. To this I say get out there and meet the folks. Musicians can also be very demanding. And I clarify this by saying those under agents. Thank God I haven't had to many of these. I have refused to book a particular musician because I refused to meet the contract demands.
To see the musician mingle with the folks is what make a festival successful. Plus clean outhouses.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Besty at Work
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:05 AM

Communities form / evolve by themselves.
If you want to contrive a "Community" for a short period - it costs money. When you start running a loss - someone gets hurt .
The problem in all this, was booking this person in the first place and giving away good sponsorship money .Who gives a fuck whether VW or Joes Ice cream is sponsoring, provided always, they are never allowed to be in a position to dictate (sic) the content of the Festival or any of it's performers.
Start to write a reply to this message and what do you get on your screen below the message box ? Two adverts ...............

"Adolph Hitler's Real Fate" and "Volkswagen Ziptuning® "

Everyone is "at it" - which, I agree doesn't necessarily make it correct


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Peace
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:08 AM

"The problem in all this, was booking this person in the first place and giving away good sponsorship money ."

I presume then that you were at the show. WAS the 'VW sign' intrusive?


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: goatfell
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:11 AM

it is a car, and not the old Nazi party I mean the car didn't kill millions of people during the war, political correctness brigade on the lose again.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:05 PM

Simon, if you're offended by the mere suggestion that a folk festival is a left-leaning event, I guess it's a cultural difference between UK and North American folk festivals. In both Canada and the US, that's a given for the most part at established large folk-festivals, even though I know of none named after working-class martyrs. (except perhaps the Stan Rogers Festival).

"Besty at work", get someone to help untie your knickers, would you please? "The problem in all this, was booking this person in the first place and giving away good sponsorship money"...you don't know the first thing about Dan Berner (great writer, funny as hell, obscure and talented and doesn't care what you or I think) or the Winnipeg Folk Festival, evidently, so I doubt you are qualified to pronounce on "the problem".

Mitch Podolak OTOH is better qualified than probably anyone else to comment on the history and values of the Winnipeg Folk Fest, and this is part of his response, following Tim Harrison's great post as quoted above. (thanks Winnipeg)

"Tim Harrison's comments are the most articulate explanation of how and why corporatism has been impacting folk festivals that I've heard. In the case
of Winnipeg specifically, Trudy Schroeder's comments, as outlined by Mort Goss in his Maplepost contribution to this discussion, about artists taking shots at sponsors is biting the hand that feeds, runs counter to all the traditions of the folk community. The job of contemporary folk singers is to take shots like Geoff Berner did when confronted by ugliness. "Display" cars on the Winnipeg Folk Festival site, never mind Volkswagon, what is this a folk festival or the Ex? What are we going to have next, Ginzu Knives, weight guessers or the Bearded Lady?"

Mitch goes on to offer some more pointed criticism of WFF's outgoing exec director, Ms Schroeder, whom he apparently does not much care for, at least on the basis of conflicting philosophies.

W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:14 PM

Rosalie Goldstein, another former artistic director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival has posted a comment.

Rosalie's comment:

Yea Tim, finally someone gets it. Somehow the folks have forgotten what the 'folk music' festival was all about. I believed (and still do) that the music trumped all - and that people were challenged by what they heard on those two or three days in the summer. Music made and played by those on your llist and more.
What is important to consider, is todays huge expense of maintaining an operation to run an event which is three or four days in length. (I suspect that any of the recent financial statements of the Winnipeg Folk Festival would bear me out.) We used to believe that most of the budget of the festival would be used to support the music at the festival - its quality,diversity and uniqueness. And that the festival stood on three legs - the artists, the audience and the volunteers. Now it seems that a fourth leg has been added (corporatism) and has nearly trumped everything else. That my friend is a very sad thing.
While I was unable to attend the Festival this year, I was horrified to hear that VW was a sponsor of the festival. The mere mention of the name raises the spectre of events within living memory that should never be forgotten.
The Board of Directors of the Festival and its Staff should be ashamed of themselves for allowing their common sense to be trumped by their greed - they owe an apology to the volunteers and audience for this gross indescretion.
Yes for community.
Rosalie.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:24 PM

I've worked behind the scenes at folk events for many years, and I've learned this:

Traditional music brings people out of their homes and into a public environment of trust and friendliness. If you are the producer, watch out for people with their own agenda who want to cash in on your efforts.

These people are usually political types.

I remember a festival in Scotland where a political party (I believe it was the Green Party) had a table in the back of the hall. Throughout the music their loud, combative voices could be heard. These were people with no respect for the music. They were there because it was a handy place to reach listeners.

The folk singer who used his time on stage to attack a corporation was doing the same thing. The audience had travelled there to hear music, not to hear his opinions. He was using the event to advance his personal issues, not to be part of traditional music.

I can't tell you how to deal with every form of intrustion, but I do warn you to be aware of this KIND of thing.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:29 PM

Thnak you leeneia for your wise words. The very last thing we should ever stand for is a folksinger speaking out against a corporation.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Winnipeg
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:29 PM

Sorry, forgot to write my name in the post above.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:37 PM

Irrevelant, Winnipeg.

People who provide money and time for music deserve music.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:38 PM

"While I was unable to attend the Festival this year, I was horrified to hear that VW was a sponsor of the festival. The mere mention of the name raises the spectre of events within living memory that should never be forgotten."

I hope everyone who has ever driven a VW van to a folk festival is hanging their heads in shame right now (she said facetiously).


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:39 PM

Again, its a cultural difference, Leeneia. And your example simply does not compare to the situation being discussed. Geoff wasn't being disrespectful to the performer, he WAS the performer--and he's not "traditional" as such, he's a sharply-opinionated, highly entertaining singer-songwriter, which was why he was there; the AD who booked him couldn't have been unaware of this.

Winnipeg is a huge fest which has always had the strength of not needing to specialize in any particular subgenre of acoustic music. There is plenty of trad but it is not specifically the focus. Last time I was there (1996 regrettably), there was a fantastic array of top-shelf performers of everything from Banghra to Celtic. Well worth the trip; a prairie festival will literally broaden anyone's horizons.

Regards
W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:46 PM

"People who provide money and time for music deserve music."

Then again, it's not just G Berner. Perhaps Garnet Rogers could be prevented from telling so many stories about the old days with Stan, so the audience could get a higher songs-per-dollar ratio...yeah right.

Sheesh.
W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Ernest
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 01:55 PM

So did Mr. Berner take money from a festival which was sponsored by a company founded by the Nazis?

Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 02:10 PM

It's not so much that he had his blat at VW. Hell, at a festival, any folk performer should be free to ake their blast at who ever they feel they feel to speark up for or against. Otherwise you'd be banning a whole genre of folks that the likes of Tom Paxton ("I'm Changing My Name To Cyrlster") or Phil Ockes (Please forgive the misspelling). If it turns out that the artist is not in sync or in step with their audience the audience has it's chance to respond. If the audience feels that the artist is just shooting off their mouth at a cause that's nothing but windmills turning they'll eventually let the promoters know to ignore them in the future or that they want them back again.

From what I've read here, it sounds as if the audience felt nervous & uncomfortable, something gave them cause to think, it also sounds as if they were caught unawares. Hopefully the festival at it's conclusion askes for feedback, there's where they can deciede if the artist is someone who deserves to be returned. If he's out of sync , he's gone, he's paid for his risk otherwise his risk paid off. When you speak up for or against "whatever" it's a risk, that's what some performers do, if they're assholes about it, they eventually fall from view. But if they need to write, sing or speak about it, that's "folk", and in this day & age where governments will take us to war for the fun of it & take us to hell for pleasure, IMHO there is a lack of artists that'll take the risk taken by those that I remember from the 60's.

Barry


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: olddude
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 07:51 PM

it is all nonsense
100 years ago coke cola had cocaine in it also but we buy it and drink it now... Nascar wouldn't exist with the Viagra sponsors ... by the way what doe that have to do with fast cars ... hmmmm

and I don't like Nascar either and if a VW is driven in one of their races ... well ok ... I never understood the appeal of watching people make endless left turns !


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:07 PM

Somehow olddude, I think if you are presenting Coca-Cola and NASCAR as respected paragons of corporate virtue, you are a bit late to the party or at the wrong one entirely. Talk about nonsense...

Regards
W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: olddude
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:18 PM

I know and you are right, just messing with everyone
remember what some wise person once said about sweating the small stuff, cause it is all small stuff ...

and yes I was off the point .... in truth I despise the big corporate monsters no matter who they are ... just take a look at our gas prices ... those 40 billion dollar profits per quarter are reasonable at the expense of everyone right

but you see it is all nonsense because we cannot change it. I wish we could but we really can't
so we focus on things we really can change, like getting a real president in office.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:24 PM

good man yerself old dude. Good luck with the president thing, up here we have enough trouble just finding a prime minister who can pass for human...our current occupant is a droid.

W-O


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: olddude
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 09:32 PM

you are a good man yourself Willy, maybe just maybe we both can get someone in office with half a brain ...


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: Greg B
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 10:00 PM

Ferdinand Porsche invented the VW... not Adolf Hitler.

I dunno. They might be evil.

VW may have been "cheap and reliable" years ago, the
simple folks (volks) car.

But their AUDI division began to sing its song to me more
than a decade ago, and now I have an S4 Avant (which is
really a Passat, with a 2.7L twin-turbo'd motor) and though
things rarely go wrong with it, when they do you expect to
part with about four times what it used to cost to rebuild
the whole engine on a micro-bus. It's an 'exotic' car wrapped
in a station-wagon body.

First (test) drive's free.

Then again, there was the guy who tried to out-run and out-corner
me on the two-lane off-ramp with his silly little Honda Civic.
'Sport coupe' drivers in America really HATE to get creamed by
a station-wagon.

Durn thing gets 25-36 MPG in quiet mode, and will hit 150MPH+
when angry, carry a 27-inch TV set in the back, or two kayaks or
a load of lumber on the roof racks, 'walk' a Corvette in the
damp (Quattro).

If it weren't for the low ground-clearance, it would kick the
FJ Cruiser's butt in the snow--- a complete idiot can make a
Quattro (with snow tires) work in snow and ice. See 'All Road'
for the solution to the ground-clearance. Too bad the Q8 is such
an unreliable piece of junk, as is the VW Toureg; they're fitted
with the best AWD system on earth.

Only things bad I'll say about it is the cost of fixing it (true
of VW's too) and the fact that it rides like a buck-board, requires
a deft touch to avoid discomforting the passengers on stopping
and starting, and generally acts like an 'S' anything.

My A4 was considerably tamer--- but not cheaper.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 06:42 AM

Sorry this guy Berner is a jerk.
You don't say stuff like that, then wimp out and say it was just a joke. You mean it and stand by it, or you don't do it.
You can't shoot yourself in the foot and then change your mind.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Betsy at Work
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 07:12 AM

John B , he should have shot himself in the HEAD and then tried to change his mind.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,WRI
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 01:09 PM

Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,Betsy at Work
Date: 18 Jul 08 - 07:12 AM

John B , he should have shot himself in the HEAD and then tried to change his mind.

My, aren't you a nasty piece of work


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 06:37 PM

Much better for festivals to be sponsored by breweries...


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 12:15 PM

I suspect you're right, McGrath. That way, when someone bites the hands that fed him, we'll know the likely cause.


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Subject: RE: rant against folk festival sponsor
From: GUEST,cStu
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 01:39 PM

"I was horrified to hear that VW was a sponsor of the festival. The mere mention of the name raises the spectre of events within living memory that should never be forgotten."

Is this for or against mentioning the name?


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