Okay, the amount of talk about the end of Real Salon and Open Salon is getting depressing. It could be part of Dog Days stupidity, where gossip replaces real news - since everybody who makes real news is on vacation and it's too freaking hot to do anything.
On the other hand, free online playgrounds like Salon have suffered quite a hit. Even though nobody who writes for Open Salon, or even Real Salon, are paid for anything they write, it still costs a lot to keep up the servers and the electricity and the Internet access this system requires.
(And you poor dopes thought I was just hyperbolic, or lying to prove an irrational point. Sorry, I was describing the reality you refuse to acknowledge.)
And the failure of FaceBook's IPO may have marked a moment when the deluded, stupid businessmen who run the world have suddenly realized that paying for online playgrounds isn't going to make them rich. They already don't pay for real-world playgrounds, or health care, or Social Security, or American workers. Why should they pay for advertising to support a place that isn't driving hordes of people with bulging wallets towards them?
Business, you see, is not a philosophy. It is a religion. To be specific, a primitive religion, not even as sophisticated as pagan religions. It is a "sacrifice a virgin at the full moon" type of religion.
Shall We Gather By The Cooler?
If you watched business TV shows that popped up in the Reagan years, you could see the cult at its most obvious. Men, and the few women allowed in the executive suite, had to wear dark blue pinstriped suits and ties, trying to look like identical acolytes of the Great God Business. Their sacred artifacts - "fetishes" as they're called, although these rich bastards had other fetishes as well - were part of the religion. Not sacred bones or feathers from sacred birds, but fax machines, IBM PC's (can't ever use a Mac, they're bad juju), spreadsheets, extreme office furniture and personal organizers.
They have a few high priests, whose fancy vestments and clear success prove the benefits and glory of prostrating oneself to Business. Donald Trump. The Kochs. Welch of GE. Cheney, who kept his business interests supported while he was Vice President, against the laws.
These people are so attractive to the worshippers of Business that even people who live in trailer parks and follow the Teabagger Party worship them. Take a look at Real Salon's regular right-wing trolls like Luun E. Toonz, Zorkna, Elephantman and ODA-whatever. When the Kochs are attacked, they reply, "He's made millions of dollars. How many millions have you made, Fag Liberal Terrorist?"
That these high priests made their money by keeping Luun and the others under their boot heels, cheapening and shortening their lives, has not changed the minds of the trailer park boys one bit. Religion is like that.
I am Fear. Bow before me. I am the archangel of your God, Business.
Nonetheless, these high priests don't drive their followers. As a primitive religion, Business is based on fear. And sometimes fear becomes irrational among the worshippers of the Dow. The recent hubbub about FaceBook's IPO is a perfect example. The masses of people charging forward, ready to buy FaceBook stock, did a panicked one-eighty the same day.
Somehow, a moment of sanity and rationality penetrated the worshippers of Business. "Wait a minute," someone said. "I don't buy anything advertised on FB. Nobody buys anything advertised on FB. How is investing in FB going to be profitable at all?"
Any financial problems that Salon is having are part of the stampede. If something as big and powerful as FaceBook is suddenly unpopular, how about a hangout of old farts who are losing their jobs and health care? People who still write poetry and think it means something? People who think their personal lives are so utterly fascinating and universally appealing that they write about them all the time? People who aren't Businessmen?
If Salon does die, expect other outlets like FaceBook, LiveJournal, Blogger and YouTube to fall as well. No one pays attention to their ads either. No one has money to subscribe to the premium services that don't include ads.
No more National Anthem. Just kill the transmitter.
There is a lemming-like panic in the tribal circle of Business. All the things supported by advertising - newspapers, magazines, television, radio - are now seen as liabilities. All are shrinking. I lost my television job, not because of anything I did wrong, but because TV advertising income has dropped precipitously over the last twenty years.
It used to be disgusting for a TV station to sell half-hour blocks of its time for pure advertising. Better to sell ads to the local nightclubs or car dealers, inserted into an ancient rerun of I Love Lucy or Marcus Welby, MD than to put on these "infomercials." Now the things are filling anywhere from a quarter to a third of every local station's air time. They barely make enough money to pay for the station's broadcast expenses. Infomercials are watched even less than ads on Open Salon.
In the 1970's, TV stations that used to sign off at 1 AM became 24/7 operations. Despite economic troubles, they've stayed that way for a long time, to stay "comeptitive" with cable stations and their local competitors. Start looking forward to stations "signing off" again, as Business continues to run away from "inefficient use of ad dollars" and cut their rates for those infomercials even more. And they won't even run the National Anthem or a prayer by a local preacher at sign-off; even those cost too much for a Businessman.
So, dear Salon writers and readers, don't blame yourself or mourn too much. It isn't your egocentric writing or your pretentions or your foolish delusions about being paid to write that will kill Salon - if it is closed down. It's just...Business.