Monday, September 18, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Banksy in Disneyland
Thursday, September 14, 2006
If you're in Nashville this weekend
The best thing about the show is the title, "Found Objects in Ordinary Time." Ordinary Time is the term that describes the time on the church calendar between Pentecost (the last event in the Easter season) and Adevent, when there are no major holidays in the Christian year. It's like the workplace between New Year's or MLK day and Memorial Day when most places don't have a lot of days off. You chug along, gettting work done until the summer season starts. In the church, this period between the major holidays is when you just go to church, work through the lectionary, sing hymns not associated with particular holidays. Just live. In honor of that kind of ordinariness, Beth, Tom, Geoff and the others asked for works that incorporate found objects, everyday stuff for ordinary days that are as rich as the days endowed with special pomp and ceremony.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
I Wish I'd Written It
Saturday, September 09, 2006
If you are in New York next weekend
The thing about Phil, well there's many things about Phil, but about his music is that he has a remarkable ability to extrapolate a universe of music from any single sound. One noise, generated however (with him the sources are always acoustic as are most of the manipulations), immediately suggests more and more sounds to him, and quickly they explode into polyphony and counterpoint. It doesn't matter what he uses to make the sound, although the fact is he has great guitar technique, which means that some of the options open to him involve things like being able to pick notes on a stringed instrument. And his technique never, ever devolves into something hackneyed.
Friday, September 08, 2006
New Yorker cover
This is on the magazine's outer cover. You turn the page and the tightrope walker is overlaid on a painting of the WTC site today, still suspended in mid-air. But the second picture is redundant. The one on the outside captures the loss -- people and buildings, but also the world that produced the WTC. The reference to Philippe Petit, who made his walk in 1974, reminds you that the WTC was a phenomenon of the 70s, and Sept 2001 maybe was the final chapter in a process through which that world was obliterated. Even though NY was falling apart in the 70s, the city still had its character as a place where everyone mixed it up. It's a point you get in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam too, nostalgia for what by all rights we should think of as good riddance. But it was a time when there seemed to be a lot more room in the culture for pleasure, for change, and for goofy stuff like Petit's stunt.
The other thing about the picture is that the figure could be falling through air.
It's a brilliant illustration, distills all this loss to one image.
You can see the cover in a flash box on the New Yorker main site, next to the box you click to subscribe.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
A Wendell Berry poem
Been browsing around in some Wendell Berry poems, from A Timbered Choir, poems which arise from his practice of dedicating his Sunday mornings to walking meditation. Found this short one that struck me. I won’t grind on, but the idea of locating the loss of the great forests and grasslands inside our own bodies is powerful to me.
It is in the destruction of the world
in our own lives that drives us
half insane, and more than half.
To destroy that which we were given
in trust: how will we bear it?
It is our own bodies that we give
to be broken, our bodies
existing before and after us
in clod and cloud, worm and tree,
that we, driving or driven, despise
in our greed to live, our haste
to die. To have lost, wantonly,
the ancient forest, the vast grasslands
is our madness, the presence
in our very bodies of our grief.
A Timbered Choir, p. 98
(Counterpoint: NY, 1998)
It’s probably illegal to post this, but maybe these credits will satisfy. Oh yeah, here’s the Amazon page for the book. Maybe that will fulfill my obligation.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Leonard Slatkin in Nashville
The next step is to fill the music director’s slot, a process that takes a long time in symphonies. Kenneth Schermerhorn died in April 2005, leaving the orchestra without a leader for the next season. The search continues this year, but the symphony just announced that they have signed up Leonard Slatkin as “musical adviser” for 3 years. According to Jonathan Marx’s article on it, he’s going to help with the director search and with some of the key music director duties: “programming future seasons, hiring musicians and selecting guest artists and conductors.”
Getting Slatkin involved with Nashville is a coup. They hired him for a recording, then the opening gala, and then got the idea for this extended relationship. Slatkin has a reputation for having built up St. Louis and continuing to improve the reputation of the National Symphony (that was my orchestra as a kid, and in the pre-Rostropovich days it was definitely in a tier below groups to the north).
My first thought is they are trying to pull a Gordon Gee here. Gee had only been at Brown a year or so when the people at Vanderbilt contacted him for advice. Apparently they got to talking and decided he was the man for the Vandy job, offered him a lot of money and he got here in 2000. Is the Symphony trying the same thing? Sidle up to Leonard Slatkin to ask for advice and then try to convince him Nashville is the place he needs to go next.
This seems like it would be a harder sale than getting Gee to leave Brown for Vanderbilt. Brown and Vanderbilt are much more comparable in reputation than the 2 NSOs. There are fewer orchestras and thus a more well-defined hierarchy. So I imagine it would take more work to convince Slatkin to come here permanently. Maybe after he has “assisted” in hiring some musicians and seen what the group sounds like in the new hall, he’ll see big enough possibilities here.
Or they’ll do what they say they’re doing and hire someone who's making what seems more like a parallel move or a clear step up.
Update, Sept. 4: The New York Times weighs in about Nashville's hall. The tone is a little more skeptical. The Times arts pages are funny. They'll tease kind of provocative in their titles and then turn much softer and accomodating in the body. The title on this articles makes it sound like the piece says these halls are wasteful boondoogles, but it doesn't quite go there.