31 August 2022

End of the Month

Some less-urgent, somewhat fatter musing-sausages for the last day of the month —

  • I'm getting really annoyed, really tired, of the constant — incessant — "my home territory's contributions to this particular part of the arts are the only ones that matter." One is seldom surprised by this coming from the island of Manhattan, even when not labelled as such. Mr Nordlinger's astounding ad for the New York Philharmonic as the center of all that is right and good in live-performance classical music in the last third of the twentieth century, together with his snide dismissal of harsh language as "not suitable for this venerable publication" (a publication that was started some time after the first classical music concert I attended, so "venerable" is hardly defensible — far too often, "tunnel-visioned" is more apt), is more than a bit intellectually dishonest. All of the live performances he mentions as "closer to purpose" than recordings are New York, and all of his mentions of recordings neglect recordings of live performances, evince a subtle disdain for venues like Powell Hall in St. Louis and Symphony Hall in Boston (indeed, there is not one mention of either the St. Louis or Boston Symphony), both of which are acoustically (and otherwise) superior to anything in New York.

    Would that this were unique. It's not. It's not even unique to New York, or to classical music. Just listen to a self-appointed Nashville-based folk connoisseur ignore everything west of the Mississippi (or north of the Rappahannock). Cringe at film and television critics who think it's worthless (or, at least, worth less) when centered, for the subject matter or the production, outside of New York or LA — not-so-subtly sneering at all of the productions in podunk towns like Vancouver… and Atlanta… and London. The less said about literary critics and their obsessions with New England, the better. And the visual arts: <GeorgeTakeiVoice> oh my </GeorgeTakeiVoice>.

    It almost makes one think that the review and criticism aspect of culture and the arts has been fully coopted as a not-very-subtle adjunct of sales and marketing efforts. Wait a minute…

  • Not very far away, there's another aspect of "not turning it to eleven" to consider (and no, I don't mean just going digital, where it might really mean "3"). It's one thing to expect total loyalty and commitment — at submarket pay rates — when the organization's mission is the management of state-sponsored violence… backed up by criminal penalties for dereliction of duty. It's another entirely when the organization's mission is to sell fungible widgets (or "consulting services") to people for whom the products are luxuries. Or, at least, "luxuries" in the sense that "actual survival in the next week doesn't depend upon them."
  • Like, say, the apparel industry. It's interesting that the photo accompanying that piece has no apparel-industry branding visible; that might well be the only photo at that venue that can claim that. Reminder to the apparel industry: I'm not your bloody billboard. I consciously refuse to purchase clothing, shoes, or accessories that turn me into your bloody ad. (In my first career, not so much: I was pretty obviously brand-wearing, for the Uncle Sam brand.)