Archive for December, 2009

December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

If we don’t learn from history we will repeat our mistakes, or so we’re told, and I suppose this is in part why we’re compelled at year’s end to do overviews. At the moment we’re getting bombarded from all sides by these rear views of not only 2009 but the entire first decade of the 21st century. It is tempting to try to take a whole ten years of life and distill  into something smooth but it still doesn’t make any sense, so in that spirit the present moment seems like a better place to dwell.

My present moment is consumed with Patti Smith: Dream of Life, which aired on public television last night. A documentary 11 years in the making, it follows the enigmatic artist through a life driven by art and heart and devotion to authenticity at a time in history when such characteristics, at least in the mainstream–but even within the arts–are becoming obscured by technology, obsessive self-awareness and  apathy.

Being an artist does require talent, but I wonder if what truly distinguishes artists from others is their ability to see beauty in things where it would otherwise appear void. And in an increasingly complex and often ugly world, the role of the artist is becoming more crucial than ever. I am so moved by the purity of Patti Smith’s expression, her interaction with the world around her, her almost innocent approach to creative process.

Though I’m loath to make resolutions or project much meaning into the “new year” I will take note of the impact Ms. Smith made on me at this, the ending of a year/decade, and I will allow myself to be inspired by her life and work so that going forward I am not only reshaped in my own artistic pursuits but that the role I serve within the community through coverage of the arts is strengthened by it.

December 18, 2009

2009 the Year of the Vampire

Not very Christmasy, I know, but as I’ve been watching Vampire Diaries all week and I’ve got fangs on my mind. Before I continue, I should probably confess my real fondness is, in this case, not so much for blood and lust as it for teen drama (plus blood and lust).

Coincidentally, Shiri Appleby, the former star of Roswell (my all time favorite teen drama with plenty of lust, not much blood and the beginning of Katherine Heigl’s career) is launching a new TV show on the CW (home to Vampire Diaries–it’s all so incestuous) called Life Unexpected.

While I’ve been enjoying Vampire Diaries as an escape that’s easy on the eyes and the noggin, I found Twilight to be absolutely annoying. So much so, I stopped it half way through. If anything vampire-related dominated my time this year it was HBO’s  Trueblood.

Set in the swampy south and teeming with juicy, flawed characters, Trueblood was, for its short summer season, the perfect cap to my weekends and fun fodder for the water cooler (which at VCReporter is the coffee pot in the kitchen.)

Obviously my fascination with vampire-related drama this year is not unique, which makes me wonder what we find so seductive anyway about murderous, bloodsucking undead–besides good looks and extra-erotic powers.

But, what kept me interested in Trueblood wasn’t so much Eric (although, close, very close) it was the paradoxical moral subtext: the vampires were ultimately more just and compassionate than the humans–especially (gasp!) the Christian humans. From the Christlike martyrdom of Godric, to co-protagonist Bill’s struggle to reclaim his humanity, the themes of sin and redemption turned upside down, were the meat that probably kept most  viewers coming back.

So, while Vampire Diaries enjoys a weeklong marathon for the rest of us to catch up, It remains no more than a weak substitute for true love, Trueblood (which also has the best theme song of any TV show EVER).

December 10, 2009

The audacity of Morrissey

I know at least a few people who have forked over $100 per ticket to see Morrissey at the Ventura Theatre Friday night and while I understand paying top dollar to see an artist that deeply moves you, I don’t understand the need for the artist to command such from fans.

Do artists deserve to make a fair living for what they do? Yes. Are most artists horribly underpaid, especially given the time and money investment required to produce their art? Definitely. But.. isn’t there a symbiosis between artist and fan that makes price gouging seem counter intuitive? When I purchase music or see an artist perform, it’s not an emotionless transaction–money exchanged for goods and services. There is heart involved, a relationship forms, sometimes loyalty follows.

I’m not a fan of Morrissey, but let’s say Ryan Adams was coming to town and tickets were $100, I would be torn between my desire to see my beloved, my inability to justify the expense and the feeling that the artist will ultimately put his bank account above all else, which seems incongruous with the spirit of art.

Of course we are willing to pay for something dear to us,  but is it OK to ask people as dear as your fans to dig uncomfortably deep, especially in difficult times?

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