Archive for May, 2012

May 30, 2012

We don’t need no stinkin’ awards

Awards are a tricky thing. I recently watched the Billboard awards and came away with this: Chris Brown does not belong in the R&B category and Katy Perry is annoying. As much as I dislike these rituals, I will say that Billboard had a few categories that made sense. Awarding an artist for selling the most records, while potentially offensive, is at least straightforward and calculable. Celebrating an artist for recording the “Best R&B record” assumes that the judges (whoever they are) have a clear understanding of the genre (which assumes the genre itself can be reduced to a handful of specific criteria) and that the artist has presented the best interpretation of the genre based on said criteria. Once all that is established, then there’s the value of the award itself. Does it mean any more to an artist to be lauded by his peers or worse, his industry than to be loved and appreciated by fans?

For the first time in more than three decades a Pulitzer was not awarded for a work of fiction. This raised more than a few eyebrows and some questions about literary prizes which for me speaks to the whole problem of competition in the arts arena.  Benjamin Hale wrote an insightful piece on the subject for The Millions.

Of course all politics is local which brings me to the subject of the Ventura County Music Awards presented by our friends at VCBuzz, to which I can only respond with “WHY?” Why it, why now and why are the musicians so quick to glom on to anything that offers accolades, however hollow? I will be observing, reporting and opining as the months (yes, MONTHS!) of VC Music Awards related events take place. I will not, however, be voting.



May 29, 2012

Subvert the paradigm


“Every fact of science was once damned. Every invention was considered impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly. The entire web of culture and progress, everything on earth that is man-made and not given to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of someone’s refusal to bow to Authority. We would be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent.”–Robert Anton Wilson

May 10, 2012

Free Pussy Riot!

The true spirit of punk rock is alive and well and living in Russia.  Three members of the Russian feminist collective Pussy Riot (though two of them deny the affiliation) remain in prison, charged with “hooliganism” for their acts of protest, including a performance inside a Russian Orthodox church where they prayed to the mother of Jesus to get rid of Putin.

The women face seven years for their acts of protest which usually include taking over public spaces, dressing like sexed up Teletubbies and cranking their amplifiers.

Anyone know where I can buy a brightly colored ski mask?

May 3, 2012

The emperor has no clothes but he serves incredible food

Not long ago, my teenage son and I were looking at some abstract impressionist art by a fairly prominent artist during a well-attended reception where they were serving ridiculously good chocolate chip cookies.  As we gazed at one particular piece, he said to me “this is amazing.” I concurred. A woman to our right approached us.

“Excuse me,” she said, “this is sort of embarrassing, but can you tell me what it is you’re seeing in this art, because I don’t get it.”

I told her we were referring to the cookies, not the art. We had no idea what was going on in the art.

So much was happening in that moment. The woman humbling herself to admit she didn’t “get” the art; we admitting the same and the three of us sharing a good laugh over the whole thing before she made her way to the dessert spread. Art brought people together for discussion, despite itself.

In that spirit, here is a funny read in Vice about the same thing.

“I’m Sick of Pretending: I Don’t “Get” Art”

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