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  • ACQUIRING ETHICS: The American Association of Museums, comprised of 3,000 museums and 11,400 museum professionals and trustees, will adopt new ethical guidelines for how museums deal with art borrowed from private collections. Following in the wake of the Brooklyn Museum scandal in which it was discovered that Charles Saatchi, the exhibit's largest donor, was also its single largest financial backer, the question of curatorial ethics has loomed large at arts organizations around America. The New York Times 08/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • INFOBERG: Writers are upset about Contentville, which went online July 5. The site offers "books, articles, TV transcripts and old speeches, for sale starting at $2.95 each," but "some publishers are shocked at Contentville's chutzpa. The Village Voice says it licensed EBSCO to use content for educational and research purposes. 'It's outrageously unethical. Nobody ever dreamed of this. It's just gross.' " Feed 08/01/00

    • WEB PAY: National Writers Union makes deal with Stephen Brill's Contentville to pay freelance writers a fee every time their work is downloaded from the site. Variety 08/04/00

  • THE O'KEEFFE FIASCO: The controversy over the authenticity of a set of watercolors purported to be by Georgia O'Keeffe is the biggest scandal in years to hit the National Gallery of Art. "Whether a grand deception or just a garage-sale dream gone wrong, it never should have happened. The warning signs were there from the start, but they were swept away by a tsunami of money and wishful thinking." Washington Post 08/06/00

  • BOOK CHAIN SUES NEWSPAPER: Canadian bookstore giant Chapters sues National Post after stories alleging the chain was behind in payments to a large publisher. "CEO of Chapters says that the articles painted a distorted picture of his company." CBC 08/02/00

    • HARRY HELD HOSTAGE: The Canadian distributor of "Harry Potter" refused last month to ship more copies of the book to the Chapters book superstore chain until Chapters paid some of its large outstanding debt, says the distributor. National Post 08/04/00

  • UNESCO TO THE RESCUE: UNESCO, the UN’s cultural and educational agency, is coordinating a $250 million international effort to rebuild Moscow’s 19th-century Bolshoi Theatre, which is crumbling and close to collapse due to years of neglect. Theatres from around the world have already rallied around the cause by sending in contributions equal to one night’s earnings. NPR 07/31/00 [Real Audio file]

  • LEARNING THROUGH MUSIC: Does having kids play and listen to music actually make them smarter? An oft-quoted study said yes. But there has been resistance to the idea. "Researchers are mustering data to counter those who are intent on debunking the 'Mozart effect'' - the theory that classical music makes the brain work better." Singapore Straits-Times (NYT) 08/04/00

  • WILLIAM MAXWELL DIED at age 91 on Monday. Accomplished novelist and revered editor at the “New Yorker” for 40 years, Maxwell honed the prose of some of this century’s finest American writers, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, and Harold Brodkey among them. CNN 08/01/00

PLUS: Singapore bans production of The Vagina Monologues ~ Australia creates new arts business foundation ~ Naked "performance artists" streak across London's Westminster Bridge ~ Artist sues Ann and Gordon Getty over defaced mural ~ Stephen Hawking blasts new play, "God And Stephen Hawking" ~ Boston Symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa plays role of heroic bystander in car accident ~ James Joyce's grandson fights to stop musical adaptation of Joyce's "Ulysses" ~ Sotheby's earnings decline 5 percent, though revenue is up in second quarter ~ San Francisco Airport gets $11.1 million of new art. 



  • AN INTERVIEW WITH STANLEY KUNITZ, the new U.S. poet laureate. First published more than 70 years ago, Kunitz, now 95, has won almost every poetry award (including the Nobel in 1959 to the National Book Award in 1995), although he’s only published a handful of books. “I write poems only when I cannot escape them, when it is so urgent I will sacrifice everything else to do it.” A new Kunitz collection is due out next year. NPR 8/01/00 [Real audio file]

  • GET THE PICTURE? Think digital cameras are going to take over the art of photography? Not hardly. "Even a $10 single-use camera offers 10 times better resolution than today's $1,000 digital." Now a French chemist "has developed a new method of 'doping' film emulsions that promises to make them five times better at capturing light. 'If it can be widely applied, it will certainly be one of the greatest inventions in photography in the last 60 years.' " Discover Magazine 08/00

  • AN ANIMATED FUTURE: At the Venice Biennale, US architects present the future. "The emerging generation of architects represented here uses animation software to study the effects of natural forces on different forms, and film- and Web software to produce virtual environments and atmospheric effects. Moreover, they say, they are among the first architects to respond to the way that digital technologies have altered people's aesthetics, even their very sense of space." Chronicle of Higher Education 08/02/00

  • ALLURE OF LONDON: A group of New York artists working in London talk about the differences between the two cities. "They're impressed by the apparent importance attached to contemporary art in Britain. Stories about artists make the front page of newspapers; television documentaries about art are informative and well made. No matter how crude its terms, Britain, and specifically London, engages in a national debate about art. This does not happen to the same extent in America and New York." London Evening Standard 08/04/00

  • SOUTH AFRICAN ARTS IN DISARRAY: One South African artist applies to start a porn site so he can finance his art. Thus the extent of "the frustrations felt by many over the state of the arts in South Africa, where the only certainty is uncertainty. Will the country's last remaining permanent orchestra, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, still be around in 2001? Will Pretoria's State Theatre survive? Will lottery funding help to revive the performing arts? Will SA arts and culture help brand the country as a tourist destination and as the export product it once was during its theatrical high point in the '70s and '80s? Sunday Times (South Africa) 07/30/00

  • CULTURAL ASSET? Dick Cheney is George Bush's running mate, but of interest to cultural people is his wife Lynne, who was chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities in George Sr's administration. When she left NEH, though, she attacked it. Cheney appeared on ABC's 'This Week' last Sunday, "and told interviewer Cokie Roberts that she had tried to eliminate the agency because 'the Endowment, under the Clinton administration, evolved into something outrageous,' and that 'it was such a misuse of taxpayer money.' " Backstage 08/04/00

  • FASCINATING YET DISCONCERTING: Composers have always experimented with new ways of producing music. So today's forays into interactivity come from a long tradition. "Yet these interactive inventions may someday put composers out of business, at least those who cling to the quaint idea that composing means one person in private putting notes and sounds together for later public performance." New York Times 08/06/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THE COMPLICATIONS OF LOVE AND HATE: "Any number of classical music lovers will tell you with glee of the bad pieces they love to hate. But people who will tell you about pieces they hate to love, but love anyway, are somewhat more rare. Saying you've got a thing for Brahms' Hungarian Dances Nos. 4 and 5, for instance, especially if you've ever gone anywhere near a music school, is particularly dangerous - but only if you mean it sincerely. Irony does exist in classical music, but it's mostly in the ears of cynical (younger) beholders." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/01/00

  • THREE DECADES OF THEATRE: Theatre critic Benedict Nightingale reflects on 35 years of attending the Edinburgh Festival. “Unpredictability is the essence of Edinburgh. If I have seen plenty of chic schlock there - Stein, Sellars and Robert Wilson at their most overrated - I have also seen plenty that stays with me still. And here let's agree that the distinction between Festival and Fringe is often slim.” London Times 08/01/00

    • WHY I HATE EDINBURGH: "Brian McMaster is the man who runs the Edinburgh International Festival, and sometimes it is hard to tell whether he just has a perverse love of emptying theatres or whether it's all more sinister than that and that he is, au fond, an out-and-out sadist, who gets his kicks out of boring people into a state of mental derangement." The Telegraph (London) 08/06/00

  • NEVER NEUTRAL: "In 1991, Pauline Kael decided to stop writing movie reviews for The New Yorker, which she had been doing more or less continuously since 1968. Nine years later, everyone still wonders what the most influential movie critic of all time thinks." Toronto Star 08/06/00

PLUS:  The New York art scene: hotter than ever ~ The Mona Lisa in ceramic? Check out Japan's new "ceramic archive" ~ Inside the 20th Annual Romance Writers of America Conference ~ Former Jewish Museum Berlin director Tom Freudenheim on antisemitism in Germany, the Holocaust Memorial, and differences between the arts in the U.S. and Germany ~ A salute to beloved deceased actor Marcello Mastroianni ~ The fierce queen of  Egyptian belly dancing ~ The sad decline of Glasgow's museums 



  • THE NEW LATIN: "Think of mathematics as the Latin of modern times. Across the world, it plays, as several historians have noted, the role that Latin played for Europeans in the Middle Ages. It's the international language of vital work. It unites those whose thoughts produce big changes, and it helps make those changes occur. We who know nothing of mathematics (like Europeans who knew nothing of Latin in, say, 1350) are fated to be, in a crucial sense, more spectators than participants at the central dramas of our lifetime." National Post (Canada) 08/01/00

  • HOW COMPUTERS CHANGE US: Computers are useful tools, to be sure. But using them is also changing the way we think. "The computer is a new semiotic channel. When it processes information it changes that information. Consider, for example, the hunt-and-browse method of research one does when actually working in library stacks. Compare this to the Boolean search procedures one uses when doing computer assisted research. This change is bound make a difference in the knowledge produced, but as yet we do not know in what way." The Idler 08/04/00

  • WHERE SHOULD BEAUTY LIVE? The hypothetical question of where the Elgin Marbles would go if they were returned to Greece has incited a debate over the proper context for items of beauty. Do we have a responsibility to make sure works of art remain in the place that gives them artistic life? "It's our loss if we find reasons not to worship beauty and condemn ourselves to a life of aesthetic squalor." The Guardian 08/03/00

  • IN THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES: There are, of course, all the standard reasons for a publisher to turn down a book. "But what, I wonder, are 'all the standard arguments'? The notion that fortune - in the shape of a huge advance and a lot of hype for an unwritten first novel - favours the young? That the winner, so long as he or she has no literary record, takes all? That what sells a book is a pretty face on the jacket? No publisher would dare reject a book because the author was the wrong colour or the wrong gender, but to be the wrong age is unforgivable." The Observer (London) 08/06/00



  • THE "CAT" GOES LATIN: Two years ago a husband/wife team published a version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in Latin. It was an unexpected hit. Now they're back with "The Cat in the Hat." "Of course, unless you're fluent in the language of Cicero and Nero, it's hard to judge the playfulness of such lines as: 'At tunc quies est erepta!/ Tota domus est correpta/ Tum tumultu, tum fragore!' In the original English version, those same lines, about the first appearance of the Cat, go this way: 'And then something went bump!/ How that bump made us jump!/ We looked!' " Chicago Tribune 08/01/00

  • TALES FROM A CLASSICAL MUSIC STORE: Who shops at a classical music store? There are "the Toscanini freaks and the Ricardo Muti-Walks-on-Water squad, who will pay anything - anything - to own a CD of their hero doing the stick-waving equivalent of singing in the shower." Some are "a little less than erudite. Many come in search of 'The Fat Guy' (Luciano Pavarotti), 'The Blind Guy' (Andrea Bocelli) or 'The English Kid' (Charlotte Church, who's Welsh, not English, by the way)." There was one confused man who came in looking for "WOCTAKOBNY" (or Shostakovich - in Cyrillic lettering.) The Baltimore Sun 07/31/00  

  • WANNA WRITE LIKE A SPICE GIRL? Choosing from country music generators that know the long road from "flirt" to "hurt" or Goth-inspired generators that will search for that perfect rhyme for "pierced skin" ("fierce kin"?), phonetically challenged songsmiths and Web surfers looking for distraction can now pick up the mouse and sit back as the poetry springs forth from the computer screen. New York Times 08/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • SF-LAND: Plans for a huge history museum with "fake fog, a mini Golden Gate Bridge and a re-creation of the 1960s-era Haight-Ashbury district" have Bay Area residents conflicted. "Opponents deride the plan as a kitschy, Las Vegas-style tourist trap and consider the fight to stop the 70,000-square-foot San Francisco Interactive History Museum no less than a battle for the city's soul." Cleveland Plain Dealer (AP) 08/06/00