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  • CULTURAL CRUSADER: On Tuesday US VP-candidate Joe Lieberman, "a culture warrior considered one of the moral voices of the Senate, promised supporters that the Democratic Gore/Lieberman ticket would help parents 'raise PG kids in an X-rated society.' He praised Vice President Gore's wife, Tipper, for having had the courage to speak out against certain music lyrics, a move for which she was widely blasted in the 1980s." Washington Post 08/09/00
    • A TV CRITIC: "Lieberman, like a lot of us who actually watch the TV we rip, wants content changes. But when the government threatens to get involved in that sort of thing, it smacks of demagoguery. No matter. TV critic Lieberman is always good for an opinion." Chicago Sun-Times 08/09/00
    • THE LIEBERMAN FACTOR: US VP-candidate Joe Lieberman has been tough on the entertainment industry. How tough?  "He told Daily Variety last year that shows like 'Friends' should be relegated to late night because of their raciness. Variety 08/08/00
    • CONSCIENCE OF THE NATION? Hollywood is pondering the possibility of Joe Lieberman becoming vice-president of the US. "Lieberman is widely regarded as 'the moral conscience' of the Senate and has continually blasted TV, movies and the recording industry for featuring too much sex and violence." New York Post 08/08/00
    • EASY TARGETS: "There are three people truly disliked by Hollywood. John McCain, conservative moralist William Bennett and Joe Lieberman. That's because each has sought the spotlight to further his own career by picking on an easy target — the pop culture spewed out by television, movies, music and video games...That Lieberman is now in the running to become vice president is not good for those who oppose censorship." San Francisco Examiner 08/10/00
  • CITY TAX FOR ART: A proposed "cultural tax" in Detroit would pump $36 million annually to arts and culture. "It is being pushed by Detroit Renaissance, a group of business executives trying to enhance the area, and a coalition of cultural institutions. They contend that the money is needed to keep Metro Detroit's cultural landmarks vibrant by stabilizing funding and providing support for the arts if the economy slows." A poll shows 58 percent of those surveyed said they would approve it. Detroit News 08/07/00
  • FAILURE TO PROTECT: British police are "failing to take the theft of fine arts and antiques seriously, undermining a Government initiative to make it harder for criminals to sell stolen property, according to a leading figure in the arts market." The Telegraph (London) 08/04/00
  • 18,000 MANUSCRIPTS, BOOKS, AND MUSIC COMPOSITIONS stolen by Russia’s Red Army after World War II and since kept in Armenia’s Academy of Sciences were returned to Germany this week. Armenia first returned war booty to Germany in 1998 with a huge shipment of antiques. Germany’s culture minister is confident the remaining artifacts will be returned shortly. Russia Today (Reuters) 08/10/00
  • ART FAKERY: A senior Vatican official is being investigated for "allegedly selling works of art with fake Vatican-stamped certificates representing them as masterpieces by artists such as Michelangelo." The Times (London) 08/12/00
  • SHOWDOWN IN BERLIN: Since he took it over eight years ago, Daniel Barenboim has turned the former East Berlin Staatsoper company into Berlin's leading opera house. But Berlin is broke, and Barenboim is demanding another 10 million marks for his budget as a condition of his staying. Last week drastic plans by the Berlin Senate were revealed to amalgamate the city's three major opera houses with Barenboim to be offered the job of general manager, or "intendant," of the new super-company. Chicago Tribune 08/08/00

PLUS: Workers' strike at Museum of Modern Art seems to have had little impact on museum operations ~ Teams of archeologists begin cleaning and restoration of the Parthenon in preparation for the 2004 Olympics ~ New York artists battle for control of the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center on the Lower East Side ~ Actors Theatre of Louisville names new artistic director ~ A tribute to Sir Alec Guinness who died last week at age 86 ~ The Writers Guild of America corrects the credits of eight blacklisted writers from McCarthy era ~ The Television Bureau of Advertising forecast television stations will post a record of $550 million during the 2000 presidential election, up from $367 million in 1996 ~ Sydney ensures a brighter financial future of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art.



  • FESTIVAL POWER: "Think of Edinburgh today: boomtown, glittering northern capital, as beautiful a city centre as any in Europe; full of history, packed year round with visitors, draped with pavement cafés, bright with flags. Then glance back at Edinburgh as it was 53 years ago, when the Festival was founded: a lost capital almost crushed by the pressure of two world wars - the austerity, the rationing, the sheer exhaustion - into a kind of dour British provincialism from which it seemed unlikely ever to recover." The Scotsman 08/08/00

  • WHERE'S THE AMERICAN? "Most orchestras in this country do not know and do not care about American music, and they are convinced that you and I don't care or want to know about it either. They see their mandate as one of protecting culture, in this case, a culture produced in Europe 100 or 200 years ago. They therefore make it their business to protect us from ourselves." Los Angeles Times 08/13/00

  • SUBJECT TO PREY: The relationship between biographer and subject can be adversarial. Sometimes subjects retaliate. "It's war, and a number of contemporary writers have tried to gain the upper hand by putting biographers in their novels and short stories." National Post (Canada) 08/12/00

  • GHOST OF A CHANCE: In the 1960s, hippy artists from Britain were invited to revive a ghost hill town in Italy. They restored its houses and rebuilt the water and sewage system and made the town a going concern. "But a promise that they could make their homes was never put in writing." Now the Italian government wants the town back... BBC 08/09/00

  • LEARNING TO LOVE: "There is a basic myth of modernism, essential to its ideology, that all great works of art are initially repellent. It is only natural that this should give rise to the suspicion that any art which seems repellent at first is perhaps, after all, daring and provocative. In the past, however, the assimilation of a new style which was originally detested was most often the work not of critics but of the artists themselves." New York Review of Books 08/10/00

  • SAVING HISTORY: "That David Packard discovered and came to love classic American cinema is one of the luckiest things that ever could have happened to classic cinema. In the past 20 years, Packard, 59, has done more for film preservation than any private citizen in history, funneling millions upon millions of dollars into archives such as the Library of Congress, the University of California at Los Angeles and the George Eastman House." San Francisco Chronicle 08/13/00

  • TERM OF THE MOMENT: What exactly does "contemporary" art mean? "Look at what happened to Modern art, which today is considered to have begun as far back as the mid-19th Century. At first the term described the art of its day, but since then the term has been assigned to a certain historical period. Could the category of contemporary art be used one day to classify art of the second half of the 20th Century? What then - the ghastly 'post-contemporary'?" Chicago Tribune 08/13/00

  • THE TRUTH ABOUT STORIES: Why do literary critics seem to be tripping over distinctions between fiction and non-fiction? "The trendy new genre 'creative nonfiction' is just a clever marketing tool — a way to sell the old tall tale, part fact, part fiction, by assuring us that what we are reading is 'real.' And that sense of clarity is not just reassuring, it also demands less of the reader — who does not have to suspend disbelief — and of the writer, who does not have to work as hard at rendering a story believable." San Francisco Examiner 08/07/00

  • POET ADVOCATE GENERAL: "Is there something churlish about Canadians that we balk at the idea of an official poet laureate? Are we too modest, too embarrassed? We certainly need an advocate for poetry. Poetry is the least honoured and the most respected of our art forms. A poet laureate would bring poetry to the people, giving us, as John Newlove said, 'the pride, the grand poem / of our land, of the earth itself'." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/08/00

    • WHAT A DREADFUL IDEA: "Poets are already considered to be on the very bottom of the arts ladder, frantically vying with the likes of documentary filmmakers, performance artists and other degenerates. And Canadian poetry, in the main, is horrible, consisting primarily of nuanced references to woodchippers, and surprisingly vulgar accounts of childbirth. To crown a laureate then would be something like appointing a pantomime artist to remember the dead for us each November - a poignantly awful idea." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/08/00

  • AMERICAN DREAMING: "While American theatergoers lament that nonmusical drama on Broadway belongs to the British (and in the '80s so did a large share of the musicals), the English busily stage works that writers such as Arthur Miller or Tony Kushner can't get premiered in the United States. This probably says something about the relatively greater sophistication of British audiences. Still, the fascination with secondary plays by our first-rank playwrights can be mystifying to an American - rather like that French thing for Jerry Lewis films. What's the attraction?" Washington Post 08/13/00

  • FILM AND THE POLITICS OF REPRESSION: "The decade of the 1980s in Argentina was characterized by profound political, economic and social upheavals. Yet the Argentine film industry in this period had retained a remarkable ability to stay afloat and adapt to the radical shifts of the forces in power. This skill was seen not only in production but in the areas of distribution and exhibition as well. The connection between the different governments and the national cinema was more complex than what emerged from the accounts of Argentine and foreign scholars about filmmaking during the 1980s." The Idler 08/07/00

  • KNOWING YOUR PLACE: "When you add up the radio stations, the dingy used-record stores, the $1.3 billion market for rap and the $1.9 billion spent on revivified country and western, music ranks among the largest industries ever to exist. In the midst of this fantastic investment in an all-enveloping cloud of sound, hardly anyone seems to remember that music stands fairly low on the scale of devices by which we try to understand human experience. A people that takes music as its highest expression has cut itself off from narrative, epic, allegory - the explanatory arts that could put to use the emotions that their music represents." New Statesman 08/07/00

PLUS:  Exploring ancient cities through virtual archeology ~ Why the director of the Tate Modern is a happy man ~ Soul-less in Salzburg: How could Mozart's birthplace have come to this? ~ A Blind artist's secret to painting ~'s guide to the best and the worst contemporary fiction of the last 40 years ~ How the Big Five orchestras of the U.S. have scrupulously managed to avoid hiring American music directors 



  • LANGUAGE OF THOUGHT: European thinkers are curious about American intellectual thought, and seem to seek it out to engage with it. The reverse is not so often true. "In failing to read our European contemporaries in their own languages (especially when they write about their own philosophical classics), don't we deprive ourselves of important cognitive sources?" Chronicle of Higher Education 08/07/00

  • SURVIVING CULTURE: Do cultures have an inherent right to survive? "There is no great moral distinction, such rhetoric seems to suggest, between allowing a culture to assimilate into the wider surrounding society and actually going out and killing its members en masse. If we take these arguments at face value, cultural survival is something very close to a moral absolute; to refuse to endorse it is to sign up on the side of cultural atrocity and numbing global conformity." Civilization 08/00

  • WHO, THEN, WILL LEAD US? "No longer do our poets, both musical and otherwise, define society; instead, they reflect it. Some of the most significant philosophers of our time have provided nothing more than political fuel, and fashion designers have been left with the sole responsibility of directing the masses. We can hardly claim to perpetuate the age-old search for nobility. Knowledge is no longer a reward in itself, and a good number of us believe Socrates to simply be a character in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." *spark-online 08/00

  • HOW DO THEY DO THAT? At its top, the Tower of Pisa is 15 feet out of alignment with the bottom, in danger of tipping over. But the lean is being painstakingly corrected. It's "a delicate operation in which dirt is being extracted through thin drill pipes— the geotechnical equivalent of laboratory pipettes— from under the north, upstream side of the tower foundations, allowing it to settle toward the upright direction. The rate of soil extraction amounts to just a few dozen shovelfuls a day; anything faster might jolt the tower over the brink." Discover Magazine 08/00



  • BIRD'S EYE ART: A Japanese artist has given new meaning to the word "detail"; he rents a helicopter, photographs a particular city, and then recreates it on paper with a magnifying glass, drafting pens and calligraphy brushes. Recently he spent 12 hours photographing Manhattan. "From the Hudson River to the East River, every rooftop chicken coop and streetside hot dog stand has surely been accounted for. There are people, too: some 8,000 pinpricks among the 5,000 cars and 230,000 buildings." Daily Yomiuri 08/10/00