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Week of October 28-November 3, 2002

1. Special Interest
2. Dance
3. Media
4. Music
5. People
6. Publishing
7. Theatre
8. Visual Arts
9. Arts Issues
10. For Fun


THE UNIVERSAL SNOB: Snobism has been democratized, writes David Brooks. "Everybody can be a snob, because everybody can look down from the heights of his mountaintop at those millions of poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of, say, skateboard jumping, or who are total poseurs when it comes to financial instruments, or who are sadly backward when it comes to social awareness or the salvation of their own souls. We now have thousands of specialized magazines, newsletters, and Web sites catering to every social, ethnic, religious, and professional clique." The Atlantic 11/02

WHY WE LEARN? What is the purpose of an education in America today? Is the purpose to get a job, get into college? Is it to create reflective citizens who are capable of self-government, both in the realm of politics and emotion? Is it to instruct students in the rules of society and in the love of learning? Is it all of the above? And if it is, what is preventing us from attaining those goals on a broader, more universal scale?" A panel of thinkers on education gets together to debate the future. Harper's 10/02

THE DEATH OF THE AUDIO CASSETTE: The audio cassette is for all intents dead. "The end, on some strange and intellectually picky level, of the crucial dialectic between Side A and Side B, and the idea that songs talk to one another and take you someplace. Is the death of the cassette as sweetly sad as the death, years ago, of the vinyl record? No, the professor sighs. Well, maybe yes. 'It's a mixed romance'... Washington Post 10/29/02


DANCE 10, SONGS 10 (IF YOU LIKE BILLY): The Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel Broadway collaboration continues to get respectful reviews. Joan Accocella: "At this point, Tharp needs no arguing for as a choreographer. She is the most inventive dance-maker of her generation, and her crossing of classical ballet with popular forms, which in other hands might have been tendentious ('We'll show those ballet snobs')—and, come to think of it, was a little tendentious, once, even in her hands—has by now yielded her a full, eloquent, and unself-conscious language." The New Yorker 10/28/02

ON THE LINE: Three years of intense training for Australia's top young dancers culminates with a single event - a pas de deux exhibition that could make their careers. "Watching closely is David McAllister, the Australian Ballet's artistic director. He has between three and five places available for next year. On stage tonight are 14 talented young dancers, all desperately wanting one of them. The dancers know that most of them will miss out." The Age (Melbourne) 10/29/02

MACMILLAN CHARGES ROYAL INCOMPETENCE: One of the reasons Ross Stretton was forced out as director of the Royal Ballet was because Sir Kenneth MacMillan's widow was ready to withdraw rights for his work. She says Stretton was just a small problem compared to the general incompetence of the Royal's management. "We are talking about a huge business at Covent Garden, about people's livelihoods. Though I don't have any argument with the Royal Ballet's professional managers, unfortunately, in dance terms, the Opera House has had at its helm a bunch of amateurs." The Telegraph (UK) 10/29/02


WHAT'S WRONG WITH ARTS COVERAGE ON THE RADIO: Why is radio afraid to discuss ideas on air? Instead we get artist interviews, process stories and fluff... everything except the ideas. "Free public education is not an elitist concept. And the CBC could be the best public educator in the world, by using experts to explain difficult concepts in everyday language. Most experts on art or ideas are already trained to do this, since they have had to spend some time teaching to make their living. Learning and teaching are inseparable to most thinkers and writers." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/30/02

NEWSFLASH - SEX STILL SELLS: The National Organization for Women has released its annual critique of American television, and the landscape has rarely looked bleaker for women who are unfortunate enough not to look like Jennifer Aniston. "The standard for beauty is 'young, thin and white.' Only four Asian-American actresses had substantial roles in regularly scheduled series, NOW notes. The networks employed 134 more men than women in recurring prime-time roles." And the top TV role model for young women isn't even a human being: she's crusading cartoon character Lisa Simpson. Denver Post 10/31/02

WAIT - THE GOV'T IS AGAINST MONOPOLIES NOW? The U.S. Justice Department has filed suit to block the merger of the two largest satellite television companies, saying that the merged company would eliminate competition in the industry, particularly in rural areas not served by cable television. The suit was not entirely unexpected, but it raises questions about what the government's plans may be for the proposed merger of cable TV giants AT&T and Comcast. Wired 11/01/02

THE END OF VIDEO STORES? Video-on-demand is just around the corner. "The implications of such a trend: declining influence of the movie-distribution chains that hold sway over when and where new films are released; few video stores outside large urban areas; and dwindling attendances at cinemas everywhere. Cable providers will get their cut in the form of payment for opening their networks to third-party content. Meanwhile, the set-top box will replace the VCR—the greatest single product the consumer-electronics industry ever produced, and one which, at its peak, generated half the industry's sales and three-quarters of its profits." The Economist 11/01/02

FRIDA - WHERE'S THE ART? There's plenty to like about the new Frida Kahlo biopic. But also some serious wrongs. First, where's her art? Then, "the film unintentionally demeans Kahlo by depicting her as a charming naif, rather than a savvy professional. OK, so she often wore folkloric Tehuana clothes and mimicked folk-art techniques, the better to express her solidarity with working-class Mexicans. But she herself was born bourgeois and was a creature of the international art world besides. Her paintings are far more sophisticated than they initially seem and, even though she downplayed her ambition, she obviously took her work extremely seriously." Slate 10/30/02

IT'S ABOUT WHO GETS TO CENSOR: Hollywood directors are suing companies who sell software that edits out what they consider offensive scenes. "It's hard to sympathize with the Directors Guild of America's efforts to prevent parents from cleaning up movies when it allows studios to do it every day. As long as there's a buck in it down the line, filmmakers allow studios to reedit their films for TV and airplane broadcast. If studio research numbers come in low, filmmakers willingly change endings, reshoot scenes, tone down sex and violence, cut out entire characters and subplots, and even change the whole tone of a film to make it more commercially salable." Los Angeles Times 10/29/02


GRATEFUL DEAD (BECAUSE IT PAYS SO WELL): Being a dead pop star is big business. Last year dead rockers - Elvis Presley (who earned $37m), George Harrison ($17m), John Lennon ($20m), Bob Marley ($10m) and Jimi Hendrix ($8m) - had big paydays. What's the attraction? "On one level, the reasons are straightforward. Prematurely dead artists make perfect pop stars. They don't become old and unattractive, nor do they lose the musical plot. They are easier to worship because they're not around to blot their copybook with embarrassing middle-aged lapses of taste... The Guardian (UK) 11/01/02

DETROIT SEES RED: Add the Detroit Symphony to the list of American orchestras posting deficits. The $500,000 shortfall on a budget of $28 million is smaller than other major orchestras, but it's the second year in a row the DSO has failed to balance its books. Detroit Free Press 10/29/02

WATCH THE PAINT DRY LIVE! The renovation of Milan's famed La Scala opera house is causing no small amount of controversy among Italy's notoriously belligerant opera fans, due in large part to a modernist design which has raised the hackles of traditionalists. Now, the city of Milan has mounted a web site which will show the progress of the renovation and offer notes on the design. Andante (ADN Kronos) 10/31/02

WHEN MUSIC REALLY MATTERED: There was a time, at the turn of the 19th Century, writes Michael Tilson Thomas, that music "was the only art form where, in real time, one could take in the vast experiences that we think of now as being in the realm of cinema - experiences on the scale of invasion, tempests and geological cataclysms." The Guardian (UK) 11/01/02

NEW DEAL OPERA: Opera is drawing big crowds in America, new operas are finding performances and innovation seems to be in the air. "Is America about to put its own, contemporary stamp on opera, that centuries-old import from Europe? Maybe. While it may be too much to call this burst of activity a trend toward 'Americanizing' opera, it's certainly a sign of life, and that's enough to get opera enthusiasts cheering." Christian Science Monitor 11/01/02

  • WELL, NOT TOO NEW: Innovation is all well and good, but the staples of the operatic repertoire are still the most popular draws at most North American opera companies. A new survey by Opera America finds that Puccini's La Boheme is the most oft-produced show on the continent, with 27 separate productions scheduled for this season, and 207 since the 1991-92 season. Andante (AP) 11/01/02

THE PROBLEM WITH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRAS: Symphony orchestras across America are struggling with money (or rather, a lack of it). "What's the problem with classical music? As it turns out, all unhappy symphony orchestras are unhappy in their own way, but the answer is surprisingly consistent. "It really is 'the economy, stupid.' It's affecting all those revenue sources - especially corporate, foundation, government and individual donations - that are crucial to an orchestra's bottom line." Los Angeles Times 10/29/02

PRICING THEMSELVES OUT? A crew from Deutsche Grammophon was in Boston this week to record Andre Previn's new violin concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In years past, this wouldn't have been unusual, but in today's music world, big labels rarely record American orchestras. T.J. Medrek asked DG's top man if the Previn recording could signal a turnaround, but the answer, in a word, was no: "It always comes back to money. I think when the (musicians) unions of this country decide that they have overpriced themselves and that it would really make sense to renegotiate terms in order to make more recordings, then I think we (DG) would be the first ones who would be there." Boston Herald 11/01/02

OLDER STARS ABANDON RADIO: Noticed that older musicians seem to be showing up on the tube more often? "Television - and not just MTV - has supplanted radio as the chief means of exposing new music, particularly for veteran artists. Shrinking radio playlists have less room for new music. Far more radio stations are likely to play James Taylor's Fire and Rain, for example, than take a chance on his new single." Nando Times 10/27/02

PLOT PROBLEM: Why are opera stories often so ridiculous? When one thinks of all the effort that goes into composing and producing an opera, it seems odd that plots are often so ludicrous. But many are classic stories, and "some stories grow over centuries - each new generation's projections and alterations ripening them until, eventually, they become mythic. With each successful retread, a story will gain in resonance and meaning - reinforcing its power to move and inform us." The Guardian (UK) 10/28/02


SO WHO IS DANA GIOIA? Nominated by President Bush to be chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia is "a writer with a background as a businessman. He is a registered Republican who voted for George W. Bush and for his father before that. His poetry is not political. His criticism, essays and reviews are not polemical. Rather, Mr. Gioia appears to be someone with a wide range of artistic and intellectual interests who is passionate about making poetry more accessible to the public. Yes, his essay Can Poetry Matter?, which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1991 and then in a collection of his essays, angered academics because he accused them of making poetry an insular enterprise." The New York Times 10/28/02

MARTEL'S 'OVERNIGHT' SUCCESS: Last week Yann Martel won the Booker Prize. Not many had heard of him before that. He got only a $20,000 for Canadian rights to Life of Pi, US$75,000 for US rights and was turned down by five UK publishers before getting $36,000 for the UK rights from a struggling publisher. For four years those advances were his only income. "I could only do it because I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't have a car. I have roommates. I wear second-hand clothes. I have no TV. I have no stereo. My only expenses are my notebooks and my computer." National Post (Canada) 10/28/02

THE SUN KING: "At 66, Philippe de Montebello is celebrating his 25th anniversary as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art — probably the longest tenure by any major American museum director — having taken over from Thomas Hoving. Mr. Hoving the populist, Mr. de Montebello the elitist. That's the familiar chestnut, even though the label of staunch conservative attached to the latter is a bit misleading." The New York Times 11/03/02

JOHN LAHR REMEMBERS ADOPH GREEN: "He could sing a symphony—or, literally, throw himself into song. Head bobbing, voice croaking, arms pinwheeling, Green whipped himself up until he attained full dervishosity. A sort of prodigy of playfulness, he was unabashed by silliness and quite capable of pursuing frivolity to zany heights. In his version of Flight of the Bumble Bee, for instance, he would start as if he were playing the violin, only to end up flitting and buzzing like the bee." The New Yorker 10/28/02

HOW TO WRITE BOOKS AND INFLUENCE GOVERNMENTS: Greek author Vassilis Vassilikos may be the embodiment of the old literary cliche about the pen and the sword. He may just be the only author on earth who can claim that one of his books helped to bring down a military dictatorship. And yet, Vassilikos, who has penned 98 books over a career which spans a half-century, does not get caught up in the power and glory of it all. "I am known as a political writer but I think of myself more as a writer of erotic novels." Toronto Star 10/31/02



WHERE'S THE POETIC LICENSE? Why has Los Angeles never produced a poet able to capture the sense of the city? "The answer is that this is overwhelmingly a city of private life. The great bourgeois conception that private life is meaningful has reached its apogee - or decadence - here on the shore of the Pacific. Our great spaces are private not public ones; our major preoccupations are individual and familial rather than communal. And just as these facts subsume common social and political expectations, so they frustrate the expectation that a great city must inevitably have a single, great poet." Los Angeles Times 11/03/02

WRITER ADMITS LIE: Gabe Hudson got a lot of mileage out of a story he told about sending George Bush a copy of his book and getting a letter back from Bush condemning it. But the White House denied the story, and Friday Hudson had to admit he lied. "I never sent my book, Dear Mr. President, to the president, and I never received a letter from him. My claims that I received a letter from the president were meant as satire, and were intended to be perceived as such." Uh huh. Hartford Courant 11/02/02

CANADIAN AUTHOR CANCELS US TOUR BECAUSE OF RACIAL PROFILING: Indian-born Canadian author Rohinton Mistry has cancelled his book tour midway through its U.S. leg, "citing the 'unbearable' humiliation of being searched at U.S. airports." Nando Times (AP) 11/03/02

THINKING BACK: Sure we're always hearing buzz about the latest books coming out. But it's a publisher's backlist that pays the bills. "Though the definition of where frontlist ends and backlist starts is tough to pin down, the idea of books that have stood the test of time inspires rapturous enthusiasm among independent booksellers, several of whom recently shared their thoughts on this vital category. Selling older titles is profitable and basic to the entire book enterprise." Publishers Weekly 10/28/02

"DIFFICULT" WIN: France's top literary prize is the Prix Goncourt. It has great prestige but only token monetary value. This year's winner is Pascal Quignard, who won for a book that critics have described as a "difficult" read. "It's a sequence of beginnings of novels, stories, landscapes, autobiographical fragments. It's not a novel or an essay." BBC 10/29/02

TO BE CANADIAN (SAY IT PROUD): Canadians seem to be scooping up all the big international literary prizes these days. Canadians themselves seem a little dazed by all the attention, but there's no denying that Canadian literature now has cachet. How did Canada grow its crop of prominent writers? MobyLives 10/29/02

POETS LAUREATE - PRACTICING WITH AN EXPIRED LICENSE? Current controversies over American state poets laureate are a bit embarrassing. But hey, poets live messy lives, and besides, ''it has sparked the kind of controversy that allows people to have opinions about something they never knew existed in the first place. Maybe people will even care to have an opinion, and that's a good thing.'' Boston Globe 10/29/02

RESCUING WRITERS: The Australia Council has a program for "eminent" writers to "rescue" them from financial hardship. The program gives $80,000 each to authors who have "published at least four works, regardless of age, and must 'dazzle' the board with their literary merit, critical recognition and contribution to Australian literature. Eighty-one writers received grants totalling $1.94 million, out of a record 543 applicants." Sydney Morning Herald 10/29/02

SUING THE PATRIOT ACT: A coalition of free-speech groups have sued the US Justice Department over the Patriot Act. "The Patriot Act, passed in October of 2001, allows the seizing of records from institutions like libraries and bookstores even in situations where criminal activity is not suspected. It also imposes a gag order that prevents those who records have been seized from reporting what happened. The suit seeks certain pieces of what it describes as generic information, such as how many times the act has been used and against what kind of establishments. It does not seek to uncover what was revealed in these seizures." Publishers Weekly 10/24/02


PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON THEATRE RACISM: The British House of Lords debates racism in English theatre. "The Lords debate follows a survey which concluded the theatre was institutionally racist, with 88% of theatre staff claiming they had been subjected to racism in their job. 'The old objection to casting Afro-Caribbeans in roles originally intended for white actors is still being put forward, in spite of this prejudice having been shown in the majority of cases to be unfounded'." BBC 11/01/02

EVERYTHING CHANGES IN 50 YEARS: Fifty years ago Jerome Willis appeared in a production of The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Now he's at it again - same play, same company... but everything else has changed. "To join the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2002 is to start work with one of the largest theatrical organisations in the world. The Memorial Theatre season I joined in 1952, by contrast, was in many ways an extension of the London theatre." Everything about how theatre is produced here has been transformed. The Guardian (UK) 10/31/02

BOMB THREAT CANCELS MOSCOW PRODUCTION OF 42ND STREET: A bomb threat at the Moscow theatre where a traveling production of 42nd Street is playing forced cancellation of the show. The threat was enough for several cast members, who decided to quit the show and leave Russia. "Everyone is trying to find out tonight whether this bomb scare was al-Qaeda or Chechnyan or some random prankster, but the Russian government is not telling us anything, just like they are not telling doctors the gas that they used." Denver Post 10/30/02

LOOKING GOOD: It's shaping up as an unusually good year on Broadway. Ticket sales are surging, already there have been two blockbuster hits, a couple more solid contenders, and December (usually a down month) has a calendar stuffed with openings. Dallas Morning News 10/29/02

AYCKBOURN PROTEST STAR TURNS: Prolific playwright Alan Ayckbourn is threatening to quit London's West End theatre scene. "The dramatist is 'furious' that producers in search of new audiences are hiring cinema, pop and television stars at the expense of accomplished stage actors. Sir Alan criticised Madonna's 'inaudible' starring role in David Williamson's Up for Grabs, which he said was so bad she should have been regarded as a silent exhibit rather than an actor." The Independent (UK) 10/25/02

LOOKING TO REGAIN AN EMPIRE: Cameron Mackintosh is one of the biggest producers of Broadway hits ever. But currently he's only got one show running on the Great White Way. "Mackintosh says Broadway is going through a 'retro' wave of upbeat shows centered on familiar material, 'often rather brilliantly repackaged'." But things change, he says. And he's negotiating on his next project. Hartford Courant 10/27/02


ANOTHER TURNER CONTROVERSY: This year's Turner Prize shortlist follows a tradition of nominating controversial art. It includes a work that is a graphic description of a pornographic movie. "The four shortlisted artists - Fiona Banner, Liam Gillick, Keith Tyson and Catherine Yass - will learn who has won the coveted prize, and with it a £20,000 cheque, in December." BBC 10/30/02

  • THROWING UP FOR ART: With Stuckists protesting outside at the absence of traditional painters on the Turner shortlist, inside art glitterati were upchucking after watching a movie by one of the finalists (and it wasn't the porn project). The Guardian (UK) 10/30/02
  • CLUELESS? British culture minister Kim Howells' attack on Turner Prize artists curiously helps define a line of artistic meaning. "No sensible critic defends all modern artists. But, equally, no intelligent person dismisses them all, as the culture minister has done. If you believe that execution and time spent are the defining qualities of art, then Howells, with his weekend landscapes and portraits, is an artist, denied greatness only by the fact that many others are better at painting trees. If you accept that modern art depends on ideas and connections (or what Howells calls 'conceptual bullshit') rather than paint-stained hands, then Britain has some remarkable artists." The Guardian (UK) 11/02/02

BATTLE FOR THE BARNES: Lincoln University is a small black college with control of an art collection worth billions of dollars. But the Barnes Collection, claiming poverty and an unworkable relationship with Lincoln has filed a petition for divorce and announced its intention to move to Philadelphia. The plan is a blow to the tiny college, and court battles over the Barnes' right to self determination figure to drag out a long time. The New York Times 10/30/02

ART ONLINE: Many museums have resisted putting images of their artworks online for fear that they would lose control of the images. A project in California seeks to put museum collections across the state online. "Users can search 150,000 images of artifacts, paintings, manuscripts, photographs and architectural blueprints from 11 public and private museums. But with more than 2,000 museums in the state, that's just scratching the surface. 'Our goal is to get every museum, library and archive in California to have their collections digitized and online'." Wired 10/30/02

SHOOT ME: An art exhibition in Soho is drawing criticism for its violent theme, particularly after the DC-area sniper attacks. "Shoot Me, by the multimedia artist Miyoung Song, features a basement shooting gallery that enables visitors to take potshots with a BB gun at random women, children and porn stars in the throes of sex as they flash by on a video screen equipped with a paper bull's eye." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/30/02

PARIS MUSEUMS PREPARE FOR SUPERFLOOD: Paris' leading museums, including the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay are removing thousands of precious artworks from their basement storage because of fears about a hundred-year super-flood that could happen this winter. "We're not saying the great centennial flood is coming this winter, we're just saying we know it will come some time soon and the signs are not encouraging. We have to make sure we can deal with it when it happens." The Guardian (UK) 10/26/02

BRITAIN'S WOEFUL PUBLIC BUILDING RECORD: Why are public building projects in Britain so woefully carried out? "In Britain we have become so used to the idea that any major public building project will be delivered several years late and costing some multiple of the figure originally predicted that initial projections are treated rather like the boasts of an imaginative angler." The UK has failed to invest in its educational infrastructure. What's needed is a massive education plan for engineers and architects... The Guardian (UK) 10/29/02

YE OLDE OBELISK TRANSPORT COMPANY: In ancient times hundreds of obelisks lined the Nile. But beginning in Roman times, foreign countries made sport of taking souvenirs, and it became fashionable to remove the giant stone obelisks and bring them back for placement in leading cities. One of the last taken was transported to New York in 1881 to Central Park, where thousands of New Yorkers waited... Archaelogy 11/02

THE MAN BEHIND REM, DANIEL, ANISH... Modern architects like Rem Koolhaas and Daniel Libeskind like to dazzle with theatrical structures. But Cecil Balmond is the engineer behind them who helps make the ideas possible. "Balmond's structures tend to look as if they have no business standing up. Instead of depending on massive walls and simple symmetry for their strength, they rely on what he presents as being a deeper understanding of nature. In his softly-spoken but determined way, Balmond is trying to shift the way that we see engineers, as well as engineering." The Observer (UK) 10/27/02

LOOKING FOR A DIGITAL HOME: Seeing how there are museums for just about anything, is there a possibility of a museum devoted to digital art? "Efforts to establish a one-stop shop for the digital arts — a Linkin' Center, if you will — have been, at best, modestly successful. Donors are tight fisted, especially when there are no tangible objects that they can call their own. As a result, while there are small high-tech art centers scattered around the country and virtual museums sprinkled across the Web, none fulfill the museum functions of organizing, commissioning, exhibiting, collecting, preserving art works and education. But two organizations are moving in the right direction." The New York Times 10/28/02

SOTHEBY'S DRAWS BIG FINE: Sotheby's is fined more than 20 million Euros by the European Union for "operating a price-fixing cartel during the 1990s." Fellow partner-in-crime Christie's escaped punishment because the company came forward to provide evidence of price fixing. "The pair handle 90% of the auction market and have been under investigation by the commission for breaking fair trade rules. They were accused of inflating commission fees and defrauding art sellers out of £290 million." BBC 10/30/02

A NERVOUS ART MARKET: Whenever the economy goes down, the number of artworks up for auction goes up. "While the monetary total is not unusually high, the sheer number of works for sale this fall has increased. Some is being sold by people in financial distress, but many other sellers think this is the moment to cash in. The question is whether collectors will have the appetite, never mind the means, to buy." The New York Times 10/31/02

SEMANTICS, ART, AND THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL: "Conventional wisdom values art partly because it's scarce - there's only one Mona Lisa, and it isn't hanging in your living room - but the impact of digital art only increases as it multiplies through spontaneous, viral transmissions. Art will make a detour from the realm of the cultural cognoscenti to the world of karaoke on Nov. 1, when Southern California media art coalition LA Freewaves kicks off its eighth biennial Festival of Experimental Media Arts, TV Or Not TV...More than 350 artists will present around 300 works at close to 65 venues, including museums, Koreatown pool halls and neighborhood Internet cafes. The festival will also take place on three TV channels, and online." Wired 11/01/02

PROFIT IN UNCERTAINTY: Sotheby's realized some time ago that artwork whose ownership during the Nazi years wasn't clear could be a big problem for sales. So it begun brokering deals for the disputed work. "Sotheby's has neatly turned a problem into a business-getting scheme but, although it is not doing anything illegal, there are questions to be asked about its new venture. By getting involved in settlement negotiations over paintings that it may ultimately sell, it risks being accused of a conflict of interest." The Telegraph (UK) 11/02/02

WHAT'S WITH FRIDA? "We may never know the key to Fridamania, but Frida Kahlo made sure that every element of her fame was inextricable from every other. Her face, her life with muralist Diego Rivera, her connected eyebrows and faint moustache, and her ethnic Mexican wardrobe were part of her art. And as a result, she's an icon from every angle. Pictures of her are as popular as pictures by her, and they're often the same thing." Dallas Morning News 11/03/02

PLEA TO U.S. - CAREFUL OF IRAQI CULTURAL SITES: An international assortment of curators, collectors, art patrons and lawyers is urging the US government to be careful of Iraq's ancient cultural sites in any possible war. "Experts estimate that the number of archaeological sites in Iraq could be anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000. They warn that these sites face a greater risk than they did 10 years ago because of the greater American determination to topple the regime." The Art Newspaper 11/01/02

NATIONAL GALLERY HEAD WARNS OF DECLINE: The new director of London's National Gallery has warned the government that persistent underfunding of the national museum collections is seriously damaging Britain's image abroad. Some visitors to British museums are having an experience "more akin to the former eastern Europe." The Guardian (UK) 11/02/02


BRIT TRASH (AND WE LOVE IT): There was a time when English cultural exports to the US were civilized, intelligent. No more. "The most powerful British influences on American culture today are ferociously crass, unvarnished, unseemly - and completely unapologetic about it. They are, in fact, one of the latest assaults on what was once quite a civilized country." The New Republic 10/28/02

IN PRAISE OF GENERALISTS: Of course we want students to be focused. We want them to excel. But specialization without a broad general education leads to myopic thinking. So maybe we ought to come up with some program of broad general graduate study, suggests Catherine Stimpson. Chronicle of Higher Education 11/01/02

RETHINKING UK ARTS FUNDING: Has British public funding of the arts backfired on itself? "The English system of funding has fallen victim to the necessity of political justification. Everything has to have a catch phrase - outreach, cultural diversity, accessibility. All these things were inherent in the best companies anyway - but it has led to tremendous bureaucracy. What can be done? Are there lessons to be gleaned from abroad about the way we fund our arts?" The Guardian (UK) 10/28/02

CULTURE CAPITAL FINALISTS: Six finalists for the 2008 European Capital of Culture have been named. They are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead and Oxford. "The rivalry between the cities has been fierce, owing to the benefits previous holders of the title have received. The UK's last City of Culture - Glasgow in 1990 - saw a massive increase in tourism as a result of winning the title." BBC 10/31/02

A GROWING RIFT BETWEEN EUROPE AND AMERICA: Are America and Europe growing further apart culturally? Politically, relations have been getting worse in recent years, but culturally a gap seems to be widening as well. "The more the European masses appear to be hooked on American popular culture, the more bitterly their elites decry the U.S. as the profitable but cynical pusher." Commentary 10/02

BOSTON'S NEW ACTIVIST ARTS: Boston hasn't built a major new museum or theatre in about a century. But that's about to change. With major building plans in the works, the city is taking a more activist approach to arts development. "Two years ago, there was an episodic commitment to the arts. We want a sustained commitment now. Right now there are projects on the drawing board in every neighborhood of the city.'' Boston Herald 11/03/02

10. FOR FUN 

IT'S JUST A DAMN QUARTER ISN'T IT? American states each get to have a design represented their state in production for a limited time. But of course the rivalries and controversies about what should go on the coin are fierce. Take California: "Our quarter will differ a lot from the other (state) quarters, because of our state's unique diversity. We'll blow any other state out of the water." Uh huh. North County Times (California) 10/31/02