The Death of a Great Video Store

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LOS Angeles is the capital of the film world, but it is about to lose one of its last great shops that rents movies: Vidiots in Santa Monica. I got to know this place about a decade ago, as well as a store made up of some of its alums, CineFile in West LA. A little later, I frequented Rocket Video, which closed a few years ago and leads a chapter of my book. In any case, not only were these stores … [Read more...]

The Meaning of The Clash

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For the last two weeks I've been touring behind my book, doing lots of public-radio interview, and in some cases dueling with people who disagree with me. The concentrated attention has made me think long and hard about my stance and my values. One of the things I've realized is that my politics are an odd cross between Teddy Roosevelt and The Clash. (To be clear, I don't agree with either the … [Read more...]

Culture Crash on the Road

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For the last two weeks my book and I have been on the East Coast barnstorming for artists's rights, the middle class, an honest discussion about digital technology and other subjects. It's been a blast, I am still reasonably healthy, and I look forward to returning home to California later... today. Thanks to everyone I've met and all who've expressed interest in the book and its … [Read more...]

The Costs of Disruption

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WHAT happens when we tear up the past, replace people with bots and culture with content? Those are some of the question on the mind of former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier in his piece "Among the Disrupted." He begins this way: Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted. The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record … [Read more...]

The Artist in the 21st Century

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WHAT has art -- and the artist as its maker -- come to mean after postmodernism and four decades after Warhol's emergence? That's a question Sarah Thornton -- a very sharp British sociologist with an interest in visual art -- asks in her newish book 33 Artists in 3 Acts. I'm only partway through Thornton's book, which is full of smart observations. A few lines from Anna Altman's BookForum … [Read more...]

Culture Crash on Madeleine Brand/ KCRW and Uprising With Sonali

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TUESDAY was my book's pubdate; it included a launch event at the LA Central Library's ALOUD series that I think went really well. (But who knows?) I also went on the air with  one of California's great radio figures, Madeleine Brand of KCRW. I've been a KCRW listener since I landed in LA 18 years ago. My life has changed in all kinds of ways since then, and I've lived in five different places, … [Read more...]

Education, Postmodernism, Etc: Culture Crash on Arts Fuse

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TODAY my book, which digs into the issues I touch on in this blog, hits the streets. So I'm very pleased to post an interview with some of the most penetrating questions I expect to see. It's with the arts journalist William Marx. He starts this way: Arts Fuse: Why do you believe that the media, universities, and cultural institutions have neglected talking about the crisis for the creative … [Read more...]

The Plutocrat’s Art Club

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The Germans may have a word for it -- things that seem inevitable but are stomach-turning nonetheless. That's the way I feel about the fact that the very rich are amassing lavish art collections and finding tax shelters for them. They call these tax shelters "museums," but don't let the rest of us in. It's the latest in the strategy by the financial class -- many of whom were bailed out with our … [Read more...]

“In Praise of Gatekeepers”

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ONE of the subjects that makes the disruption boys' hearts race is the idea that technology will get rid of the gatekeepers -- those record-store clerks and publishing-house editors and journalistic critics who just get in the way of the pure, frictionless working of capitalism. If you own a company -- esp a tech company that feeds on other people's creative output -- it's great news is you can … [Read more...]

How Do We Save Journalism?

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FILE under the law of unintended consequences: Because journos pride themselves on being disinterested observers without bias or investment -- the old "objectivity" business -- they are reticent to stand up for their own peers and profession. I found this out the hard way when I lost my job, and every editor I asked about a first person piece told me no one cared unless I wrote about how a layoff … [Read more...]