Where Does the Creative Class Go After Brooklyn and Berlin?

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RECENTLY we've been hearing that artists and writers are being priced out of Brooklyn, and the search for "the new Berlin" -- an affordable city for creatives -- is on. (Krakow? Vilnius?) And is Portland getting better, or worse? A number of stories have tackled the issue from different angles. (It all reminds me of the Talking Heads song, "Cities.") This piece from the New Republic  takes the … [Read more...]

Poet Dana Gioia Endorses Culture Crash the Book

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NOTORIOUS to some, beloved by others, the California poet has this to say about Culture Crash, my upcoming book: Scott Timberg has written an original and important study. He explores some of the most pressing cultural issues affecting the arts and intellectual life with remarkable clarity. This is the first analysis of our current culture from the bottom up -- the precarious situation of the … [Read more...]

Have We Lost the Ability to Be Alone?

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A COUPLE of decades into it, we're still figuring out what the Internet is doing to us, as individuals and as a society. A fascinating interview with the author of a new book, The End of Absence, get at this in a nuanced way. Author Michael Harris talks about the difference between the digital era and the age of Gutenberg, the importance of solitude and contemplation, what's happening to our … [Read more...]

The Pixies and Cat Power at the Hollywood Bowl

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WELL, the Bowl's 2014 season ends with a show a lot of us had looked forward to for a long time. The Pixies are a band from the George H.W. Bush administration -- from before the indie-rock boom inaugurated by Nirvana's Nevermind -- and they've been tighter and more taught since their reunion. Their Bowl debut, then, did not take much time selling out its nearly 18,000 seats. And the Pixies -- … [Read more...]

Philip Roth, Le Guin Take on Amazon

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WRITERS and artists are notoriously difficult to corral; it's both built into the job description and something that keeps the creative class from asserting itself. But lately a number of scribes have united in an effort to resist the bullying of the online bookseller. The New York Times reports :   Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, … [Read more...]

The Pleasures of Waiting

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NO, this hasn't become an abstinence-themed blog while you were napping. But I'm struck today by a piece about the joys of waiting for culture, whether it's a weekly music newspaper or the new singles or LPs that those publications served to announce or assess. No matter what kind of culture you care about, you'll find something you recognize in this essay by esteemed rock scribe Simon Reynolds in … [Read more...]

Switching Sides in the Digital War

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DIDN'T we hear about how great it was going to be? Those early days, when we were told how funky and non-commercial and liberating the Web was going to be, now seem like ancient history. One writer who believed in the promise of the Internet in the early days has come to see what a much more complex issue the digital revolution would be. In a farewell piece for Salon, Andrew Leonard writes … [Read more...]

The Roots of Author Jeff Hobbs

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ONE of the breakout books of the fall is Jeff Hobbs's new chronicle of his Yale roomate, a young black man who escaped the streets of Newark and found himself, in the end, pulled back down by some of the same old forces. I'm reading The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace now and amazed at how rich the detail is: It's powerful -- New York Times rave here -- and about an intimate portrait of … [Read more...]

Musician Dean Wareham Raves on About Culture Crash the Book

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ONE of my favorite indie rock musicians -- a member of Galaxie 500, Luna, and Dean & Britta -- has endorsed my upcoming book. Here's what he says: I read Scott Timberg’s pieces every week without fail. It’s great to see his book Culture Crash debunk the mumbo jumbo about the long tail, file-sharing, free information, and positive thinking — and take a hard look at what it all means for … [Read more...]

Do Artists Embrace or Resist Technology?

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WELL, both, and neither, I can hear someone out there growling. But what I mostly hear in the culture at large is that we -- citizens, worker bee, student, scribe -- need to "adjust" to the brave new world of digital technology. Some of us do. But as someone who's been to numerous exhibits and conferences on "art and tech," I've long been uneasy with the suggestion that visual artists (or musical … [Read more...]