Neoliberal Economics vs. Democracy

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THIS may seen far afield from a site devoted the arts, but anyone who's read CultureCrash the blog, or the book that inspired it, knows that economics and our values are central to my concerns. They also exert a major force on how culture does and doesn't work. Our economic assumptions give us a sense of what is -- and isn't -- possible in our society. So I'm pleased to find this excellent … [Read more...]

Where to Start with Ornette Coleman

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THE great Texas-born jazz musician, who died last week, worked in a number of genres -- free jazz, symphonic music, funk -- and it can be hard for newcomers to get a sense of him. Here's how I began my Salon piece on Coleman: Miles Davis said he must be “all screwed up inside” to play that way he did. Max Roach punched him in the mouth after he saw him play. But Ornette Coleman, who died today … [Read more...]

What Silicon Valley means For Culture

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RECENTLY your humble blogger was able to connect the current situation in the world of technology -- the money, the power, the self-deception -- with the history of the arts. Specifically, I'm talking about cultural patronage, and I take it back to Haydn, Moneverdi and Velazquez. This piece of mine from Salon may interest Arts Journal readers.  Will try to keep posting my pieces that touch … [Read more...]

The Shallowness of “Mad Men”

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HERE at CultureCrash, we are split on the advertising chronicle Mad Men. Mostly, I think the early seasons were among the best television ever, even if recent seasons have become mere Age of Aquarius soap operas. Our guest columnist Lawrence Christon has no love for the show, early or late. Here is his response to the program's farewell, and to its read of a complex era of American … [Read more...]

The Dangers of Classical Literature

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Let me catch my breath a second and direct CultureCrash readers to my Salon piece on trigger warnings on university "trigger warnings," the poetry of Ovid, and my fears about Fox News. Of my recent Salon work, this seems like the one most relevant to ArtsJournal readers. Bottom line is, How do we regard the violence, rape, heartlessness and overall nastiness in Green, Roman and Old Testament … [Read more...]

When Humor Misfires: Warren Buffett Edition

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Gang, I've been AWOL from the blog lately because of my new job at Salon and a trip last week to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, where I spoke on artists' rights. I expect to have some fresh, uh, content for CultureCrash one of these days. For now, here is new piece by our steady guest columnist, who like me writes about the places where culture, politics and money tangle together. … [Read more...]

What I Have in Common With Andrew Sullivan

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OVER the last few years, as the traditional print media has fallen into a tailspin, a number of observers -- including very smart, canny ones -- have predicted that blogs would replace print as well as the more established websites. Andrew Sullivan, whose site The Dish was updated often and drew an enormous readership, was often mentioned as the model. In January, the indefatigable Sullivan … [Read more...]

“Sleeping Through a Revolution”: Technology and Culture

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ONE of the clearest and most powerful descriptions I've seen about the place where technology, culture and economic forces meet is in a lecture USC's Jonathan Taplin gave not long ago. He's transposed the speech into a piece for Medium called "Sleeping Through a Revolution." Taplin is especially good on the big picture, and on the way Silicon Valley -- built largely through public funding -- … [Read more...]

Louis C.K. and the War Against Smugness

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HOW do you respond when someone handsome and callow cuts you off? Our guest columnist Lawrence Christon goes on a tear here about how we've gone wrong. With no further ado. A FEW THINGS I WISH HE’D SAID By Lawrence Christon Though spoken in a TV show, it’s one of those crystalline moments, like “Rosebud,” or “I’ll have what she’s having,” that could go down in screen history as the … [Read more...]

The Craftsman: Musician Matt Keating

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HERE at CultureCrash, we've been admirers of Matt Keating's music since we saw him play at a barbecue at South by Southwest in the '90s. I'm especially fond of his music from that period -- the Candy Valentine EP is an essential document that I don't think could be improved -- but he's been remarkably consistent in his pursuit of the perfect pop song. His twangy record from 2006, Summer Tonight, … [Read more...]