Has Architecture Lost Its Connection?


ARCHITECTURE is a funny field: Much of its most important, most talked-about work is done for a tiny number of clients -- we'll call them rich people -- but the profession has a lingering (and in some cases sincere) social conscience and concern for the broader built environment the rest of us live in. That blend of ambitions has come unstuck, an architect and a journalist argued the other day … [Read more...]

Nature Painting and Weimar Film at LACMA


SOME days all the planets line up and a visit to a museum really can offer "fun for the whole family." That's what happened at the LACMA a few days ago, where the ups and downs of exhibit schedules meant a show of samurai armor, another of Hudson River school 19th c. painting, and another of German Expressionist Cinema. I spent most of my time in the latter two (my son loved the Japanese stuff, … [Read more...]

Novelist Janet Fitch Joins Culture Crash at Skylight Books


IT's been both gratifying and frustrating to have my book launch at the LA Central Library fill up so quickly. (Tickets went in a single day.) Now Los Angeles audiences have another chance to see me discuss the subjects I dig into on this blog and in my upcoming book -- at Skylight Books. And I'm glad to say that Janet Fitch, the LA novelist (White Oleander, Paint it Black) -- a fellow advocate … [Read more...]

The Middle Class Gets Crushed


ONE of my guiding principles on this site and in the soon-to-be-published book it accompanies is that the creative class it almost entirely embedded within the middle class, and that musicians, writers, artists, etc. are even more exposed to contemporary economic pressures than the average burgher. This is despite the fact that the artists we tend to hear about are typically gazillionaire … [Read more...]

Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”


ONE of the best books on life in the digital age -- and perhaps the one closest to my own point of view -- is Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. I like it for a host of reasons, among them Carr's elegant style, cool tone, and literary and humanistic sensibility. Among my favorite passages: When I summon up images from my early years, they seem at once … [Read more...]

Culture Crash the Book Goes to Washington


THE august D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose will host an event for my book a few days after publication, on Saturday evening, January 17. This is a great bookstore with a smart staff and a great hand-picked selection; it's exactly the kind of place I write about in the book, and the kind of place that tends to disappear in the digital age unless there is very committed management, a loyal … [Read more...]

Brad Mehldau and the Bad Plus in Northridge


IT was no surprise that two of the greatest trios in jazz today put on bracing and powerful sets. What was new was that these two groups performed in the San Fernando Valley, an enormous swatch of suburbia that has often lagged behind the rest of Los Angeles for most kinds of culture. (As Easterners have often looked down on LA, Angelenos have typically looked down on the Valley.) Plenty of jazz … [Read more...]

Culture Crash The Book Hits NYC


OUR Department of Self-Promotion is happy to announce an event at McNally Jackson in SoHo on Weds. January 21. Sponsored by Salon, the evening will involve me discussing Culture Crash alongside author Elizabeth Wurtzel (pictured), whose upcoming book, Creatocracy: How the Constitution Invented Hollywood, shares some concerns with mine. The bookstore is on Prince Street, near the Spring Street … [Read more...]

Will Nashville’s Gentrification Destroy Its Music Scene?


ONE of the most pressing issues for culture-makers (and fellow travelers, like your humble blogger) is rapid gentrification. Often driven by the arrival or artists and musicians to a neighborhood or city, winner-take-all capitalism often means that investors and Trump-like developers arrive soon after and squeeze out the creative class and the middle class very soon after. Recently I spoke on … [Read more...]

The New Republic is Not About Politics


FOR a few days now, I've been discussing the ideology of one of the nation's most storied magazines, with friends on both left and right; for many, it's best known as a policy journal. But the reason I am most saddened by the destruction of a great publication by a Silicon Valley coup has nothing to to with politics, no matter how valuable TNR was to American liberalism (a tradition I value … [Read more...]