The Future of Reading, and Farewell to Garcia Marquez

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ONE of the reasons we're all here -- as lovers of Beethoven quartets, long Kurosawa films, serious novels, challenging visual art -- is that we experienced the joys of immersive, uninterrupted reading at an early age. There's a lot of talk -- rightly so -- about how poor kids get less of this than wealthier ones. But are the children of the educated middle-classes losing that connection? And will … [Read more...]

How Important is a Writer’s Routine? Plus, McMansions

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ONE of the many ironies of our age is that as creative folk find it harder and harder to keep afloat, a whole world of books, workshops, and other sorts of guides to creativity continue to spring up. A sub-genre is the book which tells you about an artist's or writer's daily routine: How eccentric waking hours or diets or various kinds of outlandish behavior allow a certain genius to do what he or … [Read more...]

Middle-Class Crush, Cassette Fetishists and New Jazz

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MOST of us have read about the high cost of new homes in a handful of cities. But new data shows that even renting in a wide range of places -- Chicago, Miami, LA, Salinas, parts of Texas -- has become impossible for the middle class. This may seem to have nothing to do with art or artists, but most of us who have joined the creative class -- as writers, graphic artists, publicists, journos, and … [Read more...]

Gearing Up for Record Store Day, and Art “Flipping”

Magnapop play record store, 1994

MUCH of my misspent youth was passed in record stores and bookstores, both as a customer and clerk, and I absorbed huge doses of enthusiasm, and I hope some knowledge, that would later help me as a scribe. So I'm always happy to read that record stores seem to be coming back, as this story timed to Record Store Day -- the annual celebration of the brick-and-mortar store, argues. The piece, in … [Read more...]

Irony, Minimalism, Ehrenreich and God

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ATYPICALLY, I'll start the week by recapping the weekend a bit. First, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is partway through its second Minimalist Jukebox. The Phil is doing its best to take an expansive view of this oft-caricatured movement. On Saturday I caught a John Adams-conducted concert that included a world premiere, U.S. premiere, and (by the standards of this young subgenre) old … [Read more...]

Trouble With iTunes, and More On San Diego Opera

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WHEN it comes to the collapsing sales of recorded music, and subsequent loss of revenues for musicians, I go back and forth between blaming the record labels for dropping the ball, and seeing the revolution of digital music as relentless and unstoppable. Either way, musicians have been the prime casualty. But it looks like one of the most successful of the disruptors -- iTunes -- is having trouble … [Read more...]

Moonlighting in the Arts, and Indie Bookstores

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A NEW survey from the National Endowment for the Arts shows that alongside the 2.1 million people who work as "artists" (broadly defined) another 271,000 work as artists on the side. While not quite shocking, there's some useful data in the report, including the fact that artists continue to be unemployed at twice the level of other professionals, even five years into an economic recovery. From … [Read more...]

Do Visual Artists Still Need Galleries? And, Outsider Artist in Texas

Dealer Leo Castelli with Jasper Johns

OVER the last few years, there's been a lot of talk about disintermediation -- removing the middle man. Digital technology makes this easier, and we've seen the self-publishing model expand for artists for authors, musicians, journalists and others. Will artists abandon galleries and try to reach collectors directly? Some already have, says a new story in the Art Newspaper. younger artists who … [Read more...]

Political and Public Art, Billboards, New York and Los Angeles

Photo courtesy Clockshop

WHAT happened to political art? Has it seen a revival during a period in which inequality and related subjects are flaring? Does tackling a topical theme doom a work of art to becoming ephemeral? Will activist art ever again be as visible as it was during height of the AIDS crisis in the '80s? We probably can’t answer all of that today, but a new project in Los Angeles, and a new appointment in … [Read more...]

All Rock-Music Edition: Dean Wareham, and the Poptimists

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OVER the last few years I’ve been corresponding with a number of rock musicians about how their world has changed in the post-label, post-recordings world we seem to be moving into. One of the most observant of them is Dean Wareham, former leader of indie-rock bands Galaxie 500 and Luna. Dean has a new solo album – his first – and is currently on a national tour. I spoke to him for Salon; … [Read more...]