Happy birthday to jazz pianist Bill Evans


Remembering the great and influential Bill Evans. Here he is playing "Waltz For Debby."     Evans played on the immortal Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, which he shaped nearly as much as Davis himself did, and soon after led one of the greatest-ever jazz trios, a group destroyed by the death of his young bassist Scott La Faro. Evans had a long and fruitful career. We'll … [Read more...]

Arrested Development


IS our culture stuck in childhood or adolescence? Are we disregarding the depths or pleasures of maturity? CultureCrash's guest columnist weighs in. "Arrested Development" By Lawrence Christon The late, great acting coach Stella Adler was holding a master class on Jean Anouilh’s “Waltz of the Toreadors,” a play in which a mousy general is completely tyrannized by his bellowing wife, who … [Read more...]

The “Junk Dada” of Noah Purifoy


RECENTLY I visited the LACMA and saw a number of shows, including the exhibit devoted to Noah Purifoy's work. Purifoy, who art critic Christopher Knight recently said "may be the least well-known pivotal American artist of the last 50 years," was a black Southerner who became a crucial part of the art movement that rose after the Watts riots. I've known and admired Purifoy's work for years now, … [Read more...]

Neoliberal Economics vs. Democracy


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


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


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”


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


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


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


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...]