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The Importance of Art Blogging: CultureGrrl’s Finnish Television Debut (with video)

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Scene of my Blogger-on-the-Street interview: Between me, Ivan and the lamppost

I’ve gotten the chance to do a lot of radio work (thanks to my five and a half years of blog-slogging), but ever since my 2007 BBC television debut, I’ve been waiting in vain for TV stations to clamor for my commentary.

At last, it’s finally happened!

Okay, so it wasn’t an American TV station. I had to brush up on my Finnish (what Finnish?) for this two-minute broadcast cameo (below). A week and a half ago, I got the call from Axa Sorjanen of the Strada program on the Finnish Broadcast Company’s YLE TV1, asking me to meet him in midtown Manhattan for an interview (in English, thankfully) on art blogging. But knowing reporters’ wiles firsthand, I had a sneaking suspicion that what Axa really wanted me to talk about was the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki.

No matter. Whatever it was, this was television! I rushed to touch up my makeup and hair, carefully selected my clothes, and breathlessly arrived, hot tea in hand (to burnish my vocal cords), just in time for our 3 p.m. appointment.

Alas, all that primping and grooming (but not the hot tea) turned out to be wasted. Axa and his sidekick, Ivan Puopolo (whom you’ll see in the video), wanted this to be a Blogger-on-the-Street encounter, giving the Scandinavians back home some Big Apple ambiance. So I there I stood next to a lamppost (above), shivering slightly in the chill autumn breeze, hair flying and nondescript raincoat securely fastened over my telegenic clothes.

Although they interspersed my commentary with shots of bicycles, taxis and a police car, the visiting cultural journalists didn’t take a shot of the banner at the top of their chosen lampost:

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That’s the NY Philharmonic’s music director, Alan Gilbert, getting a mild scolding from his mother, Yoko Takebe, who is a veteran violinist with the orchestra.

Still, it all turned out to be great fun. For one thing, they really did want to know about CultureGrrl and how it and other blogs challenge the mainstream media. The clip below, exclusively about my online life, drove a large number of fascinated Finns to my site (as I could tell from my blog stats).

That’s not to say that Axa and Ivan didn’t also want to know about the Guggenheim. Next Friday, if all goes according to plan, TV1 will air CultureGrrl, Part II—a Global Guggenheim segment. I’ll post it on the blog the following week, if it does indeed get airtime.

What I didn’t mention to Axa and Ivan was my growing doubt about continuing the blog, given how unremunerative it is and how limited (compared to the mainstream media) its audience is. What’s more, I have lately found myself writing many unblogger-ly posts—longer, more complex essays, rather than the short, punchy takes that are the ideal format for this screen-sized genre.

Still, CultureGrrl Repeat Donor 183 from San Jose, CA, did lift my spirits today with a very generous contribution and an even more encouraging note—”You rock, Lee!” (Rock? Could it be time for my next Singing Podcast?) Perhaps a few of my new Finn-fans will click my “Donate” button after clicking “CultureGrrl.”

But let’s get to the moment you’ve undoubtedly been waiting for—CultureGrrl with Finnish subtitles. The narration is foreign, but Axa helpfully provided me with English translations, enabling me to add subtitles for those of you whose Finnish is a bit rusty:

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