Doug: Classic Appreciation

John: I wasn't at all suggesting there wasn't a place for the classics (when I was young I never appreciated all those disparaging remarks about "old chestnuts" as people used to call them. To me hearing them the first time, there was nothing old or tree-fruity about them). And I remember clearing the moment I decided I wanted to become a pianist - it was after a radio broadcast of Grieg's Piano … [Read more...]

John: Community and Zingers

Doug: I retain a certain affection for dumbed-down classics, since (even with childhood piano lessons) I was led into my love for classical music as a young teenager by Arthur Fiedler. Still, I agree with your notion that high-arts organizations should concentrate on serious arts for those who love them. But that does not mean sticking doggedly to the classics, even when well performed. Aesthetic … [Read more...]

Doug: Dating For Dummies

John: So much agreement, and so much for the mean nasty blogosphere. For my part, I'd like to leave off with a rant about audience. I think one of the things that is killing American arts journalism is our (arts journalists) fogginess about who we think our audience is. Why is it considered more important to bring into the metaphorical tent non-readers who have previously expressed little or no … [Read more...]

John: Newspapers and the Internet

Doug: I guess we are indeed winding down, since once again I agree with you almost completely about the problem with newspaper cultural covrerage. But why not -- you agreed almost completely with my last posting on that same subject. And of course the Times is part of the larger problem, too, tho insulated by its attention to culture, based in part on business calculation and in part on Sulzberger … [Read more...]

Doug: Dr Rockwell, A Prescription?

John: We're getting close to the end of our conversation, but there are still things I wanted to ask you. One, which you bring up in your last post is about how cultural coverage is pitched. I get that in a mass-culture world the way to get audiences is to try to appeal to a general reader. Unfortunately this has come to mean dumbing down rather than being smart and accessible. But I think that … [Read more...]

John: Arts Coverage Then and Now

Doug: I agree with most everything you say in your last posting (to the annoyance of those, like editors, who value a good dust-up over reasoned dialogue). I do think editors at daily newspapers today prize lively writing and versatile newspaperly skills over expertise in a field of art; they are probably even suspicious of expertise, at least when flaunted. This has a lot to do with the perilous … [Read more...]

Doug: Generally Speaking (The Critic As Specialist)

John: Two huge topics to jump into, both probably worth spending a whole week on by themselves. I'll wait on answering the first till later, since it's such a huge topic. But the second, about specialist critics vs. generalists is easier to take a bite out of. I don't think being a musician makes one a better music critic or being an architect makes you a better critic of buildings. It helps … [Read more...]

John: A Misunderstanding and Two Questions

Doug: I think we're talking about different things with the word "rules." I meant that for each individual, critic or otherwise, there should be no rigid, exclusionary standards that determine our positions about most anything. With conflicts of interest and objectivity, I meant by no rules that to take an extreme position may be fun to write and fun to read, but does not correspond to the way … [Read more...]

Doug: No Rules? Hardly

John: All well and good to say no rules. But we both know that doesn't hold. Indeed, with each plagiarism or conflict case that comes up, the rules at American newspapers get tighter and more reactionary. My favorite over-reach was the Miami Herald's bizarre firing of dance critic Octavio Roca a few years ago when it was discovered that he had plagiarized... wait for it... from himself. He had … [Read more...]

John: insider-outsider

Doug: Glad you're back in action. Are you back in your house? Is your bedroom still under siege? I must say, even without the Great Tree, your place looks beautiful. And look on the bright side (if there ever is a bright side in the skies of Seattle): now you'll have more sun in your back yard. I like your stirring defense of insider criticism, though if you're so sure of your position, why did … [Read more...]