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Thursday, March 6


Envisioning The City No one wants their city to become a sprawling, ugly mess. So why do so many cities end up that way, and why is it so difficult to reverse the trend? A combination of economic and political factors make for a wall of resistance against "building smart," and city zoning codes and neighborhood objections (also known as the Not-In-My-Backyard phenomenon) play a significant role in slowing responsible urban growth. As a result, only the most doggedly determined urban planners ever see their visions come to fruition in American cities. The Next American City 03/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 6:34 am

Visual Arts

Air Force Memorial Will Tower Over Washington "The Washington skyline is due for an exhilarating lift in three years or so, when a spectacular memorial honoring men and women of the U.S. Air Force rises on a hill just west of the Pentagon. Unveiled yesterday, the memorial design by architect James Ingo Freed appropriately is a soaring thing, an airy triumvirate of stainless steel pylons ascending in gentle arcs into the Virginia sky. The highest of the spires will ascend 270 feet above a granite-paved plateau on a promontory overlooking the Pentagon and monumental Washington. A second arc comes in at 230 feet, and the third tops off at just above 200." Washington Post 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 6:26 am

Long Lines And Crushing Crowds - Welcome To The Art Museum! A heavily promoted 'blockbuster' exhibit of the work of Degas at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is drawing huge numbers of visitors, and that may be a problem. "On those most popular days for museum attendance, Degas devotees holding timed tickets have reported waits of up to an hour to see the critically lauded show, devoted to the great impressionist painter's lyric images of ballet dancers. And once inside, it was tough for the packed-in art lovers to see the art." Part of the crowd-control problem can be attributed to a series of crippling snowstorms in the area which prevented many ticketholders from making it to the museum during the exhibit's first two weekends. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 6:18 am

Fabled Ancient Library Reopens The amazing Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum's most famous building, finally opened this week, some 2000 years after it was enveloped in mud in the eruption that buried Pompeii. The "largest Roman villa ever found, it was the magnificent seafront retreat for Lucius Calpurnius Piso, Julius Caesar's father-in-law. Piso, a literate man who patronized poets and philosophers, built there one of the finest libraries of its time. Many believe that the mud filled lower terraces could hide the fabled second library, which probably contains lost plays by Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, lost dialogues of Aristotle, and Livy's History of Rome, of which more than 100 of the original 142 books are missing." Discovery 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 6:42 pm

Tin Can Wins Sculpture Prize Gereon Krebber, who graduated last year from the Royal College of Art, won this year's Jerwood Prize with a proposal for "Tin, a 1.5-metre can with the top slightly open - or almost closed, creating uncertainty and ambivalence, the artist says. Krebber beat seven other sculptors, shortlisted from 90 proposals, for the prize, which is open to sculptors who have graduated from art school in the past 15 years." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 3:30 pm


Houston Symphony Continues Sniping The musicians and management of the Houston Symphony continue to take swipes at each other in a bitter contract dispute. A recent editorial in the Houston Chronicle called for management to withdraw its deadline for musicians to accept its 'last, best' contract offer, and continue to negotiate, but symphony management insists that the orchestra could run out of money by May if it continues to bargain indefinitely. Meanwhile, the musicians are convinced that the orchestra's problems are due to gross mismanagement, and charge that the current executive team is determined "to destroy or, at the very least, downsize the orchestra to something they can financially handle but which would not by any definition be a world-class orchestra." Houston Chronicle 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 5:28 am

  • Just Blow The Damn Thing Up "The cumulative force of years of negative posturing, while successful in increasing musicians' pay scales, in my opinion has weakened the Symphony's prospects and credibility." So speaks Roy Nolen, a former Houston Symphony board member who says that the orchestra's problems do not stem from a lack of management competence, but from the inability of the musicians to accept the reality that the residents of the nation's fourth-largest city simply do not care about orchestral music. "It may be time for the Houston Symphony Society to consider whether a single-city symphony orchestra of high quality is viable in Houston." Houston Chronicle 03/06/03
    Posted: 03/06/2003 5:27 am

Hickox To Head Opera Australia British conductor Richard Hickox has been appointed new director of Opera Australia. Hickox "replaces local conductor Simone Young, whose contract with Opera Australia was not renewed at the end of last year amid controversy over her vision for the company. However, she will remain in the position until Mr Hickox takes the reins in January 2005. Mr Hickox, 55, is now the principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and is also an associate guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra." The Australian 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 11:07 pm

Live And In Concert (And Recording) Bootleg live concert recording is booming, with fans trading recordings of thousands of concerts over the internet. "It is not just that the recordings of live performances are of far better quality than the scratchy cassettes of 40 years ago. It is that copies of such a recording, and subsequent copies of the copies, are better." The New York Times 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 11:02 pm

Norah Jones Gets Big Grammy Boost Norah Jones' Grammy wins have done wonders for sales of her album. "Come Away With Me," sold 621,000 copies after her Grammy sweep, almost 500,000 more than the week before, the biggest post-Grammy sales spike ever, according to her record company." Hartford Courant (AP) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:11 pm

One-Minute Opera - How To Write Better For The Stage There aren't enough good operas being written. Why? Poor music, bad stories, awkward librettos. Aldeburgh is trying to help. So it invited a group of writers and composers to spend a week together exploring one another's craft. First assignment? team up and write a one-minute scene. It's tougher than it seems... The Guardian (UK) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:02 pm

Arts Issues

Arts Policy Coming To Calgary? Calgary is a beautiful city, but these days, it is hardly thought of as an artistic and cultural beacon. In the last year, the city's orchestra nearly folded, and the city council nearly refused to assist in its rescue. But a new proposal would see the Cowboy City adopt an official 'arts policy' which would commit Calgary to supporting, i real and substantive ways, its own cultural future. "If council approves the recommendation, it will develop a new civic arts policy by April 2004 that will include setting aside a portion of city infrastructure spending specifically for the arts." Calgary Herald 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 5:24 am

Does How We Applaud Say Something About Who We Are? It is "one of the truisms of London cultural life: standing ovations are rarely seen in the theatres, opera houses or concert halls. Across the Atlantic, however, leaping to your feet is almost the norm. Could it be that national character informs the way that we applaud? Or does our reception of a performance have a direct bearing on our attitude to culture?" London Evening Standard 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:33 pm

Melbourne's Arts Funding Woes Melbourne's arts institutions are suffering from underfunding they say. "Critics of the Government have questioned its commitment to the arts, saying there is no obvious cultural policy and that it is operating in a policy vacuum." The Age (Melbourne) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:27 pm

That Arts Degree Will Earn You Less So you have that arts degree and feel you're not earning what you should? Turns out the statistics are against you. Researchers have concluded that university graduates with arts degrees - including history, English and sociology - "should expect to make between 2% and 10% less than those who quit education at 18." BBC 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:22 pm

What Arts Cuts Would Mean In New Jersey In New Jersey, where Governor James McGreevey proposes to eliminate state arts funding, arts groups are trying to assess the impact of the cuts. What it would mean for mid-size arts groups: "reduced programming, possible layoffs, downgraded ambition, increased frustration. And the ripples could go beyond state grants. Private foundations and other arts supporters could pull back as they evaluate the financial stability of the arts organizations they have supported in the past." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 3:25 pm


Music & Murder: The Life and Death of a Canadian Composer Twenty years ago this week, French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier was murdered in Paris by a teenage prostitute. "His grisly demise was the mirror opposite of his music, which often sparkles with a delicate and loving grandeur. And it endures. Most of his 48 completed pieces have been recorded... His output heightened Canada's international stature more than any other composer's. Dangerous living fuelled his inspiration, helping polish salacious experience into a diamond in sound. Yet it also proved his undoing." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 5:18 am

Studio Libeskind: The Daniel And Nina Show Nina and Daniel Libeskind are a power couple. "The couple, who invite constant comparison to characters from Mike Myers' 'Sprockets' routine, do not look like the shark-suited developers or heavy-lidded bureaucrats who have dominated the downtown-redevelopment story. But in the decade or so since Daniel, the distinguished professor, and Nina, who shares a starring role in Studio Daniel Libeskind as the driving force of its business side, have been designing actual buildings rather than promoting architectural education, they have become a political force to be reckoned with." New York Observer 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 6:58 pm


CBS Expands Tony Coverage For years, the Tony Awards, which honor the best of Broadway, have been the awards show nobody wanted. CBS has aired the show for a quarter-century, but only the last two hours of it, allowing PBS to air the first hour for the last five years or so. In fact, earlier this year, there were rumbles that CBS might drop the telecast altogether. But now, CBS has picked up its option to air all three hours of the Tonys, shutting a stunend PBS out of the process entirely. So what suddenly made the Tonys a desirable commodity? Couldn't have anything to do with this year's unexpected blockbuster of a Grammy Awards show, could it? Nah... Los Angeles Times 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 5:52 am

And The Winner Is...Musicals "For the second year in a row, musicals are creating a big buzz in Hollywood. Last year, it was Baz Luhrmann teaching audiences a whole new way to envision musicals with 'Moulin Rouge!' This year 'Chicago' heads into the Academy Awards as the front-runner for Best Picture, and it's up for a dozen other awards. In the theater world, the hope is that this high-profile attention will spike interest in seeing musicals on stage - and that it will help nurture a new generation of theater-goers." Townonline.com 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 6:14 pm


Everybody Loves Salon. So Why Is It Broke? Salon.com is one of the original online publishing success stories. It has high-profile writers, scads of devoted readers, and a surfeit of great story ideas. So why is it constantly on the verge of going out of business? "The company ended its first quarter of 2003 with only $169,000 in cash. It stopped paying rent for its swanky San Francisco headquarters in December, and the landlord was demanding $200,000 immediately." The problem may just be that the world that Salon created - where two-way communication supercedes the 'old media' model of "I write, you read" - has become so diverse and successful that Salon itself no longer has much of a core purpose. National Post (Canada) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 6:08 am

Wasn't Anyone Paying Attention? Last year, Minneapolis unveiled plans for a dramatic new downtown library designed by architect Cesar Pelli. The city then moved all the books and staff out of the current library into a temporary facility, and started demolishing the old building to make way for the new one. And then, someone pointed out that the city has no money to be building libraries. Columnist Doug Grow feels that there is something just slightly wrong with that sequence of events. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 6:00 am

  • Previously: Minneapolis May Postpone New Central Library Minneapolis civic leaders are considering postponing construction of the new downtown central library. "Though voters approved the $122.5 million project, the library system faces a major problem: A $25 million shortfall in its operating budget over the next 10 years, even before likely cuts in state aid are taken into account. The shortfall is roughly equal to the entire cost of running the system this year." The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 03/04/03

An American in London The British people have spoken, and they have declared that the author who best exemplifies an understanding of and love for the U.K. is none other than travel author and novelist Bill Bryson. Bryson's Notes From A Small Island was chosen as the 'book that best represents England' in a poll organized for World Book Day, and it beat out Orwell's 1984, among other classic British books. Of course, Bryson is from Des Moines, Iowa... BBC 03/06/03
Posted: 03/06/2003 4:38 am

Arnold's Last 'Books Column After five years, Martin Arnold is packing in his "Making Books" column in the NYT. "I've had 212 opportunities to pronounce on what I still believe is the world's primary cultural conduit. I have chronicled and commented on all sorts of literary trends, disputes, ups and downs, but the enduring consistence of what I have learned, the unrolling thread, has been about the durability and incandescence of books themselves; the bravery of those who write them; and the instinct to gamble by many, but not all, who publish them." The New York Times 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:58 pm

Norman Mailer On Writers On DH Lawrence: "He was perhaps a great writer, certainly full of faults, and abominably pedestrian in his language when the ducts of experience burned dry, he was unendurably didactic then, he was a pill, and at his worst a humourless nag...On Jonathan Franzen: "It is too full of language, even as the nouveaux riches are too full of money. He is exceptionally intelligent, but like a polymath, he lives much of the time in Wonkville Hollow, for Franzen is an intellectual dredging machine." The Telegraph (UK) 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 10:50 pm

The Poets Who Supported WWI A large number of poets have mobilized to protest a war with Iraq. But "the mood was quite different some 89 years ago, when poets (and writers generally) deployed their pens in support of the Allied military effort during World War I." Tech Central Station 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 6:38 pm

Why People Don't Read "Serious" Fiction Terry Teachout writes that "it's common to run across 'well-read' people who no longer read any new literary fiction at all, American or otherwise. I don't, and neither do many of the professional writers I know. Like most Americans, we go to the movies instead." So why is that, he wonders. "Our 'major' writers tend to be chronically verbose, stylistically ostentatious and agonizingly earnest (though the flippant Irony Lite of Generation X now appears to have replaced earnestness as the style du jour). Such books are unreadable, and so nobody reads them, save under academic duress." OpinionJournal.com 03/06/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 6:02 pm

US Supreme Court Hears Library Internet Censorship Appeal The US Supreme Court hears arguments this week in the US government's appeal of a Philadelphia court ruling that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a violation of the First Amendment. "The law, enacted in December 2000 in part to protect minors from access to Internet pornography, requires schools and libraries to use the filtering software to shield minors from adult material but, because it called for adults to get permission to access certain information, it raised the ire of the civil liberties and library groups. The law also blocked federal funding to libraries that did not install the software." dcinternet.com 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 4:18 pm


DVD Burners - What, Me Worry? DVD recorders are here. But the movie industry doesn't seem to be greatly concerned. "The reason? Hollywood has learned from the piracy woes of its music-industry cousins. Unlike music CDs, DVD movies have encryption codes that make them almost impossible to burn. And the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has aggressively prosecuted pirates like Norwegian teenager "DVD John" Johansen, who publicized on the Net the copyright-protection code of a range of DVDs." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/05/03
Posted: 03/05/2003 3:55 pm

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