Blogging is a fugitive medium, which is at once its charm and its flaw. I’ve spun some of what I’ve written for “About Last Night” into print-media pieces (and vice versa), but most of it has disappeared into the ether. On the other hand, everything posted on this blog is electronically archived, and I recently spent a sunny afternoon trolling through my postings of the past year. Here are some that caught my eye:
– “In the words of one of the gazillion e-mails I’ve received since opening for business on Monday, ‘Do you realize that once you start blogging, you cease to have a life?’ That’s what a new blogger likes to hear at 1:18 in the morning as he wonders whether he remembered to put in all the serial commas.” (Alias terryteachout.com, July 16, 2003.)
– “I’ve come to feel that as a rule, the thing I do best is point people in the direction of that which and those whom I love. Let somebody else ice Piss Christ–I’d rather spend my remaining hours on earth telling you how beautiful The Open Window is, especially if you’ve never seen it before. In the long run, silence may be the most powerful form of negative criticism.” (Let’s drop the big one (and see what happens), August 6.)
– “If we think a house or painting or photograph or ballet is beautiful, we want it with us always. But the catch is that the more pieces of the past we succeed in preserving, the less space and time we have in which to display and contemplate the present. Too many lovers of art live exclusively in the past. I understand the temptation–I feel it myself–but it strikes me that we have an obligation to keep one eye fixed in the moment, and that becomes a lot harder to do when you’re pulling a long, long train of classics of which the new is merely the caboose. Needless to say, this is a problem without a solution. The only thing you can do is fiddle with the proportions and try to get them right, or at least righter.” (Going, going, September 25.)
– “Somebody (me, I guess) ought to write an essay about how jazz has come to be used as a cultural signifier in films, TV shows, and ads, an infallible indicator of upper-middle-class hipness. That’s part of the reason why a pathbreaking musical statement has become so ubiquitous–but not the biggest part. Kind of Blue, lest we forget, was always popular. It was a hit in 1959, too. Why? Because for all its undeniable radicalism, Kind of Blue is also accessible and memorable. You don’t have to know what modal improvisation is to revel in its spare, lucid textures. You don’t even have to know who Miles, Trane, Cannonball, and Bill Evans were. Yes, they’re doing astounding things–but they don’t hit you over the head with their innovations, or try to tie your ears in knots. The results are simple, beautiful, and new, and the last of these is not the first.” (Kind of omnipresent, October 21.)
– “Above all, blogging is fun. And that’s one thing I don’t get from Jennifer Howard’s eat-your-spinach account of life in the blogosphere: a sense of how much fun we’re all having out here.