Two weeks with a dialup connection left me starving for a nice long high-speed blogtroll as soon as I got back to New York. I just pulled my line out of the water, and here’s some of what I fished up:
– Mr. Gurgling Cod quotes one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books:
I have eaten bouillabaisse at Marseilles, its cradle and its temple, in my youth, when I was easier to move, and it is mere belly-fodder, ballast for a stevedore, compared with its namesake at New Orleans!
Guess who? (Hint: his favorite color is yellow.)
– Jonathan Yardley reconsiders another of my favorite books, and finds it better than ever. Me, too:
I came back from my trip with enough money to order me another pair of swans. They are on their way from Miami and Mr. Hood, the incumbent swan, little suspects that he is going to have to share his feed dish. He eats out of a vase, as a matter of fact, and has a private dining room. Since his wife died, he has been in love with the bird bath. Typical Southern sense of reality.
No one else but the party in question could possibly have written that paragraph.
– Everyone I know who cares about the state of American film is talking about this interview with David Thomson, the best of all possible film critics:
I think what we’re talking about here is a much bigger, much sadder problem, which is that the mainstream of American movies has been terribly disappointing in recent years. The question that faces anyone who loves the medium is whether this is a cyclical thing–a passing dip, so to speak–or whether there might be something much more worrying. I notice that the business itself is beginning to get quite anxious about declining attendance: There has been a big drop-off [in ticket sales] this year. And God knows how much bigger it would have been but for the final Star Wars film. If we didn’t have that film–which I think gives a sort of artificial boost to the figures–the first six months of this year would be pretty gloomy. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest two things–which could, in fact, be working [in tandem]: that films don’t mean as much to audiences anymore, and that they don’t mean as much to filmmakers anymore, either….
– On a cheerier note, stop the presses–drive-in theaters are back! Read all about it here.
– Messrs. 2 Blowhards start off with foie gras and end up with this trenchant meditation on an irritating aspect of the American national character:
Perhaps what drives some Americans around the bend is our native tendency to ignore, repress, or deny the aesthetic dimension of life. We debate it. We politicize it. We get literal-minded and pretend not to know what’s being talked about.
Being a gung-ho, hard-charging people, we sometimes exploit the aesthetic dimension. We often seem to want to use the promise of satisfaction and/or transcendence to spur ourselves on. We often prefer not-quite-attaining satisfaction to the actual experience of satisfaction. We take our legitimate yearnings and channel them into self-help, into new products that promise to solve problems, into hard-driving ad campaigns, into fantasies of stardom, and into crazy beliefs ranging from New Age cults to the conviction that somewhere there’s a job that will make me happy. It’s as though we’re determined to frustrate ourselves. We doom ourselves to not making it to where we say we want to be….
I think this also explains a lot about some of the deficiencies of American art at its message-driven worst. Our Puritan strain is never very far below the surface.
– Mr. Playgoer explains why there’s no point in fixing Broadway, least of all by starting a National Theatre…
– …Mr. Modern Art Notes explains how to avoid crowds at the Metropolitan Museum of Art…
– …and Jeff “BuzzMachine” Jarvis (who understands new media better than just about anyone) explains why TV Guide‘s decision to drop local listings is “an important moment in the history of TV, pop culture, and publishing.”
– Speaking of the end of the world, Greg Sandow tells off a classical-music advocate:
A while ago, I heard someone give a keynote speech about classical music, and why it deserves a bigger audience. He was lively, smart, impassioned, witty, a master (among much else) of unstoppable one-liners.
And yet nearly everything he said was wrong. He talked about the superiority of classical music, and about how much our culture needs it. “Everything else is loud!” he said (or words to that effect). We’re mezzo-forte music in a fortissimo culture.” Only classical music, he said, gave people room for thought and reflection.
Which of course isn’t true….
Read the whole thing here, please. It’s a must.
– The apocalypse continues: Ms. Killin’ Time Being Lazy proves her literary snobbery by turning up her nose at amazon.com’s Top 25 Authors. (Talk about depressing lists!)
– Finally, Mr. Rifftides describes a great CD you’ve never heard…
– …and Alex Ross pays a tribute to the late David Diamond, one of America’s least sufficiently appreciated composers, that is a miracle of journalistic compression. It says everything that needed to be said in two crisp paragraphs. Read, then listen.