Archives for February 2006
“My secretary has been very good in reading to me out of working hours, more serious matters finished. We began yesterday Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves which makes me roar. That chap is master of a light rather original slang that makes life joyous when all the carbonic acid gas seems to have fizzled out of it. Few benefactors can be compared with him.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., letter to Lewis Einstein (Feb. 8, 1931)
If you’re listening to Hello Beautiful!, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to “About Last Night,” a 24/5 blog hosted by artsjournal.com (we don’t usually post on weekends, but we’re making an exception today) on which I write about the arts in New York City and elsewhere, aided and abetted by Laura Demanski, who writes from Chicago.
At this moment Laura is in the studios of WBEZ-FM in Chicago, talking with Edward Lifson, the host of Hello Beautiful! I’m sitting at my desk in the office of my apartment on the Upper West Side of New York City, taking part in the conversation via cellphone. As Edward suggested, I’m putting up a post in real time during the show (typing with one hand and holding my cellphone in the other) in order to demonstrate the immediacy of blogging.
If this is your first visit to “About Last Night,” our postings of the past seven days are visible in reverse chronological order on this page. Mine start with “TT,” Laura’s with “OGIC” (which stands for “Our Girl in Chicago,” her online nom de plume). In addition, the entire contents of this site are archived chronologically and can be accessed by clicking “ALN Archives” at the top of the right-hand column.
You can read more about us, and about “About Last Night,” by going to the right-hand column and clicking in the appropriate places. You’ll also find various other toothsome features there, including our regularly updated Top Five list of things to see, hear, read and otherwise do, links to my most recent newspaper and magazine articles, and “Sites to See,” a list of links to other blogs and Web sites with art-related content. If you’re curious about the arty part of the blogosphere, you’ve come to the right site: “Sites to See” will point you in all sorts of interesting directions, and all roads lead back to “About Last Night.”
As if all that weren’t enough, you can write to either one of us by clicking the appropriate “Write Us” button. We read our mail, and answer it, too, so long as you’re minimally polite. (Be patient, though. We get a lot of it.)
The only other thing you need to know is that “About Last Night” is about all the arts, high, medium, and low: film, drama, painting, dance, fiction, TV, music of all kinds, whatever. Our interests are wide-ranging, and we think there are plenty of other people like us out there in cyberspace, plus still more who long to wander off their beaten paths but aren’t sure which way to turn.
If you’re one of the above, we’re glad you came. Enjoy. Peruse. Come back Monday…and bring a friend. The easy-to-remember alternate URL is www.terryteachout.com, which will bring you here lickety-split (as, of course, will the longer address currently visible in your browser).
We return you now to Hello Beautiful!
UPDATE: We had a ball. If you missed us and want to listen in, go here–the program will be archived at some point in the next few days, after which you can listen to it online whenever you like.
From the Associated Press’ Don Knotts obituary:
The show [The Andy Griffith Show] was on the air from 1960 to 1968, and was in the top 10 of the Nielsen ratings each season, including a No. 1 ranking its final year. It is one of only three series to bow out at the top: The others are I Love Lucy and Seinfeld.
I didn’t know that, and it’s more than just a trivia question: it says a lot about how America has changed since 1960. For one thing, no network would now think of giving the green light to a low-keyed sitcom about life in a more or less idyllic southern town. What’s more, that kind of long-term popularity has become increasingly rare in TV–and the Nielsen ratings are themselves far less significant than they were in 1960, now that cable TV and time shifting have become ubiquitous and series television must compete with so many other forms of electronic entertainment. When I was young, everybody I knew watched The Andy Griffith Show. Today there are no TV shows that “everybody” watches, and no movies that everyone has seen. Indeed, the American film industry is about to devote its annual prime-time infomercial to celebrating five movies that most Americans haven’t seen, don’t plan to see, and couldn’t even if they wanted to (at least not until they come out on DVD).
None of this is good or bad, merely different, but for a person born in 1956–even one who has kept a fairly close eye on postmodern culture–it’s definitely disorienting. And I think it explains why so many people my age have been starting Web sites devoted to Andy Griffith-vintage TV. Of course we’re feeling nostalgic for our lost youth, just as our parents felt nostalgic about big-band music. But it’s not just that we miss those old shows, and the simpler world view they collectively epitomized: we also miss the fact that they gave us something in common, something to talk about besides the weather. We all know who Don Knotts is, which is why it made us so sad to hear of his death (and why the obituary of a second banana got so much play on the evening newscasts, which are mostly viewed by older people). What percentage of us can recall the name of anyone who competed on American Idol two years ago?
Our Girl and I have lately found it hard to write a post that doesn’t mention Philip Larkin, perhaps because he so accurately foresaw so many of the ways in which the world would change under the aspect of postmodernity. Now I find myself thinking of this stanza from a Larkin poem called MCMXIV:
Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word–the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.
Our Girl and I are taking to the airwaves this Sunday morning. We’re appearing (so to speak) on Hello Beautiful!, the weekly series about the arts broadcast by WBEZ-FM, Chicago’s public-radio station. We’ll be discussing the effects of the Web on art and culture with Edward Lifson, the show’s host (who recently launched his own blog), and Lynn Becker and Barbara Koenen, the proprietors of two Chicago-based Web sites about the arts.
Our portion of the show starts at 11:06 EST (that’s 10:06 CST). If you live in the Chicago area, tune in 91.5 FM. If not, you can listen online via streaming RealAudio by going here and clicking on the “Live Webcast” link in the upper left-hand corner of the page.
If you can’t join us tomorrow, Sunday’s episode of Hello Beautiful! will be archived here, allowing you to listen at your leisure.
See you on the radio!
Today is Friday–time once again for my weekly Wall Street Journal drama-column teaser. I have fulsome things to say about two new musicals, one on Broadway (The Pajama Game) and one off (I Love You Because).
Here’s the scoop:
Broadway got what it needed last night: a bulletproof revival of a popular musical. The Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “The Pajama Game,” starring Harry Connick Jr., is as close to ideal as the snippiest critic could hope for. The staging is a knockout. The sets and costumes are good-looking. The cast is uniformly appealing–and everybody knows how to sing. Mr. Connick even bangs out a foot-stomping piano solo on “Hernando’s Hideaway,” the burn-the-house-down second-act showstopper.
Saving Mr. Connick’s illustrious presence, the real star of the show is the woman behind the scenes. Kathleen Marshall has now officially proved herself to be a high-voltage choreographer-director in the Jerome Robbins-Bob Fosse mold. (Appropriately enough, she tips her hat to Fosse, who choreographed the original “Pajama Game” in 1954, with a slinky, derby-topped version of “Steam Heat.”) Like her 2003 revival of “Wonderful Town,” Ms. Marshall’s dance-filled production brings the whole stage of the American Airlines Theatre to pulsing, vibrant life….
If you can’t get into “The Pajama Game,” or can’t stomach Broadway’s extortionate ticket prices, allow me to direct your attention downtown, where “I Love You Because” is playing at the Village Theatre. Billed as “a modern-day musical love story,” this gender-swapping update of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is everything an Off Broadway mini-musical (six players, one set) should be. Farah Alvin, the best young musical-comedy singer to come along in years, plays Marcy Fitzwilliams (get it?), an arty, free-spirited photographer who can’t quite bring herself to go for the buttoned-down Austin Bennet (Colin Hanlon). Stephanie d’Abruzzo, who created the role of Kate Monster in “Avenue Q,” is similarly winning as Diana, Darcy’s spunky sidekick, who has a fling with Austin’s brainless brother (David A. Austin), then falls in love in spite of herself….
No link. Why be cheap? Buy a copy of the Friday Journal–it’s only a buck. Or go here to subscribe to the Online Journal, which will provide you with instant access to the full text of my review, plus lots more art-related coverage.
“I am still half living in the world of my Fourth [Symphony].–This one is quite fundamentally different from my other symphonies. But that must be; I could never repeat a state of mind–and as life drives on, so too I follow new tracks in every work. That is why at first it is always so hard for me to get down to work. All the skill that experience has taught one is of no avail. One has to begin to learn all over again for the new thing one sets out to make. So one remains everlastingly a beginner! Once this used to make me anxious and fill me with doubts about myself. But since I have understood how it is, it is my guarantee of the authenticity and permanence of my works.”
Gustav Mahler, letter to Nanna Spiegler, Aug. 18, 1900 (courtesy of House of Mirth)
Our Girl and I asked a couple of weeks ago whether you thought it would be a good idea for us to prune “Sites to See,” our blogroll. You responded in the affirmative (overwhelmingly, for the record). We’ve started paring it down, and we’ll continue to do so in the weeks and months to come.
No doubt some good blogs will slip through the cracks along the way. Alas, that’s in the nature of things: there are millions of blogs out there in the ‘sphere, there’s only so much room in the right-hand column, and most of our readers say that “Sites to See” will be more useful to them if it’s trimmed to a manageable length.
Thanks to all who responded.