• I’ve been meaning to link to this post by Chloe Veltman for some time now:
A group of six theatre people in San Francisco–Rob Avila (theatre critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian), Mark Jackson (director and co-founder of Art Street Theatre), Beth Wilmurt (actor, singer and co-founder of Art Street Theatre), John Wilkins (co-founder of Last Planet Theatre), Kimball Wilkins (ditto) and myself–had been mulling over how to get people within the community to talk to one another more. We wanted to inject a bit of fun and much-needed glamor into the local arts scene and make people reconnect with the reasons behind why they do their work and what it means in terms of the world at large.
So we decided to hold a Theatre Salon. We invited around 40 performing arts people including directors, actors, producers, critics etc to a gathering at Last Planet Theatre. John and Kimball spearheaded an amazing feast. Somehow we managed to cook a five-course, sit-down meal for everyone as well as coordinate entertainment….
It’ll be interesting to see how these developing relationships with the people I write about as a critic affect my writing. I think that it can only nourish it for I always get a better understanding of the culture from talking to people about their work. I do not subscribe to the New York Times philosophy of criticism that says critics need to keep their distance from artists in order to remain objective. There is no such thing as objectivity. I have always been able to write honestly about artists I know. The reason this is possible is because I wouldn’t be interested in hanging out with and getting to know anyone whose work was mediocre or who didn’t have the intelligence to understand that my words as a critic–both positive and negative–essentially come from a place of love and respect. I believe this state of affairs makes it possible for me to both write honestly and engagingly about theatre.
I agree on all counts–and I wish I’d been there.
• Four years ago I posted the following reminiscence:
Back when I was a wee thing, one or two light years ago, an extremely smart smartass who edited the “Goings On About Town” section of The New Yorker got tired of writing new capsule summaries of The Fantasticks, which by that time had been running off Broadway since shortly before the birth of Christ. Much the same problem had manifested itself years before: Robert Benchley, who used to be The New Yorker‘s drama critic, got equally tired of writing capsule summaries of Abie’s Irish Rose, the Fantasticks of the Thirties, and started coming up with cute one-liners like “No worse than a bad cold.” Forty years later, Mr. Anonymous Smartass approached the problem differently. In place of summaries, he serialized Ulysses…one sentence at a time.
None of my readers remembered this, and I began to wonder whether I’d dreamed it. Now Ms. Emdashes has confirmed my vague recollection. Scroll down and read all about it.
• Speaking of magazines, the entire run of Time is now available on the Web in freely searchable form. To go hunting in the stacks, Google the phrase “Time magazine,” followed by whatever you want to look up. It’s positively astonishing what the editors of Time considered publishable once upon a time, as you’ll discover by going here and here. (If you’ve never heard of the man mentioned in the second story, go here and sample his wares.)
• Courtesy of Ms. Asymmetrical Information, you can now see Salvador Dali’s appearance as the mystery guest on What’s My Line? by going here.
• This you’ve got to see. (Who on earth put it together?)
• Still more video: go here to watch Jim Hall, the greatest living jazz guitarist, playing “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” in 1964…
• …and here to watch Bud Powell playing “Get Happy” in 1959. (That’s Kenny Clarke on drums.)
• Not quite for pianists only: this site contains PDF files of transcribed sheet-music versions of all of Vladimir Horowitz’s piano arrangements, none of which he ever published. The transcribers took them down note for note from Horowitz’s recordings. No, you can’t play them, not unless you have eleven or twelve fingers, but they sure are interesting to see.
• Here’s a newly posted audio snippet of the speaking voice of G.K. Chesterton.
To hear Chesterton read one of his poems, go here.
• Courtesy of Maud, here’s another audio file of the speaking voice of an eminent Edwardian, W. Somerset Maugham. It comes from the soundtrack of Quartet, which was broadcast last week by Turner Classic Movies.
(Incidentally, if you know the URL of a similar online audio file of Max Beerbohm, please drop me an e-mail at once!)
• Finally, DVD Journal has a “Missing in Action” list of films that have yet to be released on DVD (or were available at one time but subsequently withdrawn). Readers are invited to submit their picks, and I did so. Can you guess which one is mine?