When Caleb Byerly was a young Christian missionary in the jungles of the Philippines, the indigenous tribe among which he lived told him about their old, traditional music – which had faded away after a previous generation of missionaries had told them it was profane. “‘I felt that if it was my people who helped destroy this music, my people would be the ones to help redeem it,’ Byerly says. … Based on his restoration work, Byerly and his wife started Evergreen Missions, a non-profit that helps indigenous peoples re-create their lost ancestral music.”
In an excerpt from his book Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for ‘The Simpsons’, writer/producer/showrunner Mike Reiss shares a few of the bits that were just too weird even for this show (or that didn’t make the cut just by happenstance).
If some of the deals seem too good to be true, well—they may just be. Among other offerings with an uncanny resemblance to midcentury design icons (like Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chair, or the Eames Office molded plastic chair), the Poly and Bark Sculpture Coffee Table for $309.99 has raised a few discerning eyebrows.
“One. When it comes to scented candles, you really need to watch it. …
Two. Choose one thing to be terribly, terribly offended by, and be offended by this as opposed to the dozens or possibly hundreds that many of you are currently juggling.
Three. Stand up for what you believe in, as long as I believe in the same thing.”
“Consumers are now, often unconsciously, sorting every media product — from podcasts to magazine stories to video — into three categories: intentional, interstitial, and invisible. The implications of these changes are huge, especially for the people who create what we watch.” Daniel H. Pink makes the case for intentional content (“couch shows” that you make a point to sit and watch) and interstitial content: “programming we use to fill the spaces in our lives — 10 minutes in a grocery store line, 5 minutes waiting to pick up a kid at practice, 35 minutes on a train or bus.”
For many, no defense or condemnation of cultural appropriation is required, because such complaints are almost beyond the realm of comprehension in the first place. Without cultural appropriation we would not be able to eat Italian food, listen to reggae, or go to Yoga. Without cultural appropriation we would not be able to drink tea or use chopsticks or speak English or apply algebra, or listen to jazz, or write novels. Almost every cultural practice we engage in is the byproduct of centuries of cross-cultural pollination. The future of our civilization depends on it continuing. Yet the concept was not always so perplexing.
Even Hollywood agents whose clients desperately want to do deals with the streamer concede overload can be an issue. “The Achilles’ heel of Netflix is that a lot of the content feels very disposable,” one veteran talent rep tells me. “Creators and stars want to feel special, and they want to know the audience is responding to their work.” Netflix content, the agent argues, too often “doesn’t feel as special as it needs to feel.”
As a cultural industry that has long been informed by, and intent on sending messages about, the dispossessed, Broadway has been at the vanguard of the movement to fend off Trump’s more isolationist policies. But it has sometimes taken different roads in getting there, as much preaching unity in the face of divisiveness as using the tools of division itself.
“I have watched the organization, and its signature convening, grow and evolve over time—responding to the field’s changes and the external environment in which we all operate. There have been so many conventions, over so many years, that it’s hard to pull memories out of the haze where they all blend together.”
“He left no diaries. No memoirs. No letters besides the occasional plea for patronage. His most substantial contemporary biography, no more than a few paragraphs in all, reveals little beyond the human capacity for understatement. … The entirety of his known painterly philosophy amounts to six words: to produce ‘die meeste ende die natureelste beweechlickheyt‘ — or ‘the greatest and most natural movement’ — a phrase whose precise meaning remains hotly contested to this day. In the annals of art history, there are those whose stories remain shrouded by the passage of time. And then there is Rembrandt.”
“On Wednesday afternoon, Aran Bell, at just 19, makes an important debut: as Romeo in Kenneth MacMillan’s production of Romeo and Juliet. At Ballet Theater, such a leap for a relatively unknown dancer is rare. Dancers wait — and sometimes really wait — for a featured variation in a full-length ballet. But a lead like Romeo? It’s as if Ballet Theater plucked a page from the casting manual of New York City Ballet, which often throws young dancers into principal parts.”
Joseph Carman: “where are the great prima donna roles of the 21st century? Many of today’s top choreographers concoct ballets with impressive corps de ballets that form dizzying, computer-graphic-like patterns. Numerous male and female soloists grab the audience’s attention and then disappear back into the group. … But are they quick to spotlight those juicy ballerina roles? Not really. To many current choreographers, building a ballet around just one commanding female dancer feels like a moth-eaten method of choreographing. To others, it feels too restrictive.”
“The origin story begins in 2007, when [Orin] Wolf took his wife, who was born in Israel, to the Other Israel Film Festival at J.C.C. Manhattan on the Upper West Side. There was a new Israeli film playing that they wanted to see — The Band’s Visit, a fictional story about an Egyptian police orchestra that gets stranded for a night in an Israeli desert town. Mr. Wolf was, at that point, a producer largely in his dreams.”
In a furious article in The Spectator, the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin wrote, “Drunk on virtue, Penguin Random House no longer regards the company’s raison d’etre as the acquisition and dissemination of good books. Rather, the organisation aims to mirror the percentages of minorities in the UK population with statistical precision. Good luck with that business model. Publishers may eschew standards, but readers will still have some.” The publishing house responded, “We firmly believe that giving a platform to more diverse voices will lead to a greater richness of creativity and stories.”
Refreshing an Old Story
American Ballet Theatre premieres Alexei Ratmansky’s remounting of Harlequinade. … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2018-06-10
Infernal “Heavenly Bodies”: How the Directorless Metropolitan Museum Went Astray
Where’s Max Hollein when we really need him? Several “what-were-they-thinking?” moments jolted me recently at the Metropolitan Museum, reaffirming my belief in a bedrock principle of museum management: … read more
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2018-06-11
Lorraine Gordon, RIP
Lorraine Gordon, who inherited the Village Vanguard after her husband Max died in 1989, remained its proprietor and no-nonsense guiding spirit until her death yesterday in New York. She was 95. … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-06-10
The Sacred Art of John August Swanson
Even as a lifetime religious skeptic, I’ve long been fascinated by artists, writers and other culture-makers who bring religion, spirituality, and related matters into their work. … read more
AJBlog: CultureCrash Published 2018-06-11
“Much effort was required in playing the sixteenth notes. This seems as excessive refinement, and it is recommended that all notes should be rounded up to the nearest eighth note. If this were done, it would be possible to use paraprofessionals instead of experienced musicians.”
In reality, this country would have been better off forgiving the $1.48 trillion in student loan debt held by more than 44 million Americans, rather than going through with the $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations, where the benefits are concentrated at the very top. According to Student Loan Hero’s website, the average student who graduated college with the class of 2017 has close to $40,000 in student-loan debt, up 6 percent from the year before. There’s tremendous evidence this collective debt is holding back not just one generation, but the entire nation.