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Tuesday, September 20




Ideas

What Good Is Art In Disaster? "Orchestras are starting to program benefit concerts. And at some point, it will seem appropriate for a composer to put perspective to Katrina with a piece that is to this horror in New Orleans what John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls was to 9/11. In the meantime, a Schubert Mass in G won't save lives, a Brahms German Requiem won't comfort the victim, and no artwork will assuage the guilt many may likely feel as the arts season gets under way and we find ourselves slipping into enjoyment mode, even as misery continues for hundreds of thousands of others. For those of us who chronicle culture, that wondrous residue of civilization that plucks immortality from life's daily flotsam and jetsam, the last few years have shaken our idea of permanence." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 9:09 am

Darwin, Doubts, And Desires Why are Americans still debating evolution almost 150 years after Darwin posited it? "A scientific-religious issue is being argued in courts and school boards, as if they ever could settle one's faith in God or what hominid line led to homo sapiens. Which is why Americans are still fighting about this while the rest of the scientific world has moved on. In this political struggle, Darwinians have relied on the courts to bar the unconstitutional use of tax money to teach religion. But in doing so, they have fueled widespread (and often Southern, regional) resentments against "elitist experts" and "activist judges." Creationists, meanwhile, tend to appeal to school boards and the public, knowing they can sway a popular vote. Dallas Morning News 09/04/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 7:57 pm

The Order We Want To Impose On Randomness Okay, so you love the shuffle music feature on your MP3 player. But, like many people, you've grown to suspect that the shuffle isn't very random at all. Turns out it's difficult "for a PC, which is designed to do things in predictable ways, to generate a string of numbers that are statistically random. Try as they might to compile a list of numbers at random, computers frequently spit out digits that have discernible patterns to them." The problem, it turns out, isn't that the programs aren't randomizing my playlists. They are. But our expectations of randomness are statistically inconsistent. Wired 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 7:50 pm

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Visual Arts

I Smithsonian, Land Trader If the art and artifacts business doesn't work out, the Smithsonian ought to consider the real estate business. The Smithsonian has flipped a building it bought and rehabbed, making a huge profit. "The museum bought the property and refurbished it in 1999 for $114 million and had used the nine-story building for office space. It sold for $157.5 million." Washington Post 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:42 am

The Island Circling Manhattan Robert Smithson once dreamed of a floating island that would circle Manhattan. "Thirty-five years after the now-deceased Smithson drew it, his island artwork has become reality: a 150-ton flat-bottom boat full of dirt planted with trees, shrubs and grass. Through Sept. 25, tugboat captain Bob Henry will spend at least 12 hours a day pulling 'Floating Island' up and down the East and Hudson rivers around Manhattan." Los Angeles Times 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:39 am

  • And A Continent Away - The Island In Lake Washington Three Seattle-area artists build and float their own island in the middle of Lake Washington, sranrling traffic on a nearby bridge. "The 15-by-15-foot artwork titled, not surprisingly, 'The Island,' consists of a palm tree and granite-colored foam rocks on sand-colored canvas, as well as crabs, starfish, coconuts and other tropical props. "The only thing missing is Wilson, the volleyball from 'Cast Away'."
    King County Journal (Seattle) 09/20/05
    Posted: 09/20/2005 7:12 am

MFA: Getcher' Galleries Fast! Boston's Museum of Fine Arts announces a schedule for its $500 million expansion. And how is the project being paid for? "Galleries are going fast," museum director Malcom Rogers said. "But I do know, for instance, that the galleries of pre-Columbian art are still available. We also have the major American paintings galleries, where one or two of those are open at the moment. And also, people like to name endowment funds, funds supporting exhibitions, lectures, concerts." Boston Globe 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:00 am

The Da Vinci Code's Real Detective Maurizio Seracini is what Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown calls an "art diagnostician", which is "not a bad description for someone who probes paintings with state-of-the-art-technology, often to advise museums, dealers and collectors on their restoration. One question raised by Mr Seracini's painstaking investigation is why Da Vinci wanted to include such a bloody scene in a nativity painting, and why he - or someone else - thought better of it. But another question, and the one that will fascinate the Dan Brown fans, is what Da Vinci was up to on the other side of the painting in the last area of the panel to be fully rendered by Mr Seracini's technicians. The Guardian (UK) 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 10:40 pm

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Music

Springer Gets Backing To Tour Jerry Springer, The Opera, will make its UK tour after all. "The show seemed doomed when 30% of theatres pulled out after Christian Voice said it would picket venues. The Arts Council of Britain then refused a request to fund the tour. But the theatres have agreed to pool marketing costs and producers Avalon will put 650,000 into the tour." BBC 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 8:27 pm

Wilkins To Lead Orlando Phil Chris Wilkins has been named music director of the Orlando Philharmonic. "For 10 seasons, Wilkins served as music director of the San Antonio Symphony. For the past five years, he has guest-conducted orchestras around the country -- including two stints at the Orlando Philharmonic. Wilkins, 48, will replace much-lauded maestro Hal France, who is leaving the orchestra after this season to pursue other interests." Orlando Sentinel 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 8:12 pm

How The Internet Is Revitalizing The Music Business "The indie-rock surge has been ushered in by an Internet community of music connoisseurs who trade MP3 files and gather to talk music and champion favored bands on blogs and Web sites such as Myspace.com, and write for e-zines such as Pitchforkmedia.com. 'The Internet's role is important because there aren't as many gatekeepers. You can put the music on a Web Site, or on Myspace or the blogosphere and let the fans find it, talk about it and analyze it before radio or MTV even knows it exists. The fans get it first, and that gives them a sense of ownership'." Chicago Tribune 09/18/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 8:06 pm

Another Resignation At La Scala One of the theatre's biggest sponsors has quit the company's governing board. "His resignation follows a decision to hand over the running of the new theatre, the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, to the local authority, the commune of Milan." Gramophone 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 7:39 pm

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Arts Issues

In The US: Science Museums Struggle With Creationist Challenges Science museums and other institutions around America are struggling with how to deal with increasingly aggressive challenges to the theory of evolution. One company, called B.C. Tours "because we are biblically correct," even offers escorted visits to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. Participants hear creationists' explanations for the exhibitions. The New York Times 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 9:00 am

Montreal's Cultural Malaise Is Montreal starving its cultural life? "Montrealers love to mock Toronto's obsession with becoming a 'world-class' city, but they also hate to acknowledge signs that their city is being left behind. Montreal had access to the same kind of funding, and what did it use the money for? New pipes and sewers. The big capital projects in Montreal these days are a pair of hospitals and several academic buildings. Like the sewers, they're needed, but they're also draining money away from the city's cultural base." The Globe & mail (Canada) 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 9:34 pm

IBM Says It Will Finance New Teachers IBM has started a program to financially back any of its employees who want to go into teaching. "The goal is to help fill shortfalls in the nation's teaching ranks, a problem expected to grow with the retirement of today's educators. Math and science are of particular concern to companies in many U.S. industries that expect to need technical workers but see low test scores in those subjects and waning interest in science careers." USAToday (AP) 09/18/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 7:46 pm

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People

Another 25 Geniuses Among this year's 25 MacArthur Genius awardees is conjductor Marin Alsop. "The 11 women and 14 men selected for their creativity and originality range in age from 33 to 66 and also include a violinmaker, a molecular biologist, a sculptor and a laser physicist. All the winners, known as fellows, receive annual checks for $100,000 for the next five years, no strings attached." The New York Times 09/20/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 11:00 pm

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Theatre

John Denver, The Musical? Oh God No! The show's getting a pre-Broadway tryout in San Francisco, and "it's the latest of the Broadway-bound popsicals, those songbook musicals that have been popping up like mushrooms all over the musical theater form." So how's it play? "Well, it's one John Denver tune after another, sung by a cast of six. Diehard Denver fans will miss his uniquely insistent timbre; some may be upset at the ways orchestrator Jeff Waxman has reframed old favorites. Those who consider Denver's voice akin to fingernails on a blackboard will be relieved by the variety of tones and tempos. But it's hard to see why they'd want to attend." San Francisco Chronicle 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:54 am

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Publishing

Find A Book, Leave A Book Bookcrossing is founded on the idea of registering a book, then leaving it somewhere in public for someone else to find and read. The group now has 400,000 participants in 120 countries. "The founders of BookCrossing.com compare their online book club to a virus, one that has reached far-flung places carried by members who heed the philosophy: if you love a book, set it free. One selling point is that it costs nothing to join. Members include literature buffs determined to share their passion or thin out their shelves and travelers who simply love a good book although here the books do most of the traveling." Yahoo! (AP) 09/19/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 7:42 pm

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Media

Watching The CBC Kill Itself The lockout at the CBC has dragged on into its sixth week. And there seems to be no progress in negotiations. "This is nuts. The longer the conflict drags on, the less the chance the sides will come up with a mutually face-saving compromise. Meanwhile, public broadcasting is further imperilled as more and more Canadians learn to live without it. Frankly, I don't know who is sicker about all of this." Toronto Star 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:47 am

Saving The World One Movie At A Time Jeffrey Skoll is a self-described "filmanthropist." The billionaire invests in movies that have a strong message of social change. "The movie is just the beginning. Key to the company's approach is that every film it makes must have a corresponding 'social-action' campaign and an on-line group that people can join, linking them to social-activist groups. All of this makes particular sense in an era where cross-marketing is so popular.
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:34 am

NPR Doubles Audience In Six Years National Public Radio has doubled its audience to 26 million in six years. "While the radio world has contracted in upon itself through consolidated ownership and copycat formats, public radio has only become more distinct, important and valuable. It looms ever larger on the U.S. dial simply as guardian of its niche. It's expanding its news operation at a time when most others are cutting back. It's in the midst of a $15 million, three-year plan to add 45 staffers and open new bureaus, including one in West Africa. But more important, listen to an NPR program for 30 seconds and you know you're listening to NPR." Chicago Tribune 09/16/05
Posted: 09/19/2005 8:04 pm

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Dance

The Hottest Young Dancers Come From... Latin America. "Nearly half of the principal dancers at Ballet Theater and at the Boston Ballet are from Latin America or Spain. Four of the 12 foreign dancers at the New York City Ballet are from Latin America or Spain; one is from Puerto Rico. Principal dancers from Latin America and Spain now outnumber those from former Soviet-bloc countries at the Boston Ballet and the Royal Ballet, and are neck and neck at the San Francisco Ballet. At the Washington Ballet almost 20 percent of the dancers are from Latin America or Puerto Rico." The New York Times 09/20/05
Posted: 09/20/2005 7:23 am

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