Category: Art

Joy and Its Absence

On a hot Saturday night in the provinces, two handsome young lovers made their nuptial vows at a Christian church in front of family and friends, as is the custom. But at this wedding, unlike every other I’ve attended, the preacher harangued and scolded and pretended to cry, careful, it seemed, to inject the proceedings...

Jazz Competitions, In and Out of the Marketplace

One of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, a cat named Thelonious Monk, the pianist and composer of countless jazz standards, including “Round Midnight” and “Well, You Needn’t,” left behind, among other things, a brilliant son (the drummer, T.S. Monk), a lucrative publishing catalogue, and a legacy of musical encouragement. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz...

Brooding on Death

The remains of my dear friend Ella the dog arrived from the crematorium in a nice fabric-covered box. The ashes themselves were in a plastic freezer bag, which was probably a good thing, since in addition to a fine grey powder there were many pinky-nail-size bone fragments and flakes from the few teeth Ella retained...

Wine, Awards, and Telling the Truth

Not until I started working with a handful of foreign-born musical artists was I aware of the honorific “multi-awarded” — as in, “the recipient of numerous awards.” Good singers (or actors, or authors, or whatever) get an award. Really good ones are “multi-awarded.” The more awards, the better the artist. It’s pretty easy to follow. ...

Tigran

For the past couple of years, musician friends of mine have been telling me about an Armenian pianist who they believe is, variously, “a freak,” “a genius,” and “the next Keith Jarrett.” Since almost nobody but the disgraced Cultural Elite know who Jarrett is, despite his nearly mythic status among jazzheads, being the next him...

Advice for Aspiring Artists

If you want to sell what you create, you must tailor your creativity to the marketplace or have a creative sensibility that, fortuitously, hews closely to the “average” person’s, someone who, thanks to his “average” outlook is probably not an artist. Given the tastes and expectations of most consumers, it’s impossible for David Foster Wallace...

The Morality Trap

A nonprofit arts organization here in Los Angeles — call them “The Org” — recently announced the inauguration of an annual scholarship, named in honor of a deceased colleague, which will aid a deserving student in his college studies. The Org, staffed by well-meaning unpaid volunteers, believes in helping and promoting promising talents, and the...

In Praise of Rhiannon

Living in a culture where the surest way for a woman to achieve notoriety and celebrity is to inexpertly perform fellatio on a homemade sex tape, disingenuously decry its orchestrated release on the Internet, and then snag a “reality show” that broadcasts her inane yammering in excruciating detail, one desperately needs occasional doses of pure...

Tagging

The neighbors down the street, a young couple with a dog, take great care to keep their front yard beautiful. They tend to resplendent white roses, a small menagerie of fruit trees, and flowering shrubs that consistently brighten our bucolic street. They also have a brilliant white stucco wall, about four-feet high that rings their...

How the Media Feeds Us Our Cultural Rations

If you aren’t one of the few members of the Media Club, which regurgitates “stories” dreamed up by public relations professionals, you may be blissfully unaware that the popular culture you consume is driven largely by a system of payola that the practitioners prefer to call “news.” The Sunday Calendar section — or Arts, or...