Category: Art

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...

The Joy of Abetting Others

As an author and musician, I’m usually concerned about the humble goods I bring to the cultural marketplace. After I’ve written or recorded, doing the best I can to say whatever it is I’m trying to say, my quotidian worries revolve around selling the wares, earning enough money to have the luxury and privilege of...

The Hipness Equation

This past weekend in Los Angeles, where consumers of popular culture and art probably have more choices than any place in the world except New York City, we had a rematch between Genius and More of the Same, and More of the Same won again.  At the Jazz Bakery, Mark Murphy, one of the most...

Ella Fitzgerald: An Appreciation

Last week, the singer Ella Fitzgerald would have been 90. More than a dozen of Los Angeles’s finest musicians and singers, led by the renowned vocalist Barbara Morrison, congregated at the Musician’s Union in Hollywood to honor a woman who has touched and inspired everyone with functional ears. We heterogeneous Americans usually gather in large...

In the Company of Genius?

This past week I’ve had the honor of producing an album for FreeHam Records, the little record company I own. I’ve lived inside the control room of a studio in Hollywood, listening closely to what the musicians are playing and making sure their most stirring creations are captured properly on a computer disk. My job...

Astonishing Talent, Astonishing Anonymity

At the annual International Association of Jazz Educators conference, held this past weekend in New York City, one could wander through acres of hotel ballrooms filled with musicians of all ages, colors, and nationalities. And no matter what room one entered, even those chosen randomly or by mistake, one was confronted with so much talent,...