An Instrument Crisis

“The cost of good violins has risen faster than the price of houses, leaving new talent dependent on wealthy relatives or admirers to find them an instrument of equal pedigree. Not necessarily a Stradivarius, which starts at a million-plus, but the product of an 18th century Italian or French master workshop that best suits their character and capability.”

Art Market As Perfect Storm

“Once upon a time, the market and the scene (clubiness, chicanery, and profligacy notwithstanding) were joined and reflected social, political, and sexual change. Now the market is only in service of itself. The market is a perfect storm of hocus-pocus, spin, and speculation, a combination slave market, trading floor, disco, theater, and brothel where an insular ever-growing caste enacts rituals in which the codes of consumption and peerage are manipulated in plain sight.”

“Idol” Gets Biggest Fox Ratings Ever

Fox’s debut of American Idol draws 37 million viewers. “It was Fox’s most-watched series or season premiere ever, climbing 5 percent compared with last season’s already stratospheric figure. The final half-hour logged a stunning 40 percent share of 18- to 49-year-olds watching TV at that time, the kind of statistic virtually never seen in an era of rampant media fragmentation.”

Metal Underfoot

UK metal detector enthusiasts find plenty of old artifacts. “The culture minister, David Lammy, yesterday called metal detectorists ‘the unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage’, a phrase that will cause a sharp intake of breath among some archaeologists who still regard them as little better than legalised looters.”

Record Companies: Digital Doesn’t Make Us Whole

“Record companies’ digital sales jumped to $2bn (£1bn) in 2006 from $1.1bn a year earlier and continued to take market share, according to the latest update from the global industry group IFPI yesterday. Downloads to mobile phones, computers and music players now make up a tenth of global music sales but as sales of physical formats such as CDs continue to fall, digital has not come to the rescue.”

The Great City Builder

“Our New York is Robert Moses’s New York. He built 13 bridges, 416 miles of parkways, 658 playgrounds, and 150,000 housing units, spending $150 billion in today’s dollars. If you are riding the waves at Jones Beach or watching the Mets at Shea Stadium or listening to “La Traviata” at Lincoln Center or using the Triborough Bridge to get to the airport, then you are in the New York that Moses built.”