Andy Slept Here

Plans are afoot to renovate and restore the Pittsburgh home inhabited by a young Andy Warhol and his family. The house is in “terrible shape,” and no one seems even to know who, if anyone, owns it. Even restored, it would likely not fetch much of a price. Still, Warhol’s brother and his partners are hoping that the artist’s name will be enough to spark interest in preserving the structure.

Many A Tale To Tell

“For Hans Christian Andersen, life wasn’t so much a fairy tale as a nightmare. Or so it seems. Though he was Denmark’s most famous literary son, and a prolific author in many genres, Andersen never fully revealed himself. Today, 200 years to the day after he was born, Andersen remains something of a mystery. But he has also become an indelible feature of global culture… Now, to celebrate the occasion, more than 3,000 events have been organized around the world,” and the reexamination of the cobbler-turned-storyteller’s legacy turns up an interesting idea. “As it turns out, Andersen is one of those figures who may be better suited to the 21st century than he was to the 19th.”

Advertising That Pretends It Isn’t

As consumers grow more and more weary of a marketing-driven culture and become more inclined to tune out commercial messages, advertisers are getting seriously creative in their efforts to move product. In fact, the new breed of (usually) satirical ads look more like short films than product pitches, and some lucky companies have succeeded in making their brand not only a household name, but a cultural milepost. “Humor is the best way to cut through the multichannel clutter in the age of cable and satellite TV,” and the most successful of the new ads are “simply co-opting images television viewers are bombarded with daily.”

Infotainment Comes To The Sports World

Sports are beloved by fans largely because of the opportunities they present for dramatic finishes, for those heart-in-your-throat moments of great success and even greater failure. One of the greatest sports cliches is “You couldn’t have scripted it any better.” But of course, you usually could have, and the entertainment industry does so on a regular basis. Perhaps as a result of the inherently similar qualities of drama in sports and in entertainment, the line between the two worlds has blurred considerably in recent years. “Sports events are more and more about the personalities and subplots… Meanwhile, entertainment has become all about competition.”

Spring Forward, For No Good Reason At All

Well, here we are again, Daylight Savings Time, and for what? For whom? Nobody knows, it would seem, and those who think they do are almost invariably wrong. Daylight Savings is there to help farmers? Nope. They hate it. Foisted on the nation by a meddling, monolithic federal government? Not true, either. “The custom rests on an illusion: that we are doing something to time — yielding an hour in the spring, recovering it in the fall. Of course, it’s not so.” And as with so many wacky ideas firmly entrenched in the American mind, this one can be traced back to that king of deep thoughts and strange utterances, Benjamin Franklin.

The Andersen Filter

A lust for lasting fame drove Hans Christian Andersen above all else, a dream that seemed far-fetched at the time. But Andersen’s fairy tales hid deeper meanings that ensured his celebrity would last far beyond his lifetime. “It is almost impossible to experience certain situations without running them through a subliminal Hans Christian Andersen filter and coming up with a succinct, acerbic take. Your co-worker who is forever dissatisfied with the adjustments on her ergonomically impeccable chair? Yes, she’s the Princess and the Pea. The president from not-your-political-party is touting his new plan for the budget/war/economy/environment? More emperor’s new clothes, you snort… These are handy concepts.”

Muti Quits La Scala

Riccardo Muti has resigned as musical director of Milan’s La Scala opera house, following months of bitter recriminations and behind-the-scenes power struggles. The announcement comes weeks after the musicians and staff of La Scala called publicly for the 63-year-old conductor to be ousted. Muti had been the face of Italy’s most famous opera house since 1986.

No Foghorn Required, Presumably

This weekend, on the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, “artist Michael Pestel performed improvisational tunes while seated at a baby grand piano, floating on a section of a dock going down the back channel of the [river]. The performance art, which lasted about an hour, was videotaped… for showing during an exhibition that will open Friday at Chatham College, where Pestel is an assocate professor.” The event was inspired by composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, who once wrote of dreaming such a scene. Was it particularly groundbreaking? A window to a new breed of performance and/or photographic art? No, not really. But you’ve gotta see this picture.