More and more academics are getting into blogging. The online journals are a great way to trade information, opine on work in progress and interact with colleagues. “What blogging offers is immediacy. Compared to what we’re all used to in academia, where you submit something and then maybe when you have grandchildren you’ll hear whether it’s going to be published, the immediacy is something that we’re all unaccustomed to. I think a lot of people feel sort of like kids in a candy store.”
“Television is no longer an experience we share with the neighbours, except on such dire occasions. When we gather to drink and mourn and shout idiotically at the screen, it is part of a wider life. At other times in public places, it is merely part of the furniture, a familiar but unobserved accessory, while in the home it has become a utility as plentiful as tap water. All this seems a long way from a working-class Stirlingshire village in June 1953, when there was a sense that the box of tricks had been invented for the purpose of giving ordinary people an access to extraordinary events.”
A production of Shakespeare’s “As You Line It” in New York’s Central Park involves a workout for the audience. “When you enter in at 97th Street and Central Park West and you will be led into Central Park where the play will begin. As you watch the show, the next scene that is about to happen, happens about 50 ft away, and then they are off. The whole audience runs to where the scene is taking place! Every 5-7 minutes. The play moves between 97th St & 100th Street using trees, rocks, benches and even the audience as scenery.”
“Right now, the Billboard Top 10 includes six straight hip hop records (as well as a further two that could be described as strongly hip hop-influenced). Furthermore, hip hop is currently the best-selling musical genre worldwide, outstripping pop, country, rock and any other you can think of. Amazing, eh?”
In its more recent history, the British Museum has been beset with problems, not the least of which being a lack of money to keep the place running as it ought to be. But the weekend, the BMA turned 250 years old, and a party was held to celebrate one of the world’s great museums.
There’s always much interest in which artist gets to represent the US at the Vinnice Biennale. The Guggenheim owns the US pavilion, and it appears Guggenheim director Thomas Krnes tried to steer this choice to Matthew Barney (who wasn’t chosen). “The Art Newspaper has discovered recently that the entrepreneurial director proposed a deal to the State Department, suggesting that his museum have periodic control of the US participation in the Biennale.”
“ ‘It has become clear in recent months that the Board and I have a different sense of the Whitney’s future, in both the scale of its ambitions and the balance of its programming.’ In March the board had cancelled a long-planned expansion by architect Rem Koolhaas, which a disappointed Mr Anderson says, ‘Signals a pace of growth that is different from what I envisioned’.”
Many cities are anxious to have some sort of iconic defining piece of architecture to add to add to their skyline. “This sense of a great city with a vast meeting place at its heart is important. Los Angeles has failed as a place for public spaces, but civic connectedness is something L.A. needs to be a truly great city.” So will Frank Gehry’s new Disney Hall be that building?
Christopher Ondaatje (brother of writer Michael) is endowing a new writing prize to be given annually to the book published in the Commonwealth or Ireland that best evokes a “sense of place.” Ondaatje: “These prizes are important if they are unique or innovative and they spur enthusiasm by writers so that they will strive for it,” Ondaatje says. “It is also good for the book business and the literary world that there is a new prize that generates interest. Finally, it is good for the Royal Society because they are doing something new for them.”
Broadway had a record year at the box office. But “the box-office upturn has not gladdened some local critics. They have seized the occasion of this Sunday’s Tony Awards to bemoan the dearth of serious new work on Broadway: a hackneyed lament. For at least three decades, cost has dictated that challenging drama be based off-Broadway and in America’s regional theatres, where, despite the price of tickets and the distractions of television and the internet, it remains quite robust.”