Ballard: Why I Turned Down The Queen’s Honor

Why did writer JG Ballard recently turn down an honor from the Queen that would have made him a Commander of the Brtitish Empire? “It goes with the whole system of hereditary privilege and rank, which should be swept away. It uses snobbery and social self-consciousness to guarantee the loyalty of large numbers of citizens who should feel their loyalty is to fellow citizens and the nation as a whole. We are a deeply class-divided society.”

The Power Struggle Behind The Freedom Tower

The uneasy agreement between Daniel Libeskind and David Childs that resulted in the new Freedom Tower design unveiled last Friday was “the result of a whirlwind of intense, sometimes fiery meetings over the course of the last week. During most of that time, staffers from studio Daniel Libeskind were banned from the 40 Wall Street offices of [Skidmore, Owings and Merrill,] where the two camps had been working. As a result, both sides were barely speaking to one another.” In fact, Skidmore staffers accused Libeskind employees of “a Watergate-style break-in,” with Libeskind’s camp accusing of David Childs of intentionally diverging from the agreed-upon framework for the design. All in all, it’s something of a wonder that a design was ever agreed upon.

Judge: Miami Beach Streets Go To Artists

Artists can perform where they want now in Miami Beach. “Miami Beach has lost a significant round in its years-long effort to regulate street performers. Last month, a judge declared unconstitutional a city ordinance limiting performers and artists to 11 locations throughout the city. Under the ordinance, only two performers are allowed at each location, chosen by lottery every three months from scores of applicants.”

American TV’s Clutter Grows

Promos, ads and other filler has proliferated on American TV. “According to a recent report in Media Life, an online magazine, the major networks now offer one minute of “clutter” for every two minutes of legitimate entertainment during prime time. Or put in another context, the Big Four (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) air about 52 minutes of commercials and promotional material during three hours of prime time. This is up 8 percent from 2000 and a whopping 36 percent since 1991.”

The Dirt On The High-Kicking Rockettes

A former Rockette dishes up the backstage dirt about the Christmas show. Stories about “the vodka-soaked pineapple chunks the dancers pop as they come onstage, the stagehands with fake salamis down their pants, and the endless chattering on stage, about sales at Macy’s, during the Toy Soldiers number. ‘You’re 30 yards away from the audience. There’s a lot going on that nobody hears or sees.’ That would include the camel dung, regularly deposited by the animal talent during the manger scene. (What are you gonna do, fire the camel?)”

French Film Award Judges Get Self-Destructing DVD Screeners

Voters for the French Cesar film awards will be getting DVD copies of the movies that self-destruct. “The DVD of Gus Van Sant’s film Elephant turns black and becomes unusable with two days of being played, reports industry website Screen Daily. The DVDs, which are designed to be disposable, will be sent to members of France’s Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema, said the report.”

Why Is Music Just A Commodity?

“Seldom, it would appear, is music simply thought of or enjoyed as music anymore. It’s a commodity, a type of virtual contraband, the “sport” at the centre of cutthroat, Olympian competitions. Even the sense of community that a shared love of music is supposed to bring people has been supplanted by a pitched us-against-them mentality between the recording industry and the hordes of downloaders it longs to drag into court.”

Cooper-Hewitt – In Need Of A Makeover

The struggling Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York has plans to give itself a makeover. “Some in the design field say a rethinking is long overdue, but they remain skeptical about the museum’s ability to pull it off, given its recent history. ‘Under director Paul Thompson the museum has the same blurry identity it has always had. There’s still no strong thread holding it together’.”