Other Arts 2009

Fine writing outside of music but still bearing on music.

Blake Gopnik: "Not a Lotta 'Terra Cotta'"

(Washington Post, December 1, 2009)

Along with New York's Jerry Saltz, Gopnik is the smartest, most thoughtful art critic around now, using reviews to tackle larger, weightier issues that transcend not just a particular exhibit or a genre, but the whole medium of the art world itself. Online for a D.C. exhibition, Gopnik wonders why we huddle around these types of exhibits. Not only does he come up with an answer for art shows, but he might also found a reason why we savor concerts too. "...why were we so happy to be there? It has something to do with an almost primal need for evidence, authenticity and aura. We can read at length about the things we care about -- we often do, for much longer than we'd ever spend in a museum -- but there comes a moment when we want to confront the evidence behind that knowledge, even if we've barely got the skills or time to decipher it."

Alice LaPlante: "Seeking Common Ground in Conversations Can Stifle Innovation and Reward the Wrong People"

(Stanford GSB News, June 2009)

Why being agreeable stops us from talking about esoteric things that could broaden others, and why consensus and popularity triumph over real achievement many times. Definitely something to keep in mind when picking subjects for articles.

Emily White: "The Dumbing Down of Dailies"

(City Arts, January 2009)

What happens when papers keep firing the art scribes who have years or decades of experience? All that accumulated wisdom is then lost to the readership, not to mention the artists who gain some recognition in their columns. Instead, papers just keep trimming and trimming and not always replacing these writers, even though, as White points out, museum goers outnumber sports attendance by a wide margin. No wonder that newspapers are in such a sorry state.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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