Monday, August 15

Harvard's musical orgies and more

Pliable at On An Overgrown Path has been digging out some amazing streamed music links, including a Harvard classical station which puts on mammoth musical "orgies" several times a year. These are binges on anything from Bartók to Lennie Tristano to Unsane (a band whose first Peel Session is up there with the best ever recorded).

Pliable also had an earlier post with lots of other links, although perhaps Alex Ross beat him to the Arnold Schoenberg Jukebox.

The Home Office "needs" Omar Bakri

Jon Ronson quips that the Home Office and Omar Bakri Mohammed are "a grouchy old divorcing couple who know they need each other really but are both too petulant to admit it". Hmm. Bit like the way the bad old neocons need Al'Qaeda? We've heard that one before.

Perhaps Ronson does not understand that Omar Bakri's absurdity does not make him any less dangerous. It was absurd of Richard Reid to think he could explode an aeroplane with his shoe, but he nearly succeeded.

Jon Ronson is an entertainer out of his depth and his latest thoughts are not funny.

Friday, August 12

A city in decline, a country on the brink

I enjoyed the comments on this post at 2 Blowhards more than the article they were attached to. A lengthy submission by Benjamin Hemric outlines his memory of the decline of New York from the mid-sixties into the seventies "Taxi Driver" period. I hadn't thought or read much about how that had happened before.

Michael Blowhard himself then chips in with the following:

I moved to Manhattan in 1978. In my first couple of years here, I was mugged twice, pickpocketed twice, and attacked once. The whole place felt like "Blade Runner" -- like it was falling apart, but (from the point of view of an arty kid anyway) still had a few last grimy drops of glamor and juice to be enjoyed. Money and working people were fleeing the place. The punk scene, which I dabbled on the sidelights of, was all about dancing on the abyss, enjoying the moments before the Final Collapse.

The contemporary punk scene in the UK could surely be described in the same way. And of course, punk in the UK was initially modelled on the Ramones, Television, Patti Smyth, CBGBs and so on - a city in decline inspiring a country on the brink.

Monday, August 8

The death of the editor?

In a Guardian piece about the book industry, Blake Morrison writes that "editing has had its day". He is very persuasive about the important role of the editor, but I could have done with more on the claim that these days, editors are simply too busy to edit. If time is money and money is time, how could have the bygone editors of Grub Street have been less busy?

Friday, August 5

The anti-Midas touch

There was no shortage of faint praise for Sir Edward Heath when he passed away recently. But it was only when I was catching up on the blog of the Social Affairs Unit that I came across this: the most entertainingly mean obituary yet.

Thursday, August 4

Stuck on a train with Haydn

Ivan Hewett won't be buying an iPod. He tried a CD Walkman once and didn't like it.

Classical music doesn't belong in this private, mobile space. It was created in a space that's vanishing - the public space of churches, libraries, debating societies and concerts. That's the real reason it's so hard to listen to it on a Walkman or an iPod.

Reading his piece, I feel guilty that nearly all my listening is done using classical music as background music only. In my listening, I feel inferior to Ivan Hewett. I do not sit quietly night after night listening to music any more than I spend night after night single-mindedly reading the books I'm suppposed to read. But I will continue to listen in my amateurish and half-hearted way, to classical music on my iPod.