Friday, January 1, 2010

State of our Union

So, it’s the end of a year, and the beginning of a new one. I haven’t posted anything in awhile, but I think I remember how to do this. I also think that people will be expecting some kind of recap, summary, or list, right? Because I’m supposedly writing to an audience who cares about my opinion on some given subject.
The problem is I’m not.
I’m writing to myself, and while I do care about my opinions, I’m not so filled with hubris that I feel the need to explicate a list of “the best” or “the worst” of anything. I know what I like, and why I like it. So, if someone reading this really does care about my opinions that much, please re-read some of my posts and I’m sure you’ll get a pretty good idea of what art I think you should support
Truthfully, I’m not all that excited by a lot of the newer stuff. I think 2006 will be seen as a better year than 2009. It’s not that I’m nostalgic by nature, it’s that not every year is filled with inspiration.
If 2009 had anything to offer us, it would be lessons. Lesson #1 was given by all the dead celebrities- from Anna Nicole Smith to Heath Ledger, From Michael Jackson to Brittany Murphy, the lesson is that Fame, and the culture of fame kills. I have said before, and I still believe- Fame is like a disfigurement, a disease- a cancer on the human condition. If fame is thrust upon you, my advice is to do whatever you can to avoid it. Otherwise you, too, could very well end up dead at a far too young age with a bedside filled with pills in a dozens forms, while your face, unrecognizable when compared to your genetics, will be photographed a hundred times post-mortem- just so people can comment on your life without caring once about who you might have been. Oh! There’s a recommendation- See Daniel Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. Maybe see it a few times. Realize that it’s not just wrestlers who sacrifice their bodies and their emotional lives just for fame, and you might start to see things the way I do.
Another lesson from 2009- I think this really is the year that the old music industry died. Oh, there’s a death rattle or two, but it’s dead. The system of major labels, and artist-raping deals? Gone. However- the system of independent labels, and playing 200 sweaty bar gigs, and making a modest living at it is gone, too. What is come is downloads, and hobby-musicians, and remixes, and licensing deals.
You know what I think would be the ideal outcome of this? Such a complete glut that making music becomes something that everybody does it. I would love to see a world where people don’t just play a video game called “rock band” but everybody is in a rock band! I’d love to see company jazz bands in place of the company softball team. I’d love it if music took the place of paint-by-numbers and knitting. I think music should really be folk music- it should be the music that folks play, not that they consume like a product. I have heard that the greek plays of antiquity weren’t new stories. What I understand is that these were familiar stories, told and re-told, with the real art being in the re-telling. Well, imagine if we applied that to Art in our age. Ever seen “Be kind, Rewind”? Yes, that’s a start. How about the stuff on Youtube? Starting to see where I’m going? Well- where I want to be is a place where there is no “mass culture” but instead there is a culture of the masses- where Art and culture are actions shared between friends. So, if I have a hope for the new year, it’s that. Maybe 2010 will be the year that people start taking culture and making it their own.

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