Re: so I'm confused

luke jaeger (
Thu, 19 Jun 1997 16:15:09 -0400

> How bout those who are moved by Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond or
> Michael
> Bolton. Or those who think Kenny G is the ultimate in Jazz saxophone.
> THere
> experience is valuable to them. Is that all that matters - is that all
> we
> need to know to have further discussion?

last time I checked nobody was presenting Kenny G, Barry Manilow, Neil
Diamond, etc as serious artists or innovators - except perhaps for the
hacks who work for the media outlets which are owned by the same
companies that own Kenny G etc, whose job it naturally is to tout their
product. Even these cheeseballs are preaching to the converted however -
I doubt that anyone "acquires a taste for" Kenny G because they read a
good review of his records. There has always been schlock and there
always will. The conceptual and verbal "tools" for dealing with schlock
have been around for a long time and in my opinion they still work
fairly well, despite the many ways in which pop and high culture have
invaded each other's turf over the last 50 years or so. Ever since I
started living a relatively TV-free life (we only get 2 channels out
here in Western Mass, and one of them's PBS) I've found it increasingly
easy to tell the difference. I recommend this highly to anyone who
suffers from the "swelling, itching brain" problem which so often
afflicts artists.
> I have a term I call "cultural pollution". "toxic culture" ... TO me,
> John
> TEsh performing on the piano is like eating a week old oscar meyer ham
> and
> cheese at 7-11 out of the microwave. It isn't real food, it isn't
> nutritious or healthy nor does it foster anything good. But lots of
> people
> will spend money and eat the stuff and even say ti tastes good?

Well, just take comfort in the fact that:

a) they're not out shooting at each other (or you) with automatic

b) rancid-salami-like as the material may be, at least the John Tesh
fans are contributing to the survival of the idea of "going to a
concert." Anything that helps prevent the total extinction of
"concertgoing" skills is better than nothing.

c) John Tesh's audience will be the next generation of the ignorant,
closed-minded, consumerist, self-righteous bourgeoisie, and some tiny
percentage of their kids will be dissatisfied, and some tiny percentage
of THAT minority will find a creative outlet for their frustrations, and
many good bands, zines, comics, etc, will result. It seems to be a sad
fact that periods of Official Narrow-mindedness are necessary for
cultural growth.

> AM I an elitist? Am I just one guy with one opinion?

I don't know, Rick . . . how many of you are there? (JOKE!!! JOKE!!!)

We're all elitist on this mailing list. If you can read and write, you
are ipso facto a member of an elite. Besides we're talking about some
pretty arcane stuff here - "post-serialism" and "the post-1945 European
schools" is greek to me, overeducated as I am (OK, so I went to art
school not music school). but the point is that these topics are only
going to be of interest to a very small number of people, and I'm sure
that was just as true in the glory days of public arts funding.
(whenever that was)

The effort to educate the great unsophisticated masses is bound to be
full of frustrations. I don't have any great solution up my sleeve, by
the way, so don't think I'm advising you to give it up, if that's what
you want to do. But I also suspect that even the most rudimentary "music
and art appreciation" program in elementary schools does more good
overall than any amount of high-profile Big Project Funding.