Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

From the Brave New World

November 23, 2019

I’m glad I got to hear that before I die.

That’s what I told Pat, my wife, immediately as we stood up to join a standing ovation for the Charlotte Symphony last night.

Pat makes all the arrangements, you see, for our concerts and outings and travels and every other adventure we’ve had in the last forty years.

So I thanked her for making it possible for me to hear Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, in live performance, before I pass into eternity.

And I must say that the Charlotte Symphony’s treatment of it, under the guest conducting hand of Ilyich Rivas,  was masterful—very tender and very strong.

     http://www.charlottesymphony.org/

The oboe adagio in the slow second movement fully met my expectations, after having listened intently to the piece probably thirty or forty times as offered by the New York Philharmonic on youtube.

And those trombones in the final cadence did not fail to summon a tear from my eyes, as their vibrantly forthright sounding forth renewed my confidence in human excellence.

During the intermission I read in the program notes about Dvořák’s composition of that symphony—his No. 9—and its premiere performance in New York, in 1893.

DvNewWorld

The Czech composer had been recruited to our (American) National Conservatory of Music in 1892. His mission was to import a little of that Old World excellence to our New World.

And goshdarn! did he do it!

His New World Symphony ranks right up there as some of the greatest symphonic music ever to be composed on this side of the Atlantic. It’s right up there with Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

If you ever have an opportunity to stand in Prague’s Old Town Square and behold Ladislav Šaloun’s statue of Jan Hus, you may catch a  glimpse of the passion that must have driven Dvořák’s resolve to compose such an orchestral masterpiece.

I’m glad I lived to see it.

Since the music was composed in New York City, I will provide here this link to the New York Philharmonic performance of it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HClX2s8A9IE   

In other news of my yesterday. . .

Earlier in the day I had finished reading Andrew Marantz’s excellent book analysis of contemporary alt-right online misadventures:

    https://www.amazon.com/Antisocial-Extremists-Techno-Utopians-Hijacking-Conversation-ebook/dp/B07NTXSP69

And I will offer as a closing thought, a quote from Andrew’s account of what he uncovered in the world of ultra right-wing fanaticism. Toward the end of his research project, Marantz arrived at an eye-opening discovery about the so-called media “gatekeepers” in our mad world of media, formerly on the airwaves ~~~ now online.

Because we do indeed live in a “New World”. . . a world that is continuously renewing itself, sometimes in good ways, sometimes in bad ways.

In the quote below, Andrew Marantz is referring to the “gatekeepers” of our former (20th-century) times. They are primarily the major broadcast networks and news publications that came to dominate our public culture in the postwar 20th-century; but they have in this 21st-century been overtaken by the new superpowers of online media.

You know what I’m talkin’ about.  Their initials are FaceGooAmazTwittetc. One particular CEO of that cartel, the honorable Mr. Z, was recently put on the Congressional hotplate for public inspection.

As Andrew Marantz, the New Yorker writer, neared the end of his alt-right research opus, Antisocial,

  https://www.amazon.com/Antisocial-Extremists-Techno-Utopians-Hijacking-Conversation-ebook/dp/B07NTXSP69

He exposes a raw nerve in this,  our brave new cyberworld, a world in which the outmoded moguls of 20th-century media have been eclipsed by the new titans of 21st-century webdom.

Like it or not, these denizens of the updated corporate Deep must rise to the public surface to accept some responsibility for oversight in the polarizing electronic net that we’ve cornered ourselves into.

Here’s part of what Mr. Marantz has to say about it:

And yet this is the world we live in. For too long, the gatekeepers who ran the most powerful information-spreading systems in human history were able to pretend that they weren’t gatekeepers at all. Information wants to be free; besides, people who take offense should blame the author, not the messenger; anyway, the ultimate responsibility lies with each consumer. Now, instead of imagining that we occupy a postgatekeeper utopia, it might make more sense—in the short term, at least—to demand better, more thoughtful gatekeepers.

It’s a brave new world out there, boobie. Somebody’s gotta be brave, if not them, then who?

Us? But, but, as Pogo once said, long ago in the old media world: we have seen the enemy . . . and he is us!

King of Soul

Is that over the Top?

February 17, 2017

So did you hear the one about the Over the Top President?

No. Don’t think so.

Guy walks into a starbucks . . .

StbxVw

and he says to the barista, “Why do they call the the Donald the ‘over the top’ Prez?”

So the barista says, Ya got me. Why do they call him that?

Cuz he’s over the top of everything!  Haha! You get it?

Uh, I’m not sure. . .

All the so-called chaos that’s going on–he’s right on top of it! You get it?

Uh. . . you mean he’s in charge of it?

Yeah, not to worry, he’s got it under control! It’s just gonna take a while for media people to come around to his take-charge leadership style– he’s actually got it all under his thumb. My cousin Molly says he’s just got a higher tolerance for chaos than most people do, and he feels that it’s, on some level, productive.

Well, that’s comforting.

Yeah! oh yeah. And my other cousin, Gregor, says the Prez may be living in his own world, but millions are right there with him, living right beside him.

Maybe so, Greg, but . . . he seems a little paranoid, like he takes everything personal, even belligerent at times. . . you think he’s stable?

Oh yeah. As a matter of fact, I think he owns a bunch of ’em. I think he’s got some high-quality stables somewhere out there in the hinterlands. . .

Like in flyover country?

Yeah, like I said, he’s over the top.

CloudDapl

Well that’s good to know.

Oh yeah, and he’s got some good people, right on top of the situation, like a good hound on point. You can relax and feel better about it.  So you feel better about him now?

I guess so, as long as all the so-called judges and the so-called reporters and all the other so-called Americans can get used to the way he does things.

Oh yeah. The Prez has got it covered. You can take that to the bank. I mean . . . look around, the stock market agrees, it’s all good, not to worry.

Oh yeah? Sounds like a bunch of bull to me.

No way. Relax. The Prez has got it covered.

Really? Got it covered?

Oh yeah, not to worry. Eventually he’ll get all the leaks stopped; he’ll get ’em covered, and  his people will be running our .gov along like a fine-tuned machine.

I thought machine politics went out with the Democrats.

It did. Well, yeah, their machine went out because we won the election. You realize, of course, we won the election? You did get the news, right? in spite of all the fake news. . .

Fuhgedabowdit.

. . . and the machine will be fine-tuned, like a fine-tuned machine is what he said. Why can’t the Dhemmis and the Media get that through their heads? They need to get with the program.

Excuse me, I just think we are in a struggle for the soul of our democracy here. At least, that’s what my cousin Elijah said.

No way, Hosay! Oh, here’s my Uncle Tom here. What do you think, Tom? Is that over the top?

I don’t know. Let’s ask Steve. Steve, is that over the top?

Oh, no. It’s not over the top at all . . . when you consider his behavior at the press conference, and . . . all the things that are not working, the things that are signs that the administration has not even found its footing yet in Washington. People should be very very concerned about what’s coming next and whether the administration will ever be able to actually govern, which we haven’t seen it do yet. I don’t think there’s anything that’s over the top in terms of what the response would be to this kind of signaling from the chief executive of the United States . . .it’s all really mind-boggling. . . none of us I think has ever seen anything like this . . .

Hey, hey, hey, Steve, relax, man! Take a chill pill. Like candy, man. The candy man can. This ain’t no ratpack; this ain’t no disco, ain’t no jive He’s right on top of it. Not to worry, man. You need to lighten up, man. What you need is a little humor to leaven this heavy-duty trip that the so-called Press is trying to put on you. Let me help you, man. Did you hear the one about the Over the Top Prez?

Uh, no. Don’t think so.

Guy walks into a starbucks and he says to the barista . . .

Glass half-Full

“The Press”

January 24, 2017

Our world was forever changed when, about 577 years ago, Johann Gutenberg devised an effective way to reproduce printed documents. His invention enabled the printer man to apply controlled mechanical pressure to an inked image in a manner that facilitated efficient multiple printings.

When the printer man repeatedy applied “the press” (more about this later) to those blank pages, the world was changed forever.

Gutenberg’s innovation enabled printers to print multiple editions of documents and books. Our Library of Congress recently displayed  a centuries-old Bible that was printed by means of the Gutenberg innovation.

BiblMainz

The printing industry progressed rapidly. It wasn’t very long before books and other documents were being churned out all over the world in great numbers.

Books have changed the world.

Our fascination with the stories, literature and information we find in books has revolutionized the way we live. In the late 1800s, the American artist John Frederick Peto painted this image of a pile of books. His picture, recently displayed in our National Gallery of Art, captures the fascination that I find within those printed pages.

BooksPntg

The spread of printing throughout the globe induced an information revolution that has affected the way we think about, and do, just about everything. As people became more and more literate, news of the times we live in became a larger and larger factor in the ways people think about the world. People in the modern world use news and contemporary information  to inform their decisions, and modify their strategies for living life successfully.

TimesLon'37

News became such an obsessive element in our modern life that large institutions were built for the purpose of informing people about what’s happening in our world.

ChiTrib2

Those massive news-spouting institutions now find themselves being cornered into a different role.  The big picture of 21st-century information dispersal is being turned on its ear by an unruly multiplicity of online mini-sources. This development is along the lines of what George Orwell called the “brave new world.”

Actually, it’s the wild, wild West out there. What we have now is like a million Okies hightailing it across the internet prairie, every one of us hell-bound to claim our little stake of the cyber-dirt that’s now being divvied up for the media of the masses.

Or “dictatorship of the proletariat”, if that’s what rings your chimes.

It used to be that “The Press” was all those journalists and editors who gathered and published the news on a daily basis.

But not any more. Our meaning of “the press” is now something else entirely, and I’m not sure how to define or describe it.

But I do surmise that our new understanding of “the press” has something to with that collective pressure applied by reporters on public spokespersons.

Here’s an example. Sean Spicer, the new White House Press Secretary, argues with The Press about how many people showed up for the inauguration.

PressCon

That’s The Press now, and this disconnect between “us” and “them” is the new “news.”

Lastly, as Uncle Walter might have said:

And that’s the way it is, Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

Glass half-Full