Friday, February 27, 2009

Make New Friends

Want to meet new and interesting people?

Get a new phone number. Any number will do. You'll be inundated with calls from creditors looking for the person who used to have your number.

Lots of fun. And when they keep calling, you can have even more fun messing with their minds.

Hours of entertainment. Trust me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yeah. What He Said.

Sylvester, J.J. (1814 - 1897)

"So long as a man remains a gregarious and sociable being, he cannot cut himself off from the gratification of the instinct of imparting what he is learning, of propagating through others the ideas and impressions seething in his own brain, without stunting and atrophying his moral nature and drying up the surest sources of his future intellectual replenishment."

Thoughts on the Arts

I posted this elsewhere, but it's worth repeating.


In a recent editorial regarding the recently-passed stimulus package, our local newspaper intoned thusly:

"One version of the bill had about $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts to help cultural institutions. ... Shouldn't that act be about putting back to work the 2.6 million people that the Labor Department says lost their jobs last year? With so many other appropriations in this bill, it's hard to tell.

"For New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians, the $6.5 billion those states are estimated to receive needs to be spent so that people can go back to work or at least keep their jobs."

I don't like to wade into politics here, but I'm going to make an exception. I don't have a problem with discussing the distribution of government (i.e., "our") money and the appropriateness of various types of spending, particularly as it relates to something as large and important as the proposed stimulus package. What I do have a problem with is the perception that spending on "The Arts" is akin to throwing money down a bottomless pit, or that it somehow only benefits the elite .

An Op-Ed piece in the Indianapolis Star spewed this nonsense: "True to form, Congress has loaded the [bill] with hundreds of billions in wasteful spending. The bill includes ... $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. None of these proposals would create jobs or boost our economy. They're just old-fashioned waste"

Predictably, the National Review chimed in as well: "The National Endowment for the Arts, for example, is in line for $50 million, increasing its total budget by a third. The unemployed can fill their days attending abstract-film festivals and sitar concerts."

I own and operate a small business that makes a substantial portion of my income from this very kind of so-called "wasteful spending". I've produced a DVD and taken photographs that were part of a museum exhibit, I've videotaped interviews that document important parts of our county's history, and I've been hired by government agencies and artists alike to document other arts-related projects from parades to poetry readings.

The Arts are an important part of a vibrant community. My town just spent $17 million on a substantial renovation to a historic Center for the Performing Arts. That money went to contractors, painters, artists, and resulted in a premier theater, one of the finest of its kind in the region or, for that matter, the state. I'm there regularly to videotape performances and shows...all of which pump much-needed money into the local economy.

It's not about "the unemployed attending sitar concerts". That kind of derisive attitude reflects the worst kind of class warfare and arrogance. A culture is largely defined by its ties to its artist community. From cave paintings to Roman Grafitti to Shakespeare's Globe Theater to modern-day Broadway, the arts are an important and integral part of any thriving community.

Again, we can and should have a debate about where we spend precious taxpayer dollars. But let there be no doubt about it: Spending on the arts is not wasted spending. I can honestly say that my business would not exist if it weren't for continued interest in the arts, and I'm grateful that some at least recognize its importance in the larger economy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Welcome to the new blog. I have no plans (at this point) to continue blogging over at the original "Liner Notes". I really feel like I gave too much of myself away on that blog, although I'll maintain the archives for a while. If you're here, it's because you're either really clever, or I asked you to come on over; for the time being, I'd ask you to not link publicly to this blog (although I am publishing an RSS feed, so go ahead and follow me that way if you like). I'd like to retain a modicum of anonymity for a while.

I can't and won't promise that this blog will be any better than the last one, but we'll see where it leads. Who knows...I may give up the whole thing.

Anyway. Welcome.