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May 21, 2006

Singing the news, astonishing London.
Posted by Teresa at 07:55 AM * 79 comments

Two nice chewy thoughtful links, both from i blog, you blog, they blog, weblog, which I hadn’t run into before.

The first is the Aural Times, whose motto is “We sing the news so you don’t have to.” I’ve gone a long time without realizing that was an obligation, so I’m glad they’ve got it covered.

(Singing the news is a great idea. More people should do it. Imagine a formal multipart a cappella arrangement of “farm-raised wingless quailtards.” But I digress.)

Some of the Aural Times’ songs can be a little shapeless and low-energy. More B- and C-parts would help. So would more harmony. Compare, for instance, the baldly monophonic Court: Hallucinogenic Tea OK with the far more successful barbershop-quartet-style Scientology Hayes Leaves South Park.

Some further songs I thought worked well:

Scott McClellan Stepping Down
Nintendo Names New System ‘Wii’
Homer Eagles Will Be Beggars No More
Berlusconi Will Not Admit Defeat
Polish Science Fiction Legend Stanislaw Lem Is Dead
At times the songs are pure formalist fantasias upon the text of a headline, as in Google Launches Calendar and Soda Czars Ceasing Sales to Schools. In the case of Tom Cruise Says He Won’t Eat the Placenta of His Child, the sung version does as much, and as little, as anyone ought to do with that story.

The second link from i.b.y.b.w.b.w. was to a piece by Michael Billington called Elephantine Infantilism, which appeared in the Guardian’s Culture Vulture blog. It was a doody-headed commentary on the recent appearance in London of The Sultan’s Elephant, an event Patrick blogged about here and here. The piece is valuable for the comment thread that follows it, but first here are Billington’s original remarks, just to establish the context:

So The Sultan’s Elephant has come and gone. And, without wishing to seem misanthropic, I am tempted to say good riddance, writes Michael Billington.

It doubtless made many people harmlessly happy. But its touted carnivalesque qualities were not apparent to anyone trying to get around Oxford Circus on a baking summer morning. More importantly, I question whether this kind of diversionary spectacle can really be classified as “theatre”.

Theatre, to me, is a public event that affects the mind and heart as well as the eyes, and which does something to change the human situation. The passage of a giant elephant through the streets of London—a kind of Gallic Trojan Horse—does none of those things.

What it does do is appeal to the mood of infantilism that seems to be taking over a lot of entertainment: we seem to have an unstoppable urge to become little children—gazing with open mouths, dilated pupils and dropping jaws at whatever is put in front of us.

Whatever happened to adult scepticism and rationality? For me The Sultan’s Elephant is simply a spectacular irrelevance to the real business of theatre.

But, then, there is nothing new in the English appetite for freakish sideshows. Remember how Trinculo in The Tempest, encountering what looks like a monstrous man-fish, thinks how it could be profitably exhibited back home? “There,” he says, “would this monster make a man. Any strange beast there makes a man. When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian.” Clearly nothing changes.

The Sultan’s Elephant was a momentary distraction: good summer copy and a bizarre eruption onto our crowded streets—but nothing, in the end, to do with theatre.

“Michael Billington,” i.b.y.b.w.b.w. says with great precision, “is a joyless git.”

The comment thread erupts with Londoners forcefully and eloquently explaining “art” and “spectacle” to Billington. The London voice is distinctive. Today’s vocabulary list: wind-up, dodgy, po-faced git, chinstroking, pur-lease, bejesus, sub-Burchill, whingebag.

Some samples:

I have to agree with felik—this is a wind-up. Not only for being an over-the-top miserable git, but the disingenuous and irrelevant argument about whether it can be classified as theatre, and the dodgy Shakespeare reference—all evidence that the writer is having a laugh.

(…)

“harmlessly happy”…!
How patronising can you get. What is harmfully happy then? staying at home and trying to stick a copy of The Tempest up your backside, presumably.

(…)

Ho, ho, ho. Bloke gets stuck in traffic and suddenly rationality is under threat. Try the Blackwall Tunnel next time. Even less laughs down there, as you’ll discover.

The Elephant wasn’t a particularly stretching piece of open air theatre, but it was cheery, as if Marc Caro had collaborated with Bryan Talbot on the later parts of the Luther Arkwright series and they’d decided to throw in a comic interlude. So a general thumbs up to Helen Marriage.

I love conversations where people who aren’t habitual users of art-speak and litcrit-speak analyze some aesthetic experience they’ve found moving.

One of the more dysfunctional subliminal messages broadcast by our culture is You don’t know what art is. You don’t understand art. You like the wrong things for the wrong reasons. This message goes out in tandem with This stuff over here that looks like a weird mess to you? It’s art. It’s important and valuable art. If you were the right kind of person, you could see that for yourself. (IMO, Outsider Art is art created by people who either aren’t getting the broadcast messages, or who ignore the messages and make art anyway. But I digress again.)

People put up with this far more than they should. It makes them hesitant to talk about art in terms that go beyond liking or disliking. Then a work of art will come along that moves them so much that they’ll put aside their hesitancy and talk about how and why it did what it did, because they’re unbudgeably certain that something profound happened to them:

So it wasn’t strictly ‘theatre’ in the way Michael Billington likes to think of it. But it was FUN. And imaginative, very French, exciting and entirely different. And moving. The first time I saw it on Saturday, in the rain, by accident, coming around the corner by the National Gallery, I just laughed, yes, like a child who has seen something really delightful (how come we hardly see that word used any more?) and then I nearly cried because it was so insane and fabulous and bonkers to have a 40 foot high mechanical elephant parading the streets of London. Which were beautifully empty. And people were dancing along and grinning at each other in the rain. At least where I was.

I took a friend along on Sunday and she laughed and we chatted to total strangers, tried not to stare too much at Rolf Harris who was in the crowd and got pushed around. And then I got spurted with water and I didn’t care. It was surreal and funny and exciting and if the idea of thousands of people wandering through the streets after a giant puppet because it was fun and surreal and exciting doesn’t make you smile a little, then you are missing the point about what ‘theatre’ in whatever guise is for. Thoughtful, uplifiting and it made you think about the nature of imagination, cities, ‘art’—lots of things to be rational about after the fun faded.

Bravo.
Comments on Singing the news, astonishing London.:
#1 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:13 AM:

"I have now sung the elephant..."

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:36 AM:

I think my favorite comment to the dopey Billington piece was "Why does everything have to be a fucking lesson?"

#3 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:44 AM:

The Aural Times prompted me to misremember some Don Maclean lyrics, and I just caught myself before posting about having met a girl who sang the news...

As for Billington's critique... I think we need a sense of wonder in the world. I wish I could've got down to London to see The Sultan's Elephant - I'm sure half the problems in the modern world are caused by there being almost no magic any more. I say almost no magic because sometimes you can just stumble across a little, like when I used to work in a civil service office. Cue anecdote:

This is going back a few years, but I used to catch the train to the nearest city when I had a short-term contract doing civil service admin. One particularly foggy morning (notable purely because such thick fog in June is unusual where I am!), so foggy that although I could see the length of the platform, it was impossible to see anything beyond the end, I'd just got off the train and was walking along the platform to the exit, when I heard what I thought was a low rumble of thunder. Except, as I realised, it was rather too long to be thunder.
Suddenly, with a shrill whistle (and probably in contravention of regulations), an old-fashioned steam engine burst out of the fog, its burgundy paint gleaming. What caught my eye was the plaque on the front: "Hogwarts Express". Trailing some gorgeous wooden carriages (of the antique slamdoor variety, now no longer used on the railways), it vanished at the far end of the platform as suddenly as it had appeared.

Now, I'm not sure why the train from the Harry Potter movies would be passing through a city station during the rush hour, but it was one of those magic moments that sticks with you...

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:12 PM:

Singing the news? Back when Asimov was still among us mortals, I remember reading some news about his latest contract and how much money the agreement said he'd receive upon singing the contract. Sure it was a typo, but the Good Doctor, being who he was, actually sang the contract.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:33 PM:

As for Billington's Theatre, to me, is a public event that affects the mind and heart as well as the eyes, and which does something to change the human situation.... Goodness, it had been a long time since I had come across the kind of cultured jerks who used to put down the 'popular' literature I love so much.

#6 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:41 PM:

Serge: I am a habitue of Ansible, and I read with relish the "As others see us" section, so I come across such people as often as the great and good Mr Langford publishes.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:45 PM:

I was amazed too. Billington's a generation and a half out of date, dead minimum.

#8 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:49 PM:

A few weeks ago a group of Boston hipsters organized a "Zombie March" from Somerville to a Harvard Square bar some two miles to the south. About three hundred people showed up (including the onlookers). The route of the march took it through Davis Square (densely populated with restaurants), Porter Square (a major shopping mall) and Massachusetts Avenue (Cambridge's main artery).

What impressed me the most (and there were lots of great zombie costumes; Google for photo websites) was the extremely cool and professional reaction of the Cambridge police. Their chief concern was making sure no one got hurt; when the shambling bloody horde had to cross streets the cops held up traffic and allowed it to lurch across.

So public spectacle isn't quite dead in America.

#9 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:07 PM:

"sub-Burchill" is a brutal aspersion indeed.

#10 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Mr. Billington is evidently one of those people who believes people need a permit to have fun. Oh well. "Joyless git" amply covers it. Jon, thank you for telling us about the Zombie March. Joy and silliness forever!

#11 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:37 PM:

I'm pretty sure that Billington fellow is wearing too-small underpants, and wrote that commentary right after sucking on a lemon. What a maroon!

Glenn, that Hogwarts Express story is great! I've done a few day sails on tall ships, and the best part of it is the looks on people's faces - from kids to adults - when they see a "pirate" ship under full sail, smoke rising from the cannons.

I'm beginning to think that living in Hollywood (both literally and figuratively) is wasted on anyone not an Urban Fantasy author.

With the new dog and new work schedule, I find myself walking a lot more, which has invariably lifted my spirits. Even the awful smog that blankets most of LA from April through October takes on a weird bright glow, the cheerful shine of the haze making me feel like I'm in the middle of an overexposed grainy film.

On my way home from work the other day I left the red line station to drop my books off at the library. While I was walking home I started noting the pictures I would take for friends and family back in the midwest when I finally get my camera repaired - I can never get words to describe what makes my neigborhood magical; the row of feral ficus trees, their roots bursting through the sidewalks, wrecking parking lot asphalt, making the sidewalk dangerously lumpy. The tiny fan palm seedlings growing in the tiny cracks in the pavement. The strip mall built in the 1980's to look like a movie set from a 30's western set in the 1880's.

I was just lamenting not getting the picture of Darth Vader leading a detatchment of Stormtroopers down Vine, across Sunset Blvd, (with the light - even The Empire follows traffic laws) the sole highlight of last year's Star Wars premiere, when I turned the corner onto my little side street and nearly walked into a man. Since I live in a residential neighborhood, it's not unusual to see people. Nonetheless, he was striking, and I had to stop. At six feet tall with shoulder length dreadlocks, the garden variety tattoos covering his muscular arms and shoulders - even the many stainless steel studs decorating his face - didn't mark him out as particularly unusual. But he leaned against his primer-gray pickup truck and smiled at me, and it was the numerous dark blue cuneiform tattoos lining the warm brown of his face that made me stop and stare.

He acknowledged me with a nod and a widened grin and said: "I'm sorry; I pulled over so I could ask - I just had to know if you were spoken for."

I giggled and with best NYC reflexes, assumed any stranger talking to me was some kind of weirdo, and lied about my status. The man chuckled ruefully and replied, "Well, I just had to know! You have a good day." And then he hopped into his truck and drove off.

I could have asked him a million questions, starting with what makes a guy pull over for a fat thirty-something wearing a giant russian shawl, rhinestone cat-eye glasses and carrying a Darth Vader messenger bag - or maybe what language the tattoos were in and what did they mean - But part of me just wants to believe that he's part of a weird subterranean cabal of imps, elves and faeries populating Hollywood, and they're looking for an amateur musician and accomplished office monkey to Help Save The World.

#12 ::: JoshJasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:59 PM:

See, what we need is more classics. Like Greek comedies. With men romping around wearing huge leather cocks.

#13 ::: William Donohue ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:11 PM:

Billington needs to go back and read more Shakespeare:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumb'red here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin will restore amends.

(and then Stanley Tucci hooves Billington right in the nackers, to general applause.)

#14 ::: incandescens ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:13 PM:

I think that's part of the charm of Doctor Who, in a way. The dinosaurs and Daleks and Cybermen wandering through the streets of London. It's all here, it's all real, and you recognise the places that it's happening in. You always knew that your teachers were disguised man-eating aliens, and here they are, flapping down the school corridor.

#15 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:45 PM:

"a public event that affects the mind and heart as well as the eyes, and which does something to change the human situation"

The oddest thing about this quote is that, from the reactions of people turning the corner in London and running into this event, it sounds like the Sultan's Elephant *did* all that.

Vis:

"And people were dancing along and grinning at each other in the rain....and we chatted to total strangers .... And then I got spurted with water and I didnít care."

If that isn't the usual situation of people bustling through cities at least temporarily changed, I don't know what is.

People had their minds and hearts lifted. People connected to others at least briefly around the experience, which is an ultimate, rare change from the usual home from work stagger through downtown.

Of course, what do I know. I've only been wandering Italy and Malta open-mouthed, peering at teeny seashells and the odd details of rattletrap busses, and the massive monuments alike, smiling at strangers and half-feral cats, "gazing with open mouths, dilated pupils and dropping jaws at whatever is put in front of us." Of course I should be looking with aloof, cynical detachment, snubbing all the parts that aren't accredited, affirmed art and history, vetted and approved for consumption...

... but then, would I be having the least bit of fun?

#16 ::: L. Pullers ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:02 PM:

Is Anne Coulter sub-Burchill?

Or is she, perhaps, the super-Burchill?

(The ultimate Burchill? The Burchill to end all Burchills? The Burchill that broke the camel's back? A Burchill too far?)

#17 ::: L. Pullers ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:13 PM:

(That should be 'Ann' Coulter, not 'Anne', shouldn't it? Forgive an ignorant Englishman. I've only just discovered la Coulter, and am not yet used to spelling her name.)

#18 ::: Neil ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:13 PM:

(( As for “singing the news”, I thought Delaney had pretty well covered that in “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones”. ))

Isn't a lot of this twaddle about The Elephant equally relevant to whatever-it-was Christo did in Central Park?
I've loudly derided Christo for many years, but when he got large numbers of random New Yorkers to talk openly to complete strangers, I felt forced to reconsider.

#19 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:04 PM:

he's part of a weird subterranean cabal of imps, elves and faeries populating Hollywood

Nerdycellist, I had an encounter with "urban elves" in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. It all started with a flat tire that I couldn't change because the locknut adapter was missing. I wound up driving all over town with a towtruck driver looking for a tire store that was still open. We turned down a dark side road to get turned around, and lo and behold, there was VW repair shop that was open for business at 9:00 PM. We pulled in, and all the mechanics were under 30, shorter than 5'4", and they were all wearing vintage workshirts from the 1950s.

By the time he replaced all the locknuts with standard nuts, and changed my flat, I knew I was dealing with faerie-folk. He said, "No charge," but I insisted on giving him $20, because it's dangerous to be obliged to the little people.

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:48 PM:

Reading Billington, I have to wonder if he'd grouse about Shakespeare's shameless pandering to the groundlings. Bawdy puns aren't theatre! They don't change the human condition or nuffink!

And I love the sung news. "What is that?" came the Hub's voice from the next room when I was listening to the one about the Wii. Faint echoes of Lehrer in some of the writing.

#21 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:23 PM:

I'll bet Billington thinks it should be "Dr. Whom" anyway.

Why, that's not even a real elephant!

#22 ::: Tom P ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:28 PM:

Wordsworth was banging on about exactly the same thing two hundred years ago. Replace 'popular literature' with 'mechanical elephants', and the argument's pretty much exactly the same:

"For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great national events which are daily taking place, and the increasing accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving for extraordianry incident... The invaluable works of our elder writers, I had almost said the works of Shakespeare and Milton, are driven into neglect by frantic novels, sickly and stupid German tragedies, and deluges of idle and extravagant stories in verse. -When I think upon this degrading thirst after outrageous stimulation I am almost ashamed to have spoken of the feeble effort with which I have endeavored to counteract it." - Preface to Lyrical Ballads

He was wrong then, just as Billington's wrong now. Popular art will never snuff out our intellectual candle, there are no barbarians at the gates, and there's nothing degrading about a "thirst for outrageous stimulation". In fact, without that thirst, the world would be a terribly dull place.

#23 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:58 PM:

Well, I am simply CHARMED in all senses of the word by the Sultan's Elephant. Street theater on a mammoth scale that lightens a day and brings magic to the pavement is certainly worth the price. Oh right--it was free.

Groundlings arise, you have nothing to lose but a few brains.

Jane

#24 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Oh, man, I like that singing the news site, Aural Times. Except now I have "FBI Searching Michigan for Jimmy Hoffa's Corpse" stuck in my head. It had me singing along before it was half over.

#25 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:37 PM:

<snicker> I thought the whole point of the "Modern Art" movement was to get rid of the idea of the "art critic", who tells us what is Good, what is Bad, and what Isn't Art. If it talks to you, it's art.

"Humourless Git" tags it exactly.

#26 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:02 AM:

Our hostess writes:

One of the more dysfunctional subliminal messages broadcast by our culture is You donít know what art is. You donít understand art. You like the wrong things for the wrong reasons. This message goes out in tandem with This stuff over here that looks like a weird mess to you? Itís art. Itís important and valuable art. If you were the right kind of person, you could see that for yourself.

Yes. Yes. Yes!

I didn't know you'd understand how much this bothers me, but you do.

#27 ::: Elusis ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:27 AM:

"It's not good theatre, because..."

... it does not celebrate the gods.
... it is not amusing to the masses.
... it is simply a crude knock-off of our noble traditions.
... it does not involve the wearing of masks.
... it does not instruct people in the mysteries of Our Lord Jesus Christ and provide guidance toward salvation.
... it does not celebrate the noble virtues such as love and honor.
... it involves the wearing of masks.
... it relies too much on bawdy humor.
... it does not have enough bawdy humor for the masses.
... it is not accessible to the masses.
... it is accessible to the masses.
... it is too serious and treats upon themes unsuitable for people of breeding.
... it is not written in elevated language.
... it is without a theme of moral instruction.
... it is insulting to those of good breeding.
... it displays unsavory elements of society in a heroic light.
... it is not critical of society.
... it features the lower classes in a serious fashion.
... it is insulting to governments.
... it is not written in modern language.
... it has music in.
... it is not relevant.
... it is mere spectacle.


And to this, I suppose we can add:
... it appeals too much to one's childlike sense of wonder, and makes shopping in the high street appallingly difficult.

#28 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:17 AM:

Jon Meltzer: A few weeks ago a group of Boston hipsters organized a "Zombie March" from Somerville to a Harvard Square bar some two miles to the south. About three hundred people showed up (including the onlookers). The route of the march took it through Davis Square (densely populated with restaurants), Porter Square (a major shopping mall) and Massachusetts Avenue (Cambridge's main artery).

Is Porter Square a major shopping mall now? When I lived about a half-mile up Mass. Ave. in 1992, it was a slightly-larger-than-normal supermarket strip mall. I used to do a lot of shopping there. Couple of excellent restaurants there: A neighborhood pub called Christophers, and a nice Indian place on the corner.

I don't remember Davis Square being quite so dense with restaurants either. It had one that I can remember, an indifferent Italian lunch counter, as well as an alternative movie theater, a club, and a gym.

#29 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:19 AM:

There is a convincing thesis that many strands of Modern Art is the creation of critics, who are there to explain it to you. Tom Wolfe's 'The Painted Word' makes the point forcefully.

#30 ::: Paul Herzberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:30 AM:

I saw Billington's article around the same the event it refers to was blogged here. I didn't mention it at the time because I didn't want to bring the negativity. Here's what I said at the time:

For me, one of the highlights of Orson Welles' F For Fake, among the many treasures of that underrated movie, is Orson himself rumbling his way through Kipling's Conundrum of the Workshops. Imagine, if you will, Orson chewing this up:

When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden's green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, "It's pretty, but is it Art ?"

I was brought to mind of this today because of Michael Billington's post on the Guardian's Culture Vulture blog about a big mechanichal elephant that was marauding around London over the weekend. Billington harumphs:

"What it does do is appeal to the mood of infantilism that seems to be taking over a lot of entertainment: we seem to have an unstoppable urge to become little children - gazing with open mouths, dilated pupils and dropping jaws at whatever is put in front of us."

As a commentor on the post puts it: "So let me get this right. You are complaining that a family event appealed to kids?" He is you know.

By the way, I do like the Guardian's blogs, Comment Is Free in particular. They show that editors deserve every last penny they get and quite a few that they don't.

#31 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:40 AM:

If you haven't seen F for Fake, Turner Classic is showing it this very evening, at 9:30 Eastern. If that's not enough, it's one of four movies being guest-hosted by Penn & Teller. (Browning's Freaks is also on the list.)

#32 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:07 AM:

I hate the notion that it's not art unless you have to choke it down.

Mike, thanks for the F for Fake tip...hail, Tivo!

#33 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 09:24 AM:

I've been reading/seeing/hearing a lot of this "our culture is infantilizing us; no one wants to be an adult anymore" stuff lately. Whether it's adults reading Harry Potter, academics giving papers on Buffy, kids' movies including more jokes for adults because so many adults go to see them, funny t-shirts for people over 12, or graphic novels and comics for adults, there seems to be a large segment of people who write about culture who get seriously annoyed by this sort of thing.

As a 35 year old who reads Harry Potter books, (but prefers Lemony Snicket), has published on Buffy, goes to see kids movies, just bought an "I [heart] irony" t-shirt, and whose Sandman, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, X-men etc. graphic novels and comics will have to be pried from her cold dead hands, I feel the need to comment.

Joy isn't childish.

Pleasure isn't childish.

Delight isn't childish.

And spectacle--like a giant puppet elephant wandering the streets of London, for example--isn't childish.

Or at least, they aren't *only* childish. Most of these things connect deeply and importantly to adult concerns, to serious moral issues, to important virtues, to social change.

But really, right now I don't care about that. To say that the sort of "childish" culture these people are critiquing isn't really childish just lets them set the terms of the debate. It would be enough for me if they were "only childish."

One day I may be lucky enough to find the words to express the incalculable value I would place on something that would let me be as shamelessly, thoroughly joyous in every inch of my skin as my 8 month old daughter is when I kiss her belly.

That's childish.

http://public.fotki.com/iambictramp/bingo/new_abby_9.html

#34 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:34 AM:

I spent some time travelling over the weekend, listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell; I'm now imagining Simon Prebble reading Billington's piece in the voice of, say, Colquhoun Grant.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:46 AM:

Sarah S... I guess people can't make the distinction between "childish" and "child-like". I remember something written after The Phantom Menace, that the original Star Wars was for the 10-year-old in you while the recent movie was for 10-year-olds.

They shall pry my sense of wonder from my cold dead fingers.

#36 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:57 AM:

At the same time, VR is depriving real places of spectacle -- witness this SFGate article about the new X-Men movie, set in San Francisco though no actor even set foot there.

Of course they used to do it with cheesy "highway scene" backdrops and the like, and nobody in Hitchcock's film was really scrambling around on Mount Rushmore. But it would be fun if there really was a bit more human interaction.

#37 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Glenn Harrison: the Hogwarts Express was used as a Rowling book tour vehicle (in the most literal sense). I'd say that's one of the best uses of a promotional budget ever seen, though Sarah MacLachlan's video for World On Fire is right up there, too.

Jon Meltzer: while the CPD doesn't have to deal with the local students on quite as regular a basis as their campus police departments, I suspect the presence of certain institutions that find themselves in possession of heavy artillery or similar items makes them a little more used to odd happenings than most police departments.

#38 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Jon Meltzer, a group of zombies marched through Montreal and attacked an SCA gathering, who (naturally) fought back.

Here are the pictures.

#39 ::: jrochest ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:52 PM:

Okay, the Tempest quote makes me think -- has grumpyguts considered the Elizabethan tradition of pageants and parades?

I mean, if Elizabeth the 1st could be welcomed into the City of London by Fame , Time and his Daughter Truth, and serenaded by an 18 foot long mermaid at Kenilworth Castle, then 21st century Londoners should be allowed a moving Elephant.

#40 ::: Ned ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:56 PM:

'You donít know what art is. You donít understand art. You like the wrong things for the wrong reasons... This stuff over here that looks like a weird mess to you? Itís art. Itís important and valuable art. If you were the right kind of person, you could see that for yourself.'

If we stop sending this message, the avant-garde will die. In Britain anyway, an enormous proportion of art (and of the best art) wouldn't exist without government funding. Most of the public are already against this funding, partly because it's an easy target for the tabloid press.

I don't believe that someone whose single annual experience of fine art is a Daily Mail story about how scandalous it is that a transvestite won the Turner Prize (or whatever) is as well qualified to say what art is as those people who have devoted their lives to studying or making art. And if that latter group stops fighting, then they will just die out.

A lot of people find that message condescending, fine; but a lot of people also find any kind of critical discourse about e.g. literature, even the level you get on a literary weblog, pretentious; and that's 90% because they're narrow-minded. Maybe artists and art critics need to get better at communicating their ideas in an accessible way, but I expect they'd still get nothing but contempt from the tabloids and the public, so I can see why they can't be bothered.

Art, by nature, cannot be completely democratic; some of it has to be elitist; and if some people find that idea offensive, then maybe they should look around at all the art that they enjoy every day that wouldn't exist if they had their way.

That's not to say I agree with Billington; I liked the elephant; but I think it's good that there's one voice standing up for the stuff that requires a bit more effort and understanding to enjoy.

#41 ::: sharon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:08 PM:

A comment I loved in that Guardian thread:

what happens when your heart shrivels up and dies and you become grey like an old elephants arse?

#42 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:25 PM:

a group of zombies marched through Montreal and attacked an SCA gathering, who (naturally) fought back.

Not SCA. In the SCA armor is required as the weapons are solid wood (well, rattan, which is more flexible than oak (and bone) but about as dense). A blow to an unarmored head would probably not be instantly fatal, but EMTs, a doctor and probably a drill would come into play.

Here's a handy vacation picture of me sparing with someone for comparison.

#43 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:28 PM:

When I hear "singing news" the first thing that comes to mind is calypso, a genre where performers have been singing the news for well over a century. For some wonderful examples, look for the compilation album London Is The Place For Me: Trinidadian Calypso In London, 1950-1956, released by Honest Jon's records. In addition to songs about everyday life, there are several tunes that document specific events, such as "I Was There (At The Coronation"), "Victory Test Match" (about a cricket game), and Lord Beginner's "Jamaica Hurricane".

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:23 PM:

Yeah, there isn't a single clear picture in that lot, Harry, but a rattan sword is more than capable of cracking an unarmored skull. If they'd been SCA people and not in on it in advance, there would have been some broken bones among the zombies. Why? Because among people who know how to fight there's this odd belief that being attacked by people in zombie costumes still is, you know, being attacked.

As I said, it's impossible to tell much of anything from those pictures, which are so focused on the zombie party that they don't really do much to document the actual attack. But the vics look like LARPers armed with soft-edged weapons.

The pic site makes it sound like "these people are geeks, let's go beat them up" was the general sentiment. And they dressed up like zombies to make it fun—for them. Do you know any more about it?

#45 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:36 PM:

Because among people who know how to fight there's this odd belief that being attacked by people in zombie costumes still is, you know, being attacked.

Oh, come on.

I guess they weren't SCA. Whatever. They were apparently not so ridiculous that took a bunch of people dressed in costume as a serious threat.

This and this are all I know about it, and the second link is where I got the idea that these were SCA folk.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:55 PM:

"A bunch of people dressed in costume" have roughed me up more than once, especially when there's alcohol involved.

One or two of those pictures do make it look like the LARPers are having fun. If they were, then it's all fun. If they weren't, then no amount of fun on the part of the zombies makes it OK.

The guys who beat me up in high school were "just having fun" with me, too. Only I wasn't having fun at all, and if I'd had any kind of lethal weapon they would all be dead now, and me in prison.

#47 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:13 PM:

'You don’t know what art is. You don’t understand art. You like the wrong things for the wrong reasons... This stuff over here that looks like a weird mess to you? It’s art. It’s important and valuable art. If you were the right kind of person, you could see that for yourself.'

If we stop sending this message, the avant-garde will die.

If the avant-garde depends for its continued existence on inculcating a sense of inferiority and unworthiness in the general public, then the avant-garde doesn't deserve to live.

#48 ::: Ned ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:01 PM:

'If the avant-garde depends for its continued existence on inculcating a sense of inferiority and unworthiness in the general public, then the avant-garde doesn't deserve to live.'

People should see it as a challenge, not as an insult. I mean, either the avant-garde is worthwhile or it isn't. If it isn't, then no one should feel insulted when they're told they don't understand it (because they wouldn't want to anyway). If it is, then, again, no one should feel insulted when they're told they don't understand it (because it's true). If it's in someone's nature to get angry when something won't immediately yield up its secrets, then of course they'll take it as radiating a bad attitude, but get past that and there's no problem. I admit there probably are a few people in the avant-garde who want to keep it inaccessible and like the fact that people are intimidated, but I'm sure for the vast majority that's not true.

#49 ::: Tom P ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:27 PM:

If we stop sending this message, the avant-garde will die. In Britain anyway, an enormous proportion of art (and of the best art) wouldn't exist without government funding. Most of the public are already against this funding...

But, see, here's the thing. This was exactly the sort of glorious nonsense that the tabloids are supposed to despise. I mean, this sucker met every target going, it was allowed, encouraged and supported by those exact PC behemoths that are stereotyped as giving your hard-earned tax pounds to the Llandudno Disabled Trade-Unionist Gay Men's Chorus. The deputy mayor of London, Nicky Gavron, and the Culture Minister, David Lammy, were in Trafalgar Square to welcome the elephant. They actually played a part - they were shouting "welcome, Time Travellers" at the gigantic parading puppets; our elected officials, joining in the weirdness. And it was great. It absolutely gave the lie to the idea that the strange, the outsider and the avant-garde can't also engage with a huge section of the populace.

I spend a fair amount of my time working to counteract press stories about how 'Great British Institution X has been turned down for funding while Minority Interest Y got £50,000'. I know how important it is that the subsidy of the arts not be subject to the tyranny of majority interests. But if the avant-garde can only survive through barricading itself off from those it thinks incapable of comprehending it - well, then screw the avant-garde. It shouldn't need to be built on a lie.

Because it is a lie, and it's a despicable one. The notion that art is a priviledged set of experiences, open only to those with the right knowledge or connections or background - that's the death of art, not its lifeblood.

Did people come away from the Sultan's Elephant thinking "that's what our money should be going on, not that poncey avant-garde shite"? Maybe some did, to be sure. But I'd bet pounds to pennies that most of them came away a little better disposed to thinking, the next time that they hear of Government money going on some weird artsy bizarro-fest, that perhaps it wasn't a waste; that perhaps the unexpected can genuinely reach out and touch people; and that perhaps, somewhere, there's someone just like them, staring open-mouthed, gaping in amazement at the inconceivable and giggling in pure, simple, absolute joy.

#50 ::: Tom P ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:43 PM:

On sort-of preview: People should see it as a challenge, not as an insult.

Any art that predicates its value on instructing people exactly how they're meant to view it strikes me as spectacularly missing the point, in a particularly doomed and worthless sort of way.

#51 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:04 PM:

You don't know what art is. You don't understand art.

I'm an artist who makes strange stuff, and the interesting thing about hearing people say this is that this attitude is not in fact shared by most of the people who make art, even avant-gardey-style art. The time when most, or even any significant number, of "avant-garde" artists saw themselves as ahead or above of the rest of society is pretty much in the past (with a few unfortunate exceptions, of course). Most of the artists I know, which means most of the people I know, see themselves as part of a subculture, with the same relationship to the mainstream as any other subculture. Some people don't like it the same way some people don't like punk rock, or minimalist electronic music, or anything else.

Which makes it not really avant-garde, of course, in an accurate meaning of the word. Avant-gardism, in the sense of breaking down existing preconceptions of the nature of art, is something that can really only exist at particular historical moments, and this isn't one of them. What you have now is people making certain kinds of art because that's the kind of art they want to make; it gets called avant-garde out of habit more than anything. At least, this is true in the U.S., where this style of art is not government-funded to any significant extent (and never was, Mapplethorpe hysteria to the contrary).

#52 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Speaking of hoity-toity, your spam filter doesn't like my academic email address at all. Could it be because I teach at a...state school?

#53 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:58 PM:

Theatre, to me, is a public event that affects the mind and heart as well as the eyes, and which does something to change the human situation.

Maybe he would have been fine with the elephant thing if they had a non-perishable food drive built into it? You could hand your cans to the elephant and it would scoop them in with its trunk and projectile launch them out its back end, only to be picked up by mustachioed street sweepers in drag. (well, it is theater, after all)

Whatever happened to adult scepticism and rationality?

The street sweepers swept it away and made a nice quilt out of it which they'll be dropping off at the homeless shelter.

Oh, and as for the title of this thread, I must report that yes, it's true, I am astonished.

#54 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:11 PM:

"Why should I listen to Joe Blow when I can listen to Beethoven?"

"You just listen to that music to be cool, you don't actually like it."

"Mebbe it's highly conceptual and based on 'theory,' but to me it's just wankery."

I hear this sort of thing a lot more often (all are direct quotes, one from an e-mail I got five minutes ago) than I do statements like "You don't know what art is. You don't understand art." Which is not to excuse the latter when it happens, but just to wonder if it's really a big problem. Like Seth, I've hardly ever encountered that sort of attitude among working artists.

I don't think that art should be restricted to an elite, but I do think there's a place for esoteric art that's of little interest to the average punter. Most Beatles fans don't listen to Cage and Stockhausen, but the Beatles certainly did, and it was part of what made them what they were. The public benefits from a lively experimental art sector much as they do from similarly abstruse science. Nobody, I assume, wants Physical Review Letters to be written so that everyone can understand it; artists need similar fora.

#55 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:02 PM:

Mitch: Davis Square has been exploding; the Italian place on the corner is still there, but it's a last resort. What's happened is Harvard Square is so expensive to rent space and to park in that Davis picks up a lot of places. Add more live music and the theater becoming a ~6-screen (still with assorted concerts in the main hall) and you've got an area I visit almost as often as Harvard despite the fact that I live in Brighton.

#56 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:35 PM:

Seth, Tim, people who know they're artists get a different range of radio stations. I'm all for esoteric art that's made for an audience that enjoys it, just like I'm in favor of any other kind of art that's made for an audience that enjoys it.

#57 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:43 AM:

people who know they're artists

I like the unspoken implication of this phrase.

#58 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:26 AM:

In Britain anyway, an enormous proportion of art (and of the best art) wouldn't exist without government funding. Most of the public are already against this funding, partly because it's an easy target for the tabloid press.

I was under the impression that most "avant garde" British art was bought by private collectors like the Sacchis. Are you thinking of government-funded art schools?

#59 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:01 AM:

Actually, ignore that last post. A lot of visual art is privately-funded - including, ironically enough, almost all the high-profile stuff that gets into the Tabloids - but that's not true of the performing arts as far as I know.

#60 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:02 AM:

There are, in Britain, public galleries such as the Tate Modern. From time to time they buy a piece of medern art to encourage the others. These very public expenditures attract hostile criticism.

There's also the annual Turner Prize, which gives a shortlist of modern art a great deal of publicity, and leaves a lot of people baffled.

I think a lot of modern art at that level fails to communicate with a mass audience. It depends on a common context that isn't there. I wonder if modern gallery art depends too much on that sort of back-channel communication.

But would this picture work without the words?


#61 ::: individualfrog ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:08 AM:

Xopher;
The pic site makes it sound like "these people are geeks, let's go beat them up" was the general sentiment.

In my experience, "let's dress up like zombies" is not that much less geeky than "let's dress up like knights." ("Let's dress up like pirates", on the other hand, seems to go in and out of style, and isn't that geeky at all.) Nor have I ever met a single person who dresses up like a knight who would be less than thrilled to be inexplicably "attacked" by a person dressed up like a zombie.

People get beat up by assholes, it's true, and if you've had that experience you might be extra worried about it happening again, but the evidence is pretty overwhelming to me that in this case, everyone was having a great time. I'm going to go out on a limb for the imagination and compassion of humanity, and guess that even if someone had a rattan sword, they wouldn't have broken anyone's skull.

#62 ::: individualfrog ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:10 AM:

I forgot to say thanks for the Aural Times. Fantastic stuff.

#63 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:08 AM:

There's also the annual Turner Prize, which gives a shortlist of modern art a great deal of publicity, and leaves a lot of people baffled.

Well... that's my point. The Turner Prize is privately funded. (Apparently, this year's main sponsor is Gordon's Gin.) Ditto the Royal Academy, whose summer show is usually a big source of tabloid stories.

Tate Modern, on the other hand, buys major works by established artists. How do they get established in the first place? Private sales, mostly.

If you're going to try to blame art you don't like on "government funding", you'd do better to focus on the role of art schools... but even then you can't realistically blame the existence of modern art on the Welfare State that it pre-dates.

Although the idea of Tristan Tzara and a secret society of 'pataphysicians using Alfred Jarry's design for a time machine to keep the 20th Century absurd does have a certain charm. "The Career of Yoko Ono Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race", perhaps?

#64 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:34 AM:

Ha! This after that supposedly infantile spectacle sparked a long discussion here about the rise and fall of empires, the Myth of Europe and the American Century.

#65 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:26 AM:

I have serious doubts that you'd find many people here who are actually opposed to difficult art, or art that requires context to appreciate, or art that appeals to a narrow range of tastes. What's at issue is snobbery - the notion that something is unworthy of attention if it's accessible or has broad appeal.

Complex or "avant" art doesn't require the disparagement of everything else in order to be worthwhile. Experimentation broadens the frontier of what is possible in the conversation of Art; it doesn't invalidate the territory that has already been settled.

#66 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Mostly I just had to check the link because I know the guy who gets the call from the AP when someone, somewhere does something wacky or profoundly stupid with a medieval theme and they want to know if he was one of ours.

I'd like to think most SCA folks wouldn't just knock someone into next week just because they violated thier personal space, but, well, we get all kinds. Also, I've met the guy who was sure that he, bare handed, could take one of us.

Put those two together and, well, it'd be the Bush foreign policy team writ small.

#67 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:54 PM:

The Great "but-is-it-art" debate is interesting. I rail against this kind of snobbery in many media, but I've found myself on the other side of the "elite" divide a few times. I remember bitching and moaning about Andrea Bocelli, and that I felt there were more talented yet still accessible singers out there who were working as temps and waiters because they unfortunately still have their sight... and then someone reminded me that if more "regular" people were listening to Mozart and Puccini where was the harm in it? Also, I was reminded of the number of string musicians who worked every time he had a concert.

I don't argue with the existence of art that I don't understand or like - even if my tax money goes to support it - but there is an annoying undercurrent of "if you don't like it, you're a tasteless oik" even in the mainstream press. Recently I saw an exhibit that I found incredibly moving - and neat! The art critic for the LA Times gave it a brief, eye-rolling review, implying that any adult who would enjoy it was some kind of middle-brow bozo. Next to that review was a longer rave about an installation involving a plastic box.

While I rarely let art critics decide what I want to see (the recent King Tut thing is the rare exception - the press only reinforcing my impression that this was more of a Zahi Hawass publicity event) I can imagine that seeing reviews like this bugs the bejeesus out of lots of non-artists who may not know about art, but we know what we like.

#68 ::: Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy - I wasn't impugning the tastes of anyone here, and I'm sure Tim wasn't either. I'm just always curious where this perception of snobbery comes from, since I, who am presumably the beneficiary of it, have no experience of it at all. As Tim pointed out, I'm much more familiar with people impugning my tastes. But I suppose that's just how it goes. (I just read nerdycellis's post, and to be fair, I should point out that I tend not to read art critics. In fact, I suspect that that attitude may be more prevalent in the "mainstream" press than in art magazines.)

But was Billington really calling for that kind of high-minded art at all? He dressed it up with a lot of stuff about "nothing to do with the theatre," but his real issue with the elephant was that it was noisy and inconvenient. I don't think a more challenging, high-minded performance artist would have made him feel any better.

The mild irony of the mentions in this thread of the "avant-garde" is that a carnivalesque performance intervening in daily street life is avant-garde, or at least it follows from a long line of avant-garde performances. The eruption of art into non-art spaces was the textbook definition of avant-garde at one time. The fact that this performance actually engaged people, and they enjoyed it, just makes it a particularly successful piece of avant-garde art. Billington isn't making himself look high-class by disapproving of it, he's just showing that he didn't get it.

#69 ::: blooms ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:15 PM:

London--greatest city in the world.

I know, you live in Manhattan. It's a great city too. I love it dearly. I love every particle of it.

But not as much as London. Those voices you heard? They're London.

"This is London, home of the brash, outrageous and free/
you are depressed but you're remarkably dressed...."

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:59 PM:

individualfrog, I hope you're right. And at least in the SCA, it's drummed into you from the very beginning (or at least it was to me) that you NEVER swing a weapon at anyone who isn't in armor. It's a very strong inhibition, like "don't punch an old lady."

I know how to kill an unarmored person with a stick. I would never, ever do that, or even injure someone, unless I thought they were really attacking me. Then I'd probably break one of their legs instead of going for a head blow. A whole lot of people all at once would be in a fair amount of danger if they surprised me, mostly because I never did get used to swinging a rattan sword around with people behind me!

Since almost none of the people in the "SCA" group were armored, I conclude it was not SCA, and most likely the weapons were LARPish boffers.

I hope everyone had a great time. The "surrender" pic strikes me as evidence that they did. It just could have gone bad very easily; one thrown punch and...blood everyplace.

OTOH this was in Canada, where in my experience people are dramatically less inclined to violence than here.

I had this driven home to me in Toronto, when a begger importuned me, and got right. in. my. face. She would not have dared to do so in New York. As it was I felt threatened enough (having a New Yorker's instincts rather than a Torontonian's) that I came thisclose to punching her. Instead I used my voice to scare the fuck out of her and she went away.

You remember that Lloyd? You couldn't understand why I was so upset.

#71 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:04 PM:

I wasn't impugning the tastes of anyone here, and I'm sure Tim wasn't either. I'm just always curious where this perception of snobbery comes from, since I, who am presumably the beneficiary of it, have no experience of it at all.

Seth, I didn't have your comments in mind at all when I wrote my own, which was intended as a response to the "but we should stand up for art that requires effort" idea. My point is only that I'm fairly certain the community here includes any number of advocates of art requiring effort - including most emphatically yours truly, him with the taste for noisy prog and Theatre of the Absurd.

It's also probably worth noting that elitism is one of my hot-button issues. I see way too much, in the circles of fandom I move in, of "we like this because it's so much better than that other crap." I'm uncomfortable with this; I don't like the implication that I'm not supposed to engage in pop culture just because I also like King Crimson and Waiting for Godot, any more than I like the notion that being able to appreciate a nice complex shiraz makes it beneath me to also drink three-dollar blackberry merlot with a screwoff cap.

The mild irony of the mentions in this thread of the "avant-garde" is that a carnivalesque performance intervening in daily street life is avant-garde, or at least it follows from a long line of avant-garde performances. The eruption of art into non-art spaces was the textbook definition of avant-garde at one time. The fact that this performance actually engaged people, and they enjoyed it, just makes it a particularly successful piece of avant-garde art. Billington isn't making himself look high-class by disapproving of it, he's just showing that he didn't get it.

I had very much the same thought.

#72 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:48 PM:

An interviewer once asked Julia Child if she ever ate Big Macs at McDonalds. She replied that she preferred the Quarter Pounder.

#73 ::: Earl sees spam at 73 ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2010, 09:52 AM:

That post text has about a quarter million google hits.

#74 ::: Tangurena ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 12:18 PM:

Speaking of "singing the news", would it be premature to be singing "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" over the troubles that News Corp is having in England?

#75 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 01:08 PM:

One of the most interesting things about art cars is that as yet there is no Art Car Elite declaiming what is or isn't "worthy" to be called one. If you've put in the effort to rig out your car, it's an art car. Period.

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 01:15 PM:

Tangurena, I think it would. Let's hold our singing until they're really brought down, which will not be easy even if they've done similar things in the US. They're so huge, and so influential, that even fairly enormous crimes might slide.

#77 ::: Bill Stewart sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2014, 05:08 AM:

spammity

#79 ::: tykewriter sees scam spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2014, 07:05 AM:

Spam linked to a spam scam plan. Or summat.

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