Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Music to Market (and Live) By

While reading the Life's A Pitch blog ( this morning, I discovered the website for Wrigley's 5Gum - If you click on the imeem link, you'll find that each flavor has its own playlist. Yup, a playlist for each flavor of gum! How cool is that? I've seen 5Gum in the grocery checkout aisles before but never bought it. Tonight, when I hit Krogers, I can tell you I'm planning to get two packs, Elixir and Lush, based solely on the fact that I liked both of those playlists.

I was a disc jockey throughout the 90s. I have made mixed CDs for guests at our various parties. I've suffered late into the early morning hours constructing mix-tapes to woo my better-half(yes, I'm dating myself here as they were actual cassette tapes but they worked). Most of the Facebook notes I've "copied and pasted" into my homepage have been music related. I even used song lyrics to write my "Life Philosophy" thesis during my senior year in high school. This concept totally works for me. I think I know what kind of experience I'll have when that first stick of Elixir hits my mouth. And I'm pretty darn sure I'll like it!

Which brings me to the question, why don't more arts and culture organizations market this way? Cincinnati Museum Center is currently showing the Dinosaur exhibit (on display through September 7th). Why not offer a downloadable playlist with Was (Not Was)' Walk The Dinosaur, some of John Williams' classic Jurassic Park score, and The Flinstones theme song (or even better, to get those folks around my age without kids to plunk down the dough for it, I Wanna Be A Flintstone by The Screaming Blue Messiahs)? Cheeky, but it would certainly make me consider going.

Or, if Ensemble Theatre were to bring back Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a third go-round (I'm there, regardless of this suggestion, consider this my official lobbying effort), offer us a playlist with one piece from the original soundtrack (The Origin of Love would be my pick) but also include some early Bowie, The Scissor Sisters, Blur and/or RuPaul and others? I think that gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect when you hit the theater.

If pictures speak louder words, then wouldn't a 10-song playlist with some kick-ass tunes speak louder than any static pictures ever could? Especially if you crank it to 11!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Passing of Icons

When I was in 5th grade, my friend Traci and used to play "Charlie's Angels Meet the Bee Gees." Remember when the Scooby Doo gang teamed up with Batman and Robin or the Harlem Globetrotters? It was something like that. It didn't quite make sense as to how or why the two parties meshed, but they did. Traci was the 4th Angel, helping Kate, Jacklyn and Farrah, while I was the 4th Bee Gee, and we would solve our own mysteries in the hollow behind her house. Farrah would soon leave the Angels on ABC to be replaced by her cousin, Chris Monroe, but Cheryl Ladd had some big "hair" to fill and never quite managed to pull it off, in my humble opinion.

Shortly thereafter, in the summer of 1979 (between 5th and 6th grade), I remember going to a swimming pool in Newport or Ft. Thomas with my mom and sister and some cousins and hearing, for the very first time, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." It came over the pool's sound system right after "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney and Wings and I was completely captivated. I found myself wanting to break into dance right then and there (from which I refrained for fear of being teased by my cousins). But I knew I was hooked on dance pop music (have been ever since).

Fast forward...1982. I had just started high school, and the Thriller album arrived in my hands as a Christmas gift that December. I listened to that LP over and over and over again, first energized by "Wanna Be Startin' Something," then intrigued by the chipmunk-like backing vocals of "P.Y.T." Then, of course, came the videos for tracks 4, 5 and 6: "Thriller," "Beat It," and "Billie Jean," not necessarily released in that order. Michael Jackson, it seemed, could do no wrong (at least then) and I was a fan!

Now Farrah and Michael are both one with history. 62. 50. Seems so young, really. I feel relief that Farrah is no longer suffering from the ravages of her cancers. I feel sadness that Michael will not have his chance for a comeback, regardless of how likely it was to even happen. But I also feel mortally past, my childhood, all beginning to disappear, one piece at a time. Just within the past few years, some of my former high school classmates have also moved on: Guy, Fred, most recently Denny. I feel that some honor should be paid to those fallen fellow Cavaliers who weren't pop icons but are still missed.

I hope they're all now getting their groove on while Michael performs his greatest hits and Farrah sits at a table near the back, laughs and tosses her hair back across her shoulder. I know one day (hopefully later than sooner) I too will be out on that eternal dance floor, never stoppin' 'til I get enough.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Pro-Am Arts Question

Ronny and I have been taking a wheel pottery class at The Maple Creek Artisan Center for the past six weeks. He went, rather reluctantly, claiming "I'm not artistic, you're the artistic one!" Now he finds himself bent over his potter's wheel every Saturday afternoon, determined to "create" utilitarian art (in his case, cat food dishes). And he's become quite good at throwing small bowls and plates. My hands, apparently, are too big to be efficient at creating smaller pieces so I typically "go big or go home." Here are a couple of our "creations:"

This caused me to further ponder a recent blog post by Andrew Taylor (The Artful Manager, whom I read religiously) that attempts to define the difference between professional and amateur "artists." I understand the true difference between arts professionals and arts amateurs - we are, and always will be, on the AM-side of things. But why do some "PROs" feel it's only true art if you are trying to make a living at it and that the rest of us are mere "crafters?" Or worse, "hacks." And you know who you are...

Will our pieces ever be bought/sold, collected, or put on exhibition in some museum? No, they won't. But it's still art. We both tapped our inner-potter and created something from nothing more than a big hunk of mud. We instilled the works with our sweat and tears (both literally - when the kiln was being fired one Saturday afternoon - and figuratively - when I went to pick up a beautiful, large dish I had thrown the week before and the edge snapped off). And we enjoyed doing it. We learned. We made. We expressed ourselves in a new way. Isn't that what true art is all about, regardless of whether it's PRO or AM?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome to my world, FWIW...

My very first blog entry: feeling excited, nervous and a bit late to the game. Does anyone really care what I think? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, I've done the Facebook thing, the LinkedIn thing, even the Twitter thing (though I'm THIS close to jumping off the back of that bandwagon, despite my paying for Twitterific for my iPhone) it's blog-time.

Read a very interesting entry in Greg Sandow's blog this morning regarding the decline of classical music audiences (the full post can be read here:

As I work in the sector, I always read these posts with interest and often find myself asking more questions than the blog posts answer.

In this case the bigger question for me is, as classical music becomes more and more of a niche market, has the traditional symphony operating model become totally obsolete? Too large halls, too high ticket prices, too many performances throughout the year, too constricted union contracts (not to slam the unions, just my personal opinion), too limited funding opportunities, too many staff (sorry, again, personal opinion – and many of my friends are vital staffers within said organizations, so please keep them employed).

Personally, I think it has, but how does one truly “blow it up and start over?” And how do they do it with the blessing of their board of trustees who typically hire them to keep things moving along smoothly? See...more questions. Some food for thought on a Tuesday morning.

Future blog posts will run the gamut from personal items (tomorrow's trip to the Zoo for my nephew's first birthday, for example) to GLBT issues (after all, I am an out and proud gay Cincinnatian) and much more on the arts and culture front (since it consumes my days and, sometimes, my evenings). Thanks for reading. My two-cents, fwiw. (fwiw = for what it's worth!)