05 October 2010


CLASSICAL MUSIC. Colin Eatock notes that increasingly, classical music may be heard in the background at Canadian venues ranging from convenience stores to subway stations. While one might hope that the resulting drop in crime could be attributed to the transformation of troubled or violent souls by classical music's depth and sophistication, Eatock suggests another possible explanation -- that in a world where pop music is hectic, simplistic, brief and often devoid of substance, "classical music in public places is often deliberately intended to make certain types of people feel unwelcome. Its use has been described as 'musical bug spray,' and as the 'weaponization' of classical music ... 'Move along quickly and peacefully, people; this is not your cultural space."

This is just the first salvo in Eatock's examination of the current state of classical music. He outlines the history behind people's dislike for the genre, and suggests possible remedies. The essay is somewhat long, but provocative and worth the read. Speaking as one whose music of choice is classical, I hope that you will consider his thoughts, and maybe even dip your toes into the sublime waters of classical music yourself. You may find it to be a revelation.

POLITICAL IDIOCY. Three of my favorite NYTimes columnists take on the myths and the realities of the current political campaign season. Frank Rich in The Very Useful Idiocy of Christine O'Donnell suggests several reasons why this vapid Palin-wannabe (with a propensity for blatant lies and personal incompetence) has become a sensation among the far right. Paul Krugman in Fear and Favor examines the far right itself, and its incestuous, hypocritical relationship with the media and with deep-pocket donors. And Bob Herbert brings into focus the bizarre and checkered career of John Boehner ("always willing to stick his neck out for the elite"), potential Speaker of the House after the November elections, in That's Where the Money Is.

Should the elections bring Republicans into power in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, the only losers will be the public, and the only winners will be late night comedians. Have we learned nothing from the George W. Bush era? The short attention span of the American voter is positively dazzling. (Click on images to enlarge.)

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