Non-Music Stories: Great Writing About the Other Arts

By Jason Gross

  • Paul Greenberg: "Fight For Newspapers" (New York Sun, October 17, 2006)
    Explains why keeping Wall Street happy about a paper's profit might not be the best thing for the paper itself. "Cut back on the quality of a newspaper in order to show an impressive short-term return for the market's sake, and the slide toward disaster has begun. Readers will notice and begin drifting away, and advertisers will soon follow. It won't be long before the vultures are circling."

  • Malcolm Knox: "Lost for Words" (Sydney Morning Herald, January 5, 2006)
    As good as it is to have a successful debut, an artist then worries about what they'll do for a follow-up, from Cervantes to Zadie Smith. It's as true for novelists as it is for performers.

  • Philip Kenicott: "William Safire and Art That's Good for You" (Washington Post, March 15, 2006)
    Should support for the arts come from the practical reason that it leads to work applications, or from the argument that it feeds the soul? Right-wing pundit thinks the former, but Kenicott argues the latter, insisting that art should challenge and engage us.

  • Mark Lawson: "Who Cares What the Reviews Say?" (Guardian, May 24, 2006)
    An interesting British observation of how much sway critics really do (and don't) have in the arts. Biggest selling points to critic-proof works: "title, actor, songs--that (are) already exceptionally well-known." The difference between reviewers and audience: "Critics are giving marks for originality, acting, photography and scripting, while mass audiences are more drawn to familiarity of genre, stars they would like to have sex with or plots that are more likely to make their dates have sex with them. Reviewers are doing their day's work, cinema-goers are escaping from theirs: this leads to an inevitable difference of response."

  • Tony Long: "Literacy Limps Into the Kill Zone" (Wired, February 16, 2006)
    A copy chief bemoans the shrinking standards of the printed word in an Internet world. Between SMS messaging, online acronyms (FYI, BTW, etc.) and the sloppy non-editing of blogs, our collective ability to communicate properly is slipping away. All this esoteric computer geek-speak should make the many impenetrably hip reviews out there even more difficult to read now.

  • Roger Moore: "A Dying Breed... (Paid) Movie Critics" (Orlando Sentinal Blog, November 22, 2006)
    A heartfelt defense of the endangered cultural arbitrators that are getting axed out of publications, and not just in Moore's Southern enclave (plenty of them were pink-slipped in Gotham and other big cities as well). He's right to worry that a handful of wire service scribes will dictate tastes across the country but wrong to piss on blogs for filling in the gaps. Come to think of it, Moore's own article is a blog entry itself.

  • Alan Riding: "When Anguish Among Artists Became Both Respected and Expected" (New York Times, July 27, 2006)
    Who's to blame for all these moody, self-important entertainers? We ourselves are the culprits, for loving them so much. "The fact is that, whether they are shocking or self-important, antisocial or entertaining, even if they prefer to be celebrities over rebels and martyrs, we still want our artists to be different. We want to believe they are blessed with some mystical gift. And for that enviable state of grace, they can thank their Romantic forebears."

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Choose a Section:

  • Introduction

  • Super-Scribing AwardsSuper-Scribing Awards: Best Writing of the Year

  • Superior Scribing Awards: Other Great Pieces of Music Journalism

  • Amazing Stories in and of Themselves

  • The Ignoble Prizes: Worst Music Writing of the Year