Category Archives: Music

Confused About The Subjective Theory Of Value Vs. Objective Standards (+ Some Laughs)

libertarianism, Music, Objectivism, Political Economy, Pop-Culture

At last. Someone with a funny bone (and a healthy IQ). “Best laughs of the month,” writes Jim Ostrowski about “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad And The Beastly.” It was also nice to hear from Jim that “CPUKE” made him pack-up laughing—this long time activist, lawyer and author for liberty deserves a good laugh.

On the other hand, on EPJ, “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad And The Beastly” has stimulated an interesting, if distressing, thread. Increasingly, I get why my pal Vox Day quit (and he was way more sombre than I; my writing is consistently funny.)

No cause for laughter is this to-and-fro:

Anonymous March 7, 2014 at 12:51 PM:

Sometimes a person can be too critical when giving a negative opinion it comes off as just an irritating screed. A screed that longs for the past that’s not coming back – it’s over, gone, no more – so get over it. Today’s art may not be what it should be, but I bet if and once deflation kicks in art will return to what it ought to be.

The reason why kids now days don’t read certain books but the Hunger Games is because those books (ie. Chekhov) are boring and don’t really line up with today’s issues. Well, they are. And, the author of Hunger Games is a she.

Reply
ILANA MERCER March 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM
:

I should have guessed “Hungers Games” was “written” by a girl (although, don’t discriminate, carriers of the Y Chromosome can too be girls if they want to). Could Anon’s impoverished imagination (Chekhov is not for kids and was referenced as “heavy,” not necessarily enjoyable) be a consequence of utter lack of familiarity with the greatest, most exciting books ever? Classics for kids and young adults? Are you kidding me? “Hunger Games” or “Harry Potter” will never match gripping, culturally and historically richly textured, well-written stuff (so good for real boys) like: Ivanhoe, The Count of Monte Cristo, Treasure Island, Arabian Nights, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Last of the Mohicans, Les Misérables, Around the World in Eighty Days, Black Stallion, Wuthering Heights, Kiss Kiss, and even The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Problem is Anon has been brought up to revel in ignorance. You are perfect just they way you are. Kids nowadays don’t read b/c they’ve been told, like Anon, that they don’t need to—nothing much to learn from the great masters.

Reply
Tony March 7, 2014 at 4:56 PM
:

What i liked as a child was considered mostly crap by the elderly. And what the youths of today like i consider to be mostly crap. 30 years from now the youths will wonder how anyone other than geriatrics could possibly like Beyonce, Pharrell Williams or Rihanna.
Tastes generally remain stagnant on what we’re used to. Because of this subjective opinion and feelings of nostalgia i don’t really think it is possible to judge which is “better”.

Having said that, i am getting borderline depressed about what goes for “great movies” or “good music” these days. I don’t bother watching the Academy Awards anymore, since it has turned into a liberal self-congratulatory smugfest (with matching “best movie” nominees) so thick it raises ocean levels a yard ever year.

Reply
ILANA MERCER March 7, 2014
:

Actually, Tony, the value each consumer places on consumer goods in the marketplace is subject. But the Subjective Theory of Value should not be confused with objective standards that determine the quality of cultural products. It’s pretty distressing to realize that libertarians confuse the two concepts and that cultural, intellectual and moral equivalence pervades our thinking as much as it does that of mainstream. To wit, applying objective, universal criteria (complexity, skill, mastery, intricacy, etc.), as the column states, it is objectively and immutably true that “B.B. King is no match for Johann Sebastian Bach.” I’m sure you can think of hundreds of similar examples: You might prefer to purchase one of Toni Morrison’s God-awful tomes, but the objective fact is that she’s no match for Shakespeare.


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UPDATED: Camelot Culture Vs. Pimp Culture (Categorical Confusion)

Aesthetics, America, Art, libertarianism, Music, Pop-Culture

The truth is that Camelot in the title stands for the West; for high-culture compared to low-culture. The great music of the West vs. the sewer of sound that has replaced it and which is second nature to this president.

In any event, the leader of the country whose press snickered at Russia for its enduring affection for classical music is offering up Mary J. Blige as entertainment, at a state dinner for the French President Francois Hollande.

Being a classless act in his own right, Hollande will probably dig it.

Oh, what would Jackie O say! That most cultured, knowledgeable and bright First lady was in the habit of seeking out the likes of cellist Pablo Casals for her state dinners.

Here are some of the cultural highlights from the Camelot years. The White House might have been occupied by a statist, but by one who loved high Western culture:

1961

January 20 ”Camelot” opens in Washington as John Kennedy is sworn in as president, instructing Americans to ”ask what you can do for your country.”

January 21 Bernstein’s “Fanfare for JFK,” written for the new President, premieres at the inaugural gala with the composer conducting. Pianist Earl Wild, currently a Columbus resident, performs Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

March 9 President Kennedy sends a letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of House urging early enactment of legislation on the proposed National Cultural Center.

May 3 The Air Force Pipers and the Drum and Bugle Corps perform on the South Lawn after the first state dinner for President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia.

July 11 The Kennedys hold the first White House state dinner away from the White House, at Mt. Vernon, to honor the Pakistani President, complete with the National Symphony Orchestra playing Mozart, Debussy, Gershwin, and Morton Gould.

August 22 Jackie Kennedy sponsors the first “Concert for Young People by Young People,” performed by the Transylvania Youth Orchestra from the Brevard Music Center on the White House South Lawn.

November 13 Pablo Casals plays for a state dinner honoring Governor Luis Munoz-Marin of Puerto Rico. Broadcast nationally by NBC and ABC radio, a recording was distributed commercially by Columbia.

1962
January 19 The Kennedys fete the 80-year-old Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky, who calls the two “Nice kids.”

February 20 25-year-old black mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry makes her American debut at the White House after a state dinner.

April 29 The White House honors 49 Nobel Prize winners, prompting JFK to comment upon the “most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

May 11 André Malraux, the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, is honored at a White House dinner with entertainment by the famous Stern/Rose/Istomin Trio performing the complete 45-minute Schubert Trio in B Flat.

September 11 Mrs. Kennedy unveils Edward Durell Stone’s model for the National Cultural Center.

October 16 The President proclaims November 26 through December 2, 1962, National Cultural Center Week.

November 19 Following a tour of Latin America under President Kennedy’s Cultural Exchange Program, The Paul Winter Jazz Sextet gives the first jazz concert in the White House.

November 29 During Kennedy’s “National Culture Center Week,” a closed-circuit television broadcast airs to raise funds on behalf of the National Cultural Center.

1963
February 21 JFK broadens the scope of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to include persons who had made especially meritorious contributions from just “(1) the security or national interests of the United States or (2) world peace, to (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

June 4 The Opera Society of Washington, with Columbus’ own Clara O’Dette in the chorus, performs for the President of India.

June 12 Kennedy issues a statement establishing the Advisory Council on the Arts.

October 26 President Kennedy remarks on the importance of the arts at Amherst College.

November 13 President and Mrs. Kennedy join 1,700 children on the South Lawn for a performance by the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch of the British Army.

November 25 At the request of Mrs. Kennedy, the Marine Band led the funeral procession of President John F. Kennedy.

December 6 Cellist Pablo Casals, contralto Marian Anderson, and pianist Rudolf Serkin are given Kennedy’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first musicians ever recognized for this award. John and Jackie Kennedy had studied, revised, and approved the design submitted for the medal which was handed out to all 31 recipients.

UPDATE (2/12): On Categorical Confusion. I never pollute and muddy a discussion of culture with politics. That is positively postmodern. An error. (And so lite libertarian). Some readers are in the habit of causing this categorical confusion among my readers. If only they’d learn. Jackie was the quintessential Renaissance Woman. She cultivated great culture—and knew this “culture” well; she was no culture vulture. This is the focus here. This is ALL that is relevant to the discussion here.

From “Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?”:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s envy of what he labels “’European’ achievements is palpable. Why else would he have devoted an hour to listing ‘European’ accomplishments, mocking them, and defining as difference the failure to emulate them?”

“To illustrate how African music differs from ‘European’ music, this so-and-so emitted a caterwauling which was supposed to come-off as a cantata. To emphasize the pomposity of the cantata, Wright launched into Brother musical mode, jovial and jolly. Black music was different, not deficient, to white music, said he. But Wright’s contemptuous tone and mimicry implied that the former was filled with joie de vivre, the latter just jejune.”

MORE.


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A Song For Sunday

Music

These days, popular “musicians” can riff about themselves aplenty, but they can’t write music, play their instruments proficiently or come up with lyrics as intense as these. Here’s “Still Loving You,” an achingly beautiful, classic rock ballad by The Scorpions.

With a happy birthday to my dear sister.

Time, it needs time to win back your love again
I will be there, I will be there
Love, only love can bring back your love someday
I will be there, I will be there

Fight, babe, I’ll fight to win back your love again
I will be there, I will be there
Love, only love can break down the wall someday
I will be there, I will be there

If we go again all the way from the start
I would try to change the things that killed our love
Your pride has built a wall, so strong that I can’t get through
Is there really no chance to start once again? I’m loving you

Try, baby, try to trust in my love again
I will be there, I will be there
Love, our love just shouldn’t be thrown away
I will be there, I will be there

If we’d go again, all the way from the start
I would try to change the things that killed our love
Your pride has built a wall, so strong that I can’t get through
Is there really no chance to start once again?

If we’d go again, all the way from the start
I would try to change the things that killed our love
Yes, I’ve hurt your pride, and I know what you’ve been through
You should give me a chance, this can’t be the end

I’m still loving you
I’m still loving you
I’m still loving you
I need your love
I’m still loving you
Still loving you, baby

Still loving you
I need your love
I’m still loving you
I need your love

I’m still loving you
I need your love
I need your love

(The Scorpions – Still Loving You Lyrics | MetroLyrics)


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MacFarlane Against The Boobs

Celebrity, Film, Hollywood, Judaism & Jews, Music, Political Correctness

I’m in Seth MacFarlane’s corner, despite his smarminess. The master of ceremonies at the 85th Academy Awards managed to annoy the right people.

In “Oscars’ Hostile, Ugly, Sexist Night,” Amy Davidson, an affirmative fem at the New Yorker, kvetched over the “hostility shown to women in the workplace.” The meandering Davidson was moaning about MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” routine (I didn’t see it), and its implication:

We saw your boobs, but that’s not even what we find attractive, so you exerted no power in doing so—all you did was humiliate yourself?

Behold the sacred boob! So now if a woman strips and a man laughs he risks accusation of impropriety. Besides, women rule the work place, toots. I know men who don’t dare greet a female for fear of an harassment suit.

Another anemic New Yorker writer whined that MacFarlane insulted those Who’re Always Ready to Receive Offense.

Snivels She Who Took Offense:

MacFarlane came off as kind of a pig, as he made fun of women for being too thin, too old, too naked. How sophisticated is it to call the pretty, popular girls sluts? I had to stand up and move away when he turned his sights on the lovely black nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, nominated for Best Actress. I felt sick imagining where MacFarlane might go. So when he simply made a joke about George Clooney sleeping with her down the road, I felt my body relax.

I’ve now watched “We Saw Your Boobs.” If this is indeed MacFarlane singing, he has a better voice and is more musical than all the other warblers who “sang” last night, except for Dame Shirley Bassey, of course, who can do no wrong.

Here’s her stunning, sexy, original performance of Gold Finger

As I predicted in Annual Oscar Offal, Adel did deliver a monotone. She has no range. Barbra Streisand was appalling. And I owe you an apology. I promised no Jennifer Hudson. But someone did go primal on stage. I suspect it was Hudson.

Finally, the reason I’m on MacFarlane’s side is because he has set off that ersatz defender of Jewish interests, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL, “on Monday blasted an Oscars sketch in which potty-mouthed film star bear Ted joked about Jews in Hollywood.”

I recall that Foxman had more to say about Mel Gibson than he had about a Seattle based Jihadist, Naveed Afzal Haq. Haq murdered a Jewish woman and critically injured five other women at the downtown Jewish Federation building in 2006.

The ADL’s website issued only the tersest of statements. It made no mention of the dead, the injured, and the Muslim. A glance at the League’s site and a visitor from Deep Space might get the impression Seth MacFarlane and other marauding Christian Cossacks like him posed the greatest danger to Jewish continuity.

As I said, I caught but a glimpse of Seth MacFarlane presenting the Oscars. He was not terribly funny, but then they never are. Don’t tell me you found any of the multiple appearances of Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg the least bit amusing.

“Family Guy” is quite cute, but this MacFarlane creation has nothing on Mike Judge’s stuff. “Idiocracy” and Beavis & Butthead are sublimely smart.

MacFarlane is certainly not in Joan Rivers’ league when it comes to impropriety. If only she were unleashed on the Oscar crowd. Now that she’s old, she gets away with speaking her nimble mind.

I laughed so loud and hard at a comment she made on her reality show with Mellisa, the insipid but loving daughter, that I missed at least two more jokes. (I would not recommend watching “Joan Knows Best?”. Like all reality voyeurism, it’s junk—and a schlep, as Rivers would say.)

Ms. Rivers walked in on a football party Mellisa was throwing for her young son and his rowdy small friends. Looking on with disdain at the grubby little boys, Rivers blurted out:

“I don’t know how Jerry Sandusky managed to do it.”


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Annual Oscar Offal

Aesthetics, Britain, Celebrity, Film, Hollywood, Music, Pop-Culture

The Oscar’s self-aggrandizing crowd is too much for me to stand, not even for you the reader. There will be some unfunny shtick. A precocious crappy kid will make a debut. At least one aging actor will be honored (in 2011, the distinction was Kirk Douglas’) and retired—Hollywood performs professional geronticide on the old—and hackneyed scripts filled with loud-mouthed, humorless, self-referential hedonists will abound.

The closest I’ll come to watching the 85th Academy Awards ceremony is “Fashion Police,” a sartorial send-up by Joan Rivers. She’s the only comedian and great wit who can get men to watch a program about fashion. Like me, my husband hates all “estrogen oozing” TV programing, but greatly appreciates Rivers. And rightly so. She’s lethal.

Adel’s monotone will be G-d awful, and while we will be spared Jennifer Hudson’s primal screams, Barbra Streisand will more than make up for the reprieve.

Other than lessons lost, “Les Misérables” represents great literature reduced to schmaltzy jingles, belted out by Hollywood starlets. The lesson lost: The “Les Misérables” I read as a kid was about France’s unfathomably cruel and unjust penal system, and the prototypical obedient functionary who worked a lifetime to enforce the system’s depredations. A similar power (Uncle Sam) and its enforcers recently hounded Aaron Swartz to death.

For those who care, here are the predictions. I’ve watched none of them. I’m most likely to watch “Flight” with Denzel Washington. The film got bad reviews, but I like the “disaster film genre,” although nothing will ever come close to Airport (1970) and its sequels.

Restless—I caught it on the Sundance Channel—is a BBC One production directed by Edward Hall of “MI-5” fame. With all its faults, Restless makes you realize that any British film, even a mediocre mini-series, is better than the American equivalent, big-screen productions included. (Britain retains the edge in this department.)


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UPDATED: Pimping The Culture (No Nirvana)

Art, Barack Obama, Celebrity, Human Accomplishment, Music, Pop-Culture, The Zeitgeist

Below is an excerpt from the current weekly column, Pimping The Culture, now on WND.

“The marketplace doesn’t adjudicate the quality of art or pop culture—it does no more than offer an aggregate snapshot of the trillions of subjective preferences acted upon by consumers. That snapshot, in 2013, tells us that when it comes to “Bread and Circuses,” Rome and its provinces wallow in the same lowbrow popular culture.

Incidentally, to judge the quality of a cultural product is not to begrudge the preferences of the people who purchase it. It is simply to apply timeless, objective standards in assessing these products. …

… By and large, when it comes to entertainment, the people and the elites are on the same empty page—most of the musicians whose products they patronize, or with whom they fraternize, can’t read music, much less play it.

‘Grammy and Academy Award winner’ Jennifer Hudson, to whose primal screams the president and first lady attempted to dance, doesn’t sing; she screams. Voice coaches once considered the Hudson brand of ‘vocal wobble’ a deficiency in technique and talent. But then, ‘Why be a musician, when you can be a success?’ Such cacophony currently plays to full houses. It is to their credit that the First Couple smoothed the noise over with some smooth moves. …

… More sounds that curdled the air were those of Alicia Keys pounding on the piano keys. …

… I’d rather listen to the dodecaphony of twelve-tone music than sit through the guttural battle cries emitted by today’s entertainers. …”

The complete column is Pimping The Culture, now on WND.

If you’d like to feature this column, WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, in or on your publication (paper or pixels), contact ilana@ilanamercer.com.

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UPDATE (Jan. 24): No fan of mine (or my column), the writer below, says the in-house studio musician, is “Obviously a nirvana fan…”

From: Daniel G
Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 9:59 AM
To: imercer@wnd.com
Subject: anywho

“Typical prog fan, putting other people down because their favorite musicians don’t use 20 sided dice to choose their time signatures.”

HERE’S the good (non-nirvana) stuff:


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