Recently talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres replaced Paula Abdul as the fourth judge on American Idol. More recently the show's signature presence Simon Fuller announced his departure. Last week an actual credible record producer, Steve Lillywhite, went public with his go at auditioning for the show.


If you know nothing about Black Mountain College, where the photo below was taken, start here. Its teaching ranks were populated not by academics but practitioners. Among those who taught there during its brief, 24-year lifespan were Josef and Anni Albers, Alfred Kazin, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Walter Gropius, Franz Kline, Charles Olson, Aaron Siskind, and Robert Motherwell. (I'll let you Google the unfamiliar names.)


"The art world, which used to be a community, is now part of the world wide visual culture industry, which includes film, fashion, television, and advertising, and works overtime to trample down the boundaries that used to keep them separate."


Excerpt from one of Deborah Solomon's infamously condensed interviews in The New York Times Magazine. (I like them.) With Douglas Coupland, famous Canadian, infamous coiner of the term Gen X.


Let's lead this post with a bit of theater: Karin Dreijer Andersson aka Fever Ray (or maybe it's a stand-in?) accepting an award for best dance artist at that country's equivalent of the Grammy Awards. (They're called the Grammis. American cultural imperialism is no joke.):


Few artists' careers are as unimpeachable as Brian Eno's. (Well, ok, there is that Paul Simon record.) Anyway, you can marvel at Eno's recorded accomplishments elsewhere. As impressive as his long list of amazing, culture-impacting albums, though, is the way he talks about music:


The difference between comedians & musicians is a matter of self-esteem. I'm not sure who has more, and who has less.


I like new sounds.

I only really like new sounds, however, when they are encased in a structure that propels them -- be it a folk music architecture of repetitive and/or shopworn patterns; composed music's cerebral, considered developments; or a dance music's tension and release model.


Alec Hanley Bemis's picture
Alec Hanley Bemis

Alec Hanley Bemis lives in Brooklyn, NY but spends a lot of time in California. He obtained his B.A. in History from Yale University. His writing has appeared in LA Weekly, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Spin, AsthmaticKitty.com, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. In 2001, he co-founded Brassland, a record label that documents the work of a growing community of musicians, including The National and Nico Muhly. Currently he continues to run Brassland, consults for the UK-based music company All Tomorrow's Parties, co-manages The Dirty Projectors, and acts as general manager at Cantaloupe Music. In the past, he has taught in New York University's graduate journalism program, produced projects for the new media-design firm, Funny Garbage, and written for Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve.