AllenLowe

I Cannot Make this stuff up: from a Book I am Reading

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Might we have a generational (among other) divide?

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why isn't Dan -- a man of great intelligence and broad experience, etc. -- given credit for having lived his own life and having reached his own conclusions.

Because today's battles are about ownership, and ownership is all about defining, not spotlighting and encouraging.

This is what happens when enough people die. Pretty soon critical mass is reached and even the still-living are up for grabs.

Exactly.

One of the most awful things about tyrannies, I reckon, is not only that one has to submit by and large to the sheer power of those in power but also that one must accept (if and when this becomes an issue) the tyranny's typically detailed false supporting claims that the power the tyrant has come to exercise is rational and righteous. They want both your bodies and your souls.

Well said, gents. Gennari's book about jazz-criticism history is all about power and he doesn't notice or care that there are values in this music we love. He wrote about a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation. Sometimes the power-obsessed jazz academics seem like too many hogs fighting over a too-small trough with not enough swill to go around. OTOH Hersch seems to have picked a genuinely worthwhile subject to write about, even though others have already researched it--I hope the rest of it isn't as awful as Allen's excerpt.

Jim, at least when revisionists impose their programs/propaganda upon the still-living, the still-living can fight back. As George Lewis did in his AACM history.

Fortunately, we have nothing to fear from the likes of Gennari. The most sophisticated tyrants get our souls by nourishing our bodies and distracting our attention (bread and circuses) from their violence against freedom. As in present-day China. That's why Rick Perry is such a trip, the times are right for an American demagogue.

I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc.

Musicians don't like being judged by critics. Critics don't like being judged by academics. And on it goes.

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

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my biggest quibble with academics is how few truly believe in real academic freedom - my personal experience is that they don't just disagree with you but ultimately, if you disagree strongly enough, want to exclude you from the argument.

think Burton Peretti, who helped kill my rock and roll history at University of Illinois Press; or the editor (at U California Press) who told me, about the rock and roll book, "I like it very much but it won't pass political muster with my board."

it seems I gave white musicians too much credit. As the editor of Duke University Press told me, in almost so many words.

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But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Mind if I serve meat and alcohol and play loud music?

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But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Mind if I serve meat and alcohol and play loud music?

Tofu, carrot juice, and George Winston for me.

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You - NOT INVITED!!!

:g :g :g :g :g

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You guys need to relax and listen to some music. The folks you rail about don't give a fuck.

Chuck -- Wait until someone writes something grossly inaccurate if not mean-spirited about, say, your role in recording Roscoe and others (if that hasn't already happened). If I know you, your response won't be to relax and listen to some music.

Over the last 40+ years I have been attacked by white folks saying I'd been duped by black musicians and by black folks saying I was screwing black musicians.

I think your recent thread about that AAJ review of Sonny Rollins Impulse "double" reissue of On Impulse / There Will Never Be Another You is a mild example of what I had in mind. You don't suffer fools gladly; no reason (depending on one's temperament and the social situation) that anyone should.

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Just to perhaps clarify my second point. I see no problem with arguing that the book represents academic overreach of a special kind connected to "New Jazz Studies." What's disingenuous to me is basing a complaint on the presumption of a power grab when -- in what others might term a similar action -- a person puts himself in a position of deciding what is and what is not a proper line of inquiry based on a self-proclaimed deeper understanding of jazz values.

Which is not to say that board members here do not in fact have that deeper understanding ...

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Just to perhaps clarify my second point. I see no problem with arguing that the book represents academic overreach of a special kind connected to "New Jazz Studies." What's disingenuous to me is basing a complaint on the presumption of a power grab when -- in what others might term a similar action -- a person puts himself in a position of deciding what is and what is not a proper line of inquiry based on a self-proclaimed deeper understanding of jazz values.

Which is not to say that board members here do not in fact have that deeper understanding ...

What "others might term [this] a similar action"? It all (or mostly) comes down to people. I know who John is, I know (this sounds pretentious) what his values and understanding are, as does anyone who has read his good-sized body of work, which has been available to the public over a long period of time. Whether or not he proclaims it himself, he does have that deeper understanding, has shown that he does many times over. If there are "others" who think that he has to start over from square one and prove who he is anew because they don't know who he is, that's their problem; they need to do some homework.

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As an academic myself (though not a writer on music), I certainly agree that academic writing on jazz, reflecting broader trends in the humanities, can offer some trivial observations couched in easily-parodied jargon. Too, a number of academic writers on jazz haven’t heard enough of the music. And many academics of all stripes don’t do enough to live up fully to the privileges of academic freedom. But this discussion, in turn, seems to trivialize academics’ role in jazz. The music is, if not a dying art, a declining art. In various ways, including sometimes jejune articles and books, academia is helping to keep the music on life support, whether it is by giving musicians support and another forum (I think of David Baker at Indiana University), publishing books on jazz, sponsoring research, or offering classes on the music.

I assume the book that inspired this thread is Charles Hersch’s Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz. I don’t know Prof. Hersch and I haven’t read his book. But a cursory look at it on Amazon indicates that it is more than the couple of sentences about Louis Armstrong’s fascination with Swiss Kriss. As the title of the book suggests, Hersch seems to be arguing that in more ways than we typically recognize, jazz at its origins was a subversive force, well outside the cultural mainstream in a number of ways. Not a stunningly original argument, but a serious one, and not ignorant, either. More strikingly, Hersch argues against the now-received wisdom that jazz originated around the country rather than uniquely in New Orleans. He may well be wrong, but that is an interesting argument worthy of real discussion.

Whether or not Hersch’s book is compelling, there is plenty of worthwhile recent academic writing about jazz. On the subject of Louis Armstrong, I have particularly enjoyed Brian Harker’s new book on the Hot Five and Hot Seven records—a fresh effort to explain the particular nature of Armstrong’s innovations. Harker’s book is part of a new series from Oxford University Press, which includes Keith Waters’ study of the records of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-1968 (lots of musicology, and no troubling bodily functions). Then there is Jeffrey Magee’s book on Fletcher Henderson—and so on. I think the music we all love has a better chance of surviving if we avoid stereotypes and try to highlight what’s interesting and exciting as well as what strikes us as absurd.

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Just to perhaps clarify my second point. I see no problem with arguing that the book represents academic overreach of a special kind connected to "New Jazz Studies." What's disingenuous to me is basing a complaint on the presumption of a power grab when -- in what others might term a similar action -- a person puts himself in a position of deciding what is and what is not a proper line of inquiry based on a self-proclaimed deeper understanding of jazz values.

Which is not to say that board members here do not in fact have that deeper understanding ...

What "others might term [this] a similar action"? It all (or mostly) comes down to people. I know who John is, I know (this sounds pretentious) what his values and understanding are, as does anyone who has read his good-sized body of work, which has been available to the public over a long period of time. Whether or not he proclaims it himself, he does have that deeper understanding, has shown that he does many times over. If there are "others" who think that he has to start over from square one and prove who he is anew because they don't know who he is, that's their problem; they need to do some homework.

I'm not questioning John's authority or credentials by any means. The work speaks for itself and I've been a great admirer for many years. I was just trying to get at the issue of who, if anyone, should have the power of prior restraint to put some topics off limits. My answer is no one, because you start to run into "Free speech for me but not for thee."

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Just to perhaps clarify my second point. I see no problem with arguing that the book represents academic overreach of a special kind connected to "New Jazz Studies." What's disingenuous to me is basing a complaint on the presumption of a power grab when -- in what others might term a similar action -- a person puts himself in a position of deciding what is and what is not a proper line of inquiry based on a self-proclaimed deeper understanding of jazz values.

Which is not to say that board members here do not in fact have that deeper understanding ...

What "others might term [this] a similar action"? It all (or mostly) comes down to people. I know who John is, I know (this sounds pretentious) what his values and understanding are, as does anyone who has read his good-sized body of work, which has been available to the public over a long period of time. Whether or not he proclaims it himself, he does have that deeper understanding, has shown that he does many times over. If there are "others" who think that he has to start over from square one and prove who he is anew because they don't know who he is, that's their problem; they need to do some homework.

I'm not questioning John's authority or credentials by any means. The work speaks for itself and I've been a great admirer for many years. I was just trying to get at the issue of who, if anyone, should have the power of prior restraint to put some topics off limits. My answer is no one, because you start to run into "Free speech for me but not for thee."

I don't agree with John here that the nature and history of jazz criticism is irrelevant to jazz and jazz appreciation. It was/is a music that reached and moved (reaches and moves) a broad audience in important ways; and who wrote what about the music when and (within reasonable limits of investigation/speculation) why is part of the story -- peripheral perhaps, but not without interest. But while no one should have the power of prior restraint about what topics are worth talking about, that doesn't absolve us from the task of recognizing b.s. and power operations for what they are when, as sometimes happens, they become egregious. Free speech in the don't stop him/her from speaking sense is one thing; but some people (not you) seem to think that free speech means that all speech is or ought to be equal in value.

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I'm still trying to get a handle on "the pink-shaded dissent of a Dizzy Gillespie or a Jon Hendricks"...is this Richard Nixon talking about Helen Gahagan Douglas, or somebody who OD-ed on Ken Nordines Colors album, or just an old-fashioned dumbass?

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Just to perhaps clarify my second point. I see no problem with arguing that the book represents academic overreach of a special kind connected to "New Jazz Studies." What's disingenuous to me is basing a complaint on the presumption of a power grab when -- in what others might term a similar action -- a person puts himself in a position of deciding what is and what is not a proper line of inquiry based on a self-proclaimed deeper understanding of jazz values.

Which is not to say that board members here do not in fact have that deeper understanding ...

What "others might term [this] a similar action"? It all (or mostly) comes down to people. I know who John is, I know (this sounds pretentious) what his values and understanding are, as does anyone who has read his good-sized body of work, which has been available to the public over a long period of time. Whether or not he proclaims it himself, he does have that deeper understanding, has shown that he does many times over. If there are "others" who think that he has to start over from square one and prove who he is anew because they don't know who he is, that's their problem; they need to do some homework.

I'm not questioning John's authority or credentials by any means. The work speaks for itself and I've been a great admirer for many years. I was just trying to get at the issue of who, if anyone, should have the power of prior restraint to put some topics off limits. My answer is no one, because you start to run into "Free speech for me but not for thee."

I don't agree with John here that the nature and history of jazz criticism is irrelevant to jazz and jazz appreciation. It was/is a music that reached and moved (reaches and moves) a broad audience in important ways; and who wrote what about the music when and (within reasonable limits of investigation/speculation) why is part of the story -- peripheral perhaps, but not without interest. But while no one should have the power of prior restraint about what topics are worth talking about, that doesn't absolve us from the task of recognizing b.s. and power operations for what they are when, as sometimes happens, they become egregious. Free speech in the don't stop him/her from speaking sense is one thing; but some people (not you) seem to think that free speech means that all speech is or ought to be equal in value.

Larry, of course the nature and history of jazz criticism, and of jazz scholarship, too, are important. But these are not the subjects that Gennari wrote about.

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I have trouble with this line of thinking because the implication is that Gennari's subject itself is out of bounds because it's "a peripheral subject, irrelevant to jazz and to jazz appreciation" and that he apparently doesn't get that "the values in this music that we love." Sorry, but exploring the history of criticism of any art form is a completely relevant topic in enlarging our understanding of the way that art form has developed and its relationship to the larger society. Just because Gennari may have done a poor job doesn't mean that the job wasn't worth doing well.

Moreover, it seems disingenuous to me to complain that Gennari's book represents the overreach of power-obsessed jazz academics when wielding power, intentionally or unintentionally, benignly or maliciously, carelessly or meticulously, is on at least some level an issue in almost all criticism. Certainly musicians have always complained about critics in the same terms that you are complaining about academics -- they don't understand the music or its values, all they want is power, they're failed musicians, bitter, impotent, etc....

I agree with the first paragraph, don't agree with the second. "Blowin' Hot and Cool" is a very specific book and part of a very specific movement, the so-called "New Jazz Studies." The problems I have with the book and with much of this movement seem to me to have little do with criticism in general or even (gulp!) with academics in general.

But what the hell -- party at Jim's house!

Just to perhaps clarify my second point. I see no problem with arguing that the book represents academic overreach of a special kind connected to "New Jazz Studies." What's disingenuous to me is basing a complaint on the presumption of a power grab when -- in what others might term a similar action -- a person puts himself in a position of deciding what is and what is not a proper line of inquiry based on a self-proclaimed deeper understanding of jazz values.

Which is not to say that board members here do not in fact have that deeper understanding ...

What "others might term [this] a similar action"? It all (or mostly) comes down to people. I know who John is, I know (this sounds pretentious) what his values and understanding are, as does anyone who has read his good-sized body of work, which has been available to the public over a long period of time. Whether or not he proclaims it himself, he does have that deeper understanding, has shown that he does many times over. If there are "others" who think that he has to start over from square one and prove who he is anew because they don't know who he is, that's their problem; they need to do some homework.

I'm not questioning John's authority or credentials by any means. The work speaks for itself and I've been a great admirer for many years. I was just trying to get at the issue of who, if anyone, should have the power of prior restraint to put some topics off limits. My answer is no one, because you start to run into "Free speech for me but not for thee."

I don't agree with John here that the nature and history of jazz criticism is irrelevant to jazz and jazz appreciation. It was/is a music that reached and moved (reaches and moves) a broad audience in important ways; and who wrote what about the music when and (within reasonable limits of investigation/speculation) why is part of the story -- peripheral perhaps, but not without interest. But while no one should have the power of prior restraint about what topics are worth talking about, that doesn't absolve us from the task of recognizing b.s. and power operations for what they are when, as sometimes happens, they become egregious. Free speech in the don't stop him/her from speaking sense is one thing; but some people (not you) seem to think that free speech means that all speech is or ought to be equal in value.

Agreed on all counts.

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I'm still trying to get a handle on "the pink-shaded dissent of a Dizzy Gillespie or a Jon Hendricks"...is this Richard Nixon talking about Helen Gahagan Douglas, or somebody who OD-ed on Ken Nordines Colors album, or just an old-fashioned dumbass?

It's a bit of 1) but mostly 3), though that dumbness may in part be new-fashioned. If nothing else, to say "pink-shaded" when you likely just mean coming from somewhere over on the Left (with of course a strong civil rights movement overtone) is so loose as to be ugly and (I assume inadvertently) akin to Nixonian name-calling.

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I can't believe it to be inadvertent...how else would you settle on "pink" as a point of reference other than Cold War aspersionalism?

Even if used ironically...that's really odious in my book (which I'm not writing, so as not to be part of either the problem or the solution, or the zeitgeist, all of which have their own agendas, none of which are mine, assuming that I have one, which other than getting out of this life alive, I do not).

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Larry, of course the nature and history of jazz criticism, and of jazz scholarship, too, are important. But these are not the subjects that Gennari wrote about.

Right. Much as I don't want to, I may need to re-read Gennari's book. I do remember the part about Martin Williams' mother.

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I can't believe it to be inadvertent...how else would you settle on "pink" as a point of reference other than Cold War aspersionalism?

Even if used ironically...that's really odious in my book (which I'm not writing, so as not to be part of either the problem or the solution, or the zeitgeist, all of which have their own agendas, none of which are mine, assuming that I have one, which other than getting out of this life alive, I do not).

I know, "pink" has an ugly and specific history, but I still lean toward sheer sloppiness, in part because Genarri's own attitudes, if one can infer them from the way he treats other figures in his rogue's gallery of critics -- e.g. Gene Lees and the bizarre characterization of Dan. M. in the passage we've been talking about -- seem to be firmly in the progressive camp, with an emphasis on totaling up racial injuries whenever possible. OTOH, it may be an instance of a kind of semi-conscious "I'm in the catbird seat" shpritzing, a tendency to lay "attitude" on just about anyone in a free-and-easy manner.

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Still, I gotta wonder how "sloppy" ends up at "pink" when describing a political bent. Just fell down and landed there?

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Still, I gotta wonder how "sloppy" ends up at "pink" when describing a political bent. Just fell down and landed there?

I wonder, too, but, believe me, in my days as an editor I saw stuff that was just as weird, especially when the writer was focused on "attitude," on cutting a figure. It was as though certain words/terms like "pink" that were brimful of attitude retained in the writer's mind only that sense of edginess, detached from the term's origin and actual meaning. Indeed, I discovered that such writers tend to have their private little storehouses of "edgy" (but in their minds virtually contentless) words and phrases. Well, not quite "contentless" -- I think it was more that they liked the image of themselves wielding a sharp sword but had lost contact with the fact that it could actually cut someone.

Wish I could find one of the chief examples I'm thinking of, but I can't seem to do so.

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Perhaps he means it as "politely leftist" i.e. - inoffensive, all-but ineffective in any real fashion. In which case, I would say to him, who the fuck are you?

It's just too weird, though, becuse post-ColdWar pink is a power-color for gays and/or grrrrrls, so his choice of color to represent ineffectuality betrays a very un-"hipness", even a prejudice of his own. So he's actually practicing the kind of pseudo-hip "liberalism" that he seems to find so apallaing in the historical figures he's writing about. Either that or he's a closeted Nixonite. As far as being fucked up goes, six of one...

Just walk away...the stench of death gets in your nostrils and is very hard to get out.

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Found it! But I won't identify the writer of this snippet or the subject being written about (other than to say that he/she is the head of a major theater company) because I'm going to quote from an email exchange I had with the writer (actually a very bright, nice person with a great instinct for the stage), and I don't think one should quote from private emails without the other person's permission:

In any case (and sorry if this too "inside baseball"):

"Controversy. Spectacle. Scale. Unctuous auteurism.

"Such has been the hallmark of [X's] theatrical work in [cites Z and Y] during the last five years or more."

My e-mail:

'"Unctuous auteurism" doesn't mean "self-regarding," or "over-the-top" or "extreme autuerism," which from the context seems to be what you might have meant. Rather, "unctuous" has a specific set of negative meanings -- "servile," "falsely flattering," etc., Thus, "unctuous auteurism" not only is quite insulting in tone but also in this context doesn't make much sense that I can see (in relation to whom or to what is [X] the autuer being "unctuous"?) If that is in fact what you meant to say about [X's] work, so be it (though if so, again I don't get it). If it's not what you meant, I'd apologize to him.

The writer replied:

'Well I certainly didn't intend it as a compliment. What I might have meant by that was that [X] was "a slave to autuerism."

My response:

'I think that even "a slave to auterisim" is rather wobbly. Do you mean that [X] makes certain choices because he wants to be thought of as a genius "autuer" (that would be one thing, a kind of semi-cynical status game he's playing with the audience)? Or do you mean that he's honestly (but, in your view, somewhat delusively) convinced that he is a genuine genius "autuer" and that everything on stage therefore exists to express his personal vision. If you meant a bit of both, or that it's hard to tell the difference, I might have have suggested instead: "Auterism at all costs."'

I think editors earn their pay.

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Perhaps he means it as "politely leftist" i.e. - inoffensive, all-but ineffective in any real fashion. In which case, I would say to him, who the fuck are you?

If he wasn't being sloppy, he can only have meant that Dizzy and Hendricks had some significant CP or CP-ish associations (what "pinkish" meant), and that to some extent their socio-political views were shaped by those associations. I would be very surprised if this were so -- can't imagine anyone telling Dizzy, for one, what to think and making it stick.

Could Gennari be thinking of when Dizzy mock-ran for president in 1960 under Ralph J. Gleason's aegis? I remember Dizzy saying in a Down Beat cover-story interview that he was going to name Mingus Secretary of War and make Miles head of the CIA. And Peggy Lee was going to be his Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare "because she treats her musicians so nice." Subversive stuff.

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