Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stellification, for the few

Elaine has written a terrific post about determining musical and artistic value. What she says reminds me of the last lines of John Ashbery’s poem “Syringa”:


[From Houseboat Days (New York: Penguin, 1977).]

Stellification is for the few, and for other people to decide, later. Or as T. S. Eliot said in East Coker (1943), “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Woody Guthrie in New York

“He rode the rails of the BMT. He played (unhappily, but still) for the swells at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. He married a Martha Graham dancer named Marjorie. He had Yiddish-speaking in-laws, the Greenblatts”: The New York Times reports on Woody Guthrie in New York. My Name Is New York is the title of a book and a 3-CD compilation documenting Woody Guthrie’s life in the city.

[I can’t bring myself to refer to him as just “Guthrie.” It just doesn’t work.]

Janis Joplin in Sing Out!



A photograph of Janis Joplin by David Gahr appears (in tinted form) as a beautiful Forever stamp from the United States Postal Service. You can see the photograph and stamp at David Gahr Photographs.

When I first saw this stamp, I felt a shock of recognition: I knew the photograph right away. It appeared in the September / October 1970 issue of Sing Out! (“The Folk Song Magazine”), the twentieth-anniversary issue, as part of a two-page feature, titled “David Gahr photo essay” and ”for a painted heart.”

[Does anyone else know this?]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Some stars”

At Lexikaliker, Gunther reaches for einige Sterne, “some stars.”

The logic of “some” seems to be everywhere. In Homer’s Iliad, action comes in threes: three times Patroclus storms the wall of Troy, three times Hector and Achilles run around the sacred city. Some storming, some running. The fourth time, things change.

Bribery is a crime.


[From the Naked City episode “Barefoot on a Bed of Coals,” May 29, 1963. Click for a larger view.]

That’s Dustin Hoffman, in the final episode of Naked City. It was Hoffman’s second appearance on the show, his third on television. What interests me more though is that sign to the left. It taunts the viewer — or at least this viewer, who knows New York City police stations only from outside — through episode after episode. In this final episode, it’s finally readable.


[From a second screenshot: “Bribery is a crime. A person who gives or offers a bribe to any employee of the City of New York, or an employee who takes or solicits a bribe, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for 10 years, or by a fine of $4000, or more, or both.”]

The line at the bottom of the sign? It must read “Click for a larger, blurrier view.”

There are now fifty-two Naked City posts in the Orange Crate Art archives. A full deck. But there’s one more to go.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Marion Dougherty’s index cards




[Click any image for a larger view.]

The casting director Marion Dougherty, in the documentary Casting By (dir. Tom Donahue, 2012): “I would keep the three-by-five card. I would put down anything that hit my mind.”

The card for Dustin Hoffman (whose first screen appearance was in an episode of Naked City) notes Bob Duval’s (Robert Duvall’s) judgment that Hoffman is “v.g.” — very good. Notice the name of Blair Brown in the third screenshot. The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd is an Orange Crate Art and Musical Assumptions favorite.

Casting By feels a bit scattered. The film focuses mostly on Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster, but each is on screen for just seconds at a time. I’d like to see more of and about them, and fewer of the overly predictable sequences of talking directors and stars and brief clips from film after film after film. Even a ten-minute sequence of, say, Dougherty going through cards and talking about actors would have been a priceless addition. The things I took away from watching: the lack of institutional recognition that casting directors receive and the great regard that actors have for good ones.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)
All OCA Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[Bonus feature: notice the exchange name on Dustin Hoffman’s card. EN: ENdicott.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Academic Workforce Data

The Modern Language Association’s Academic Workforce Data Center allows the curious seeker to look at “staffing patterns at individual institutions of higher education.” The site shows the percentages of tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track faculty at a given school in 1995 and 2009. As you can guess, the percentages of tenured and tenure-track faculty at many schools drop sharply over that span.

One startling exception: Chicago’s Columbia College. In 1995, the school had 0% tenured or tenure-track faculty. In 2009, the percentage rose to 13.1%; with 86.9% of faculty non-tenure-track, almost all of whom (1,822 of 1,890) were employed part-time. (They now have a union: P-fac.)

The total cost for a Columbia undergraduate living on campus in the 2014–2015 school year: $42,122. Adjunct pay at Columbia, according to The Adjunct Project, whose numbers might be out of date: $1,400 to $6,360 per course.

Here’s a glimpse of the relationship between faculty and administration at Columbia College. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The exploitation of adjunct labor is the shame and scandal of American higher education.

Related posts
The Adjunct Project
Here’s just one reason why someone might reconsider adjunct teaching
What parents need to know about college faculty

If U2 want to remove U2

I find the idea of Apple’s U2 ”gift album” deeply creepy. I suspect that anyone whose love of music involves a “record collection,” whatever its contents, would feel the same way. They’re my records, Apple, not yours. You don’t get to choose for me.

To get rid of the U2 album: Remove iTunes gift album Songs of Innocence from your iTunes music library and purchases (Apple, found via Daring Fireball).

[You might be surprised to find that even if you haven’t seen it, the album is indeed there.]

Clay Shirky bans devices

Clay Shirky has banned devices in his classes at NYU: no laptops, no tablets, no phones. A partial explanation:

There is no laissez-faire attitude to take when the degradation of focus is social. Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class  —  it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them.

Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away (Medium)
I’m not especially impressed by Clay Shirky, who is, after all, the guy who declared that “no one reads War and Peace anymore (“too long, and not so interesting”). I’ve talked with many students who could have explained second-hand distraction to him a long time ago. But Shirky’s change of mind is noteworthy, at a time when at least some college faculty seek to encourage greater student use of digital technology in classrooms. Click. Click. Click.

I’ll invoke my mantra: Technology makes it possible to do things, not necessary to do them. That we can use devices in a class meeting doesn’t mean that we ought to. And the converse: Technology makes it possible not to do things, not necessary not to do them. That we can, say, replace office hours with Skype doesn’t mean that we should.

Ten angry men

A curious thing: eight members of the jury from 12 Angry Men (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1957) appeared on Naked City: Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Jack Warden, and Robert Webber. Klugman made six appearances, more than anyone else. Five of those eight jurors — Balsam, Begley, Sweeney, Warden, and Webber — also appeared on Route 66, as did Edward Binns and E. G. Marshall. Ten angry men.

These names, or at least many of them, point to the work of the casting director Marion Dougherty, a major figure in both series. The DVD of a documentary about Dougherty, Casting By (dir. Tom Donahue, 2012), is out today.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)
All OCA Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[It’s always a small success to manage one’s Netflix cue so as to get something on its release date. The missing jurors: John Fiedler and Henry Fonda.]