Brian Eno talks to Ha-Joon Chang about free-market capitalism, Terry Riley’s In C, and wasting time.

BRIAN ENO: One of the characteristics of people, whether on the left or the right, is that they can’t tolerate uncertainty. They don’t want a system with any leaks in it. They want to think they’re capable of battening everything down – and if only people would fucking stick to the rules, it would work. When those systems don’t work, it’s always because, in their opinion, somebody didn’t play the game correctly.

The Morning News

Tick, tick

Allan Kosnin on the problems of conserving the instruments of 20th century music: Philip Glass’s Farfisa organ, Milton Babbitt’s RCA Mark II synthesizer, and something substantially lower-tech:

Ligeti’s “Poème Symphonique” for 100 metronomes (1962) should be the easiest of his scores to perform: all you have to do is wind up the 100 metronomes, start them at exactly the same time (O.K., that is not so easy) and let them wind down until the last one stops.

But try finding 100 windup metronomes these days.


Via Greater Greater Washington, a lovely podcast episode by Sam Greenspan and Roman Mars about the music of Metro escalators in need of lubrication.

… if you’re going to be subjected to some kind of sensory experience, of which you have no control every single day, then it’s to your benefit… Why not try to enjoy something? Because there’s enough things in life to be stressed out about.

Bessie’s revenge

My maternal grandmother was an insane fan of Ruth Lyons, Ohio television personality of the 50s and 60s. Grandma would no sooner miss a 12 noon episode of The 50/50 Club than she would skip serving her overcooked gray chicken for Sunday dinner. So, come the winter holiday season, we would hear Ruby Wright with Cliff Lash’s band singing “Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Xmas.” A lot.

It’s been, oh, 45, going on 50 years since I heard that song. (Unless I actually saw Female Trouble—I don’t remember.) And I was OK with that.

Some links: 55

  • I was looking for packing material at my cousin’s place and came across a Saturday edition obit for Jerry Ragovoy; otherwise I would have missed it altogether. Ragovoy co-wrote “Piece of My Heart,” which was recorded in a wrenching live performance by Janis Joplin and later, more regrettably, by a country pop singer.
  • Linda Himelstein reports on research that looks at how dyslexics master syllable-based writing systems (and their languages) as opposed to character-based system.
  • Alan Feuer filed a fine report on the natural areas of Jamaica Bay, still the only National Wildlife Refuge that you can get to via subway. Mylan Cannon adds a great photograph of conservationist Don Riepe, an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on a ground-level nest, and a passenger jet in the background.

    Jamaica Bay’s conservationists — fishermen and firefighters, limousine drivers and owners of small boats — are not your typical tree-hugging types, not “Upper West Side, Park Slope, brownstone Brooklyn people,” as Mr. Riepe put it. They are people like Mr. Lewandowski from the canoe club, a transit official…

Cole Porter in Japanese

Is it an opera or a musical? Anthony Tommasini offers a distinction that might settle the argument discussion that Leta and I regularly have:

Both genres seek to combine words and music in dynamic, felicitous and, to invoke that all-purpose term, artistic ways. But in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.

This explains why for centuries opera-goers have revered works written in languages they do not speak. Though supertitles have revolutionized the art form, many buffs grew up without this innovation and loved opera anyway.