- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2003

American fantasy

“Picture your favorite electric guitarist in midsolo — Eddie Van Halen playing ‘Hot for Teacher’ or maybe the incomparable C.C. Deville of Poison, in a furious, hair-sprayed arabesque. Now remove the guitar from your mental picture and behold the Northeast regional semifinals of the U.S. Air Guitar Champion-ships, held recently in New York City at the Pussycat Lounge. …

“[A]ir guitar isn’t an existentially provocative phenomenon. Rather, air guitar is about mimesis — the way manifestly unreal things like words or symbols conjure real but absent things. All that onanistic writhing around a nonexistent guitar makes the guitar present, radiantly so, to a degree no actual guitar could match. Even if it were Jimmy Page’s double-necked Gibson. …

“Though the Finns can boast that they invented these competitions, everyone knows that air guitar is an American phenomenon. What made the air guitar such a fundamental part of the American mythos? Who knows. … Maybe at one time every settler in the West had an air guitar, and the canyons resounded with their music. But it clearly took the advent of the electric air guitar to infuse the instrument with its present heady potion of sex and menace.”

Dan Chiasson, writing on “Air Halen,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Success story

“[F]ew musicians, songwriters, or performers have had as much impact on the American music industry as Berry Gordy Jr., founder of … Motown Records. His is an illustrative chapter in the story of American entrepreneurship. …

“He got his break when a concession business run by his family at the Flame Show Bar introduced him to several top entertainers. … The club owner managed a young singer named Jackie Wilson. Gordy was invited to write some songs for Wilson, and he collaborated with Roquel ‘Billy’ Davis to pen the hit ‘Lonely Teardrops.’ …

“In 1959, using $500 that his mother lent to him, Gordy formed Tamla Records and a publishing arm, Jobete Publishing. …

“In 1960, Gordy converted the Tamla and Hitsville USA record labels into a new company, Motown, from Detroit’s ‘Motor Town’ nickname. …

“Gordy demanded of his acts hard work, a straight life, and commitment to ‘the system.’ … Setting up a financial-counseling service, Gordy explained in 1962, ‘We try to help artists personally with their investment programs so that they don’t wind up broke.’ …

“In 1988 Gordy sold Motown to MCA Records. He had literally changed the American music industry, introducing large numbers of suburban whites to ‘black’ music and advancing the careers of many who now are honored in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as is Gordy himself. … In the process of creating Motown records, he became wealthy … and gave America some of its best music moments.

Larry Schweikart, writing on “Berry Gordy Jr. and the Original ‘Black Label,’” in the May issue of Ideas on Liberty

Wizards and witches

“Harry Potter books have helped increase interest in witchcraft around the world, say representatives of a Wiccan group sponsoring a witch convention in Scotland this summer.

“The Wiccan group, Children of Artemis, has coordinated this year’s local gathering of witches to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

“‘There is a growing interest in the Wiccan religion, and there are thousands of us already in Scotland,’ organizer Pauline Reid told the London Sunday Mail.

“‘Harry Potter has also had a positive effect. But we don’t let anybody join until they are 18.’ …

“The boom in witchcraft has also been attributed to teen-agers watching TV shows like ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Charmed.’ …

“Scotland’s ‘Witchfest’ will take place at Langside Halls in Glasgow next month, and a Europe-wide gathering will take place in London in November.”

from “Boy wizard changing teens into witches?” Wednesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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