- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Concert culture

“In 1990, when I first started going to see live music, you paid $5 for a new act, $10 for solid performers, and $15 to $20 for hot favorites. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about what I still pay. Tickets to major shows can cost hundreds. But that doesn’t promise much for the future of music.

“Here are the top 10 touring acts of 2009, according to Pollstar: U2, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Billy Joel, Britney Spears, AC/DC, Kenny Chesney, the Jonas Brothers, the Dave Matthews Band, Fleetwood Mac, and Metallica. For most of the demographic that attends these shows, sex, drugs, and rock and roll now means putting on a Beatles album and popping some Viagra — or asking Mom for permission to see an R-rated movie. …

“To be sure, today’s 20-something file-sharer may someday pay $200 to watch Vampire Weekend rock the Astrodome. Or maybe not; the Internet tends to fragment audiences. Generation X, of which I am a member, was probably the last to grow up with the Top 40 and only a few TV stations — and the kind of common taste that this structure instilled. The bounty of the World Wide Web encourages niche interests. If you look at the Recording Industry Association of America’s top albums, only two of the acts who debuted this decade have sold 10 million albums, and one of them was Norah Jones, who has deep fogy appeal.”

Megan McArdle, writing on “The Freeloaders” in the May issue of Atlantic magazine

Closed off

“One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!)

“This epistemic closure can be a source of solidarity and energy, but it also renders the conservative media ecosystem fragile. … The more successfully external sources of information have been excluded to date, the more unpredictable the effects of a breach become. Internal criticism is then especially problematic, because it threatens the hermetic seal. It’s not just that any particular criticism might have to be taken seriously coming from a fellow conservative. Rather, it’s that anything that breaks down the tacit equivalence between ‘critic of conservatives’ and ‘wicked liberal smear artist’ undermines the effectiveness of the entire information filter.”

Julian Sanchez, writing on “Frum, Cocktail Parties, and the Threat of Doubt,” on March 26 at his self-titled site


“For some writers, being interviewed by Deborah Solomon in the ‘New York Times Magazine’ upon the publication of their new book would be a cause for celebration. Not so for [Kitty] Kelley, who exploited the occasion yesterday for some full-bore kvetching about the TV shows that she says won’t be having her on to discuss ‘Oprah: A Biography.’ Here’s what Kelley said:

“‘In promoting this book, we have already been told by Barbara Walters’s producer, No, you cannot be on ‘The View,’ I cannot disrupt my relationship with Oprah. Joy Behar, the same thing. Charlie Rose; Larry King said, ‘I will not do it, it might upset Oprah.’ Even David Letterman.

“Kelley’s bellyaching might attract a little sympathy if her complaint hadn’t appeared on a promotion-friend page of the Times or if, the next day, the New York Times and The New Yorker hadn’t reviewed her book, the Today show hadn’t treated her to a friendly segment, and USA Today hadn’t published a soft-focus profile. All this publicity, and the book doesn’t even come out until tomorrow (April 13).”

Jack Shafer, writing on “Kitty Kelley, Sore Winner,” on April 12 at Slate

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