Quantcast

Leonard Cohen Takes Manhattan | The Nation

  •  
Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Leonard Cohen Takes Manhattan

We (Danielle and I) have a new Think Again up here.

It's called Media To Climate: 'Drop Dead.'

"There is a crack; a crack in everything. That's how the light getsin."

Lucky me, continued: In one of the hardest tickets to get I've ever seen in New York, I saw Leonard Cohen at the newly restored Beacon theater last night and it was one of the most wonderful shows of my life; theconcert was like being in church but in some imaginary church, (or shul)that actually does what a church or a shul is supposed to do. Leonardwas magnificent, during the course of three hours and twenty minutes ofclassic after classic after classic as was the band and the singers. Hethanked and recognized virtually everyone who helped make the show. Theaudience was rapt, perfectly quiet and deeply appreciative. An argumentfor age, wisdom and grace as powerful as any I've ever seen. A nearlyperfect evening--and a truly transcendent experience. Is Mr. Cohencoming to your town? You'll kick yourself if you don't go, unless itturns out to be impossible. (I noticed on CL here that there was a realdanger of counterfeit tickets.)

This week on Moyers:

Robert G. Kaiser has been following Beltway politics for The WashingtonPost for nearly 50 years. This week on the Journal, Bill Moyers talkswith Kaiser about how our nation's Capitol has succumbed to lobbyistsand turned government into big business. Kaiser is author of So DamnMuch Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of AmericanGovernment. And, Bill Moyers sits down with Parker J. Palmer, founderand senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, for aconversation about maintaining spiritual wholeness even as the economyand political order seem to come apart.

Name: LTC Bob Bateman
Hometown: Capitol Hill

I have been holding something back, something in my pocket,for a little while. It is knowledge about a show that will hit thescreen tomorrow, and not the big screen mind you, the little one.

Normally I don't much hold with watching television. Sometimes it sucks me in on a lazy and rainy Sunday afternoon, but by and large I have missed most of the television events which form the touchstones of passing years. Seinfeld? Nope, barely ever saw an episode. Friends? No again. Desperate Housewives, Lost, American Idol and all the rest are vaguely familiar as concepts, but I can honestly say that I've never seen any of them.

This is not cultural superiority. It's just how my brain works. It's anomalous and purely a function of biochemistry in my opinion. If it makes any difference I would note that I also don't (hold on to your hats Altercators) listen to music. Not of my own volition. I am as likely to listen to a song as I am to watch the television, so those cultural touchstones of hundreds and hundreds of years of human music-making are pretty much lost on me as well. I can recognizedifferent singers and different bands, but for the overwhelming majorityof my life music (except when I have tried to make it myself) has beenwasted on my ears. And who would admit that? By any measure that is adeficiency. I know that. Like I said, I think it is just the way my mindworks.

But I do acknowledge, in both cases, that there are stories that can be told through both mediums, as well as on the silver screen, which can lift the soul...or tear out one's heart. The best "war" movie ever made, in my opinion, showed not a single gunshot, not a single scene of war. It was set not on a battlefield, but in Arlington Cemetery. It did not address issues of war and peace, but ideas of love and courage and conviction. It was not set among tanks and artillery and machine guns on a smoking battlefield, but among the men of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, our Kabuki Soldiers, burying our brothers during theVietnam War. It was a movie which made you think, made you smile, madeyou cry, and made you consider the nature of human-ness. The movie wasGardens of Stone. This, I believe, is the purpose of art. That purposeis noble.

And so I recommend this to you. It airs tomorrow night, on HBO: Taking Chance. It is not about war, or politics, or right and wrong, or any of the other host of issues whichpeople here in the United States so passionately disagree about and overwhich you argue with one another. It is merely the story of us, the oneswho do your bidding. If you want to know more about who we are,then Taking Chance might help you understand, at least a little bit,why some of us follow this path.

I do not anticipate that it will be easy to watch.

You can write to LTC Bob at R_Bateman_LTC@hotmail.com

P.S.: If these things matter, then I recommend you follow up with thisbook since, well, I think it does. (Watch the trailer.)

Name: Kevin Matthews, Editor-in-Chief, Architecture Week
Hometown: Eugene, OR

"Save the News, Not the Newspaper" is an unusually clear and fully-scoped discussion of the familiar issue of precipitous decline in US daily newspapers, very much worth reading for anyone concerned about or interested in the future (even the near-future) of our news-gathering and sharing institutions.

It includes a number of really important potential solution categories that are usually left out.

It also accepts as a given one key assumption that I suspect is not sound, even though it is almost universally included in such discussions.

"...while the number of Internet readers is rising, they are no replacement for print readers from the standpoint of advertisers, who must pay the freight. To ad buyers the worth of an Internet reader is barely 10 percent of that of a print customer. ..."

Contrary to such thoughtfully pessimistic perspectives, I think it's most likely that there's going to be a very large increase in the amount of marketing dollars flowing online, instead of into print.

New media are in current caught in the classic "crossing the chasm" situation of technology product introductions. However, there are a couple of key differences from the classic form of that model. First, the "technology product" caught in the chasm is the whole approach to interacting with information media online, instead of on paper--not just a single product line. Second, the split between early adopters and conservatives has played out to the point where readers or end--users of media are rapidly making the move to new media--taking the relative role of early adopters - while the advertising community are dragging their feet, in the relative role of the conservatives.

In other words, the readers are moving to new media much faster than the advertisers. The bulk phenomenon of fear of change on the part of the advertising community (amply supported by most print publishers, who remain caught in the middle like deer in headlights) has the whole industry in a state of severe distortion: advertisers are overpaying for dwindling print audiences, and under-paying for burgeoning online audiences.

That standoff of the last couple of years is of course now radically intensified by the economic crisis.

Like those headlights for the deer, the light at the end of our tunnel is ultimately big and bright. In the long run, the amount of money going into marketing overall isn't likely to change all that much - not by the current 10x+ differential between print ad spending and online ad spending. Companies still need brands and branding to differentiate products in the marketplace. The dynamics of competition largely determine how much ad buyers can and will spend.

Essentially, at the moment, the weight of business as usual and other classic impediments to change leave ad buyers spending the bulk of their money in all the wrong places - where their end users used to be. That is an unstable situation which will change. Eventually.

And once the agency/client complex - the ad buyers - finally drags its sorry ass over the chasm (or perhaps is pushed by economic desperation) that will largely shift the majority flow of marketing dollars. Online will see 5x increases in overall spending. At that point, print will experience its "final lurch", needing its own new models to survive, but the new media will at last see the realistic funding levels that can sustain ongoing well- layered professional/participatory publishing.

Across the chasm, where we're slowly headed, the skies are blue and the hills are green. Serve your readers, stay hungry, stay innovative, to survive the crossing and get eventually to those greener pastures for journalism and publishing.

Name: Paul Kingman
Hometown: New Bern, NC

I'm "jonesing." I have to wait 5 days every week to read two, only two Altercations.

Will you please help my addiction and have "Altercation Lite", even with guest hosts, so I can get my daily fix? I'm sure I'm not the only one looking for the "Altercation Patch", to wean me off of my addiction. I just haven't found anything that takes the edge off.

This cold turkey thing is so difficult.

I know, life isn't fair, but it seemed fairer with Altercation everyday.

Eric replies: Show me the $....

Name: Cheryl Haaker
Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Comic Book Respectability

...Sorry, "graphic novel."

Your discussion reminded me of a battle I had with my English lit teacher back in high school around 1970. I've forgotten the man's name, but he's dead now, unfortunately. In most respects, I felt he was a great teacher and one of my favorites, but he absolutely hated science fiction, describing it much as the 1950s people talked about comic books.

One day he gave an assignment for teams to produce a report and then argue the case orally with him. A friend and I selected defending the literary value of science fiction. Hopped up with Roger Zelazny, Ursula LeGuin, and Robert Silverberg, we fought the case and read excerpts. He responded with various bigoted remarks about pulp.

We fought to an eventual stalemate, wherein the teacher admitted that yes, it was not impossible that a gem or two of literature-quality might be found in the vast dung pile of science fiction. I don't think I helped the case by citing Theodore Sturgeon's law that "90% of everything is crap."

I haven't revisited the state of English lit classes in about 35 years. Is sf still crap?

Name: John Covington
Hometown: Renton, Washington

Hi,

When 9/11 happened a local TV station was going to play the movie: "Wrong is Right"

The days of 9/11 stopped them from showing it. Here is a wiki about it.

One thing the wiki entry doesn't say is that the two suitcase nukes end up in New York, on top of the WTC.

Rove is known for using movies as models for his politics. For the last eight years, it sure looks like they used Wrong is Right as a training film.

Now Obama is the President, it seems they are using Blazing Saddles as the training film.

Name: Bob Lane

Whenever your name is mentioned, people invariably respond by saying,"Who cares about that clueless, self-hating pseudo Hebrew?".

They obviously know you all too well.

However, if you had a nickname, perhaps the response would be somewhatmore positive.

How about this one:

Eric Alterman: The Will Rogers Of Anti-Semitism...He never met a Jewhater he didn't like!

Work for you, Yasser?

Eric replies: That's a pretty lengthy nickname, dude....

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.