smARTy

Art, theatre, music, and other spasms of the soul.

  • Monocropping Culture
    You start with seeds of one type or another, maybe corn or wheat or whatever serves your market, and they are genetically modified. They are built to withstand the pesticides and herbicides you will apply to them at several stages of the crop’s development. You have water rights sufficient to spray copious amounts on even Read More
  • Medium As Message Maker
    Wow! Does it seem to you it’s hard to get through a day without confronting tragedy? The morning mayhem, the afternoon upheaval, the evening disaster. The chaos keeps coming. What to make of it all? The well regulated militia continues to slaughter innocents, big business jacks up prices because it can, rents are unaffordable, homeless Read More
  • Deejays Blazing
    Tom Donahue is listening to rock & roll on LSD in 1967 San Francisco and says to himself, “This music has to be heard in stereo. AM radio is a rotting corpse stinking up the airwaves.” He starts calling FM stations listed in the phone book. When he finds one that’s disconnected, he says to Read More
  • Poster Boy
    A few people over the years have asked me how I became a columnist at The Denver Post at such a young age. It’s one of those right place, right time tales, but with enough curiosities to make it (hopefully) interesting.   Early 1968. You’re just back from the East Coast, with a detour to San Read More
  • Maybe Again
    Maybe again. That’s what we were thinking when we considered the subject of this particular article. Maybe we can write about our freeform radio project again. We’ve been at it for a while now and haven’t been especially shy about sharing the experience with you. There’s that. Then, too, we don’t want to overstay our Read More
  • The Alchemist’s Cookbook
    Here’s a recipe for pleasure and one of those glorious moments in life when something you want to believe in is confirmed as scientific fact. It turns out that sex, drugs, and rock & roll are in fact good for you. Well, wow, like tell us something we don’t know.  First thought, best thought, and all Read More
  • Tough Talent
    There is so much to say about all the talent that has come our way in this lifetime. We’ve spent quite a bit of time here talking about When the Music Mattered, that classic era of rock & roll, an unprecedented time of proliferating creativity that we enjoyed when we were young. Still do, for Read More
  • Corporate Underground
    Corporate underground? An oxymoron you might say. Yet the origins of underground radio in the latter half of the Sixties was at least partly the result of corporate initiative. Or, perhaps, corporate perplexion. The consequences of that curiosity reverberated through the years in very different directions.  New FCC regulations in 1966 were intended to develop Read More
  • Freeform Radio Archive
    We’ve written here in several previous pieces about our project to develop a freeform radio archive. Hopefully, we already answered why we want to do it. Suffice it to say it was a critically important aspect of radio history that is in danger of becoming if not forgotten then perhaps not much more than an Read More
  • Ephemeral Things
    Life as an artist. A career in the arts. It’s a passionate need for self-expression and a challenging way to make a living. Like most areas of enterprise in a capitalist system, a few people make a lot of money and most everyone else barely gets by. Employment for artists is an ephemeral thing, a Read More
  • Turn Your Radio On
    There was a new generation of music coming on and a new generation of people who wanted to hear it. There was a new generation of radio personalities, too, who wanted to play it for them. They had different ideas about how it should be done and what the purpose was. Traditional radio was about Read More
  • Radical Radio
    Radical what? Radio. Yeah, that’s what we said. There was a time, you know. And it mattered! Here’s why. It was called underground radio. Freeform was a better name for it. Radio without walls. No separation between different genres or types of music. No restriction on what you could play if you were at the Read More
  • Artistry
    Art and artistry. Thank the gods and goddesses for blessing us so. Can’t imagine life without it. So many problems in this world of ours. Nothing but bad news. Gloom and doom. A global pandemic. Government everywhere in crisis. One American political party in the grip of a madman. The other in a maelstrom of Read More
  • It’s a Mystery
      One day when I was a young man working at The Denver Post, a reporter I admired dropped by my desk to give me some surprising news. His name was John Dunning, he was a few years older than I, and struck me as equal parts 1930s movie character and Jack Kerouac protagonist. John Read More
  • Serial Literature
    Streaming literature has a very rich history and a plausibly bright future, each for it’s own reason. The former because the price was right; the latter because it fits the contemporary attention span.  The great novelists of the 19th century, Dumas, Flaubert, Thackeray, Eliot, and especially the “father” of the form, Charles Dickens, produced their Read More
  • Free Form
     “Whoever controls the media controls the mind,” said the poet Jim Morrison, lead singer for the Doors in the late 1960s.   “Who are the Brain Police?” asked Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention is his 1966 album Freak Out. Those quotes and so many more like them were just part of that drug-addled Read More
  • Sociometry
    YES! There really is an Institute of Sociometry and, yes, it is helmed by two artists, partners Heather Link-Bergman and Peter Miles Bergman, who claim a collective of over 700 special authorized agents in 23 countries join them in their efforts at culture jamming and guerrilla communications. As artists, they take a more adventurous approach Read More
  • Translocal Arts Activism
    An interesting discussion with Complex Movements, an artist-activist collective in Detroit, about the intersection of art, technology, and commodification in trying to build “translocal” alliances for change here.
  • About Love and Tyranny
    Anand Giridharadas in conversation with biographer Ann Heberlein about her new book, On Love and Tyranny, The Life and Politics of Hannah Arendt, “a thinker with profound relevance to this moment.” https://the.ink/p/arendt?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cta
  • The Oldest Story
    By choice I’ve spent most of my life among storytellers. Poets, novelists, playwrights, songwriters, and just sitting around the campfire tellers of tales. I love stories and the people who tell them. Have you ever wondered what might be the oldest story of them all? The one that’s been told longer than any other? One Read More
  • 50 Years of Patti Smith
    Highly recommend this brief, poignant interview with the artist Patti Smith as she prepares for an anniversary performance in London 50 years after her first appearance in New York City here. She’s covered a lot of ground in her time and produced some amazing work.  
  • Performance
      Dramatists, directors, actors all will tell you the same thing about it: theatre is when strangers come together to share a common experience. What is so unique is the connection between artists and audience. The same could be said of all the performing arts in pre-pandemic times. What about streaming theatre?  The various ways the Read More
  • Paying More and Getting Less
    The damage done to the employment prospects of recent college graduates by the pandemic, and the litany of other 21st century disasters that preceded it, is severe. The pain is compounded by the cost of the education they pursued in good faith, only to have far fewer opportunities available to them than their parents’ generation. No Read More
  • South of Turtle Island
    When I was a young man with a serious interest in the indigenous peoples of North America, the accepted theory of their origins was that they came from Siberia across the Bering Land Bridge about 12,500 years ago. Proposed origin dates before that time were dismissed by academics, but gradually we are coming to have Read More
  • Theatre From a Distance
    A very bright young student of theatre by the name of Janice Rabian posted an interesting study of her industry’s response to the pandemic that has closed live performances for most of 2020 and the foreseeable future. Necessity being the Mother, it’s worth a look at how innovative people in the field are reacting, what Read More
  • Play4Keeps
    When we began this website, the focus was Center for the New Northwest, a non-profit center for ideas about change. One of the things we wanted to change was Ashland New Plays Festival. A proud promoter of new works for the stage and the playwrights who write them, ANPF for nearly three decades had been Read More
  • Clownfrontational
    There’s nothing funny about authoritarian systems. But there are clever ways to protest them. Taking it to the streets, clown style here. And it is worth noting that activism roils clowndom, too, as our institutions undergo generational soul searching here.
  • Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Interview
      The late, great artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who were preparing the ground for their proposed Over the River Project on the Arkansas River in Southern Colorado, sat down with me for an interview in January, 2002. The result, which was published in Eye Level and is reprinted below, was used by them on their Read More
  • Mysticism in Theatre and in Life
    We revisited this post from 2017 the day after the 2020 elections and found it to be every bit as relevant now, as this quote from the linked article suggests: “As we head into a more difficult and divisive period in American political and social history, a reinvigoration of these ideas represents a much-needed remedy. Read More
  • Politics in Theatre
    Intelligence is the third in Arena Stage’s Power Plays initiative—a ten-year plan to commission twenty-five plays, one for each decade of American history, about power and politics. Deputy Artistic Director Seema Sueko told me that the initiative was the result of Artistic Director Molly Smith “having her ears, eyes, and heart open to the heartbeat of Read More
  • Hippie Recall Dims
    Groove not approved: permit denied for Summer of Love 50th anniversary party Plans to celebrate a pivotal moment in San Francisco’s hippie history have been quashed after city cited safety concerns – and people says it’s not cool, man. Hippies dance at a psychedelic rock concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, California, in Read More
  • Arts in the Time of Trump
    Whither the arts under our current Administration? Harvey Young in HowlRound argues that the outlook may not be as bad as we might fear, and concludes with this statement: “In this Age of Trump, my hope is that we collectively can lobby for continued (and, perhaps, increased) arts funding, advocate for the creation of socially Read More