Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Prometheus

January 28, 2017

Prometheus stole fire from the heavenly lord and shared it with mere mortals. For this the lord condemned him to never ending torture. The Argentine thinker Jorge Luis Borges is partial to “universal” themes, believing there are only so many different ones which are repeated through history and within different cultures. This one may once again be coming into its own. In the days following the US inauguration, some demonstrators ascended a construction crane and unfurled a large “Resist” banner. In those first days after the swearing in there were many national and DC, as well as world wide demonstrations, most notably the Women’s March. Were these acts of resistance? Were they effective? After the passage of the Patriot Act many questioned whether resistance was even possible. Indeed the scope and intensity of any demonstrations world wide (including the US) was greatly dampened. The covert desire for resistance appears to be growing, yet is it politically possible? Commenting on the White House’s Steve Bannon’s claim that the news media is the opposition, the Washington Post’s Mark Shields stated this appeared to be an accurate assessment – there are no Democrat majority state governments to be found between the few that are situated on either coast (PBS Newshour 1-27-17). Political resistance appears de facto impossible. But what if we reinterpreted the current administration as being one of a corporate merger? Indeed, not only the nation’s chief executive but most of his cabinet are former business executives or associates of that largesse. What if instead of resistance politically, we consider resistance to brand hegemony? Historically, within the US, there are many instances of brand hegemony. Coca Cola was ubiquitous over a half century ago. Even the movie Dr. Strangelove referenced its esteemed precedence to the US government. In Italy it was claimed the logo was more widespread than crucifixes. Other brands, like Levi, Sony and ultimately Microsoft, influenced not only individuals, culture and national policy but also international relations and exchange. Resistance to brand dominance may be difficult but it has shown to be quite doable. What of the blatant merger of commercial branding with political governance, something as yet not witnessed by the world? Prometheus stole the lord’s fire and shared it with mortals, in essence making it generic. A brand’s identity centers on equating it exclusively with some quality, thereby instilling the myth of greater value. To be generic is to upset that equation, for one item or service is as effective as another, with some difference but little exceptionalism. The current administration is striving mightily with its opposition, the news media, in order to establish its brand—exclusive identity with quality leadership for the intended myth of inherent value. Notice the 45th president’s language. It is filled with superlatives and hyperbole (even “factual hyperbole”) for what favors the establishment of his brand, denigration and vehement vitriol for anything inhibiting that brand identity. The news media compulsively and obsessively counters with attacks on this new “exceptionalism,” with its strange take on facts, truth and ego. Each reference to the “exceptionalism” of the new administration only bolsters the administration’s quest for brand identity, contributes towards the creation of its brand identity. No resistance to be found here with this kind of “opposition.” Resistance appears to be found, rather, with the demystification and disintegration of exceptionalism and its exclusivity. What if we used the president’s superlatives and hyperbole to describe generic occurrences, everyday events? Like Prometheus, we need to steal the fire of exceptionalism and share it with the everyday. Acts of creativity and ingenuity, done because they are possible, are much more effective resistance to corporate brand government than any hoped for political machinations within the Republican Party. What an amazing and incredible night’s sleep was had in our fantastic bed! Everyone should be so blessed. Could a $2,000 a night hotel mattress supply a better night’s rest? The generic resists the brand mystique. It steals the fire of exceptionalism and exclusivity. Then again, there’s always the vengeful lord’s never ending torture to contend with. But that’s a story for another day.

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Seat At The Table

January 20, 2017

The news of the last two months has been over charged with speculation and imagination as to “what the new administration will be like, do, etc.” In less than 24 hours the news will be what the new administration IS like, doing, etc. On the cusp of the change Washington DC’s The Hill reports “Trump team prepares dramatic cuts” by Alexander Bolton (1-19-17). “Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.” “The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.” “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” In parallel articles on this speculation, Deadline Hollywood claims that these three entities received .016% of the $4.6 trillion US budget in FY2016. Artnews reports that the NEA’s portion is .003%. The Hill goes on to state: “At the Department of Justice, the [Heritage Foundation] blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions. At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” Last week The Advocate ran a routine announcement: “The Newark Think Tank on Poverty will have a general meeting from… Plans for 2017 will be discussed.” Along with many events, the weekend’s icy weather also cancelled this meeting. Analysis finds the final line of its announcement to be more than prescient. The Think Tank’s mission is to obtain “a seat at the table” that concerns its participants – Job and Family Services policy making, Food Pantry distribution decisions, public transportation initiatives, etc. Analysis shows that planning for 2017 may be time well spent by organizations like The Newark Think Tank. Speculative news reporting culminating in what The Hill just presented definitely interrogate whether it is safe to assume that there even will be a table to vie for a seat at in the new administration.

Cleansing

December 5, 2016

“July 8, 1910 was a dark day in Newark, Ohio history. Carl Etherington, a detective with the Anti-Saloon League of Ohio, had come to Newark to raid saloons and speakeasies for illegal alcohol. Etherington shot local saloon owner William Howard in self-defense, and was taken to the jail. In retaliation for the agents’ activities, a mob formed. The crowd stormed the north side door of the jail, forcibly removed Etherington, and hanged him from a telephone pole on the southeast corner of the courthouse square.” (lcjail.org website)

“The historic Licking County jail could make money as a tourist attraction, but first, cash is needed to make required safety improvements. That was the pitch Licking County Governmental Preservation Society President Jim Young made to the Licking County commissioners on Tuesday…” “Commissioner Tim Bubb said the county has committed to so many costly projects, it’s not known whether the 2017 budget has room for any more. The Licking County Courthouse restoration, county annex and records center renovation on East Main Street, ongoing county bridge improvement program, and current Licking County jail maintenance combine for an expensive to-do list that will include borrowing money. “We have a lot of capital commitments,” Bubb said. “We don’t have enough money to do everything we need to do this year. I can’t remember us feeling any more pressure for capital dollars than we do this year. 2017 — you couldn’t ask for a more difficult year.”” “A philanthropic donation from the Gilbert Reese Family Foundation paid for last year’s exterior cleaning of the jail, at a cost of about $230,000. The cleaning transformed the blackened exterior to a reddish look.” (Commissioners consider improvements to historic jail Kent Mallett, The Advocate Reporter 11-29-16)                                                                                                     “In other cases, reappropriation on the part of an actor from the media or the government tends to legitimate politicians who want to look like heirs of the founding fathers or of the nation’s foundational events. Tourist industry practices bring a hegemonic modality with a different meaning. In either case, criticism usually focuses on the “distortion” of the monument’s original meaning, as if every building or object in the nation’s heritage were destined to remain forever unchanged – as if erecting a statue to commemorate a founding father or adapting a historic building to be repurposed as a bank or as government offices wasn’t already a contingent interpretation of its social meaning.” (Nestor Garcia Canclini “Art Beyond Itself” pg. 38) Both modalities are at play in Licking County today. The first: “Escalating renovation costs at the Licking County Courthouse, along with other capital improvements, spurred Auditor Mike Smith to question county spending decisions in a Thursday meeting with the county commissioners. Smith said he heard last year the courthouse project would cost close to $10 million, instead of the initial $4 million cost approved by the commissioners.” “In addition to the courthouse, the commissioners announced the Child Support Enforcement Agency building at 65 E. Main St., needs a repair and restoration project estimated to cost up to $3.8 million.” “Another building expense is the creation of a records center in a building at 675 W. Church St. purchased four years ago from the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The project has been estimated to cost from $1.5 million to $2 million.” (Auditor: Courthouse cost spike to $10M unsurprising Kent Mallett, The Advocate Reporter 7-28-16). The second modality is repurposing the old jail as a haunted hoochie: “The haunted attraction takes visitors through the historic Licking County Jail, filled with a “morgue from hell” and 30 actors dressed as zombies and vintage clowns.” (Mallett 11-29-16)                                                                                                               But wait, there’s more. The Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlines Care for abuse, neglected children breaking JFS budget (12-2-16). “”Paying for the care of the kids is obviously bankrupting us,” [Licking County Job and Family Services Director John] Fisher said. “We can’t just abandon these children. We can’t control who enters our services and who doesn’t. Our mission is to help families and children involved in abuse and neglect situations and do our best to heal that.”” “”We’ve got needs across the board,” Bubb said. “We don’t have these extra $1 million to $2 million we can keep throwing at things. We can’t sustain this going forward. We’re looking at some loss of revenue next year courtesy of the state.” The county’s foster care costs increased from $7.1 million in 2014 to $9 million in 2015, and on pace for $9.2 million this year. “We’re sitting here looking at the numbers and don’t see the faces,” Bubb told Fisher. “You see the faces. We’re frustrated too.”” Analysis finds this is where it gets kinda gnarly. Capital improvements, funded by long term loans, selling municipal bonds (a kind of mortgage due way off in the future), are a very sanitized expense on a budget sheet. They produce an immediate tangible result that can be pointed at. Contrary to Commissioner Bubb’s empathetic sigh of frustration, LCJFS operating expenses are always faceless. A wall greater and more effective than any Donnie Trump can fantasize insures that the needy stay out, the resources remain in. The wall consists of the legal statutes in place mandating the confidentiality and anonymity of the clients served by LCJFS. The artist Krzysztof Wodiczko is known for projecting historic images on a building or monument from that structure’s past, literally putting a face on a façade. Due to the wall, Analysis finds that one can (in actuality) only imagine projecting the faces of children and families held in “bond”age on the red stone of the old jail – prisoners of an economics that favors facades over faces, capital over persons. “Bubb said the building improvements are not annual expenses and will save the county money in the long run, but the work can’t be overlooked any longer.” (Mallett 7-28-16).

Make America Enjoyable Again

November 9, 2016

In continuation with the previous post, Analysis would like to further consider the implications of being able to “enjoy whatever is next.” This is a more than relevant and pertinent topic given the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. That exercise in democracy has produced a rather extensive and thorough, monolithic power grid with a “non politician” brand CEO at its core. With all due respect to John Kasich, unlike past single party monopolies this one will be a voter approved and sanctioned public/private partnership sporting blatant (and unabashed) corporate business involvement throughout. One of the ways that Americans enjoy whatever is next has been through getting their news from non-news media entertainment (like the late night talk shows, The Daily Show, SNL, etc.). Will this continue to be the case? Unlike the current president, the recently elected one has shown a certain propensity for not favoring such sources for any unflattering or critical accounts. And the future prez can be a touch vindictive, eager to unleash his legal beagles at the slightest scent of libel. Where have we seen something akin to this? Back during the W presidency, a similar situation existed with the federal funding of public broadcasting. Unable to eliminate it entirely, control of programming format and content was coupled not only with cuts in funding, but also through incorporating the vice president’s wife in program development and approval. The outcome of this near monolithic mechanism was the revamping of public broadcasting programs, time slots, reporting, and even on air presentation. Political, ideological, and art content was supplanted by business, economics and history (mostly of wars). Anyone who first met Sanders on Moyers remembers the disappearance, reappearance and eventual demise of that critical PBS show. Along with programming came ubiquitous “discrete” advertising that snuck in and grew like Topsy (even Austin City Limits sports Inbev’s King of Beer, at least twice with every airing). But now, the same or similar is likely to befall the purveyors of private broadcasting given that “media” has always been about selling. It is not about information dissemination, discussion or entertainment. The entertainment is there to sell product (as well as ideology) much as the NFL is there to sell ideology (as well as product). Given the anticipated shift in dispersal and distribution of power centers, Analysis finds it doubtful that Americans will enjoy whatever is next through getting their news from sources such as Colbert, Stewart, Oliver, etc. SNL may finally retire, er, be forced into retirement (and further syndication). Media exists solely to sell. Whose brand sells will ultimately determine media access. And we all know what brand that is. After all, what else is there but to make America enjoyable again!

Dead Vote Casting

October 10, 2016

In a recent book review (Art beyond Itself: Anthropology for a Society without a Story Line by Nestor Garcia Canclini) Robin Adele Greeley writes “Yet it is precisely in contemporary art’s ability to capture this state of incoherence that Garcia Canclini situates its capacity to address our present condition.” Analysis finds this to be most applicable to the present condition of political discord today. To say “discourse” rather than “discord” would imply some form of coherence. After the weekend distortions of Wiki leaks, x rated audio releases and an ostensible “town hall” debate, contemporary art must find itself with a treasure trove of work. Indeed, to wish or long for a story line, one that America could look for to return to its past “glory days,” would be to desire a monolithic, totalitarian mindset; one that didn’t have to take diversity into account or deal with its consequences. Coherence would entail an all encompassing mindset immune to the plethora of difference found not only materially in people, wealth distribution and quality of lives, but also the even greater galaxy of information, data, facts, and descriptions given the “huge” array of media sources. Analysis believes any artwork would look and sound a lot like Sunday evening’s “town hall” debate where people were asking questions that weren’t being answered, giving answers to questions they weren’t being asked, ignoring the moderators, or not wishing to deal with any format at all. What may have appeared as discord and incoherence to contemporary aesthetic sensibility was actually a variety of individual all encompassing mindsets immune to diversity, unable to include what is not within their own single monolithic voice (no surprise anarchy never gets any good press!). Analysis finds it isn’t any wonder given the enormous amount of continuous imagery, descriptions, information, advertising, narratives, etc. coming from an equally dizzying array of sources. If I don’t stick to the script, bring attention to myself, then my brand identity will be lost. Analysis finds that maintaining brand identity requires continuous 24-7-365 attention. The jumble of incoherence known as contemporary politics creates an almost deafening Motown Wall of Sound, akin to white noise – present everywhere, eventually accepted as natural background, an unnatural form of silence. Closer to home, there is an almost deafening roar of silence regarding the upcoming Newark increase in income tax appearing on the ballot. The strategy, as presented by Newark Advocate reporting months ago, is for a campaign specifically targeting business and social organizations. At some point this campaign will need to come out of the closet and address those who actually vote, the residents of Newark. Though more convenient to address businesses entities and corporations, Citizens United still maintains that elections are determined by flesh and blood “persons” casting ballots (in person!). Analysis finds the dearth of campaigning for a “yes vote” within 30 days of voting, be it lawn signs, billboards, media ads, etc., to suggest that maybe those in city government not up for reelection may have already plotted a future course for the city. Business loathes the uncertainty of incoherence. The monolithic mindset is so much more convenient! Newark’s income tax increase has been relegated DOA, resulting in a kind of dead vote casting.

Irony, Thy Name Is Newark

September 27, 2016

Reporter Sydney Murray writes “Filmmaker Michael Moore took to social media Sunday night to ask why the Midland Theatre wouldn’t let him film a live show about the upcoming presidential election.” (Michael Moore denied Midland Theatre show 9-26-16 Newark Advocate) The Midland itself gives many, varied and different self justifications, like “But officials at the Midland said in a post on its own Facebook page that the reasons for the denial of Moore’s request came down to the same three criteria they apply to all shows: timing, audience and finances.” The “Moore” interesting reasons come at the end of the article (of course). “But the Midland’s own social media response takes exception with Moore’s claims that he was banned from the theater. In addition to [Midland Theatre Executive Director Nancy] Anderson’s statements, the Midland Theater Facebook post said since Moore is a filmmaker and the show was not a film, it was unknown what the actual show would be, and whether or not there would be audience interest. Finally, the post says the performance was going to be a free event, but since the Midland still needed to staff the event and pay other fees, it was not a financially smart decision to host the show.” The irony of all this will not be missed by the engaged followers of the current rebranding of the new and hip gentrification called downtown Newark. After all, come the spring and downtown Newark will be turned into an independent film festival hub (Newark FAMFEST), centered primarily at The Midland, not profitable but funded just the same by outside contributors and dealing primarily with documentaries and Newark selfies. (Whew!) And who, dear reader, has had a more enormous impact on documentary film production (and town selfies) than Michael Moore? Irony, thy name is Newark.

 

Lest We Forget

September 9, 2016

The international news this week is of the outrage expressed by a Norwegian newspaper (Aftenposten) blasting Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg. The newspaper had been running an inquiry into the impact that images have on war utilizing this online platform. Zuckerberg had censored the Nick Ut photo image of a naked Vietnamese girl running terrified from the napalm bombing that had burned off her clothes. Facebook defends the decision by saying the platform cannot distinguish between images of naked juveniles. They are all considered equal. The paper’s front page editorial finds such carte blanche treatment of images to be frightening. Analysis finds the entire matter to be analogous, if not a reenactment, to considerations of race here in the US, specifically policies of affirmative action and Black Lives Matter. The response to Black Lives Matter is the knee jerk “All Lives Matter” while to affirmative action policies it is that to be considered equally requires a disregard of difference. The similarities and resemblances are uncanny. Approximately 100 years ago a European named Walter Benjamin addressed this question in a rather oblique manner, but what he had to say definitely bears on this. In an essay entitled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Benjamin considered the difference between an original and the various printed copies that were immensely popular at the time. The Columbus Museum of Art recently ran a show of Picasso’s work from this time. In its little gallery store are many incredible reproductions (copies) of artworks that people buy and hang up at home. All the reproductions are “equally” saleable, one no better than another. Benjamin alludes to aura in his attempt to differentiate the material images (one original, one a copy). The copies have no aura, or only that of a mechanically (technically) reproduced material while the aura of an original is its history and nuance found in the work having been expressly (and intimately) created by the artist, and the object’s continued material involvements after that (provenance). That was a hundred years ago. And yet today we have Facebook acting without regard to what an image is about, its “aura” (digital or otherwise). “All Lives Matter” likewise categorically dismisses the nuance of history and the “provenance” of a people. The algorithms that Facebook relies on to make its determinations treat all zero’s and one’s as equal (to zero’s and one’s). What Analysis finds frightening is that this form of “equality” (the equality of mathematics found with algorithms) is embraced and has gained acceptance by so many Americans who likewise value and insist that history not be dismissed. Does 9/11 possess an “aura” or is it best described by an algorithm?

The Good Is To Be Done Because It Is Good, Not Because It Goes Somewhere

May 1, 2016

The Washington Post headlined the passing of Daniel Berrigan (Daniel J. Berrigan, pacifist priest who led antiwar protests, dies at 94, Colman McCarthy, 4-30-16). Politics from the past involving figures not noted today. The cliché is that history is written by the winners, those who are successful. After the various comings and goings of success in the last twenty years, from the first Clinton presidency Dot Com economic hysteria through the Bush years financial meltdown to “What do we do with the Basket Building?” and today’s “it’s not the economy, stupid!” presidential politics, Analysis can’t help but wonder how, or what kind of history can or will be written. Within that context it was refreshing to read the obituary. An obituary refreshing? Several days prior, PBS Newshour ran a segment entitled “Artist Theaster Gates turns Chicago’s empty spaces into incubators for culture” (4-26-16). The end of the interview brought the following exchange:

“JEFFREY BROWN: His newest project, undertaken in his position as director of arts and publics life at the nearby University of Chicago, extends the idea to an entire city block, a burgeoning art block in the Washington Park neighborhood. It includes an arts incubator for cultural groups and classes in woodworking and more for young people.

THEASTER GATES: As you finish high school and go to college, come back for the summer, go back to college, come back after you graduate, that it’s really that relationship that will make these buildings work over time.

JEFFREY BROWN: There’s also a cafe and a bookstore where musicians regularly perform. On the drawing table, a large performance space for plays and concerts. And what’s the idea behind it, an anchor or an engine to grow, or how do you see it?

THEASTER GATES: So, maybe words like engines and anchors are good words. But I think first it needed to just be a place where culture could happen, that before we had to think about it as an economic generator or a cultural anchor, it’s just like, can I have a place to rehearse my play?

JEFFREY BROWN: Simple? Yes.

THEASTER GATES: Yes, absolutely. Can we have a place to make our music? Can our kids learn art here?” Gates final words in the interview:

“THEASTER GATES: What I love about art is that the power of the symbolic work has so much potential to do more than the thing on the ground. And so I think about ripples. I think about affect. I think about symbolism. But I don’t think that there are limits on what’s possible. Not only do poor people have a right to beautiful things, but people have the right not to be poor anymore. And I think that that feels like it’s worth making art about and fighting for.” (from the transcript)

Analysis finds this outlook, this reasoning to resonate with what Daniel Berrigan has to say at the conclusion of McCarthy’s obit: “In a 2008 interview in the Nation magazine, Father Berrigan echoed a line of Mother Teresa’s that spiritual people should be more concerned about being faithful than being successful.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he said. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. . . . I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.””

Got Culture?

July 14, 2015

New publication (2015) entitled Culture Crash: the killing of the creative class by Scott Timberg is a worthwhile read. Through interviews, expose’s, statistics and critiques Timberg orchestrates an account of creative class exit. Akin to Hilary’s “It takes a village”, Timberg shows that “It takes a creative class” to have a culture. A coalescence of new technology, corporate capitalism and an economics of deliberate income disparity results in the loss of livelihood and future for innumerable artists, musicians, writers, designers, journalists, photographers, etc. Timberg maintains the creative class is more than these. It also includes the de facto curators, critics, creative savants, etc. found owning or clerking bookstores, record shops, video/movie/DVD outlets, clubs, media publications, etc. Anyone engaged by any aspect of art, production or reception, comprises what it takes to make culture. That group is disappearing. Aw, c’mon, new technology has liberated us so that greater and easier access to the production/reception of art has become a reality for all. And it has. Only that reality pays just shy of nothing. (““You know how many hits you need on Spotify to make the minimum wage each month?” the roots-musician and University of Wyoming economics professor Jason Shogren asked. “More than four million.” “The young, tech-savvy cellist Zoe Keating has done everything digital cheerleaders advocate: she self-releases her music, has 1.2 million Twitter followers, and, in 2013, between two million You Tube views and 400,000 Spotify streams, earned from both services a total of about $3,000”” pgs. 94-95). The handful of people owning the servers amass millions. Timberg describes this new bent displacing culture as “All or nothing.” Top sports competitors receive “All” while others who made the event possible by competing (the also rans) get “nothing.” Capitalism is competition. But art is not. Easel painting and golf may share being solitary endeavors. Who appreciates a painting on the lowest score (par, below par or over)? Remember, the culture critic has also been discarded as expendable, replaced by critiques of box office draw, marketing expertise, brand viability, number of likes and increasingly “personal “ algorithms (Timberg points out that within the entire U.S. there are only 2 dance critics employed by publications. Art students are instructed to create a brand for themselves.). This “All or nothing” economy results in deliberate income inequality manifested by superstar musicians, actors, journalists, and block buster ”hits”, top ten writings, songs, movies, etc. mostly by the same producers. Celebrity obsession displaces mega lotto dreaming with its Horatio Alger promise of being a winner (again, the mindset of all or nothing). Whatever happened to jazz, the great original American music form? Shush, no Ken Burns, please. Jazz receives no air play on corporate controlled radio (with predetermined play lists not compiled by the station’s DJ). It has vanished from accessible TV and film and is not covered by corporate media owned publications. Performance venues, like clubs, are few and far between. To be a young jazz talent today is to live out of your car. Marketing may have made P.T. Barnum a great circus impresario but it doesn’t make music. For Timberg, culture is the glue that holds a people together, gives them a commonality accessible to any and all, keeps them from the isolation that perpetuates social catastrophe.

This book is a must read for those troubled by 2015’s Newark Famfest (which, in keeping with Timberg’s insight, was never reported on after the event, never critiqued). Famfest embodied all the elements that Timberg attributes to the crash of culture and the demise of the creative class. Corporate executive committees determined production oblivious to the everyday workings of any pre-existing “creative class” (as though the class was guaranteed to manifest itself to ensure a success). Organization followed the deliberate income disparity economy of paid community leaders and “others”, totally promoting and relying on new technologies for event promotion, communication and coordination. Analysis agrees with Timberg – once it’s gone, you cannot create the creative class through some Donald Trump Apprentice program. Contemporary American culture was prefigured by the Grand Old Opry’s Minnie Pearl who made it a point to leave price tags on all that she appeared in.