Re: observances, etc.

Subject: Re: observances, etc.
From: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz (
Date: Fri Jul 23 1999 - 18:14:09 EDT

At 11:07 AM 7/23/99 -0700, Eric Lanzillotta wrote:

>You marvel at this, yet absolutely are offended by a jury having to
>subjective to make their selection.

I'm not at all offended by subjectivity; you got the wrong guy! I *am*
offended by absurd language-twisting that attempts to justify subjectivity
with philosophy. I gathered from the defense that they were bored and
rejecting familiar sounds (and venues) while retrospectively using a
grab-bag of judgments (commercialism, cultural relevance, avant-gardism and
populism among them) to decide what was good.

Heck, Eric, you have it right on the mark as far as our show goes. We have
likes and dislikes (and fortunately David and I have very different points
of view), and over the years we've developed a sense of trust in them.
That's all. We've built an audience and work with flexible methods to keep
'em listening. We make no pretense of philosophical moment like Eshun did
-- which is ironic because his jury was giving out coin, but our show puts
together themes.

>Do you honestly expect that if you got 700 pieces in the course of
>a couple weeks, you wouldn't just pick the names you were familar with, or
>ones you had heard something about and wanted to look into, the ones you
>thought might stand out from the rest of the pile?

That's a really good question, and the really good answer is: We'd change
the terms of the argument. And in fact we have done that. We got a longer
show. We now distribute some listening to people whose points of view we
know, especially for music that does not 'move' us. We seek out guests
whose music we don't understand or we dislike, which forces us to listen
anew. Yes indeed, we take recommendations as well. We're not shy to use
whatever resources we can to make our selections -- and we have screwed up
sometimes. If you've heard the cybercast, then you've heard me say things
like "I didn't give this a chance the first time and should have" or "This
presentation was bad but the music was cool." Interestingly, the names we
are familiar with may get less listening time -- unless a piece immediately
sounds different from earlier work. But it's indefensible, stark
subjectivity, no matter how virtuous our motives.

So if I were on that jury, I'd say to the powers-that-be, "The
circumstances suck. We'll need more time, more jurors, and more prizes.
Come up with a bigger purse, or we'll scrap the fancy books and receptions
so we can give more awards. We'll need two or more rounds with different
jurors. And we'll push back the announcements for six months while we fix
this situation, or we'll create worse mess for next year." It appears they
opted for the worse mess and then justifying it with grab-bag philosophy.


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