We probably alienate many website visitors when we dismiss famous Pop singers as ‘warblers’ and Rock musicians as ‘strummers’. But we try to tell it as we see it. In our view the trashy popular music scene in the USA mirrors the trashy Movie scene, the trashy TV scene, the trashy literary scene, the trashy Fashion scene and the trashy pro-Sports scene.
It is our view that the advent of the Beatles pop group in the UK, and their ‘conquest’ of the USA represented a transition from adult popular music to pre-teen music. It can be argued that since that time in the 1960’s, popular music and most popular culture, has descended from pre-teen to infantile, and from shallow to meaningless and from bland to ugly.
When we see bald-headed White men in their 60’s with pony tails, earrings and tattoos, not a suit and tie to their name, and five rings on each hand, we see cultural decadence. A peek back to TV and films of the 1940’s and 1950’s is like looking at life on a different planet. Just try watching old films about San Francisco or New York and looking at average Americans passing by in the street scenes. It is hard not to see that people then were ‘grown-up’ and aspired to be ‘grown-up’.
My family has been watching old ‘Car 54’ comedies, a too-short series created by the genius of comedy Nat Hiken (creator of the wonderful Sgt. Bilko series). I could write much about the huge superiority of comedy then, but for the purpose of this article I will only draw attention to the passers-by in the street scenes and the music. Hiken operated in an adult world that now seems to be gone forever.
In one of the Car 54 episodes Toody and Muldoon have to deal with a Bronx artist and his abstract paintings. The paintings are meaningless but the cunning ‘artist’ has given them fine titles. Toody, a sucker for con-men, falls for the nonsense. One painting, a splurge of paint of various colors has been named ‘New York From The New Jersey Side’ and Gunther pleases the ‘artist’ by claiming to recognize the scene. Hiken, who was as gloriously politically incorrect as it is possible to be, was here poking fun at the pretentious art world.
I was reminded of Hiken and Toody by an article in the Wall Street Journal of August 16th on the ‘Arts In Review’ page. The title of a piece written by Karen Wilkin was “Blowing Up the Boys Club” and was a review of the Denver Art Museum’s ‘Women of Abstract Expressionism’. Ms. Wilkin makes a living as an independent curator and critic.
The article is supported by a large colored ‘art’ work by Joan Mitchell and titled ‘Hudson River Day Line’ 1955. Gunther Toody would have fallen for it. If two pots of paint had been poured by a two-year-old on to some paper in the Day Nursery and given a pretentious title, Joan Mitchell could have claimed it as her own.
Since this painting was completed in the mid-1950’s, we can’t blame it on the rise of the Media Class, but it was a fore-runner of the nonsense that now surrounds us in the Arts and Music world and which no-one dares call out as garbage.
In case a website visitor accuses me of not recognizing that painting styles evolve and reactionaries like me are stuck in the past and condemn change, I admit that when I first heard a Charlie Parker record I failed to see that he was a far greater musician than Bennie Goodman or Louis Armstrong – but then I was only 14 years old and soon grew up.
In the Wall Street Journal of August 17th on the ‘Arts In Review’ page, Lance Esplund reviews American Impressionism and the work of Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935). The article is accompanied by a Hassam painting ‘Moonlight’ 1892. Even at aged 14 I would have known that Hassam was an artist and Mitchell was a fraud.
It would be a sign of cultural progress back to America’s past (and a Counter-Revolution) if bald men stopped wearing pony tails, and men and women stopped having tattoos, and ordinary people occasionally wore suits and ties to dine out, and music once again was played by adults for adults, and Hollywood was peopled by ‘normals’ and not perverts, and Joan Mitchell’s paintings were returned to the Day Nursery.