Sunday, December 10, 2006

Never mind the quality, check the volume

It's an ill wind... Windsor’s nice, but the weather’s bad and getting worse. Can you believe a tornado, not in the Gulf of Mexico but in London? At least in the Caribbean you’ve got sunshine between the tornados or tornadoes. (It’s bright and sunny today, Sunday, which is a lesson: in England you have to post quickly before the weather changes.) But still, we have enough memories of NYC to keep us going until our next trip. Some great food: we tend to make for Little Italy – no point in considering French – where the most memorable meal was at Lunella on Mulberry Street, real Italian, with no attempt to substitute quantity for quality – and the worst, at a Korean place called Won Jo on W.32nd that Time Out describes as ‘first-class’, but where the reverse was the case. Quantity - overwhelming!
Also enjoyed the Metropolitan, (their sandwiches are as bad as the National's - you have to suffer for art) where we managed to see the ‘Americans in Paris’ event that we'd missed in London, plus what seemed like about 1% of the permanent collection. What’s striking is the number of benefactors – both private and corporate – who’ve donated or bequeathed works. Unlike our own system of government ‘support’ where funds are allocated by a group of philistine politicians - who have just told the arts organisations to plan for ongoing budget reductions of 7% a year. Why? To help pay for the Olympic Games in 2012, of course.
One more whine then I have to go. Last May I took issue with a well-known UK journalist who said that US television news reporting was infinitely better than that in UK, but I retracted when he claimed better and more up-to-date knowledge than mine. Sorry Bryan, I’m still a big fan, but I would now like to retract the retraction. After six days of watching stale news, (the week-old Litvinenko story was just beginning to attract posthumous attention because someone had thought of a terrorist angle) with its ‘London, England’ parochialism, presented by pretty but puerile celebrity anchors, 'news for grown-ups' on the Beeb was a welcome relief.
One of the things I like to do in the USA is to browse the magazine racks: for fun - DownBeat, Jazz Times etc - and as possible markets. There's one called ‘The Writer’, which calls itself ‘The essential resource for writers since 1887’. Its January 2007 issue (in November?) carries on its cover in 3cm-high capitals the words ’99 WORDS OR LESS’. Doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence.

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