December 2007

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tugboats.jpgI  received a flier in my mailbox today alerting me to NYU Press’s 30% holiday discount for several outstanding titles in New York history — any one of which would make an appropriate gift (for me or someone else you love). Matteson’s illustrated history of the NY tugboat looks extremely compelling. I’ve picked it up more than once while browsing local bookstores.

For more NY-centric gift reads at discount prices, see the Press’s complete list of related titles here.

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That’s how Dylan describes New York (recalling his entry into the Greenwich Village scene in the early 60s) in the first volume of his memoirs, Chronicles.

Dylan will, no doubt, be a major character when I get around to writing about the downtown scene in the 60s.

For now I have some thoughts on Todd Haynes’s film I’m Not There over at The Great Whatsit. According to the account in the New York Times Magazine a couple weeks ago, Haynes gives the impression he had to leave New York in order to keep his career alive; you get some of that antagonism in the way he’s chosen to represent Dylan’s many lives.

Then again, the shot of Moondog from the opening credits makes you wonder — where else could a career like this one have taken off?

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Downtown Music and the Question of Genre: A Panel Discussion
Monday, December 10, 2007, 6:30 pm
Fales Library and Special Collections, NYU

The 1970s and 1980s were a remarkable period of musical ferment in
downtown Manhattan: the emergence of punk rock at CBGB, new
developments in jazz at a number of artist-run lofts, the flowering of
minimalism and related trends in new music at The Kitchen. Around 1979,
with the East Village as the center of activity, all these strains –
jazz/improvisation, rock, and new music – began to come together in
compelling ways. With so much overlap of genres downtown, by the early
1980s to categorize a musician as rock, jazz, improv, or classical
often required a coin toss.

On Monday, December 10, at 6:30 p.m., New York University’s
Fales Library will host a panel discussion on “Downtown Music and the
Question of Genre.” The event, which is free and open to the public,
takes place at Fales, on the third floor of the NYU Bobst Library, 70
Washington Square South (at LaGuardia Place). For further information
and to make a reservation, call 212.992.9018.

A panel of musicians who were key players in the downtown music
scene will discuss the social history of downtown music with an
emphasis on the genre-hopping 1980s. The panel is moderated by Peter Cherches,
the author of Fales Library’s new online research guide to downtown
music (1971-1987). As a writer, performance artist, and singer, he was
active on the downtown scene in the ’80s.

Panelists include:

  • Don Christensen, who since the 1970s has been
    equally at home in the downtown alternative rock and new music worlds.
    As a drummer with The Contortions, James White and the Blacks, and the
    Bush Tetras, he was an important player in the no-wave and punk-funk
    scenes. He was a founding member of the surf-influenced instrumental
    band The Raybeats.
  • Jon Gibson, a composer,
    multi-wind instrumentalist, and visual artist who took part in numerous
    landmark musical events over the past four decades, performing in the
    early works of Steve Reich, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Philip
  • Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris, one of the
    leading innovators in the confluence of jazz, new music, improvisation,
    and contemporary classical music. His work redefines the roles of
    composer, conductor, arranger, and performer. As a composer, he is
    widely known for his notated compositions and has been especially
    acclaimed for pioneering and developing the art of Conduction®.
  • Elliott Sharp,
    composer, multi-instrumentalist, and improviser. He is known for his
    turbulent style of guitar playing and mathematically structured
    compositions. In the 1980s Sharp became a major figure on the downtown
    New York experimental music scene, collaborating with many of its most
    prominent players, including John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, and Bobby
    Previte. Currently he leads the groups Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics, and

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