Michael Miller on October 31, 2013.
If the Berkshire Review appears to have been rather quiet lately, that is because New York Arts, as of the beginning of 2013, has taken over the international coverage that formerly occupied The Berkshire Review, which has returned to its roots as a local arts journal devoted on the great summer festivals of The Berkshires. While some of these—Aston Magna and Tannery Pond—have begun to simmer already in June, they will spring into full life with the American national holiday on July 4th—and so will the Berkshire Review!
The BSO has kindly sent me a group of remarkable files spanning several decades of the Festival’s history. Let me say at the outset that the sound on these files is really something. I download them in FLAC format and convert them to AIFF files using a program called XLD. I then burn these AIFF’s to a cd and play them on my system. I have been amazed time and time again at the accuracy and presence of the sound. And this includes the older material. The superior FLAC files are more than worth the extra $10 in their cost ($60) over the MP3 files also offered. Perhaps my favorite of all is a performance of Strauss’s Don Quixote with Piatagorsky and Munch.
Around the time of Lance Armstrong’s first retirement in 2005, there were rumors that a movie was going to be made about his life. After the release of the US Anti-Doping Authority’s Reasoned Decision, which beyond a reasonable doubt establishes that he “and his handlers engaged in a massive and long running scheme to use drugs, cover their tracks, intimidate witnesses, tarnish reputations, lie to hearing panels and the press and do whatever was necessary to conceal the truth,” the producers of this film should be doubly pleased, pleased that they avoided the embarrassment of making what would likely have been a hagiopic about a cheat and pleased that the Reasoned Decision has now turned their story into something as good as Citizen Kane. If you enjoyed It’s Not About the Bike, Every Second Counts and Melville’s The Confidence Man, you’ll love the Reasoned Decision.
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Most writers fall in love with their words. They greet changes to the text, particularly of a published work, with the blank astonishment of a mother confronted with criticism of her first-born child. This cannot be said of Gore Vidal, who died in Los Angeles at 86 on July 31st. I remember sitting in early rehearsals of the 2000 Broadway production of The Best Man and Vidal asking Jeffrey Richards, the lead producer, “Should I update the international references? Make them more contemporary?” He expected changes in his play and embraced them, but, in fact, there were very few in this production. Prickly references to China were as relevant in 2000 as they were when the play was set in the early ‘60s.
Adapting the themes of this exhibition to the space at Greylock Arts has been a joy. My goal was to be minimally intrusive to the stunning integrity of the materials of the gallery space which are almost all original to when the building was made in the 1920’s. The ornamental high tin ceiling, period cabinetry, hardwood floor, original deep jamb windows, ornamental light fixtures, and clear uncluttered walls make artwork shine. In short, its magnificence is quite a bit more than a clean well-lighted space.
I’m also inclined to believe that the less you try to do the better. This “bias” has come from many encounters where trying to do “more” has always resulted in disaster. So there is also an inclination on my part to use less light, rather than more.
From the beginning I thought of The Berkshire Review as a traditional magazine, distributed electronically. All of us write traditional essays and reviews, with introductions, expositions, arguments, and conclusions. None of us write blog entries, which usually lack that kind of structure, are grounded more in opinion than on knowledge, and are innocent of the extensive research that goes into many of the articles and reviews we publish. The only difference is that, since we don’t have to buy paper and print ads on that paper to pay for it, our articles can be as long as they need to be in order to make their point. We observe no formulaic lengths or formats. By this I do not mean to disparage bloggers in any way. Many of them are experts in their fields, prepare their posts through research, and are effective writers. Blogging is a mode of writing unto itself. The decision not to pursue it was a personal one…