- Michael Steinberg, the musicologist and music critic, the latter notably for the Boston Globe, died this week at the age of 80. He is beloved for his authoritative and gently guiding program notes, of course, and as a champion of the music he loved and understood so well. We should also remember him for that other, less easy-to-like part of being a music critic, that is, being critical of music he did not like. His 1964 take-down of Leonard Bernstein's third symphony ("Kaddish") is a model to be imitated: mercilessly on target but never petty, specific, informed, and concise. He also knew how to write a lede: "There is something enviable about the utter lack of inhibition with which Leonard Bernstein carries on. His Symphony No. 3 (Kaddish) is a piece, in part, of such unashamed vulgarity, and it is so strongly derivative, that the hearing of it becomes as much as anything a strain on one's credulity." [Boston Globe]
- Eight hundred years after the formation of an order of those trying to follow the life example of the poverello of Assisi, the Franciscans are still at it, even wandering down roads with nothing but the mercy of strangers to sustain them. [Whispers in the Loggia]
- After all the endless, mythologizing news coverage, another real analysis of the life and art of Michael Jackson, by Hinton Als. [New York Review of Books]
- Because it's summer and I grew up as a Star Wars nerd (with all my hopes crushed by all the shitty movies George Lucas has made since Episode 6), an a cappella group's version of the Cantina song. [Boing Boing]
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