Category Archives: writing

The veggie, the vegan, the raw.

My grandmother used to take my family to Chester, Connecticut once in a while. There was a French restaurant called Restaurant du Village that served the loveliest vegetable terrine.

Chester, Connecticut

Chester, Connecticut

I hadn’t been back to Chester in years. But now there’s a vegan/vegetarian/raw food restaurant there, named for its address: Six Main. It’s the subject of my latest food story. Read it here.

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A sweet tooth’s guide to New Haven.

Or, in other words, my guide to New Haven in the Hartford Courant.

With some photos that didn’t make it into the article.

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Uncovered

One

Sometimes I review this local-ish orchestra for its local newspaper. The orchestra had a concert recently, so I sent my usual note to the paper’s arts editor confirming that I should review the concert. And I got a reply that I didn’t expect.

“Since the concert will not be over until late Saturday night (it starts at 8, and runs 120 minutes), we probably won’t be able to get it into Sunday’s paper, which is where our readers would expect to read about a concert the previous night. To run it on Monday would be too long after the concert.”

Which was news to me, because for over a year I’d been doing exactly that.

So I asked where that had come from. And the editor said: “It’s just that publishing a review two days later, is no longer news. I realize we have done it in the past, but have found it to be not the best use of our resources and a disservice to readers.”

A disservice to readers?

Now the orchestra will only get reviewed twice a year, when it gives afternoon concerts. I think *that* is a disservice, both to the orchestra and to the community. Publishing reviews online first, and a day later in print, is no tragedy in my book. Publishing a review signals that it’s a worthwhile part of the arts coverage.

Two

I heard that a friend and critic was no longer going to review the orchestra he’d been reviewing for ages. The paper (a different one from the one above) would no longer pay him to write.

Professional writers can’t be expected to write without pay. Their time, their thoughts, their words: these all have value.

Three

I ran into that paper’s arts editor a few days later, and we talked a bit. “Did you hear?” She asked. The paper is cutting – are you ready for this? – all of its arts critics.

All of them.

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Brunch and an opera

1. I went into the city yesterday to have brunch with some friends from my Galapagos trip and to see a new opera called Piazza Navona.

Brunch was delicious. I may forever need to eat eggs benedict on cheddar-jalapeño biscuits. And chipotle hollandaise is a beautiful thing.

2. I remember the actual Piazza Navona, though I haven’t been there in ten years. It’s in Rome, right near the apartment where my brother spent a lovely semester as a college junior. I visited him there, and I remember walking through the piazza many times on my way to the bakery tucked in one corner. I also remember how delicious the food was on that trip. There seems to be a theme here.

3. When I go to a new opera, I generally expect to see something with edges. I expect to hear some dissonance, see some angst, and have my thoughts provoked.

Yesterday, I settled into my seat on the train and started reading the libretto to Piazza Navona, which the composer had kindly sent me. And I couldn’t believe how fluffy it was: a totally improbable romantic comedy of errors.

Having just read Bill Buford’s Heat, in which he wrote about his experience in numerous Italian restaurant kitchens, I found myself thinking, “But they’d never promote him to executive chef after he’s then cooked all of one meal!” And why was this character the brother of that one? Totally gratuitous. And why do characters talk about falling in love when they’ve just met someone? Come on, that never works. The whole thing seemed like a romanticized, Eat Pray Love vision of Rome. So that was the attitude I walked into the theater with.

Fortunately, the production itself made this fluffernutter rather enjoyable. Here’s my review at Parterre.

4. Since they’d cut the three-act opera down to 75 continuous minutes, I spent more time eating than I did at the opera. I’m not sure I like what that implies about me.

But my meal was almost as memorable as the opera, and the opera was partly about memorable food, and all in all the day was lovely.

 

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Aethelred, reblogged

I went up to Vassar on Saturday night to catch the opening of the first fully-staged performance of Richard Wilson’s opera Aethelred the Unready, about the 11th-century Saxon king with an unfortunate nickname.

My review is now up at Parterre Box.

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On the role of arts journalism

I wrote the Roundtable column for the January/February issue of The Arts Paper, a paper published by the New Haven Arts Council. The column isn’t on the Arts Council’s website, so I thought I’d post it here in case you’re not able to pick up a copy.

Roundtable:
On the role of arts journalism

I’ve been writing about music for
years, but I had to stop and think when
I was asked recently: Why do we need
arts journalism? The question might have
surprised me less if it hadn’t come from
a career music critic in a room full of
arts writers. Yet it was worth asking: Why
do we need reporters and critics when we
can just go out and enjoy a performance?
In the words of Rocco Landesman, chairman
of the National Endowment for the
Arts: “Informed voices, in whatever media
venue they reside, are critical to the
health and vibrancy of the arts.” Those
informed voices tell us what’s important
in the arts world and why it matters.

To read the rest: click here to download a pdf or here to view a jpg.

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Done.

It’s the end of November. This is my thirtieth post in thirty days. I have completed National Blog Posting Month (also known as NaBloPoMo, which may be easier to type but really doesn’t roll off the tongue.)

I was lamenting the other day that the quality of my posts had been uneven. Some days, it was all I could do to open the laptop and type something out for the world to see. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go outside. I wanted to hang out. So on those days, I might tell a little story about my life, or start to explore an idea without carrying it through too far. And I was wondering if it was worth it to have all this content of questionable interest on my blog.

A friend put things back into perspective when she said, “I guess the focus is more on the actual exercise of writing, just getting in the habit of writing regularly, right?” True. It feels great to be in the habit of writing every day, especially while I’m still riding the momentum from the NEA Arts Journalism Institute. And I’ve started to write more about music, which was one of my goals.

One of the great things about getting in the habit of writing is that it also puts you in the habit of thinking about writing. So often, now, I find myself writing down ideas for future blog posts (you know, when I’m not blogging every day and have the time to explore ideas in greater depth). I save links and photos to respond to later. I sketch out topics to research.

So, anyway: if you’ve read even a fraction of my last thirty posts, I salute you. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned even when the grind is no longer daily.

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