Fiona Apple, artist rights and lovely lentils

If you're short on time, I'd check out NPR's Fiona Apple stream first, as they'll probably pull that down within hours. Then, I'd read the piece on paying for music (under "food for thought"), which is one of the most important and sobering discussions of music economics I've read. It kind of went viral yesterday, at least in some circles, and rightfully so. It's long, but raises some important questions about our willingness to pay for the technology by which we story and access music, but not the songs themselves.

No new articles from me this week (I've been working on more long-lead type stuff), but I should have my first paid contribution to Paste coming sometime in July, and maybe another piece for Her.meneutics. At some point in the next week or, I also hope to launch a small blog version of this newsletter. It probably won't replace the email version, but should make it easier to share content and refer back to more-evergreen tips.

:: events ::

  • From Oaklandish: From Ugandan breakdancing to the future of soul food, the Oakland Innovation Film Lab (June 18-21) has something for everyone. Tickets are $10, and the trailers are always free. Get a sampling here: http://oifl.eventbrite.com/
:: visual art & film ::
  • I haven't finished reading this story yet, but this LA artist makes figures out of cardboard -- mostly of invisible workers like janitors and housekeepers -- and installs them in wealthy areas.
  • Soon-to-be-tossed books are the medium of choice for this artist, who constructs whimsical outdoor sculptures with the unsold books from a community book sale.  
  • The first trailers for Disney Christmas animated film are just out - the movie is called Wreck-It Ralph -- and it actually looks pretty good. The premise is that the destructive villain in an old-school video game decides he wants to do something good for a change and "jumps games" to a different kind of story.
  • And lastly, you might remember a photographer I mentioned recently, who photographs people with albinism and other disabilities. A fellow contributor to the blog I sometimes write for has a new post on his work.
:: tunes ::
  • Fiona Apple's new album drops today, which you can probably catch NPR's stream of for a little longer. If not, though, here's a recent performance on Late Night with Jimmie Fallon with the Roots. They perform her new song "Anything We Want" and cover Paul McCartney's "Let Me Roll It."
  • A tidbit for those Mumford fans who've been breathlessly awaiting news of their second album: Paste reports it's due out this September.
  • More than a year ago, I caught an Over the Rhine concert at Great American Music Hall, a few months before the release of their latest album. During the show, Karin read a beloved Charles Bukowski poem, "Bluebird," before singing a song it had inspired, from their latest album, The Long Surrender. Now the Brainpickings editor has shared another pieces inspired by the poem, a lovely animation (write-up includes the text of the poem, too, if you don't know it).
  • Musician Fela Kuti has already been the subject of a Broadway musical (the energetic Fela!), but he's also getting a new tribute compilation, rumored for a fall release. The first track, a cover of "Lady" features tUnE-yArDs and The Roots' ?uestlove. Stream it at Paste or buy it on iTunes.
:: reading/food for thought ::
  • This was recommended by several friends on Facebook, and with good reason: it's one of the most in-depth, thoughtful examinations of music economics and artists rights I've read. For context: over the weekend, a new intern for NPR wrote this blog post about how she's paid for almost none of the 11,000 songs in her iTunes library. This response is worth reading and pondering. A couple quotes for the doubtful:
    • "Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?
      Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?"
    • "Many in your generation are willing to pay a little extra to buy “fair trade” coffee that insures the workers that harvested the coffee were paid fairly ... Many in your generation pressured Apple to examine working conditions at Foxconn in China ... On nearly every count your generation is much more ethical and fair than my generation. Except for one thing. Artist rights."
And a handy chart that breaks down the artist's share vs. the label's for all major formats, plus how the volume of sales in each to earn one month's minimum wage. Pretty nuts.
  • Andy Crouch on the "10 Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade"
  • Challenging the Darkness: This Os Guinness lecture, from Redeemer Presbyterian's "gospel and culture" series, includes a fascinating discussion of the Reformation and abandonment of the Holy Spirit in response to superstition. You can also watch the Guinness lecture on Youtube, as part of the Center of Faith and Work's new channel, which features a ton of great video lectures. Hear from Tim Keller, writer Andy Crouch, philosopher James K.A. Smith, bookstore owner Byron Borger and many others.
  • How to talk about books you haven't read: An interesting post about a book on the topic, which I naturally haven't read (yet). ;) The post resonated with me, however, because I've often faced a similar challenge regarding films or TV shows I haven't read. In most conversations, however, it suffices to know something about why it's popular and significant; I don't actually need to have personally viewed it. With books, though, I think it's easier to have incomplete knowledge based on a skim. Yet is that always inferior? I don't know. With non-fiction books, not always; well-constructed ones usually introduce the main themes in the introduction or opening chapter, elaborate on the point in the body of the work, and reiterate the point in the concluding chapter. I'm also not convinced I lost much by skipping a chapter of Moby Dick that focused mainly on blubber harvesting (?).
  • Though it may not always be clear from these emails, a fair amount of my "arts" tips come from Twitter. This piece reviews one such instance of the medium, which I especially liked for looking at how Twitter is distinct from other communication forms. Plus @tweenhobo sounds pretty amazing and funny (though, sadly, not even the likes of Steve Martin, aka @stevemartintogo, have been able to maintain new-user momentum)
:: food ::
  • My cocktail-making's been languishing lately, but Saturday I finally tried a recipe for lentil minestrone that I printed a while back. It took a bit longer than two hours to make, but wasn't super prep-intensive, used mostly inexpensive vegetables and pantry goods, and made about 4 quarters. For a vegetarian main dish, it was also pretty hearty. 

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