Today’s Questions

Talking with a friend the other night about DevraDoWrite (why do I blog is an oft asked question) I heard myself say that I like to encourage people to think about things. It seems that more and more often I have been posting my thoughts followed by some variation of “and what do you think?” I can’t say that I’ve gotten many responding emails, but I figure that y’all are just too busy to write in. So I continue to make my statements, profer a link or three for you to puruse, and hope that you mull over a thought or two that might not otherwise have crossed your mind.

Three items in today’s New York Times caught my fleeting interest.

1. Miles Davis is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Does he belong there? Ben Ratliff reports. (I am not sure if online access to some or all of The New York Times stories is limited to subscribers, so my apologies if these links do not work for you.)

2. Is there room for “cute” on Broadway? Today Ben Brantley reviews the just opened show based on the music of Johnny Cash. He writes “Ring of Fire wrestles with a really bad case of the cutes” — but he allows that some people like that sort of thing; “If so, then let Ring of Fire transport you to a bygone era — not the vintage years of the Grand Ole Opry or bouncy old Broadway, but the age of The Lawrence Welk Show and Sing Along With Mitch.” (The show is produced by Richard Maltby, who I will be interviewing on Thursday. More about that/him later.)

3. Should we spend money taking care of old stuff? Hiring staff to to care for manuscripts is a huge financial problem for most institutions. Some might think that “memorabilia” is trivial and not worthy of the expense, but the value of experienced research specialists, curators and archivists should not be underestimated. Caring for the artifacts is only one vital component, as is knowing what is there with an appreciation for what these things might mean now and in the future. Last week at Juilliard I saw photos from the 1930s and 40s, program flyers as I’ve mentioned previously, student manuals about the schools rules and regulations (in some respects they are more like primers in ettiquette), and I now have a copy of Luther Hendreson’s scholastic transcript (he was a good student). I am indebted to Juilliard archivist Jeni Dahmus for the time she spent putting together a cart full of goodies for me to see, and to her boss, Jane Gottlieb, who welcomed me so graciously and who is mentioned in today’s article “Juilliard’s Library Braces for New Role.”