U.S. Minister of Culture Proposed

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My usual morning routine where I dozily listen to an hour or so of NPR's "All Things Considered" "Morning Edition"* as I drift towards consciousness was rudely disrupted today by a segment which asked, "Does the U.S. Need a Culture Czar?" What an absurdly stupid idea! Is the U.S. suffering from a lack of artistic production? Not enough movies, popular music, dance troupes, community theatre productions, books published, operas, and so forth? As a study from the rightly superfluous National Endowment for the Arts reports:

There are now almost two million Americans who describe their primary occupation as artist. Representing 1.4 percent of the U.S. labor force, artists constitute one of the largest classes of workers in the nation—only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military (2.2 million). Artists represent a larger group than the legal profession (lawyers, judges, and paralegals), medical doctors (physicians, surgeons, and dentists), or agricultural workers (farmers, ranchers, foresters, and fishers).

This abundance of American artistic production is flourishing without much federal government interference, aka, subsidies. According to the Washington Post, the terrible idea of a Culture Czar has been gaining traction:

In a radio interview in November, [legendary music producer Quincy] Jones said the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany or Finland has. And he said he would "beg" Obama to establish the post.

In addition, Jones sadly noted: 

"I have traveled all over the world all the time for 54 years. The people abroad know more about our culture than we do," he said. "A month ago at my high school in Seattle, I asked a student if he knew who Louis Armstrong was. He said he had heard his name. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn't even know their names. That hurts me a lot," Jones said. 

Jones' lament seems far more of a condemnation of government schools than a lack of artistic production and knowledge. Additional government support would likely do for the arts what it's done for public education. Dismayingly, the Post reports that the leader of President-elect Obama's arts review transition team, William Ivey, has expressed some interest in this idea. 

Ivey, a former chairman of the arts endowment, wrote last year that the cultural environment had been neglected and needed to be fixed. "If the task requires consideration of a new government agency—a Cabinet-level department of cultural affairs—so be it," said Ivey. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I shudder to think what we all might get to behold should the country be saddled with a new Minister of Culture. 

Take a look at economist Tyler Cowen's 1998 Reason article on how protectionism and subsidies hurt the French film industry.

Disclosure: My wife and I have served on the board of an excellent community art gallery, and contribute to one of the best community theatres in America.

*I did say that I was dozing. 

NEXT: Bongs Away!

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  1. “My wife and I have served on the board of an excellent community art gallery, and contribute to one of the best community theatres in America.”

    I can vouch for that. Ron’s Stanley Kowalski was AWESOME! Brando was audibly rotating in his grave, and that guy weighed a ton!

  2. This is stupider than even I thought possible. What would the SecCult do? Really?

  3. You know what? FUCK QUINCY JONES!!!

    It’s not your problem if today’s youth deprive themselves of the pleasures of great Jazz. If one wishes to learn, then they will seek out. Some fucking repugnant assclown trying to force his view of “culture” on to others, and being linked to Government, it will only be by force, needs to be burned alive. The same goes for anyone who supports this notion.

    You want people to appreciate the musicians you mentioned, tell them about them. Play some of their music for them.

    LET. THEM. DECIDE. FOR. THEMSELVES!

  4. What I love about American culture is how crazy, loud, obnoxious, trashy and takes in a whole lot of other cultures. SecCult would destroy this.

  5. In a radio interview in November, [legendary music producer Quincy] Jones said the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany or Finland has. And he said he would “beg” Obama to establish the post.

    I’m thinking that Obama is a bit too smart for this kind of nonsense.

    But if this phenomenonally idiotic proposal were to be enacted, the amopunt of grief I would give joe over it would be staggering.

  6. Episiarch, I think we finally found the ideal position for Al Jourgenson.

  7. Oops, there should have been a /blockquote up there.

  8. You know how the INS, or whatever it’s called these days, has its own administrative judges?

    All rise, the honorable Flood presiding.

  9. The only good thing about effete NPR fags is that their fond dreams involve stupid shit like Culture Ministries, not invasions. That said, fuck them.

  10. joe, I called and you answered. Try not to make a habit of it, OK? 😉

  11. Episiarch, I think we finally found the ideal position for Al Jourgenson.

    Wrong. Drug czar.

  12. No way!

    Al would totally greenlight my Sound of Music remake.

  13. Episiarch, I think we finally found the ideal position for Al Jourgenson.

    joe, if we compromise on Frankie Nardiello, I can accept this.

    The only good thing about effete NPR fags is that their fond dreams involve stupid shit like Culture Ministries, not invasions.

    Every time I try and listen to NPR for more than 5 minutes, I have to turn it off because if I fall asleep at the wheel, there could be trouble.

  14. Ron, Ron, Ron … NPR? For reals? Jesus, if you Reason guys would quit reading socialist magazines and listening to warmed-over lefty radio …

    Anywhose, the pompous turds in the “arts community” don’t consider American television, American movies, American hip-hop, American videography, American indy theater, or dare I say, AMERICAN VIDEO GAMES “art.” The problem is not that some baggy-pants high school fucksicle doesn’t know who Louis Armstrong is. The problem is that the self-appointed cultural emperors don’t consider anything that’s been produced in the last 50 years “art.” If we get a “Culture Czar,” we’ll just be allowing the government to determine what “good culture” is and means.
    Total fucking Christ-humping horseshit. Where in the Constitution does it allow for a Culture Czar?
    Our government-art alloy has already given us the laughable and pathetic NEA, which exists solely for the purpose of allowing smug assholes to congratulate themselves for flinging shit to the hick masses.
    Two Shit, Montana, doesn’t need a fucking traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors any more than Daniel Barenboim needs a copy of “Grand Theft Auto IV.”
    Mb>Fuck you, Quincy Jones. P.S. — love your music.

  15. Wow, they should call the show “Anything Considered.”

  16. When I first read about a culture czar, my first impression was that the position would regulate the amount of bacteria in yogurts…

  17. joe, if we compromise on Frankie Nardiello, I can accept this.

    Best. Confirmation hearings. Evah.

  18. Jamie Kelly said it already, but I would add:

    In music in particular this argument is inane. I can understand lamenting that the youth of the day doesn’t possess some basic knowledge of literature or history, because that lack impairs their ability to communicate about the affairs of the polity and limits their ability to be good citizens – but there’s really no downside to people not knowing who Coltrane is. If you don’t like jazz, there’s no reason to know who he is. It’s more important for me to know who Lemon Demon is than Coltrane, because I actually gained some enjoyment from the former. Despite the fact that no one would ever remotely consider The Ultimate Battle of Ultimate Destiny “art”.

  19. Quincy Jones was with Nastassja Kinski for years. This has nothing to do with Culture Czars, I’m just throwing it out there.

  20. He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot,” Jones said.

    “What hurt me the most is that he didn’t know who the fuck I was. Even when I told him i used to do that hot little chick from the Mod Squad, he just told me “get up from outta my face, grandpa.”

  21. Now I *am* red….

  22. “I have traveled all over the world all the time for 54 years. The people abroad know more about our culture than we do,” he said. “A month ago at my high school in Seattle, I asked a student if he knew who Louis Armstrong was. He said he had heard his name. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot,” Jones said.

    It hurts me that they don’t know who Frank Zappa or Robert Fripp are, but you don’t see me trying to make a Federal case out of it.

    And while I am on the subject, I came to know about the music of both men despite that fact that there is no U.S. Culture Czar. Not only that, no FCC-sanctioned radio station played their music either. I have over ninety Frank Zappa albums. Why did I acquire them? Because I like them and they were available.

  23. What we really need is a Minister of Cloud Formations. How else will we preserve them, our beautiful, god-given, puffy, white mountains in the sky?

    Will somebody please think of the clouds?!

  24. Quincy Jones was with Nastassja Kinski for years.

    During the “Cat People” era? ‘Cause that was some quality masturbating material. I think I could still rub one off to the memories of it.

  25. Fluffy’s right. What would happen to nerdcore under a Ministry of Culture?

  26. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot,” Jones said.

    You make your fucking LIVING in music, Quincy, you quivering blanket of beef curtains. Or at least you did before you went around the country being a butt-fucking annoying coot. I bet that same kid you asked could fucking PWN your old black ass when it comes to knowledge of modern music.
    Step aside, you sphincter, and just die. DIE.
    Prick.

  27. I shudder to think what a culture czar would do to Ween.

  28. I like the aforementioned Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, Coltrane and Al Jourgensen, and lots more. Of course I discovered all these musicians on my own, or through friends, not from some culture czar. The mere fact that we use the word czar is disgusting in a ‘free’ country.

  29. Is this all having to do with the concept of “national champions?” We can’t just have one big cluster of lots of different styles of music that mate and evolve – we need to have someone identify those to be determined the American Greats, and then we will look to them for music for the next 60 years until they die, and then find new American Greats… or something.

    Like how the French only have 4 or 5 actors that star in their films.

  30. “A month ago at my high school in Seattle, I asked a student if he knew who Louis Armstrong was. He said he had heard his name. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot,” Jones said.

    What really matters is whether or not that student is familiar with the work of Edd Kalehoff.

  31. …under a Ministry of Culture?

    I thought you’d ruled out Jourgenson for the post?

  32. Like how the French only have 4 or 5 actors that star in their films.

    Come on, who can match Gerard Depardieu, Vincent Cassel, and Jean Reno?

  33. When are artists (Quincy Jones, fer chrissakes?) going to realize that culture isn’t made, stamped, logged, recorded, licensed, taxed, legitimized or delegitimized via government bureaucracies?

  34. It’s amazing how prescient Rand was.

  35. “Ministry of Culture” should always be written in that germanic heavy metal font with lots of umlauts. You know, to make it more bad-ass.

  36. Hm. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever cared what Quincy Jones wanted, in my entire life.

    I’m thinking…I’m thinking…

    Nope. I got nothing.

  37. I’m curious, since the younguns are going to be forced to memorize jazz history, are oldsters going to have to learn about Jay-Z and Marilyn Manson as a condition of getting their SS checks? Or does cultural knowledge only go in one direction.

  38. Mini?try ?f C?lture?

  39. Come on, who can match Gerard Depardieu, Vincent Cassel, and Jean Reno?

    You forgot Julie Depardieu

  40. This is one subject that needs to be Godwin’d out the wazoo.

    Beginning in September 1933, a Reich Culture Chamber (composed of the Reich Film Chamber, Reich Music Chamber, Reich Theater Chamber, Reich Press Chamber, Reich Writing Chamber, Reich Chamber for Fine Arts, and the Reich Radio Chamber) supervised and regulated all facets of German culture.

    Nice job, Pro L… for HTML.

  41. Paul has a good point. Do the artists that support this (I’m guessing not all artists do) think that they are going to benefit from this is some way?

  42. this is fantastic! i hope the culture secretary is good with big posters.

  43. With all apologies to our resident left-leaners, the out-and-out socialist crap coming out of the leftish commentariat is making me ill. Keynes is back, soon to be followed by Marx, Lenin, Mao, and, our old favorite, Stalin.

    Of course, if I or, perhaps, Episiarch (for the laughs), were appointed to be ??lture Czar for life, well, that would be okay.

  44. Quincy Jones, fer chrissakes?

    Q hasn’t made an honest living in years. He’s an NGO (light on the “N,” heavy on the “G”). So he thinks like one.

  45. On reflection, what really bothers me about this is that Ron is a regular NPR listener, and this is apparently the only time he noticed an “absurdly stupid idea.”

  46. Obama could fool everyone, including Jones, and appoint Chris Pontius or Tom Green to the post.

  47. when we have a culture secretary all talk radio will be npr. no more limbaugh!

  48. Jones’ lament seems far more of a condemnation of government schools

    It breaks my heart that kids don’t know who Jack Kirby or Voltron are either. ‘Cause those things are important to me.

    We need a Kitsch Czar!

  49. My usual morning routine where I dozily listen to an hour or so of NPR’s “All Things Considered” as I drift towards consciousness was rudely disrupted this morning by a segment which asked, “Does the U.S. Need a Culture Czar?” What an absurdly stupid idea!

    The real question is why were you stuck by this particular stupid idea on NPR and not by the constant barrage of stupid idea’s that are constantly vomited out from there?

  50. this is fantastic! i hope the culture secretary is good with big posters.

    They always are.

  51. NPR isn’t all bad (its quasi-governmental status aside), but it does have two major failings: (1) it dramatically overemphasizes the centrality of the government to, well, everything, and (2) it tends to lurch heavily left, especially come election season. There’s usually some effort to hide the latter bias, but it’s almost palpable right now, with the coming Obamanation Mandatopia.

  52. We should be celebrating, even backing, proposals like this. Notions like a Culture Czar will function like giant puppets or the militant vegans at an anti-war protest. It is something so silly that most people will discredit everything else Obama is trying to do as equally silly and inane.

    I mean, seriously, who’s going to keep a straight face when the guy who came up with “Culture Czar” proposes socialized medicine?

    Long Live The Culture Czar! Jazz for Breakfast! Performance Art for Lunch!

  53. This is one of my favs re: nationalized healthcare. It’s a real howler.

    Accompanying text:

    This poster is from the 1930’s, and promotes the Nazi monthly Neues Volk (New People}, the organ of the party’s racial office. The text reads: “This genetically ill person will cost our people’s community 60,000 marks over his lifetime. Citizens, that is your money.

    Ok, I’ll stop. Ministry of Culture, bad bad bad bad bad.

  54. this idea is coming at the right time. Obama is finally free to use his middle name on tuesday after years of oppression from the rightwing censorshipmachine.

  55. Of course, if I or, perhaps, Episiarch (for the laughs), were appointed to be ??lture Czar for life

    You don’t want to give me power, ProL. I’d become a tyrant in seconds. I would have Michael Bay executed, give Matt Maiellaro a solid gold house, and I’d erase all records that Manimal ever existed.

    Trust me, you don’t want that.

  56. mrk | January 16, 2009, 1:01pm | #
    It’s amazing how prescient Rand was.

    Not really, the national endowment for the arts was a new deal program. The logical conclusion of the NEA is government run culture.

    Hell at the time she wrote the Fountain Head culture in Nazi Germany and Stalin Russia was government run.

    All she needed to do was pick up a newspaper.

  57. Keynes is back, soon to be followed by Marx, Lenin, Mao, and, our old favorite, Stalin.

    Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Easy there, big fella. Deep breaths.

    Keynes wasn’t even “followed” by Marx, Lennin, Mao, and Stalin in the actual, leftist 1930s.

  58. I would have Michael Bay executed

    WTF!?!

    How could you not enjoy robots beating the crap out of each other.

  59. Keynes wasn’t even “followed” by Marx, Lennin, Mao, and Stalin in the actual, leftist 1930s.

    Keynes was the reincarnation of Marx.

  60. Maybe the Culture Czar can make Arrested Development come back on the air!!!

    It’s for the good of the country!

  61. http://cultureczar.blogspot.com/

    If the world’s largest democracy already has one, then, of course, we need out own.

  62. Long Live The Culture Czar! Jazz for Breakfast! Performance Art for Lunch!

    *groans*
    But I’m so tired of performance art for lunch? Can’t we have a little sweet dadaism every now and then?

  63. Like I said, Episiarch, for the laughs.

    Anyway, get real. The ??lture Czar can’t have people killed–this is still kinda sorta America. However, he will have the power to take a director, say, Michael Bay, and force him to do work at his bidding. Like Sesame Street or Barney & Friends. Or maybe National Geographic specials.

    joe,

    I meant in their academic respect. Keynes was about as repudiated as you can get until recently. I don’t think he was a communist or anything like that. Not really.

  64. Paul | January 16, 2009, 1:18pm | #

    Ok, I’ll stop.

    Please do. Your broken links are annoying the fuck out of me.

  65. Reinmoose | January 16, 2009, 1:26pm | #
    Maybe the Culture Czar can make Arrested Development come back on the air!!!

    Don’t give the Firefly fans any ideas…those bastards are crazy!!!

  66. It breaks my heart that children today are ignorant of “Cop Rock” and have no idea who Richard Cheese is. FedGov to the rescue!!

  67. Keynes was the reincarnation of Marx.

    Sure, sure: countercyclical tax policy, revolutionary uprisings to nationalize the means of production: same-same.

    The poodle is the black man of the dog world.

  68. But I’m so tired of performance art for lunch? Can’t we have a little sweet dadaism every now and then?

    You’ll eat what the Culture Czar says you’ll eat! And don’t go whining about having a hankerin’ for a hunk of cheese, neither!

  69. Epi –
    for all the horrible things you would do as Culture Czar, I can see the good things as well.
    Like, wouldn’t you, as Czar, order Brian Henson to cease his massacre of one of the greatest American cultural creations of all time?

  70. I’d declare all Disney properties created before 1960 to be in the public domain. Just for laughs.

  71. Andrew Wyeth died. The Culture Czar could have saved him. See what you snarky libertarians have done!

  72. …When I’m dancin’ a hoedown
    And my boots kind of slow down
    Or any time I’m
    Weak in the knees…

    Props, SF.

  73. Don’t give the Firefly fans any ideas…those bastards are crazy!!!

    See, you REALLY don’t want me as Czar, because that would be my second decree, after the first one that would order the return of Special Unit 2.

    The ??lture Czar can’t have people killed–this is still kinda sorta America

    I told you I’d be a tyrant. I’d take the bastard down no matter what.

    Like, wouldn’t you, as Czar, order Brian Henson to cease his massacre of one of the greatest American cultural creations of all time?

    He would be relegated to creating Farscape puppets like Rigel and then animating them in sex ed classes to demonstrate proper condom use. And Kermit could finally retire. Steve Whitmire does his best, but it’s not Jim.

  74. Warty | January 16, 2009, 12:28pm | #
    The only good thing about effete NPR fags is that their fond dreams involve stupid shit like Culture Ministries, not invasions.

    Don’t you mean invasions in oil producing counties.

    They want us to send troops into Darfur…hell i think they would even support sending troops into Israel…so long as they were fighting alongside Hamas.

  75. Andrew Wyeth died. The Culture Czar could have saved him. See what you snarky libertarians have done!Andrew Wyeth died. The Culture Czar could have saved him. See what you snarky libertarians have done!

    My mom dragged me to the Helga Pictures exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum when they initially came out. Christ, was I bored.

  76. Alton Brown died? That sucks!

  77. Maybe the Culture Czar can make Arrested Development come back on the air!!!

    The czar may not be able to accomplish that, as he/she may have to deal first with pressure from game-show fans for, say, a new revival of “Split Second”.

  78. “That was my Alton Brown saucepot! I use it to make my Balsamic Reduction! Dammit! …You’ve seen me do it.”

  79. but Firefly was awesome! This idea is a symptom of a larger problem. It’s really kind of sickening for me to contemplate.

    I mean, what the fuck would a Culture Czar actually do? America is the capitol of pluralist tastes and styles, how the fuck do you centralize our Culture? This can only be a bad thing, wait, no it could also be a very stupid thing.

  80. In the most recent special on TV, the biggest crimes were Fozzie and Scooter’s voices (and maybe the Sweedish Chef’s), and of course, the writing.

  81. Alton Brown should be the Cuisine Czar, of course.

  82. Alton Brown should be the Awesome Czar – duh!

  83. Sure, sure: countercyclical tax policy, revolutionary uprisings to nationalize the means of production: same-same.

    Well Counter cyclical tax policy was simply stupid…Tax ourselves out of a recession!! Brilliant. No but the part about wealth redistribution was all Marx.

    In fact I don’t think Marx called for nationalizing the means of production…that was the Soviet method. The American method was the Keynes method.

    But yeah you are joe and your whole schtick it lie and beat down strawmen. So why bother.

    Oh by the way…you fail.

    joe = idiot

  84. Brown did have an episode where he made a Ce Czar salad.

  85. I love Alton Brown; I literally have every episode of Good Eats stored on my old series 1 TiVo. But that said: The man’s a lunatic occasionally. Making a dark roux in the oven? for an hour and half? Madness. It’s called a whisk Alton. Use it.

  86. In the most recent special on TV, the biggest crimes were Fozzie and Scooter’s voices (and maybe the Sweedish Chef’s), and of course, the writing.

    There’s no way I could bring myself to watch that. The recent movies are difficult enough.

    “Mr. Holiday, did you order a gross of flowered socks?”

  87. Well Counter cyclical tax policy was simply stupid…Tax ourselves out of a recession!!

    Holy crap. You must be the dumbest human being in North America.

    Tax ourselves out of a recession – yeah, that’s Keynes for you.

    In fact I don’t think Marx called for nationalizing the means of production

    Hey, conservatives: joshua corning thinks you’re totally smrt!

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!

  88. joe, I don’t like your tone. Whoever said the thing about the blogosphere not existing with Dems in power is totally right. If anything the CHANGE will show that dramatic stupidity and policy fuckups occur on both sides of the political spectrum. joe, choose your words carefully or there will be a lot of crow to serve up.

  89. Get in that pot! Melt! CONFORM!! DO IT NOW DAMNIT!!

  90. Culture Czar II? Sounds more like the Fondue Czar.

  91. What you libertards really fears is that the Culture Czar will get all those artists and musicians organized into a meaningful political force that can challange the establishment. They might even rank up there with the NEA in promoting progressive causes.

    A culture czar could really create social unity, directing culture production towards the useful goals of social unity, community, and progress!!!

  92. Culture Czar II? Sounds more like the Fondue Czar.

    Fondue Czar! What does fondue have to do with football?

  93. Stop picking on Joe when he is right.

  94. Whoever said the thing about the blogosphere not existing with Dems in power is totally right…joe, choose your words carefully or there will be a lot of crow to serve up.

    Uh huh. I expect there will be quite a bit of crow served up, regarding certain predictions people have made about Obama’s term in office.

    It’s just too bad Maobama’s gonna totally shut down the blogs.

  95. Moose, what was that about a Fondling Czar?

  96. Hands off, buddy boy!

    The job’s already taken!

  97. I don’t think saying “we are so fucked” warrants crow-eating. I mean, it isn’t exactly a prediction, per se. Fucked is a relative term. I will agree, some fears are blown out of proportion. However, collosal the collossal stupidity of liberal attitudes (like “let’s have a Culture Czar!) will reign high indeed.

  98. I can think of only one possible positive outcome of the CultSec is maybe they’ll ban John Tesh. Hey…a guy can dream, right?

    Other than that, this can only turn out to be a HORRIBLE abuse of power. And don’t think it won’t. Eventually, they’ll decide what movies we get to watch, what music we’ll get to listen to, and what video games we get to play. Might as well call it what it is “Minister of Making Sure No One Participates In Anything That Might Make Them Question Our Authority” Or MOMSNOPIATMMTQOA.

  99. What about Fisting Czar? I know that’s right up your “alley”.

  100. If you want to destroy art and culture, give it a government subsidy.

    How about a Czar Czar? The world is running dangerously low on Russian-speaking potentates of divine right whose titles are subject to obsolete transliterations. We have to Do Something About It.

  101. What about Fisting Czar? I know that’s right up your “alley”.

    Oh Epi – we haven’t done that in a very long time.

    PS: I’m the one with the better pun.

  102. Anyway, Quincy Jones is the man primarily responsible for foisting off Thriller on the world, so who the fuck is he to lecture anyone about culture?

  103. I heard “Beat It” for the first time in years on the radio the other day, and this a quality song in the Gap Band/Kool and Gang early-80s funk genre.

    Tight, aggressive bass and guitar. Worth another listen.

  104. SugarFree | January 16, 2009, 1:53pm | #
    I love Alton Brown; I literally have every episode of Good Eats stored on my old series 1 TiVo. But that said: The man’s a lunatic occasionally. Making a dark roux in the oven? for an hour and half? Madness. It’s called a whisk Alton. Use it.

    He is good for getting techniques you might not come up with on your own, but he doesn’t seem to have much of a palate. His recipes are consistently wrong on the essential flavors, imho.

  105. NM,

    No, he’s a god. Please report to the Food Czar for re-education.

    SugarFree,

    You know, I thought baked roux was heresy as well, but it actually works pretty well. My wife makes this gumbo recipe using the baked roux approach. Very tasty.

  106. Uh, Thriller is an excellent album, dude.

    Moose, fist him for his lack of taste.

  107. What you libertards really fears is that the Culture Czar will get all those artists and musicians organized into a meaningful political force that can challange the establishment. They might even rank up there with the NEA in promoting progressive causes.

    A culture czar could really create social unity, directing culture production towards the useful goals of social unity, community, and progress!!!

    Finally, Lefiti says something funny!

  108. PL

    I’m all in favor of a comeback of Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo but that other brother, you know, the one with the bushy beard, he wasn’t a bit funny.

    And Jamie, joe is right. Whatever one thinks of Keynesianism, it helps if you’re going to discuss it to at least know the basics.

    I can think of only one possible positive outcome of the CultSec is maybe they’ll ban John Tesh.

    You forget, PBS presents Yanni as high art.

    If Yanni needs a public subsidy surely John Tesh can’t be far behind.

  109. Whoa.

    I expected Episiarch to mercilessly mock me for writing that comment about Beat It.

  110. If Yanni needs a public subsidy surely John Tesh can’t be far behind.

    You think pan flutes grow on trees?

  111. joe,

    Episiarch’s taste are randomly determined. I thought you knew that.

  112. PL,

    I didn’t think it was so much heresy as just unnecessary. Dark roux isn’t magic. Keep the heat low and whisk.

    Neu,

    I agree. Never enough black pepper and an occasional imbalance in alkali and acid.

    I would like to speak up for his red beans and rice, though. Pickled pork is awesome. I’m using a batch in the cajun-influenced cassoulet I’m making Saturday.

  113. joe, when you’re right, you’re right.

    And ProL, my tastes are determined randomly in a Deer Hunter type fashion.

    Which seems to be why I have never paid any attention to Alton Brown, and instead watched Ming Tsai. He did beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, after all. Anybody who makes Flay shut up is a hero.

  114. Why is there never any mention of a Drug Rasputin or cultural Rasputin? That sounds like a better job.

  115. I met Bobby Flay in Bermuda. My brother’s girlfriend flinged this bright neon yellow curry on him while being introduced. It was hard to keep the laughter inside.

  116. Why is there never any mention of a Drug Rasputin or cultural Rasputin? That sounds like a better job.

    Because the Drug Rasputin would bring down the Drug Czar, and we can’t have that, now can we?

    Sorry bout the broken links guys. I think the culture czar didn’t like my allusions to the real meaning of his job.

  117. robert redford is the ailing art scene.

  118. and an overrated hack.

  119. The Mandatory National Film Festival at Sundance, brought to you by Film Czar, Robert Redford. No other film festivals are allowed in the United States.

  120. Kurt Vonnegut has already soloved the problem of the Arts Czar or The Barring-gaffner of Bagnialto (or This Year’s Masterpiece)

    The name of the planet where Trout’s book took place was Bagnialto, and a “Barring-gaffner” there was a government official who spun a wheel of chance once a year. Citizens submitted works of art to the government, and these were given numbers, and then they were assigned cash values according to the Barring-gaffner’s spins of the wheel. The viewpoint of character of the tale was not the Barring-gaffner, but a humble cobbler named Gooz. Gooz lived alone, and he painted a picture of his cat. It was the only picture he had ever painted. He took it to the Barring-gaffner, who numbered it and put it in a warehouse crammed with works of art.

    The painting by Gooz had an unprecedented gush of luck on the wheel. It became worth eighteen thousand lambos, the equivalent of one billion dollars on Earth. The Barring-gaffner awarded Gooz a check for that amount, most of which was taken back at once by the tax collector. The pictire was given a place of honor in the National Gallery, and people lined up for miles for a chance to see a painting worth a billion dollars.

    There was also a huge bonfire of all the paintings and statues and books and so on which the wheel had said were worthless. And then it was discovered that the wheel was rigged, and the Barring-gaffner commited suicide.

  121. “A month ago at my high school in Seattle, I asked a student if he knew who Louis Armstrong was. He said he had heard his name. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn’t even know their names.”

    And if they asked him if he knew who any new bands and artists on the scene were, he would not know either.

    But I liked Quincy in Kill Bill, so I can give him a pass 😛

  122. Culture czar? Great idea! I nominate Ted Nugent.

  123. Mike,

    No can do. He’s the Huntin’ Czar.

  124. So would Quincy Jones be so desperate for a Culture Czar when the kids never heard of Earl Scruggs?

    Bah, this is too easy. What a douche. Mandatory national playlists. That’s what clear channel is like anyway.

  125. I’m more and more convinced the fundamental flaw of the leftist brain is the impulse to systemize everything. Lathering “government” all over stuff is just the second half of the process.

    Quincy Jones surveys the landscape, sees that there are a bunch of people making art, and his brain conceives it as a “scene,” a “culture.” He’s systemizing. Others look around and notice that human beings get their bodies treated by other human beings. Their brains start systemizing and give it the form of “the healthcare system.” Others see people doing work in exchange for money and systemize it into the tangible realm of “labor.”

    And on and on. Time and again, they transform activities committed by myriad individual actors into an “it.” Virtually every new government regulation is the result of this — of somebody observing free people acting freely and deciding they can quantify it, giving it a shape and name. But ultimately, that’s an arbitrary act and is — even if unwittingly — dismissive of individualism.

    Once identified, quantified and named, of course, this “it” is now capable of being overseen and regulated. And then the hell starts…

  126. Unless you’re waking up in the afternoon, you would have heard this question presented on “Morning Edition,” not “All Things Considered.”

  127. Quincy Jones was with Nastassja Kinski for years. This has nothing to do with Culture Czars, I’m just throwing it out there.

    Well, it does help explain why he has an over appreciation for German culture.

  128. Ted Nugent has recently asked Obama to be his drug czar. He doesn’t think drug policy is enforced enough, and he would arm Border Patrol with better offensive weaponry. Also, more intervention in South America. It was on Fox News a few minutes ago, but all I can find on foxnews.com is a link to a Christie’s auction of an old photo of Madonna’s hairy snatch.

  129. You forget, PBS presents Yanni as high art.

    If Yanni needs a public subsidy surely John Tesh can’t be far behind.

    Tesh has already had a PBS special.

  130. Here. Move over Alice Cooper, you’ve got competition for “Most Evil Man in Rock Music.”

  131. Move over Alice Cooper, you’ve got competition for “Most Evil Man in Rock Music.”

    However, it’s not like Nugent ever co-starred in a movie with Mae West.

  132. Fewer czars, more freedom.

  133. Yea, that is pretty damn evil. It’s kinda the equivalent to J.R.R. Tolkien saying that Frodo and Gandalf’s boat sank on the way to Valinor and that Samwise spent the rest of his days waiting for him like Fry’s dog.

  134. I’m more and more convinced the fundamental flaw of the leftist brain is the impulse to systemize everything. Lathering “government” all over stuff is just the second half of the process.

    You’re close, but IMO, the problem is not systematization per se, but historical materialism. I can see systems in human society, but I view them a part of a chaotic process of self-organization. Whereas in Marx’s historical materialism, history is a systematic and deterministic process, without a lot of room for notions like randomness chaos or spontaneous order. Thus the focus on institutions. i.e. There are certain institutions. Certain institutions give rise, deterministically, to certain social orders. Thus, you can change the institutions in specific ways and you can make predictable controllable changes in the social order. Hence the lack of appreciation for unintended consequences, perverse incentives, and the like.

    There’s also a wierd tendancy to see themselves as cogs in larger mechanism. Or a desire to submerge themselves and become cogs. I can’t decide which it is exactly.

    Also, resistance to submergence in the whole is seen as some kind of moral failing. Don’t see yourself as a member of your gender class, or ethnic category? Don’t enjoy marching in unison while chanting political slogans? Well, your some kind of misanthope in need of reeducation. Every normal sane person must be part of a larger unit, or else what’s your purpose in life?

  135. maybe BHO could be honorary culture tsar – you know – maybe write some operas, do some water puppet shows – in his spare time somewhere in his 8th term.

  136. arlo guthrie is the obvious pick for culture secretary.

  137. Why should anybody be shocked or alarmed at Ron listening to NPR? Keeping up with what the other side is upto is important for anybody with a cause, especially the beneficial cause of Libertarianism. Even I listen to those flakes when roaming the roads in my famous hydrogen powered Jeep. I limit it to times when WJFK is broadcasting some Maryland college sporting event instead of the Pat Goss show.

    This is a FUCKING STUPID IDEA and a totally logical (to the Left) extention of the NEA.

    If we must have a Minister of coulture, I suggest it be a Mistress instead, like Ashley Renee. I am sure she could play the role instead of subbing all the time.

    If it must be a Minister, then Jim Weathers could do as long as he stays behind the camera and has the ladies in front.

  138. Can we please, please, please have a Ministry of Truth?

  139. eedds,

    Isn’t the VP going to be doing that as one of his few-duties-as-possible approach?

  140. I nominate Richard Cheese for Culture Czar.

    With classics like ‘Star Wars Cantina’ and the loungified version of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ could there be anyone more qualified?

  141. Oddly, both pole dancing and santeria are seriously under represented in the arts as things stand today.

  142. “Keynes is back, soon to be followed by Marx, Lenin, Mao, and, our old favorite, Stalin.”

    wtf???

    if you mean in bushie, you could be right, but as someone who took econ, you should know better than saying that…

  143. I hope pole dancing gets a spot in the Smithsonian under the Hope and Change administration.

  144. With the need to come up with 600,000 new government jobs, creating a new cabinet level department is a no-brainer.

  145. Getting cultural insight from QUINCY JONES !!!!

    Wow. Given the fact that this numbnut is responsible for most of the decay in culture as a producer goes to show how delusional the “artistic class” is. Maybe if he didn’t promote rap, hip-hop and other vaudevillian art/music forms, people would still appreciate Coltrane, Ellington, etc.

    It isn’t even inauguration day, and all the Obama retards are doing cartwheels.

  146. Everyone is missing what makes Quincy Jones our leading expert on culture: he was the producer of Leslie Gore’s hits: e.g. “Its my Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To”; “Judy’s Turn to Cry”; and “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows”. Heheheh. Personally, I LOVE those songs. However, I love Sixties pop music, the goofier, the better.

    Government has no place in funding the arts or determining what is or is not good art.

  147. On the positive side, a Ministry of American Culture might result in NPR coverage of NASCAR. Right?

  148. I’ll bet the kids don’t know who Patsy Montana, was, either. Why should I grieve?

  149. Unless you’re waking up in the afternoon, you would have heard this question presented on “Morning Sedition,” not “Any Thing Considered.”

    Fixed it for you.

  150. I wonder if Mr. Jones asked the young man if he knew what the square root of 25 is or the chemical formula for water??? I wonder if we would get such a reaction if his answers were incorrect?

    Besides the obvious academic problem here (cultural education vs. math/science, what is more important to the future of this great country?), there is another issue. Many people have commented on the anticipated ‘one-sidedness’ of a culture czar. I see a much scarier trajectory here. Once we begin going down this path, there will eventually be a cabinet position for the minister of proper thinking. The thought police of the movies will slowly become a reality….

  151. How stupid. I know more about my culture than Quincy Jones or any Eurotrash. They don’t know what Tex-Mex really is, or have listened to Urine Trouble at Spider Babies in their prime. They don’t know the birth of Alt Country to challenge Pop Country, or even the resurgence of Traditional Country. Of course, he probably doesn’t know about any of those things.

    This is just like those ass clowns from Europe that claim that they know more about American history than Americans. Ha! Just ask them if they know who my namesake is.

  152. These folks calling for a Culture Czar wouldn’t happen to be the same folks who railed against incorporating “cultural literacy’ in public schools as “elitist”, would they?

    We’re big fans of Hirsch and have tried to ensure our children are culturally literate. They seem to get most of the obsure references and homages in films and are more familiar with American culture than their peers. The kids keep stealing my copy of the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy for themselves.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0394758439/reasonmagazinea-20/

    God bless… +Timothy

  153. Heh heh heh. Soon there will be TWO Canadas on one continent! The evil plan is nearing its bitter fruition!

  154. Companeros! While talking about this subject do not swerve (rightward) into counter-revolutionary territory. Onward!

    P.S. Take a moment to hail our DEAR LEADER, may His name be praised.

  155. “I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn’t even know their names. That hurts me a lot,” Jones said.

    It hurts me even more that they don’t know who Mozart or Beethoven were; don’t know who Shakespeare or Dante were; don’t know who Leonardo or Rembrandt were; …

    We might have some trifling use for a Culture Czar, if only we had some culture.

    Mr Jones makes an extremely weak case if he says, “…the country needed a minister of culture, like France, Germany or Finland has.” From what I read, France and Germany give the world very little in that regard. Or any other, for that matter. I don’t know about Finland. The did give the world something, but it was by somebody else our highly-educated high schoolers never heard of: Jean Sibelius. (If you don’t get that connection, move on over with the rest of those highly-educated kids.)

    I’m encouraged that all the commentors here think Mr Jones’ idea is just plain stupid.

    At the rate Obama’s going, he’s going to need a Czar Czar, to keep track of all the others.

  156. From what I read of the comments, I’d say that they conspicuously prove the falsity of Mr. Bailey’s point, for the commenters here are aggressive, tasteless, arrogant, and unlearned. No one’s doubting that US culture is dominant globally, but who’s to say that gangsta rap and blockbuster action and “chic-flick” movies are doing anyone one bit of good, culturally-speaking?

    Meanwhile, “small-‘c’ conservatives” would do well to remember the biblical proverb: “A fool hates instruction.”

  157. What the hell? Did somebody suddenly link this blog post? Why the sudden rash of comments Monday?

  158. Why is everyone here so bitter?

    Let’s discuss the position’s possible influence on diplomacy and education.

    Think about the political importance of Bernstein, Armstrong,Shostakovich, Gillespie, Van Cliburn. These cats showed diverse populations of enemy nations that they all had something in common besides fear.

    I work with a non-profit that give instruments and teaches music literacy to NYC inner-city youth in the public school system. These kids are starved for the arts. It literally saves some of their lives.

    A Bronx high schooler to his music teacher:
    “You’re the reason I traded in my knives for drumsticks.”

    Some of you will say “great, that’s the way it should be: art education funded and implemented by the private sector.”

    I say bullshit. This model is patchy at best. Public schools are firing music/art teachers left and right. I know-I have to come take back the instruments when they’re fired.

    There is far greater potential for good from a cabinet position than harm. We need as much influence as possible on the Education dept. to make music/arts ed. CORE curriculum. None of this “it helps the kids test better in math and reading.” That’s bullshit too. What it does is develop the child’s sense of self worth, confidence and purpose in society.

    You guys are missing the point. This is about creating accessibility and opportunities to participate in peaceful, uplifting and enriching experiences. Not a Stalin-esque censorship of culture. Still haven’t heard a convincing argument for that one yet.

    And by the way Q is a bad-ass big band arranger. Didn’t hurt that he studied with Boulanger.

  159. I like how they say 2 million Americans are working artist.

    I have been painting and writing for nearly 17 years. I’m not a “professional” artist because I didn’t finish art school. I left art school after 2.5 yrs of drivel.

    I was painting everything from Monet to Titan when I was 14 yrs old. I did it because I loved art.

    I’m not in that 2 million lump because I can’t afford to just be an “artist” I work 45-50 hrs a week to feed my family.

    If I had the right “manager” or met the “right” people or schlepped my large paintings from shit-hole gallery to the next, I might be able to rub two pennies together as a visual artist alone.

    However in the real world, art is subjective.

    In DT Seattle there is a Gallery on 5th ave just before Seneca that has HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE art sitting in its air controlled gallery, and that junk is selling.

    Remember Homer Simpson and his botched grille?

    Having a Czar over seeing the “art” of America would only bring more government control into our strangled country.

    I don’t want a suite 1200 miles away telling me what “art is” when they can’t tell the difference between Baroque and Gothic.

    I left the art scene, gave it the finger, and I only do work for myself now. It’s much more satisfying and I don’t have to worry as much about if I’m going to be able to keep the heat on.

    And if kids don’t know they’re own American culture, I.e. music, art, dance, video games, comics etc, that’s the fault of their parent. Nor is it that of the school, when the budget axe comes, ART and Music are the first to go.

  160. Reminds me of an old Soviet joke: a Hungarian delegation to the Kremlin gets introduced to the party bosses. “And here is our Minister of the Navy”, says the head of the delegation. – “What do you mean – Navy? You haven’t got a navy, you’re completely landlocked!” – “So? You guys have a Culture Minister”.

  161. He’s dozing I believe! Search ‘united states minister of culture’ on yahoo, ask, dictionary and many search engines.
    One name stands tall! May we take some topics serious while we poke in amusement! Randy Frushour

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