Rest in Peace Anne Adams, Television Producer Extraordinaire

I loved working with Anne Adams at WGBH’s Greater Boston, where she was supervising producer from 1998 to around 2006.

She was smart, funny, and cynical – everything you could ever ask for in a co-worker.

And now she’s gone.

From Bryan Marquard’s Boston Globe obituary.

Anne Adams, WGBH-TV producer who ‘truly had an impact,’ dies at 55

With uncommon range, Anne B. Adams produced TV news and feature programs about everything from the Oklahoma City bombing to cooking and concerts, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to cancer and caring for elderly parents.

At WGBH for the past two decades, her work was honored with Emmys, James Beard awards, along with a George Foster Peabody Award for “Depression: Out of the Shadows.” After she was diagnosed with cancer 2½ years ago, her constant goal was returning to her job as a senior program producer so she could shepherd more quality shows to completion.

“The one thing driving her was getting back to work,” said her husband, Peter Masalsky. “There’s a notebook on her desk with plans for the shows and the shoots and the guests.”

I remember interviewing Anne for the Greater Boston supervising producer job – which she was supremely overqualified for – on WGBH’s loading dock so I could smoke while we talked. She looked at me like, there is something seriously wrong with you, bub.

So I hired her.

And never regretted it for a single moment.

Anne Adams was talented, accomplished, and sharp in every sense of the word.

It’s just so sad she’s no longer with us.

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Campaign Outsider Presidential Bakeoff 2020™ (Part 2)

Itemizing a few deductions now that Joe Biden has concluded his to-be-or-not-to-be-a-candidate interior monologue.

Item: The hardworking staff will be president before Bill de Blasio is

This is just idiotic.

Bad enough that the 2020 Democratic presidential field includes the likes of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Nowhere), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Meshuggeneh), and the Bay State’s own Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Doghouse). Now we get  this (via the unsinkable Maggie Haberman‘s Twitter feed).

The Daily Beast summed it up this way: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Unites the Nation: No One Wants Him to Run for President.

But wait! There’s more!

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Why Not?) has thrown his ski cap into the ring, forcing his brother James, who happens to be the editorial page editor of the New York Times, to recuse himself from all 2020 presidential coverage.

Thanks, bro.

Also jumping in the pool: Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Bollocks), whose best moment just might have occurred in Saturday’s Boston Globe Sports Brief column.

As freak-presidential-hopeful-for-30-seconds Michael Avenatti might say, basta!

Item: Pete Buttigieg is a total media machine

Consider these several facts:

• A few months ago, 37-year-old South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg had about 60,000 follower on Twitter. He now has over a million.

• Pete’s husband Chasten Buttigieg – who not long ago was a homeless community college student/barista – has over 300,000 followers.

• The two of them are the cover story in this week’s Time magazine.

The boys also scored the Page One power position in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe.

Man, that is some serious media mojo.

Item: Peggy Noodnik writes again (Edition Umpteen)

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan had one of her We Are the World moments in the latest Weekend Edition of the paper.

Republicans in a Nation Needing Repair

I want to say something big, quickly and broadly.

This week I talked with an intelligent politician who is trying to figure out the future of the Republican Party. He said that in presidential cycles down the road, it will be a relief to get back to the old conservatism of smaller government, tax cuts and reduced spending. I told him what I say to my friends: That old conservatism was deeply pertinent to its era and philosophically right, but it is not fully in line with the crises of our time or its reigning facts. As Lincoln said, the dogmas of the past are inadequate to the present: “As the cause is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”

What the nuts graf:

But beyond that fact is something bigger. America needs help right now and Americans know it. It has been enduring for many years a continuing cultural catastrophe—illegitimacy, the decline of faith, low family formation, child abuse and neglect, drugs, inadequate public education, etc. All this exists alongside an entertainment culture on which the poor and neglected are dependent . . .

Wait, what? America’s poor and neglected are dependent on our entertainment culture?

What in the world does that mean?

Do you have any idea?

‘Cause we sure as hell don’t.

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Campaign Outsider’s Presidential Bakeoff 2020™ (Part 1)

Itemizing a few deductions on the state of the Democratic Presidential Primary now that the number of declared candidates has hit the Big Two-Oh.

From the New York Times:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there are the real long shots to run:

Except that the one in the middle – Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – “has been successfully treated for prostate cancer, clearing the way for a [likely] 2020 presidential campaign” according to the ABC affiliate in Denver.

With that as prologue . . .

Item: Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Who?) is #5 on Q1 fundraising list

The hardworking staff came across this first-quarter fundraising chart at Axios the other day.

Wait, what? Erstwhile Maryland congressman John Delaney, who started running for president in July of 2017, has raised $12 million since the first of the year?

From The Hill:

Delaney . . . loaned his campaign $11.7 million in the first three months of 2019. But he received less than $435,000 in outside contributions, the smallest amount of any candidate in the race.

In other words: Okay, folks – move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

Item: Regardless, Sen. Cory Booker (D-I Got a Boo) decided to whack Delaney

Also from The Hill:

Booker denies ‘swipe’ at John Delaney after his campaign sent fundraising email attacking Delaney

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) denied that his campaign was taking shots at other candidates on Tuesday just days after a fundraising email sent by Booker’s team appeared to criticize a fellow Democrat running for the party’s nomination.

Booker was questioned by reporters on the campaign trail after a fundraising email sent over the weekend referenced former Rep. John Delaney’s (D-Md.) decision to donate $11 million to his own White House bid.

“Friend, this weekend, we found out that one of the other Democrats in this race has given over $11 million of his own money to his campaign. Self-funding is something Cory just can’t and would never do,” the email obtained by CNN read.

Booker’s response? “I’m not even sure what you’re talking about, because again we are not taking swipes at other candidates.”

Booker, as it happens, is polling at 3% in Iowa, roughly in the same zip code as Delaney.

If that’s any indication, this Democratic presidential primary is on track to be like World War I – long battles for small gains.

With, most likely, commensurate results.

Item: Elizabeth Warren’s campaign officially in spaghetti-meets-wall phase 

There’s no question that from the standpoint of substantive policy proposals, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-7%) has far outstripped the Democratic presidential primary field. But her latest agenda item – calling on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump – is just, well, harebrained.

For two basic reasons:

1) It’s an empty exercise, since there’s no chance that 20 of Warren’s GOP counterparts would vote to convict Trump in a Senate trial.

2) It’s counterproductive, since impeachment proceedings would be more likely to return Trump to the Oval Office than remove him from it.

Only the American voter can successfully achieve the latter.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, we have the worst of both worlds here: Robert Mueller adheres to Department of Justice guidelines and declines to indict Trump for obstruction, and there’s not even a remote chance that Trump can be removed from office despite committing clearly impeachable offenses.

That means, as Charlie Sykes noted in this episode of The Bulwark Podcast, that Donald Trump is effectively above the law, at least while he remains in office. There’s something terribly wrong about that.

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Oh No the New York Times Di’int Print ‘Fucked’ on Page One!

Hey, the Nude York Times is one thing.

But the Crude York Times is something else.

From today’s front page:

Of course, that should come as no surprise after the Grey Lady printed Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood grab ’em boast verbatim on Page One in 2016.

Even so . . .

“I’m fucked”?

That’s fucked up, yo.

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The Nude York Times (Lucian Freud ‘Monumental’ Edition)

From our Grey Lady pearl-clutching desk

As the hardblushing staff has dutifully noted for the past handful of years, the New York Times is increasingly willing to bare all in the name of art – or commerce – in its advertising.

Representative samples include this ulp-skirt ad from Louis Vuitton five years ago . . .

 

 

and this Gagosian Gallery ad three years ago . . .

 

 

and this Christie’s ad the same year . . .

 

 

and this M.S. Ray Antiques ad two years ago . . .

 

 

and this really weird Met Breuer ad last year.

 

 

Now comes the latest Naked City ad in the Times, from Friday’s Weekend Arts II section.

 

 

The Acquavella exhibit Lucian Freud: Monumental (through May 24) looks, well, very Lucian.

 

Acquavella Galleries is pleased to present Lucian Freud: Monumental, a loan exhibition focusing on the artist’s naked portraits, a subject that has long enjoyed special significance in his oeuvre. Curated by the artist’s longtime studio assistant and friend, David Dawson, Monumental will include thirteen major paintings, including depictions of his most important models from the 1990s and 2000s.

Regardless, that latest Times ad represents one more instance of the Grey Lady opening the kimono.

Wider and wider.

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New York Times Doubles Down On Its Half-True ‘Truth’ Ad

As the hardworking staff noted on Saturday, for the past two years the New York Times has been one of the leading voices in the news media’s Pep Squad for Truth – those preaching-to-the-choir ad campaigns aimed at convincing the American public that real news matters.

Representative sample of the Times’ “Truth” campaign:

 

 

Problem is, the latest additions to the campaign are only semi-truthful.

The new ads revolve around Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, who “traveled to Iraq five times and unearth[ed] more than 15,000 documents to detail the Islamic States’ bureaucratic and brutal rule.”

Here’s the TV spot.

 

 

And here’s a double-truck from yesterday’s A section of the Times.

 

 

The left-hand page quotes Callimachi: “You have to be on the ground if you want to try and understand the story. And for me, I’m trying to understand ISIS.”

The right-hand page features this copy:

Except those ads decidedly do not tell the full story. As we’ve said, there’s no question that Callimachi’s digging produced some spectacular reporting last year, as well as the riveting podcast, Caliphate.

But the full story of Callimachi’s document snatch is a lot more complicated. Last May, a piece by Maryam Saleh in The Intercept detailed the legal and ethical questions raised by the removal of the documents from Iraq. More recently, a group of Middle Eastern scholars criticized George Washington University for cooperating with the Times in creating an online archive of the ISIS files, as Inside Higher Ed’s Elizabeth Redden reported.

[The Middle East Studies Association’s] Committee on Academic Freedom wrote in a Sept. 25 letter to George Washington that its involvement with the archiving project implicates the university in many of the moral, ethical and professional issues it believed to be at stake in the newspaper’s decision to remove and publicize the documents.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, in this Q&A last May Callimachi and Times editors addressed many of the concerns that critics have raised (and yes, the original documents were delivered to the Iraqi government).

(Two be sure graf goes here)

Also to be sure, no advertiser is obliged to reveal the whole truth in its ads. In this case, though, the irony is just too thick not to, well, document it.

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Latest New York Times ‘Truth’ Commercial Is Only Half-True

For the past two years the New York Times has been one of the leading voices in the news media’s Pep Squad for Truth – those preaching-to-the-choir ad campaigns aimed at convincing the American public that real news matters.

The Times launched its campaign with this 2017 TV spot.

 

 

Since then the paper has run a variety of house ads like this one.

 

Now comes the latest in the series, a TV spot that documents “a New York Times reporter [Rukmini Callimachi] travel[ing] to Iraq five times and unearthing more than 15,000 documents to detail the Islamic States’ bureaucratic and brutal rule.”

 

 

Callimachi’s digging produced some spectacular reporting last year, as well as the riveting podcast, Caliphate.

But it also produced some serious controversy, as detailed by Maryam Saleh at The Intercept.

 

About a week after [Callimachi’s] piece was published, [researcher Sara] Farhan emailed Callimachi to ask if she got permission from Iraqi government officials to take the documents, and if she got consent from the people named in the files to publish their names. Farhan didn’t hear back, so she worked with two legal scholars to launch a petition calling on the Times to rethink its use of the documents. The removal of the documents violates international law, the petition authors wrote, calling for them to be returned to Iraq and warning that failure to do so would set a “dangerous precedent for the plundering of material and cultural heritage in conflict zones.”

As Saleh’s piece notes, Callimachi’s cache “is minor when compared to the scores of millions of documents the U.S. government took from Iraq following the 2003 invasion.” Regardless, it was emblematic of “the wound caused by the U.S. government’s expropriation of millions of pages of national documents.”

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, 1) Callimachi says her interest was in preserving the documents, and 2) this case is a bit different since “[questions] about the ownership of the ISIS documents removed by the New York Times are even more complicated since ISIS is not a sovereign state.”

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, no advertiser is obliged to reveal the whole truth in its ads. But you’d think a news organization might be a bit more fastidious than the Times spot is.

Wouldn’t you?

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Dead Blogging the Hot Rods at Larz Anderson Auto Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled over to Larz Anderson Park the other day to catch Lookin’ East: Art and Imagination of the New England Hot Rod and say, it was . . . sweeeet.

The idea of customizing attainable old cars for straight-line speed caught on in the imaginations of those dreaming of life after [World War II]. Many men received technical, mechanical, or metalworking training while in the service, also adding to their desires. In the late 1940s, men went back home with more mechanical knowledge, a fired-up imagination, a sense of danger, and often a little money in their pockets. There was also a semi-infinite supply of cars and parts with which to get creative. That same competitive spirit boiled over all across the country, as these new hot rodders did not only want to build cars but also wanted to race. Not everybody had a dry lake bed, but in plenty of regions there were unused airstrips that the military no longer needed and were just begging to be raced on, not to mention the strips of pavement between traffic lights. One of these regions was New England, already a center of creativity and innovation.

Among the honeys in the exhibit (via Hot Rod Network).

’32 Full Fendered Deuce

 

’36 Ford Three Window Coupe

 

But this is the one we wanted to take home: A very modified 1951 Ford Shoebox.

 

The exhibit runs through mid-April. So get in gear.

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Dead Blogging ‘Eaglemania’ at McMullen Museum of Art

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Boston College’s McMullen Museum yesterday to check out Eaglemania: Collecting Japanese Art in Gilded Age America and say, it was swell.

Eaglemania: Collecting Japanese Art in Gilded Age America celebrates and contextualizes Boston College’s monumental bronze eagle, a replica of which now appears atop a column on the University’s Linden Lane. Revealed during its recent conservation to be a Japanese masterpiece from the Meiji period (1868–1912), the original eagle was donated to Boston College in the 1950s by the estate of diplomat and collector Larz Anderson (1866–1937) and his wife, Isabel (1876–1948) . . .

In the exhibition, bronze, silver, and ivory sculptures of birds of prey, folding screens, scroll paintings, netsuke, lacquerware, ceramics, and textiles join to bring the history of the stunning Boston College eagle to life.

The eagle is quite spectacular, so here’s a better view.

 

Many of the other nearly 100 objects in the exhibit – which range from hawks and eagles in the Edo period (1615–1868) to exquisitely crafted folding screens to stunning porcelain works – are equally arresting.

Representative samples:

 

The exhibit runs through June 2. Well worth a trundle.

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The Arts Seen in NYC (Joan Miró’s ‘Birth of the World’ Edition)

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Big Town to go a-museuming this past weekend and say, it was swell.

Having successfully fought our way down a Friday I-95, navigated the obstacle course from the FDR Drive crosstown to 32nd and Fifth, and checked into our surprisingly affordable hotel, we took the subway up to Lincoln Center to catch Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York (through March 30) at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

 

Jerome Robbins was an inveterate observer, seeker, and creator. In diaries, drawings, watercolors, paintings, story scenarios, poems—and, especially, in dance—he reimagined the world around him. And New York dominated that world, where he was born one-hundred years ago and where he lived his entire adult life. Ideas of New York have long inspired artists but often the city serves as a backdrop in an artwork rather than the basis for plot, theme, and meaning. Robbins put the city at the center of his artistic imaginings . . . Voice of My City traces Robbins’ life and dances alongside the history of New York, inspiring viewers to see the city as both a muse and a home.

Here’s a virtual tour from Playbill that you should definitely take.

 

 

From that exhaustive (but hardly exhausting) exhibit, we headed downtown to the Fashion Institute of Technology, which has mounted Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT (through April 20).

Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT celebrates the 50th anniversary of what Michael Kors calls “the fashion insider’s fashion museum” by bringing back 33 of the most influential exhibitions produced since the first one was staged in 1971. Taken entirely from the museum’s permanent holdings, more than 80 looks are on display. From Fashion and Surrealism to The Corset to A Queer History of Fashion, the exhibitions are known for being “intelligent, innovative, and independent,” says MFIT Director Valerie Steele. “The museum has been in the forefront of fashion curation, with more than 200 fashion exhibitions over the past half century, many accompanied by scholarly books and symposia.”

Representative samples:

Our favorites in the shoe department:

Kicky, no?

As we hoofed it out of FIT, we spotted this across 27th street in FIT’s Art and Design Gallery.

Web writeup:

This special short exhibition, curated by Communication Design Pathways Professor Anne Kong and 42 students in the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program, features hats from the celebrated collection of the late former FIT dean and professor Nina Kurtis.

The students designed and created individual 360-degree displays featuring a hat from a distinctive time period or fashion trend using visual storytelling to entertain and educate the viewer. The displays incorporate various materials, handmade props, and mannequin parts.

The hats were a hoot, as “Jackie” quite nicely illustrates.

That topped off our evening, and we went on to dinner.

* * * * * * *

Bright and early Saturday morning it was off to the Museum of Modern Art to view Joan Miró: Birth of the World (through June 15).


“You and all my writer friends have given me much help and improved my understanding of many things,” Joan Miró told the French poet Michel Leiris in the summer of 1924, writing from his family’s farm in Montroig, a small village nestled between the mountains and the sea in his native Catalonia. The next year, Miró’s intense engagement with poetry, the creative process, and material experimentation inspired him to paint The Birth of the World.

In this signature work, Miró covered the ground of the oversize canvas by applying paint in an astonishing variety of ways that recall poetic chance procedures. He then added a series of pictographic signs that seem less painted than drawn, transforming the broken syntax, constellated space, and dreamlike imagery of avant-garde poetry into a radiantly imaginative and highly inventive form of painting. He would later describe this work as “a sort of genesis,” and his Surrealist poet friends titled it The Birth of the World.

The exhibit – which is fabulous – also featured this monumental mural.

Interesting backstory: That artwork was commissioned in 1950 for Harvard University’s new Graduate Student Center by Department of Architecture chair Walter Gropius, the founder of Germany’s Bauhaus School in 1919. After Miró delivered it, the mural was hung in the Grad Center . . . over a radiator, which during the next few years started to sort of melt the painting.

So Miró said, hey – send it back and I’ll fix it, but instead he returned a ceramic tile version of the mural (which is still there at Harvard), touched up the mural, and sold it to MoMA for a pretty penny.

Harvard does still have Miró’s original sketch for the mural, though, which you can see in the Harvard Art Museums’ current exhibit, The Bauhaus and Harvard (through July 28).

While we were at MoMA we also stopped by the interesting-but-repetitive exhibit The Value of Good Design (through June 15) and revisited Constantin Brancusi Sculpture (through June 15), which is terrific.

A short Brancusi primer:

 

 

From there we headed down to SoHo and the Center for Italian Modern Art to see Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916-1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà (through June 1).

From CIMA’s press release:

The term “metaphysical painting” (pittura metafisica) refers to an artistic style that emerged in Italy during the First World War. Closely associated with [Giorgio] de Chirico, it often featured disquieting images of eerie spaces and enigmatic objects, eliciting a sense of the mysterious. Metaphysical Masterpieces concentrates on rarely seen early works by Giorgio Morandi and important paintings by the lesser- known artists Carlo Carrà and Mario Sironi, offering a richer and more nuanced view of pittura metafisica than previous exhibitions in the United States, creating a vivid portrait of the genre.

Representative samples (Morandi and Sironi):

We were lucky enough to catch a tour with current CIMA Fellow Caterina Caputo, who was wonderfully knowledgeable and informative. The exhibit is excellent and the people couldn’t be lovelier – they even made espresso for us. Molte grazie, @ItalianModArt!

Then we subwayed to the Brooklyn Museum for the much-hyped Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving (through May 12).

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s unique and immediately recognizable style was an integral part of her identity. Kahlo came to define herself through her ethnicity, disability, and politics, all of which were at the heart of her work. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is the largest U.S. exhibition in ten years devoted to the iconic painter and the first in the United States to display a collection of her clothing and other personal possessions, which were rediscovered and inventoried in 2004 after being locked away since Kahlo’s death, in 1954.

More video:

 

 

There’s lots of clothing, photos, jewelry, and assorted other Fridabilia – but not all that much artwork. The whole exhibit seems more about Kahlo as celebrity/cult figure than anything else. (For a better sense of her as an artist, check out Frida Kahlo and Arte Populaire – through June 16 – at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.)

* * * * * * *

Sunday morning we cruised up Madison Ave with barely a red light for 50 blocks (see our kissin’ cousins at It’s Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town for the traffic light disaster Boston has become), turned onto 84th street, and found a spot likethat right in front of my old grammar school, St. Ignatius Loyola, which is operated by the Sisters of (Parking) Charity.

From there we sashayed up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its new exhibit Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera (ongoing), which begins with a quote from AbEx pioneer Barnett Newman:

“Years ago…we felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world devastated by a great depression and a fierce World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of painting that we were doing — flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello. At the same time we could not move into the situation of a pure world of unorganized shapes, forms … color … a world of sensation … this was our moral crisis in relation to what to paint. So that we actually began, so to speak, from scratch, as if painting were not only dead but never existed.”

You can see all 61 of the exhibition objects here, but a few highlights will give you a sense of the collection.

Louise Nevelson, Mrs. N’s Palace (1964-77).

Willem de Kooning, Easter Monday (1955-56).

Barnett Newman, Shimmer Bright (1968).

Isamu Noguchi, Kouros (1945).

It’s a total knockout of an exhibit.

We also swung by Atea: Nature and Divinity in Polynesia (through October 27), which is lots of fun, and visited the newly reopened galleries, The Art of Music, a simply stunning array of musical instruments through the ages.

After a costly lunch in the Met cafeteria (where we watched two young women pour two glasses of wine – one red, one white – arrange them just so, and Instagram them to the world at large), we moseyed up to the Neue Galerie for The Self-Portrait, from Schiele to Beckmann (through June 24).

[This] is an unprecedented exhibition that examines works primarily from Austria and Germany made between 1900 and 1945. This groundbreaking show is unique in its examination and focus on works of this period. Approximately 70 self-portraits by more than 30 artists—both well-known figures and others who deserve greater recognition—are united in the presentation . . .

Representative samples:

And on that note it was home again, home again jiggedy-jig.

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