Time to do a bit of catching up. This past week has been busy, to say the least. Generally speaking that's a good thing. So here's what's up:
First, a handful of tracks from the new Wilco album have found their way into the tubes. They are, in a word, fantastic. I got around to Wilco with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which struck me at the time as the most eerily perfect record I could imagine in the shadow of 9/11. The follow-up, A Ghost is Born, sounded solid but not spectacular. If the five tracks I've heard off the new album are any indication I think they're poised to do something quite impressive with this next record. It's classic songwriting in the same tradition of Dylan, Nilsson, Jackson Browne, et al, though it doesn't exactly sound like any of them. It just sounds like Wilco, staking their claim to a spot in that canon.
Look in particular for a song called "Either Way" - fucking amazing.
Second, I love this article about giving your work away - "the free download isn't a frivolous act". I couldn't agree more. Every bit of anectdotal evidence I've seen suggests that creative people benefit from making their work available for free on the internet in ways they could never achieve by sticking to the traditional modes of paid distribution. It's really quite simple when you think about it. To ask someone who doesn't already enjoy your work to pay for that work requires them to take a huge leap of faith. Producers of creative content need to be doing everything they can to make that leap of faith less of an imposition. Giving work away for free is the best way. I'm not suggesting either (a) giving everything away, or (b) failing to recognize one's own value. I'm simply saying that making content accessible nearly always works.
The article explains the numbers pretty well, and I definitely recommend a full read.
Third, here's a great article about why the Apple Store is so successful. In much the same way that giving creative work away seems counter-intuitive, the Apple store seems like it shouldn't work. Yet it does. Proving yet again that combining creativity and confidence rarely proves a bad decision. In fact, when has that combination ever not worked? Also note the talent they assembled before they even started - a high premium was placed on assembling great minds before any actual work was done.
Fourth, I watched a great documentary last night called Who Gets to Call it Art?, about former MOMA curator Henry Geldzahler. It's a riveting document of the New York art world from a time when it actually mattered. Equal parts informative and inspiring.
Finally, I may as well go ahead and announce the new project that I've been teasing: I'm writing a cookbook. For real. But it's not the kind of cookbook you're accustomed to seeing.
You may not know this about me (in fact, I hope you don't) but I've been vegan for about 12 years. While at 16 I might have viewed that as a political statement, my ethos have evolved significantly since then. I see it now, correctly, as nothing more than a personal choice about how to eat. So I'm creating a vegan cookbook that seeks to simplify and demystify the notion of vegan eating. I'm going to provide recipes, of course, but as importantly I'll be trafficking in ideas.
The whole thing will start off as a web-based project, but I've already secured some representation to help make it a physical reality, as well. I'll provide links and info as the process continues.