The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Tuesday, February 20, 2001

At The Museum

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: There was a long line outside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on a recent Saturday afternoon. There was no new exhibit; the Brian Eno installation, "New Urban Spaces Series No. 4, Compact Forest Proposal" (part of "010101: Art in Technological Times"), won't be opening for another few weeks. Still, the exhibits were crowded. "It's just a rainy Saturday," said one of the museum staff. Now, sure, this is San Francisco; there are quite a few smart people here interested in art. Still, if a museum can pack them in with exhibits such as "Native to the Land: Photography and the North American Indian," it makes me wonder about the entertainment business and its lack of vision. Perhaps with the right marketing, more people would go for something a bit more sophisticated than Mandy Moore, or all this reality TV, but that's not going to happen. Within the last year, the word came down at one of the big music corporations that "rock and alternative rock is dead, and if you don't think so, you're living in the past." The big cheese wanted his staff to "sign boy bands." ... On one floor of the museum, there was another of those exhibits of furniture, and other household and office objects. Chairs, desks, lights and a blender — I guess the idea was to show off the aesthetics of everyday things. Don't get me wrong. I believe totally that one's environment and the things in it should be beautiful and well designed. Certainly a museum is as good a place as any to exhibit chairs and tables and desks that achieve a kind of, well, artfulness. I understand that a chair can be art. I even believe it. I even feel it. So then why do these exhibits (which seem to be popping up with increasing frequency) always seem like they ought to be on the ground floor of the Sony building in NYC, or at San Francisco's Metreon — not in a museum? I'd rather they used the exhibit space for something more ambitious than a beautiful chair, but maybe I'm just not looking at this from the right angle. ... You see a lot of people who seem to be in love at the museum. The design of the San Francisco Museum of Art is very modern, hip even. It's a good place to go for a date. Couples stand close, looking at a painting or a photograph (or a chair) and then they look at each other. Some of them seem to be spending a whole lot more time looking at each other than at the art. A museum is a good place for romance; museums themselves can be quite romantic — think of "Vertigo," some of which was filmed at a San Francisco museum. The other day, you could see stylish folks, most in always-fashionable black, holding hands. Sometimes the guys seemed to be working at saying clever things about the art, to impress the girls. Sometimes the girls seemed impressed no matter what the guys were saying. ... In the museum café there were no empty tables, but there were quite a few where just one person was sitting. It's hard to go up to someone you don't know who is sitting alone at a table, and ask if they'll share it with you. I'm not shy. I've talked my way backstage at rock concerts, for instance, since I was in high school. I've had a shouting match with a hotel clerk over the bill as a dozen or so other guests cheered me on. During my years as an investigative reporter, I convinced sources who should have known better to tell me what they knew. But here, in the café, I hesitated. I was thinking: well, if I ask this woman if I can share her table, will she think I'm trying to pick her up? Will it be some kind of awkward scene? So there I was on my second lap around the café, carrying a tray, feeling more and more ridiculous. Enough of this! Finally I just put forth the question, and of course it was no big deal. I sat down, had some coffee, and started writing about my visit to the museum. About five minutes later, the woman got up, said "The table's all yours," and left. Some time passed and a guy came up to me, "Mind if I share the table with you?" I didn't mind, not at all.

The Apples in Stereo have released an online-only live album, Live in Chicago. The MP3 album, which includes a cover of the Beach Boys' "Heroes & Villains," is available exclusively at the EMusic site. Also at Emusic is a free MP3 download from The Donnas, a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out (for Summer)". ... The title of Björk's next album, due May 22, will be Vespertine, not Domestika, according to SonicNet. Songs on the album include "Harm of Will," "Cocoon," "Hidden Place" and "It's Not Up to You." The album mixes pop music with classical elements, or "orchestrated things," as Björk put it to a New York Times reporter. The album includes contributions from the San Francisco-based electronic duo Matmos. Björk plans some shows with an orchestra and choir in the spring. ... Acetone, who recently released the excellent York Blvd., are set for a brief six-city West Coast tour in March with the North Mississippi Allstars. They play Richards on Richards in Vancouver, B.C., on March 6; the Showbox in Seattle March 7; Berbatis Pan in Portland, OR, March 8; Wild Duck Music Hall in Eugene, OR, March 9, Slim's in San Francisco March 10–11; and wrap up in L.A. at the Roxy on March 12.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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