Random Things

1. The discussion about MFA programs continues. I must say, up front, that one of the things I really love about living in Nashville, which is, in many ways an industry town, is that I don’t run into a lot of “art v. commerce” discussions in which art is cast as some pure and noble thing most people can’t do. For all its faults, I feel like Nashville fosters a “Eh, give it a try” attitude among people, which, honestly, is why I found it funny that Elise Blackwell would say, “You don’t apprentice at an opera company and expect to be introduced to Nashville music producers, which I say with no disrespect to either milieu,” because I kind of think that’s not true. It might not be a standard way to become a country star, but, like I said, the attitude of “eh, give it a try” lives on here.

I just think that using “art” in this way is kind of bullshit. Art is for everyone. There’s some form of creative expression that every single person can engage in. Maybe poorly, but something. It’s not inherently some rarefied elitist thing–art.

I just hate the idea of art being something other, special people who are not us do. I especially hate to see that attached to writing. But it seems like, as we become a more literate society, the temptation to declare “But that’s not real; what I’m doing over here in my special little corner is real” is too great.

2. I think this is a good piece undermined by itself at the end. So, it’s an excellent analysis of why our Davis-Kidd is closing–bad location, wrong merchandising, parent-company issues–with the following sentence towards the end, “Think about that, Nashville. Because come December, we’re a major city incapable of supporting even a chain bookstore with a 30-year place in our cultural fabric. And if we don’t demand the bookstore we deserve, we’re no more the Athens of the South, really, than our Parthenon is — well, the Parthenon.”

Except that we’re not a major city incapable of supporting even a chain bookstore. At the beginning of his piece, Ross explained that, even in its new crappy location, Davis-Kidd was turning a profit.

And who, exactly, are we supposed to demand a bookstore from? Santa? The Bookstore Fairy?

3. Can I just confess that I don’t understand what they mean by an assault rifle here? Is there some legal, standard definition? Is there some reason why holding kids hostage at the end of an assault rifle is different than just holding them at the end of a rifle? Help, here, gun nuts.

4. WTF, people of the 60s?! I just heard this song on Karaoke Blackout this morning and I… I just don’t know. I feel like I should get it, but I don’t. Is it from a never-finished musical prequel to The Wicker Man or what?

14 thoughts on “Random Things

  1. 3. If you accept the criteria used by the media, any rifle seems to be an “assault rifle.” My take on it is that a rifle is just a rifle until it’s used to assault someone, then it becomes an assault rifle. But until it’s used to assault someone, it’s just a rifle, goddamnit! Just like a 2×4 is nothing more than a 2×4 until some hits you over the head with it, then it’s an “assault 2×4.”

    4. We were listening to WRVU at the same time this morning! It always makes me feel good to find out I shared an experience with someone without realizing it at the time.

  2. 1. I’m pretty sure you’re right that that’s not true in Nashville. Widening the topic geographically, if Elise Blackwell is right, Leadership Music is not doing its job. Furthermore, expanding “Nashville music producers” to mean “local (wherever onemay be) producers working in popular, money-making music genres,” she’s forgetting all about Roberta Flack.

  3. 1. I read something somewhere yesterday about the psychological propensity for all humans to try to exclude other humans in some way. It sucks that I saw myself in some of the points argued but I see it most cold-heartedly in artistic realms than almost any other. (Socio-economic circles excepted, obviously.)

  4. I feel like I read something at some point in time and I feel like it may be a law that is no longer around or changed or something (this is the kind of specific, eloquent terminology certain types of graduate education can buy you) that made part of the criteria for an assault rifle that the item in question had a detachable magazine. And I think it had to be automatic as opposed to semi-automatic.

    It is also entirely possible that my brain has made this up and I am just demonstrating my blissful firearm ignorance here.

  5. I can’t speak for writing here, but I can speak for art and graphic design.

    Sure, there are people who bootleg photoshop and become *designers* – that’s all fine and good.

    But when these same people are designing for $10 per hour and watering the profession and the quality of work suffers? Yeah, that bugs me. And I think consumers are starting to get it — in that the maxim of “you get what you pay for is true” — I can’t count how many times I’ve had to rework a file to send to print b/c someone’s nephew didn’t know how to set up the file correctly.

    But it’s always nice when I get to make $75 per/hour to do it right when someone else screws up.

  6. > … I don’t run into a lot of “art v. commerce” discussions in which art is cast as some pure and noble thing most people can’t do.

    Isn’t this conflating two different things? You can believe that art is essentially non-commercial while still believing that anyone can create art. Without a lot of training and/or practice and/or innate talent, practically everyone will create “poor” art, but if it is non-commercial then it is schlock rather than kitsch.

    Assault rifles have detachable magazines (as SuperGenius said), and rate-of-fire is important. However, they don’t have to be full-auto, but must be at least semi-auto. This is why your bolt-action hunting rifle is not an assault rifle, even if it has a detachable magazine.

    The AR-15 (civilian version of M-16) is semi-auto but is an assault rifle. In fact, the “new” M-16 (last ~20 years?) is not full-full-auto, though it does have a 3-round burst mode.

  7. Yeah, but I mean within the context of the MFA programs. To me, it seems like a strange position to take to insist that people who are spending $90,000 to become writers somehow don’t have or shouldn’t have commercial concerns. There’s obviously the basic commercial consideration of “How will I pay back that $90,000?” It seems strange for schools charging that much to pretend money isn’t an issues.

    I still feel like I wouldn’t know the difference between a regular rifle and an assault rifle if one were pointed at me. And I still don’t get why, in the story, it’s important. It’s frustrating because I feel like that detail probably means something really obvious. Were the kids in more danger? Does using an assault rifle carry a stiffer penalty than just pointing a regular rifle?

  8. > people who are spending $90,000 to become writers somehow don’t have or shouldn’t have commercial concerns.

    Are the commercial concerns addressed as “how to sell the products of your art”, or “how to create things that sell”? I think there is a world of difference between those questions. Down one of those roads lies, “Kinkade: Painter of Light” (or something like that).

    > And I still don’t get why, in the story, it’s important.

    It can matter to the victims if the shooter can fire 30 rounds in 15 seconds vs 7 rounds in 15 seconds (and then a pause to re-load). There might be more opportunity to get away, or fight back, against a hunting rifle. A hunting rifle is designed to let you place a carefully arranged shot and take-out a deer. An assault rifle is designed to let you shoot as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, at a shorter range, with less skill or preparation.

    > Does using an assault rifle carry a stiffer penalty than just pointing a regular rifle?

    There was a (partial) ban on assault rifles, but no extra penalties (that I know of).

  9. The difference between assault rifles and any other semi-automatic rifle is more perceptual than feature- or factually-oriented. Most semi-automatic rifles have detachable magazines.

    There’s no real definition for an “assault” rifle, really. Military weapons can fire multiple times repeatedly without lifting your finger from the trigger – fully automatic fire. Weapons that you or I could purchase cannot do that. We are limited to one trigger pull per bullet fired.

    The AR-15 and AK-style rifles are based on the frame of military-type weapons, but the nature of all semi-automatic weapons is that they scavenge some of the explosive gasses and use the gas to re-cock the weapon and feed another shell in the chamber.

    All semi-auto guns do this and all are capable of firing as fast as a person can pull the trigger. Military-style weapons also tend to have a somewhat shorter barrel, but even non-military weapons can have shorter barrels. Barrel length is more accuracy at longer distances related.

    The number of shells isn’t a condition either. Many .22 rifles have a tube magazine that can hold a dozen or more shells at a time. I have two .22s, one with a tube that can carry 16 or so and one with a clip that holds 10. Larger replacement clips are available for the 10 shot one to allow it to hold 30 rounds. But it’s still a .22 and not an assault rifle.

    And that whole lack of a good, valid definition is one reason gun people think banning assault weapons is strange, because civilians can’t own true military-type assault weapons – ones that file more than one round if you hold the trigger down.

  10. To an artist or designer, the phrase “painter of light” comes close to inducing immediate retching or anti-social behavior.

    Not “comes close,” it simply does.

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