1. Hip-hop poet Saul Williams (who killed at a PEN World Voices event I attended earlier this year) has released a new concept album, produced by Trent Reznor and wonderfully titled The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust. It’s available for download on something like the “Radiohead” pricing model — pay $5 or pay nothing, whichever you prefer. Since, as Ed Champion pointed out, Radiohead’s “pay what you want” experiment appears to be a smashing success, we’ll probably be seeing more and more good works being made available to the public in this way.
2. Chekhov’s Mistress looks at the ecological cost of book publishing and a company called Eco-Libris that’s raising awareness about the topic. The Eco-Libris website includes some basic statistics and names Random House as “the biggest publisher to go green” (today’s news brings an announcement that Simon and Schuster is also “going green”).
But printing on recycled paper is hardly the only way a book publisher can cease to be wasteful. Two avenues are unexplored here: how much more can be saved by printing smaller paperbacks instead of larger hardcovers, and how much can be saved if publishers and store chains pledge to work together to avoid the ridiculous practice of shipping massive print overruns of hopeful bestsellers, which in most cases are then shipped back unsold to the publishers and pulped. That’s the question Eco-Libris should be asking.
3. NewCritics.com is running a series of articles on the art of comedy, inspired by M. A. Peel’s question: What is the purest comedic moment you have ever experienced? I’ve contributed an article with my own answer, which I’ll link to here once it runs. Hint: I wanted to cite something impressive and slightly highbrow, perhaps a wicked moment from a Preston Sturges classic or a subtle line from a recent Mike Leigh masterpiece. But I am truthful above all, and ended up writing about a dumb (but great!) comedy film from 1988 that I bet you laughed at too, even though it earns neither of us any street cred to admit as much. I’ll update this post to link to my piece once it’s up. (UPDATE: here’s my article).