Archive for May, 2011

Essential Festival Tips: Save Money on Your Festival Travels

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Piggy Bank

Photo by Nicolas Calzas — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Get ready for festival travel and festival savings.

At KadmusArts, we are inundated with festival updates, news, and opportunities as the northern hemisphere summer festival is about to begin. Are you worried about the expense? Don’t be. There are lots of ways of saving money while maximizing your festival trips.

From KadmusArts festival producers and festival goers, here are some key tips about how to save money at festivals:

  1. Buy your tickets in advance. You know you’re going, you’re making all the plans, so buy your tickets in advance. Most festivals have early purchase ticket discounts. Same day ticket purchases can be higher. Buy early and save money.
  2. Go for multiple days. Multi-day tickets are a better value than single day tickets. This is why festivals are so successful for the producers and the audiences: festivals are a bang-for-the-buck experience. The more time you commit to the festival, the more value you get for your money.
  3. Don’t have camping equipment? Some local universities, colleges and other outdoor clubs have plenty equipment to rent if you don’t want to invest in buying camping equipment. Check-out the festival’s online site, as well as the sites of local institutions to find camping equipment offers.
  4. Bring Cash. Many onsite ATMs will charge you for each use. Unless your own bank (or its affiliates) runs the ATMs at the festival sites, bring the cash you will need and avoid those additional withdrawal charges.
  5. Do you have insurance? If you are bringing any valuables with you, take the worry out of losing them, and insure them before you go. No need to be penny wise but pound foolish.
  6. Plan on buying your meals? Often the lunch offerings are less expensive than the dinner options. So, why not adopt the Mediterranean healthy habit of having the big meal at lunch and the light meal in the evening? You’ll save money and discover a healthier way to eat.
  7. Get ready to share! If you are bringing food or buying food there, be willing to share it with others. A simple festival lesson that is true for one’s everyday life: be generous with others and others will be generous with you. Sharing food is a great way to instantly create a community, and you’ll save money.
  8. Travel with supplies. Why worry about mark-ups and the law of supply and demand? Even Karl Marx knew the importance of traveling with your own supplies of suntan lotion, jackets, blankets, and toiletries. You’ll be prepared, and you’ll be saving money.
  9. Travel in groups. A group of festival friends will always find a way to share expenses and reduce the per person cost. Rather than going it alone, use our Forum or other social networks to find fellow-travelers. The same is true for public transportation. You’ll be saving money — and the earth.
  10. Festival rule from the beginning of time: Never leave home without a way of carrying water! No matter what else you might be drinking during the festival, you will need to drink water. There’s no reason to use the precious resources of your wallet and our environment on a new water container. Bring your own and drink plenty — of water!
  11. Volunteer! Find out from your festival if there are volunteer opportunities. Sure, you’ll have to do some work, but you’ll also be part of the scene. Festivals know that their volunteers are there to enjoy themselves, too. Volunteering is a great way to not only soak-up the festival spirit but to help create it as well. You’ll save money, and you’ll probably get a free t-shirt! Who can resist a free t-shirt?!?
  12. The easiest way to save money? Keep checking KadmusArts for our weekly offers of Free Festival Tickets!

Have any other tips on how to save money at festivals? Send them in!

Want to know the best way to pack for a festival? Check out the KadmusArts Essential Packing List.

- Bill Reichblum

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Eurovision: Running Scared

Monday, May 16th, 2011

So Lucky

Want to know today’s “mind and heart” of Europe?

According to Eurovision, “After fifty-five years and after featuring some 1,100 songs, the contest has become a modern classic, strongly embedded into Europe’s collective mind and heart.” Who can deny it?

Eurovision 2011 took place in Düsseldorf, with 66,000 in the arena and 100 million watching on television and forty-three countries competing for the top honor, the song that best captures today’s European spirit.

This year also had a Eurovision first: two pairs of identical twins competed, the Twiins of Slovakia and Ireland’s Jedward.

The 2011 winner is Azberaijan’s Eldar & Nigar singing “Running Scared.”

For your window into Europe’s “mind and heart”, here is the winner, the other top ten finalists, and a few others that are just irresistible in that “what were they thinking” kind of way.

For better or worse, this is our world today. On to Baku for 2012.

- Bill Reichblum

 
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Kushner & CUNY: Smart Artist, Dumb University

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Tony Kushner

Rarely is there such a stark distinction between an artist who enlightens us and an educational institution that shames us.

Last week, the trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY) blocked an honorary degree to be awarded to Tony Kushner by one of CUNY’s twenty campuses, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The trustees turned down Kushner’s nomination because of his alleged political views. John Jay College’s tagline? “Celebrating Student Research and Creativity.” So much for either.

This is the first time in fifty years CUNY’s trustees have declined to follow a college recommendation for an honorary degree. According to published reports, one trustee, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, tagged Kushner as an “extremist” who had made disparaging remarks about the State of Israel. An “extremist”? Really? In this day and age, Tony Kushner is considered an “extremist”? Wow.

Kushner is, of course, one of the world’s leading playwrights. His work is often informed by his own Jewish background, including A Dybbuk, Caroline, or Change and the monumental Angels in America. There’s not just Jewish spirituality in these plays, there is also humor, intelligence, compassion, and revelation.

In fact, all of Kushner’s works share a common determination to see multiple sides of an issue, to examine our world today, and to unmask our humanity. Considering his wide range of work, it is rather shocking to hear of such a narrow-minded understanding of Kushner and his political engagement. (You can see for yourself. Now playing at The Public in New York is Kushner’s new play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.)

Perhaps for better examples of extremism and cowardice, how about Mr. Wiesenfeld on the Palestinians: “People who worship death for their children are not human,” he told the New York Times. Or an earlier group of trustees of CUNY who, in 1981, apologized to faculty fired in 1941 and 1942 because of their alleged political associations during the McCarthy era. Apparently, they can do the right thing — even if it takes forty years.

In fairness, according to some published reports, Mr. Wisenfeld merely felt compelled to voice his own opinion about Kushner and never expected so many other trustees to agree with him. The trustees voted 11 to 1 to block Kushner’s nomination.

Board Chairman Benno Schmidt, a former president of Yale University, is bringing the board back together to re-vote. In a statement Schmidt released, he wrote, “I would not ordinarily ask for reconsideration of a decision so recently taken. But when the board has made a mistake of principle, and not merely of policy, review is appropriate and, indeed, mandatory… Like other honorary degrees, it is not intended to reflect approval or disapproval for political views not relevant to the field for which the recipient is being honored. Any other view is impractical as well as wrong in principle.” That’s the good news. The bad news is that Schmidt was at the meeting when the vote was first taken. Sometimes hearing protests from far and wide can help someone discover a “mistake of principle.”

Many have written the Trustees, including previous honorees and leading lights in education and the arts. In one of the better responses, Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison wrote on Facebook:

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I read about this “controversy” with some amusement.  It seemed to emerge right out of an Oscar Wilde or Bernard Shaw play: a policing body thwarting an artist for views unapproved by that body, views which the artist neither held nor advertised.   But my amusement quickly disappeared when I learned that the decision to remove Mr. Kushner from the list of candidates for the honorary degree was not theater, and that some board members appeared to have taken Plato’s exile of poets [artists] from an ideal state seriously.

After hearing what had taken place, Kushner wrote the board. Although he wasn’t invited to articulate his point of view, Kushner is an artist who is always willing to engage an audience:

My questions and reservations regarding the founding of the state of Israel are connected to my conviction, drawn from my reading of American history, that democratic government must be free of ethnic or religious affiliation, and that the solution to the problems of oppressed minorities are to be found in pluralist democracy and in legal instruments like the 14th Amendment; these solutions are, like all solutions, imperfect, but they seem to me more rational, and have had a far better record of success in terms of minorities being protected from majoritarian tyranny, than have national or tribal solutions. I am very proud of being Jewish, and discussing this issue publicly has been hard; but I believe in the absolute good of public debate, and I feel that silence on the part of Jews who have questions is injurious to the life of the Jewish people. My opinion about the wisdom of the creation of a Jewish state has never been expressed in any form without a strong statement of support for Israel’s right to exist, and my ardent wish that it continue to do so, something Mr. Weisenfeld conveniently left out of his remarks.

(See Kushner’s complete letter to the CUNY Trustees.)

Isn’t it great when one can learn from an artist? Too bad the City University of New York has demonstrated such a lack of interest in education and art. Shame on them.

- Bill Reichblum

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Are You Afraid of The Soft Machine?

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Burroughs

Here they go again: Art is bad for children.

Turkey’s Prime Ministerial Board for Protection of Children from Harmful Publications is seeking to punish the publisher of a new translation of William S. Burroughs’ 1961 novel, The Soft Machine.

As posted in KadmusArts’ daily culture news feed, Hürriyet’s Daily News & Economic Review is covering the controversy between the Turkish government and the Turkish publishing house, Sel. The Turkish version of The Soft Machine, translated by Süha Sertabiboglu, was published in January 2011.

Of course, there aren’t many people inside or outside government that would think of Burroughs as a children’s author. Other than his playful approach to life, I doubt the Beat generation author thought of himself as a kid-lit writer.

So why exactly is a government applying a standard designed to protect children to art created by and for adults? Is this really about protecting children? Or, is it about punishing yesterday’s art and today’s artists?

According to BIA News Center, this Turkish ministerial board has stated that “from the primitive life till today in the whole world and in every society the covering of the regions of sexual organs and the privacy of sexual intercourse became an indispensable rule”.

Oh. Who knew?

In the one hundred forty page book, the Board has found twenty specific examples of sentences and paragraphs that make the novel “obscene.” However, the government’s literary critic wannabes do not stop there. In what will surely be a new standard for evaluating art, the Board also attributes the following negative characteristics to Burroughs’ novel:

- “incompliance with moral norms”
- “hurting people’s moral feelings”
- “lacking unity in its subject matter”
- “incompliance with narrative unity”
- “using slang and colloquial terms”
- “the application of a fragmented narrative style”
- “attitudes that were permissive to crime by concentrating on the banal, vulgar and weak attributes of humanity.”

Burroughs would be very proud, yes?

The good news is that the same publisher was previously acquitted for publishing Guillaume Apollinaire’s The Exploits of a Young Don Juan.

The bad news is that there are still governments that believe preventing access to art is the key to creating a better society.

The Turkish government’s Board might be better off studying history instead of literature. There are plenty of examples where a government’s ban of artistic expression and control of audiences were part of a culture of degradation, imprisonment, and silence.

No doubt, The Soft Machine is not an easy read. However, there’s also no doubting the place William S Burroughs holds in modern literature. The Sunday Times’ review of the book’s first publication noted, “What Burroughs has tried to do, here as in other books, is to blend the reality of an addict’s experience with his fantasies, and to create from this mixture a world compounded of myth and science fiction in which freedom and order are eternally opposed. Out of the dirt, the excrement, the couplings, Burroughs makes a disgusting, exciting poetry.’

Here’s hoping the government bureaucrats discover the excitement. Hard politics are much more dangerous than a Soft Machine.

- Bill Reichblum

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