Tuesday, January 30, 2007

van Karajanstein reads von Doderer - Prologue

I discovered this towering figure of Austrian modernism as I discover most things that come to interest me - entirely by happenstance.

Planning for a now cancelled trip to Vienna, I was re-reading the introduction to J. Sydney Jones' Viennawalks, a well-written, highly detailed guide to traipsing through Vienna. (Gawain, there is a Venicewalks - if it's like Viennawalks, it's worth picking up) .

While mentioning the attractions in Vienna's ninth district, he mentions the Strudlhofsteige, and in doing so, mentions "that great Austrian novelist Heimito von Doderer, something of a Viennese interwar James Joyce." lived nearby. Indeed, he wrote a novel entitled Die Strudlhofsteige.

An Austrian interwar James Joyce? Jonesy, you had me at Heimito.


I shall refer you, dear reader, to this for the details of Heimito von Doderer's life. Better yet, like most Austro-Germanic figures of even minor renown, he has his own society, from whose site you can download some of his short stories.

But I'm not here to read his short stories. Nein nein, nein nein - I'm here to read The Demons, Doderer's epic tome, which beats the blind pervert's Ulysses in a page count by a solid 396 leaves. It's all about size.

Why am I doing this? Well, "Why does anyone blog at all?", I answer.

If nothing else, I'm hoping that I finish the book, and perhaps along the way make a minor contribution to raising Doderer's profile. And by trying something off the beaten track, I'm able to take some liberties that reading Finnegans Wake or À la recherche du temps perdu wouldn't allow.

In other words, no one's going to try to write a term paper off the potentially facile hack job I'm about to perform. And that my friends, is reason enough.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why the Transcontinental?

A number of reasons. The other blogs went off the rails fairly quickly, but I'm hoping this one will make it.

So, why the Transcontinental?

I'm hoping to evoke the gentle spirit of the late playwright and broadcaster Otto Lowy, host of the well-loved CBC Radio series of the same name. We can rest assured that CBC will never broadcast a show like it again.

Every week he told us stories from Mitteleuropa - mainly his native Austria, through which he evoked the Austo-Hungarian Empire in all its decadent glory.

This is what I shall humbly attempt to do. And as we are just beginning this journey, I shall say little else.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Next Nail in CBC Radio Two's Coffin

CBC has decided to completely abandon any pretense of cultural sophistication and will turn my once beloved CBC Radio Two into an adult contemporary station.

From the CBC press release, er, I mean, "CBC News":

"While the revamped Radio Two will retain classical music at its core, there is a plan to expand its playlist — and, the network hopes, attract slightly younger listeners — with more jazz and contemporary music. Boosting the service's Canadian content by about 20 per cent is also a priority...

"More than half of the current Radio Two audience is over 65, said Jane
Chalmers, the vice-president of CBC English Radio."

Their audience is mainly older people - so freaking what? Given Canada's population is aging, wouldn't this be a plus? And trying to attract younger listeners? Uh, this is what CBC has been doing to Radio Two for 15 years. It hasn't worked. It won't work.

CBC Radio Two will never have the broad appeal of popular music rad- hey, wait, according to the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement ratings report, CBC Radio Two's ratings are up! More people are listening to the opera than ever before!!

Over on the official CBC blog, younger people are voicing their displeasure at the realisation that those 20 somethings who wish to rise a bit above the mass produced confections of the corporate music industry are to be shut out of CBC Radio Two's search for a "younger" demographic.

Why? Because the really great things Radio Two had going in terms of building a younger audience, via Radio 3 and Brave New Waves, well, guess what? They're moving them to satellite radio!! Hey, way to make things more accessible, CBC.

Let's face it. The CBC execs don't appear to be able to look past their front door and recognize that courting the Classical 96.3 audience (Toronto's private classical music station) isn't really in the um, national interest of the nation's public broadcaster. I think this is a big part of what's motivating this shift, and that's really, really depressing.

And why this (30-40 year old) demographic? Why them? What makes this group the target audience for your station? Why not target children?

I guess we'll see how it goes, but if it's anything like the change to Radio Canada's Espace Musique, it will be a big disappointment.

At least there's still Espace 2 and BBC Radio 3...