Part of my mandate as City Paper’s arts editor is to see as many performances as I can — a true boon to me personally. As a daily reporter, I had no such mandate. There was no room for reviews in the paper and if there were column inches to spare, my reviews would be buried somewhere in the back of the metro section, probably next to the obits. The razzle-dazzle of Chicago is pretty much drained when you’re startled by the death of someone you knew.
There is also, secret as it is, an anti-intellectual sensibility in American newsrooms that one felt intensely at first, then deeply afterward. Eventually, I didn’t bother to fight for reviews. There was no point in it, even though I knew theater groups were eager to have their work reviewed, discussed, championed, and argued about.
Steve Wasserman, the former book editor for the Los Angeles Times, wrote at length about newsroom animosity toward thoughtfulness for the Columbia Journalism Review recently, in his case reading and writing and arguing about books and their authors. For those of the anti-intellectual persuasion, reviews are strictly a consumerist service, not a contribution to the local cultural dialogue, which I believe is part of any newspapers’ obligation.
Anyway, things are different now and in the spirit of this newfound mandate, I’m introducing a new subsection to the Unscprited blog called The Morning After. Here you’ll find commentary, news bits, analysis, reflection, opinion, aesthetic flotsam, jetsam, whatever about what I saw the night before. So whenever you see The Morning After at the top of the blog entry, you’ll know what you can expect to find. Feel free to jump into the conversation. I don’t want to talk to myself. Just keep it all civil. That’s not asking too much.