I had the good fortune to be speaking with the woman who runs one of New Brunswick's largest arts organizations at the recent Order of New Brunswick investiture ceremony. Somehow the conversation drifted away from her brand of the arts to mine. Yes, I switched the conversation from symphonies to surfing.
I was telling her about the Daily Gleaner's front page coverage of the surfer who was escorted to 'safety' while innocently (and safely) paddling his surfboard in the St.John River. Her reply?
"And they won't cover the arts!"
She made a valid point. The Daily Gleaner does a less than honorable job of covering the arts in the greater Fredericton area (IMLTHO). It's too bad, because there's a lot going on. The Telegraph Journal does an admirable job of promoting the arts, but the Gleaner falls short.
I'm not sure what the mandate of the Gleaner is, perhaps it's simply to deliver a daily crossword puzzle to the masses. Maybe it's to illustrate the dangers of driving in general. They give a lot of coverage to car wrecks and overturned transport trucks. They do a pretty good job of covering local sporting events, though there is a lot lot of room for some creative coverage (i.e. there's more happening than just basketball, baseball and hockey). Lord knows (Bernard et al.) that they give plenty of coverage to local politics, as they should. Something is definitely missing though.
It's easy to whine, especially when you have a blog. Rather than be part of the problem, I think that I should become part of the solution. So, in a very uncharacteristic move, I'm going to offer my services to the Daily Gleaner. I'm willing to retire from my current job as Editor and Publisher of theleisurologist.blogspot.com in order to save the Daily Gleaner. I'm willing to become the Gleaner's publisher, and save it from itself. The Gleaner needs some personality, and I'm the boy to put a smirk on the cover and a smile on the back page.
The Daily Gleaner has virtually no personality. That's not to say that they don't have talented employees, it's just that they don't have the creative freedom to express themselves. The Gleaner, at best, strives to tell the news. I'd like to see a paper that tries to put its finger on the pulse of the city. Fredericton does have a pulse, and though it may be racing underneath, it appears to be rather sedate on the surface. I'd like to expose the Fredericton that we rarely see, because it's pretty interesting.
Television and radio have their 'personalities', why shouldn't the little old Fredericton newspaper have some? I'd like to see the Gleaner help its writer(s), assuming there's more than one, to create a persona. I'd like to read the views of someone with a pickle up their bum, so to speak. Forget that, let's make it a jalapeno pepper! I'd like to read an opinion for a change, and not one that's so conservative that it doubles as a sedative.
Newspapers are dying because they're not evolving. They're being run like most churches...stuck in their old-fashioned ways. Evolve or die, I say.
Perhaps I should ease into the Gleaner as the Arts Editor, since Publisher may be too much of a leap? I love the arts and I love to write, so I'm a natural fit. I can even do my own photography. I'd be perfect! The only problem is that I don't have what you'd call an impressive résumé, though I could manage to embellish my old one to suit the arts editor job:
Music: at the tender age of ten, while a grade four student at Forest Hill Elementary School, I received the strap for booing a visiting girls choir. My wrist was bleeding when the Principal was done with me. This proves that I have always been a vocal music critic and that I'm prepared to die for my beliefs, rather than clap like a mindless puppet. It also proves that I was a rude and thoughtless child, but I got over that by my second year of university.
Theatre: I was awarded the Best Actor award in Mrs.Simmons' grade eight drama class. In university I saw a TNB play once, though I can't remember what it was. I saw STOMP in New York City eight years ago and felt like I paid way too much for my ticket. I regularly fall asleep watching movies, but only the bad ones which wouldn't be worth reviewing anyway.
Dance: I was kicked out of my grade twelve phys-ed class when we were being taught how to square dance. I wish that the Daily Gleaner had covered that story, but they were only interested in basketball, baseball and hockey. I guess that square dancing isn't really the arts, or even dance. It's a sport, so I'll give it no more thought. I've never been to the ballet which is a good thing. I could report on it with a fresh new set of eyes. No one talks about the codpiece anymore, but that could change.
Painting: let me just say up front that I believed, in nineteen eighty nine, that it was ludicrous for the National Gallery of Canada to pay one point eight million dollars for Barnett Newman's Voice Of Fire painting. At least, for that piece of 'art', it was a crazy amount of doh! (Barnett, as a businessman, you are a genius!). As advertising/marketing for the National Gallery, the purchase was pure genius. Twenty years later, I'm still talking about it. I tend to cling to things...just the other day I was singing the Lite-Brite theme song, which hasn't been broadcast in three and a half decades.
If I had a cell phone, I'd have the Lite-Brite theme song as my ring tone, and I'd leave my cell phone on while attending concerts, movies, theatre, dance...just to shake things up a bit. The arts scene in Fredericton needs an injection of life, attitude and opinion. The Daily Gleaner is the obvious choice to make that happen.
If the Publisher of the Gleaner is reading my blog (there's no chance of that), then he/she can call me anytime to offer me the job as Arts Editor. Actually, you can call anytime except Thursday night, that's my one night a week when I'm involved with a local arts group, or is it a sports organization? You decide...now, do si do!