I'm Berlin for three+ weeks, back Feb. 6. Two profoundly unoriginal thoughts:
There are a lot of arts, and arts journalism, in Berlin. Competing newspapers (like London is and New York used to be), and hence competing opinions at the newsstand. Whether German papers cover the little guys (and popular culture) as assiduously as does the NY Times, I don't know, but the London and Paris papers too focus on the big stuff. Had a meeting with Manuel Brug, who is music (and dance) critic of the Berliner Morgenpost AND Die Welt, a national paper. Just laid Barenboim low, an attack that I think appeared in artsjournal or musical america or some such. Bright, conservative, maybe a little bitchy.A distinguished veteran of German and Austrian cultural life had dismissed Brug as "repellent" at lunch just before my appointment with him, tho when I met him, he seemed decent enough. A lot of critics strike artists as repellent; some of them actually are repellent. Which doesn't entirely invalidate the profession. Last night I saw "Die Meistersinger" at the Deutsche Oper; good cast, good old Goetz Friedrich production; evoked the Nazis subtly without beating you over the head with them. Best performance in it was Markus Brueck as Beckmesser. Solid voice, fabulous, Chaplinesque physical comedian. Played him as a critic, not a Jew (character's original name, you'll recall, was Hans Lick). Repellent, maybe, but endearing.
My other thought, surprise surprise, has to do with the Internet. Confronted with the prospect of piling up 25 days worth of New York Timeses on my desk, my wife said: Why not just read it online? I had looked at the NYT online edition before, but never relied on it. Now I see no need to buy the "real" paper ever again, unless to provide our miniature dog a place to pee. As soon as Doug McLennan figures out how to tell the newspaper industry how to make serious money online, and hence to pay its repellent online critics real wages, print is dead. To the extent I feel nostalgic about that (and I don't, now, really), I retired just in time.