Show Me the Money

Seattle's EMP proves that great popular music conferences cannot live by inclusive intentions alone

Without Allen's grant, I clearly would never have heard some of these folks. But although Boeing kicked in for this year's performance-reception, who knows whether support will continue? "Fine art" museums, like opera companies, assume moneybags will put their trust funds where their cultural self-interest is. Pop music—even at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a promotional device of unabashed utility—is expected to pay its own way. Bless Paul Allen, but that was seed money. Since 2002, EMP has cut its workforce in half and devoted part of Gehry's guitar to sci-fi. And of course, that's how ultra-right hypercapitalism conceives the former public sector. The humanization of scholarship, as opposed to the subsidization of ideological hegemony, is for pansies.

Mae West with Libby Taylor, 1934
photo: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Mae West with Libby Taylor, 1934

There was too much masquerade on the performance program to suit my straight tastes, although you should catch drag queen Dina Martina in Provincetown this summer. But when sly Chicano Elvis imitator El Vez closed while flashing Bush's sins on a back screen, I said amen.

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