On March 15, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the US government agency that funds arts projects, released a report revealing a portion of the financial and job losses sustained by artists and arts organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic so far. The NEA study points out that between 2019 and 2020 the US “arts economy” contracted at almost twice the rate of the economy as a whole. “Arts and cultural production fell by 6.4 percent when adjusted for inflation, compared with a 3.4 [percent] decline in the overall economy.” While the arts and culture sector remained “a major contributor to the economy,” according to the NEA, “certain arts industries saw enormous declines.” The performing arts were the most affected, experiencing devastating losses in 2020 in particular.
Jonathan Taplin may not be a household name, but he has been behind the scenes of some of the most influential moments in 20th century American music. As the description of Taplin’s latest book notes, the University of Southern California professor emeritus has made waves in every one of the past several decades: “he was tour manager for Bob Dylan and the Band in the ’60s, producer of major films in the ’70s, an executive at Merrill Lynch in the ’80s, creator of the Internet’s first video-on-demand service in the ’90s, and a cultural critic and author writing about technology in the new millennium.” Taplin joins Robert Scheer on this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss his fascinating career as well as his friendships and encounters with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Scorsese, Eric Clapton, and many others, all of which is captured in his new memoir, “The Magic Years: Scenes From a Rock-and-Roll Life.”
I'll never forget the time I 128 hours—without overtime. There are, of course, only 168 hours in a week, and by the time you have worked your 128th, you no longer have professional standards, boundaries, or even much of an identity left. Me, personally? I was cackling at every provocation and blinking too often to chase away sleep. At the time, I was a concert sound engineer, lighting designer, and technical director, and I was in the process of opening a new concert venue (that must remain nameless) in New York City.