Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Codrescu at CMHS: "No video, no audio recording"

Visit Codrescu's literary magazine, Exquisite Corpse.

And listen to samples of his NPR commentary.

Then listen to him at Caddo Magnet HS at 6:30 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 23, in the Ran Kiper Performing Arts Center. Parking is easy and the PAC is easy to find; it's not a large campus. More info: cmhs.com

Codrescu was at lunch today and I stopped to say "Welcome" and to tell him that I planned to videotape his presentation in the 6:30 session, which is free and open to the public. I mentioned it was for this blog. Codrescu replied," No. No videotaping." Stunned, I didn't get his explanation verbatim. It was something like "for various reasons." A couple of minutes later he sidled over to add "No video recording. And no audio recording." In a moment of considerable grace he added," Photos, OK. And you can take notes." Of course, a less bourgeois blogger would not have mentioned it to him. He's a public figure in a public session; shoot and whip it up on the web. And if he tried to stop them, he'd be on camera offering a whole new side to the Codrescu image.

He sees the irony in his stance. A man who stands for inquiry and who stands against totalitarianism has slipped to the level of * I've got to control my image, my performance.* Does he believe that blog video will threaten his opportunity to sell his lecture performance? An attorney opined that he is following the dictates of a publishing or speaking contract. For the sake of the comfortable life he's had to reconcile himself to a pretty serious contradiction. After all, Codrescu spent most of the night discussing the censorship he's had to witness. Today he is a part of the landed gentry, trying to hold back the $1.98 revolution being led by bloggers.

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Codrescu's visit is sponsored by the Mary Jane Malone Lecture Series. Last year the Malone fund brought Edward Albee to CMHS. Their intellectual and living memorial to a vibrant daughter lost in a car wreck is truly well-considered and generous.


Noma said...

God, Trudeau, you're such a threat! All you need is a smaller camera and less open nature. I once watched a video of Bob Dylan shot through a hole in a straw purse.

At least he showed up. I had money riding on it. He's no-showed for two other such events. Don't you feel LUCKY?

Anonymous said...

Would you not want to support yourself with your work? That is why we all get paid for what we do. There are no free lunches in America. I was dissapointed at your question.

trudeau said...

Gee, your opinions sort of capture both ends of the spectrum. As you can tell, I'm in the middle.

This morning an internet-minded librarian and I discussed Codrescu's reply. At the least, we agreed, he ignored an opportunity to explain his viewpoint as to how bloggers might threaten the income he makes on his lectures. I think his position may be more emotional than logical.

One more item: I lecture about Louisiana culture as part of my living. "Fais Do-do with Robert Trudeau" is what I call the show. Through dance, percussion ('tit fers, shakers, scrubboards, etc), singing and stories I show the audience how Louisiana music developed. While I am far from being at Codrescu's price point, I have been in the commercial game for a number of years. So I have more understanding of the nature of the business than you might imagine. I think Codrescu was being unnecessarily controlling in trying to forbid audio and video recording of his talk.

Michael Harold said...


"It's a hard luck life for us." I could swear it's a line from Little Orphan Annie, but when I Google it, all I get is a link to Three Beers Theatre, whose tagline is, "Making bad movies better one beer at a time." I have to agree with you. I go to a number of blogs and literary web sites daily and they have some of the best readings, interviews, etc. you could find anywhere, and they get posted the same or next day. As as example, Ron Silliman's blog just covered a reading by the poet Lyn Hejinian (a major, avante as it gets, Language poet) a couple of days ago. I don't know why Codrescu would have a problem with it. I would be more sympathetic with his point of view, except that The Corpse has never published a single thing I've submitted. I figured once they read it they were terrified that if they did publish any of it, their readers would insist they change the name to "Exquisite Mike."

trudeau said...

Lol, Exquisite Michael. Thanks for your well-traveled point of view.

Stand by for my edited recording of kvetching Codrescu's sourpussy performance. I might publish it at http://nwlaartgallery.com.

Also, you see how a negative response plays into a blogger's hands: there'd have been little to talk about on this site if he hadn't been niggardly.

jivamukti said...

Having been at both the luncheon and the evening talk, I have to say that I think you've been more than genereous with him here. That night, Alice (my wife) remarked on the way home, that she thought he cut you off before you had truly finished your question. She and I guessed that perhaps you were trying to commiserate with him in that our corporate-centric media has forced him into the uncomfortable position of blocking a truly "free" medium such as the blogsphere. How ironic (or hypocritical) of him to spend so much time congratulating bloggers for their "up to the minute news and commentary."