A Glass of Chianti

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Terry Teachout: On middlebrow culture (and more)

I'm in the middle of reading Terry's collection of essays. I hope he will let me excerpt a little bit and then riff (if you're displeased, Terry, you know where to find me ;-)). In a 1997 Weekly Standard essay on David Brinkley's retirement (et alia, of course) he writes:
"Still, I know better than to pretend that once upon a time, TV was nothing but Peter Pan, Playhouse 90, and The Bell Telephone Hour. The point of network television in its heyday wasn't that it served up masterpieces around the clock; rather, it was that anybody could partake at will of the wide-ranging fare it did serve up. It was because CBS broadcast both Gilligan's Island and Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts that some people discovered the latter, and profited thereby. Watching Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights, you saw a little bit of everything, and so did your neighbors. Such shows were an important part of the cultural glue that helped hold this country together. Now they are gone, and I miss them, the same way I miss the slow-moving America of my small-town youth, back when the word "everybody" was more than an abstraction."
That phrase "back when 'everybody' was more than an abstraction" has been rolling around in my head for a couple of days. If I were a writer, Terry's one of those who would inspire me to just give up, knowing that I could never get that close to a perfectly distilled observation. Good writing is not what you say or how you say it - it's both. This, of course, is why I'm a Terry Teachout cheerleader in my non-lessoning time. (Pom-pom pictures available upon request)

Later: a post on this quote and how it relates to Family Guy. (I'm on medication and I can't write no mo'.)