Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Let's not get carried away
I love my home town dearly. I made cataclysmic life changes in order to return home to it, after 20 years away, and I have never regretted the move for a nanosecond.
But this doesn't mean I look at it through rose-coloured glasses (why would I need to? It's almost always either blue and gold, moss-green and mother-of-pearl, or rose-coloured off its own bat: see above, courtesy SA Tourism Commission), so I had to have a little cackle at the deadpan summary I just read over at crikey.com.au of an article about drugs in today's Advertiser: 'Adelaide cracks down on ecstasy.'
Ain't it the truth. Comfort, yes. Contentment, absolutely. But ecstasy? Isn't that just a little bit, well, excessive? In, perhaps, doubtful taste? I'm reminded of the Alex Ross link a couple of posts back; if you read his long article on the John Adams/Peter Sellars opera Doctor Atomic you'll see that it contains a detailed and admiring profile of Sellars as a major heavy hitter in the world of the western stage. But here in Adders the dangerously edgy and radical Sellars was dismissed and undermined right and left from the outset by staid Adelaideans who thought he was a peculiar-looking little sausage and/or didn't want their arts festival hijacked by a feral director.
It's true that the Sellars festival turned into a disaster, though bravely salvaged at the eleventh hour by a tactful, professional, conscientious ring-in from Victoria. But Sellars' real and fatal mistake was to misjudge the essential nature of Adelaide and of the ways in which the Festival heavies, still largely soi-disant socialites and Establishment pillars, were likely to react to the radicalism of his politics and his general vision of what art is and what it's for.
He probably made another basic error to do with economies of scale. And he may have wrongly deduced that local arts legends Robyn Archer and Greg Mackie were typical of the joint. Whatever it was, it was a major mis-fit with the realities of this our small-but-perfectly-formed city-state. Ecstasy? Not in my back yard.