Thursday, October 30, 2008

Singular Antiquity 7: Mouliou on Greek Museums (1948-present)

Greek archaeological museums get a very bad press as bureaucratic and badly administered institutions. Marlene Mouliou's essay, "Museum Presentations of the Classical Past in Post-War Greece: A Critical Analysis" offers a historical context for the modern institution. The essay appears in Singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in Twentieth-Century Greece, ed. Dimitris Damaskos and Dimitris Plantzos (Athens, 2008), pp. 83-109.

The Greek museum as we know it is physically a post-war phenomenon, since the archaeological service had to dismantle all exhibitions at the wake of World War II. Whatever was on display was buried into protected basements. Museums were reinstalled after 1948, offering an opportunity for rebirth. Mouliou divides the history of Greece's postwar museum history into three phases and examines the political forces that shaped them. At the end of the essay one is left with great admiration for the institution. Museums in the West hardly needed to negotiate among so many objectives and deflate so many pressures.

Phase 1 (1948-1976) is characterized as the period of regeneration. The classical past was here presented as linear artistic evolution. The reopening of the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museums signaled a national resurrection after Fascism. Christos Karouzos, Semni Papaspyridi-Karouzou and Yannis Miliadis used a concept most prominent in art historical practices of its time, the linear evolution of monuments and the desire to illustrate the aesthetic essence of each cultural period. Their mentors were scholars like John Beazley (with whom Paspyridi-Karouzou studied). This is no different than the way art history surveys are still taught in the U.S. Speaking from my own experience, much of what I do on a daily pedagogical basis is navigate neophytes through Gardner's Art through the Ages or Janson's History of Art. The Greek museum of the 50s, 60s and 70s functioned as a place to cultivate connoisseurship and to teach the inherent spirit of artifacts and soul of a period. Mouliou beautiful articulates the social forces that brought about Greece's national idiosyncrasies, from the sudden emergence of a tourist industry to the growing intervention by foreign powers. There are only two exceptions to the predominant
connoisseurship. One comes from the Athenian Agora, where the American School of Classical Studies at Athens introduced thematic (rather than evolutionary) organization. The Agora museum, a controversial restoration of the Stoa of Attalos, moreover, introduced a particularly American obsession with texts, growing out of the education structure of American classics departments. In the Agora, antiquities were constantly supplementing or illustrating textual literature and history. The second exception came in 1975 at the Museum of Volos. Here, George Hourmouziadis introduced concepts of New Archaeology and focused on the social role of archaeology.

Phase 2 (1977-1996) can be characterized by an unsustainable expansion, which was a double edged sword. In 1977, Presidential Decree 941 gave archaeology today's administrative structure, the organization into Prehistoric, Classical and Byzantine Ephorias. New personnel opportunities, a growing number of rescue excavations and a booming number of museums dramatically affected the practice of archaeology and its social role within the welfare state. The resulting administration, however, was inflexible. It compounded earlier dysfunctions into a permanent status quo and it greatly stifled intellectual and interpretive work. Museums grew into places for storing rescue finds. The scholar got bogged down and creative solutions were thwarted. And come to think of it, the Ephorias' double responsibilities of rescue excavations and museum administration do not make good partners.

Within this context grew a phenomenon called the "Vergina Syndrome." Andronikos' exhibitions of Macedonian finds from Vergina were quickly politicized. The 1978 show "Treasures of Ancient Macedonia" became an international block buster, traveling to the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe. Dealing so closely with issues of modern states (the Macedonian Question), Andronikos' model for success was dangerously subservient to the service of national ideology. New exhibition possibilities and the renaissance of the Museum of Thessaloniki had positive effects. But some critics argued that Vergina simply encouraged a senseless treasure hunt. Traveling exhibitions, like the 1977 Aegean Art show, caused a different kind of political agitation. Greek citizens began to protest the expatriation of their works. Demonstrations in Crete against the Aegean Art show called for a "battle of the amphoras" or the "kidnapping of gods." Grass roots movements and disaffection with U.S. foreign policy took an interesting form of archaeological activism.

Phase 3, (1997-present) is described as the period of opportunities. Greece's entrance into the European Community in 1981, the founding of the Hellenic National Committee of ICOM in 1983, the hosting of the Olympic Games in 2004 and affiliations with a dynamic diaspora placed the Greek museum into a new globalized setting in which old rules (national rebirth, political persecution, xenophobia) ceased to be either viable or productive. Outwardly focused discursive considerations, exo- and macro- systems began to fall into place. Mouliou gives a wonderful overview of contemporary museum trends, discussing thematic exhibits like "Child in Antiquity" and "Mind and Body." Clearly, any coherent museological theory is lacking in modern Greek practices, but there is a shared anxiety that the museum is losing its audience. The old-school "hoarding up treasures," nationalist ancestor-worship and eclectic connoisseurship are strategies with little utility in a globalized world. Hourmouziadis, again in 1999, reiterated the need for educational programs. Given the general public's love for archaeology, the absence of "public archaeology" in Greece is striking.

Marlen Mouriou's essay should be mandatory reading for any scholar coming into contact with the Greek museum system. Understanding the historical roots of individual initiatives certainly justifies the Greek idiosyncrasies; one is amazed, in fact, how flexible Greek museums have been to changing realities. At the end of the essay, the reader senses Mouriou's deep concern for the future along with a slight hint of optimism. The bureaucratization of the Greek state and the establishment of the Ephoria system in 1977 seems to be more of a hindrance. Creative solutions are needed now more than ever. Greek museums have a lot of potential and Mouriou's critical reading shows the presence of great talent even within the sclerotic framework.

For additional reviews from Singular Antiquity, see here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Singular Antiquity 6: Gazi on Greek Museums (1900-1909)

Between 1900 and 1909, the Greek state built 16 provincial museums in Ancient Corinth, Thera, Chalkis, Mykonos, Nauplion, Delphi, Cheroneia, Delos, Thebes, Herakleion, Lykosoura, Corfu, Tegea, Thermon, Volos and Argostolion. This stunning amount of activity (a rate of three new museums per year) succeeded in distributing archaeological learning throughout the country but, more importantly, established a professional model of management, administration and display. Gazi analyzes the museological principals that emerged during this period in, “‘Artfully Classified’ and ‘Appropriately Placed’: Notes on the Display of Antiquities in Early Twentieth-Century Greece,” in Singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in Twentieth-Century Greece, ed. Dimitris Damaskos and Dimitris Plantzos (Athens, 2008), pp. 67-77.

The museums had some variation; for instance, nine were built in urban centers and seven within or nearby archaeological sites. Yet, they achieved homogeneity in their underlying curatorial principles. An important achievement was to move beyond the strictly repository character of earlier museums and to codify chronological and typological classifications. Common tendencies involved packing as many objects as possible in one space and creating formal connections within media. In short, they followed the strict taxonomic character of museum display in the “age of archaeological flamboyance” (1870-1914). As Gazi points out, the majority of Greek curators had studied in Europe, mostly in Germany. Their dependency on neoclassical models of display is, thus, obvious.

The one exception in curatorial practices came about through a British collaboration. In displaying the finds from Ritsona in the museum of Thebes, Antonios Keramopoulos consulted with the site’s excavators. Percy Ure and Ronald Barrows believed that the contents of individual graves should be displayed in their entirety in order to provide a coherent representation of the society’s burial practice. Gazi credits this new contextual model to Paolo Orsi, who excavated cemeteries in Sicily, but it also reflects a larger debate on archaeological method (Mortimer Wheeler, stratigraphy, etc.) The Ritsona counter-example makes the reader curious to learn more about the history of museum culture in Italy, Britain, France and the United States. Gazi does a great job documenting the 16 Greek museums, but does not include any comparative examples outside of Greece. A discussion of museum practices in Europe would be greatly welcome, rather than assuming that the model was monolithic. Sculptures from the Temple of Aphaia in Aegina and sculptures from the Temple of Bassae, for instance, were displayed differently in the Munich Glyptotech and in the British Museum respectively.

Gazi also discusses Greek intellectual culture ca. 1900 and new notions of history that emerged through Paparregopoulos, Dragoumis, Palamas and other Demoticists. The archaeologist, “a national intellectual,” was caught between two competing models: classical purism versus historical inclusiveness (i.e. the incorporation of post-classical periods in the national identity). The 20th century ushered in the age of ambivalence towards antiquities, in contrast to the age of subservience preceded it. Gazi observes that the curators of the Greek museums were behind the times, stuck in the age of subservience. This might be one of Gazi’s most interesting conclusions with powerful repercussions. The institutionalization of the Greek museum as a palace of taxonomy removed the classical archaeologist from the forefront of intellectual debate. Perhaps at this juncture, 1900-1909, the Greek archaeologist ceased being an intellectual and became a bureaucrat.

Gazi refers to some great secondary literature, such as P. Kitromilides, “From Subservience to Ambivalence: Modern Greek Attitudes toward the Classics,” in The Impact of Classical Greece on European and Classical Identities, ed. M. Haagsma et al. (Amsterdam, 2003), pp. 47-53. She also reminds us to reconsider the role of the archaeologist as public intellectual in literary life and reread seminal literary texts, like Andreas Karkavitsas, The Archaeologist (1904) and Kostis Palamas, Dodecalogue of the Gypsy (1907) and The King’s Flute (1910).

For additional reviews from Singular Antiquity, see here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Punk Archaeology: Athens Street Art

"Graffiti Artists Leave Their Mark on Athens"on ABC Australia discussed the rise of graffiti on the archaeological sites of Athens. I thank Tim Gregory who sent this link to Bill Caraher who sent it to me. Indeed, walking through the streets of Athens in 2007, I first noticed the explosion of Greek street art. The Plaka especially is saturated. In an earlier posting, I explored Anastasios Orlandos' act of resistance by transcribing graffiti from the Parthenon during the German Occupation, see Writing off the Wall: Transcription as Resistance. I think that graffiti has not been seriously discussed in relation to Greek archaeology. How could Greeks archaeologists categorically condemn graffiti but, at the same time, celebrate Lord Byron's scratchings on the Temple of Zeus at Sounion? As an archaeologist of post-classical Greece, I find myself closer to the side of the vandals "defacing" the ancient temples than the purists. One of my favorite archaeological illustrations is a drawing showing a tapestry of graffiti at Ramnous; see Ο δήμος της Ραμνούς, vol. 1 , Τοπογραφικά (Athens, 1999), p. 270. Vasileios Petrakos is one of few Greek archaeologists to publish such defacement in a site monograph. My love of graffiti should not be dismissed at face value on account of my period interests (Byzantine over Classical). We tend to associate spolia, reuse and appropriation with the Late Roman and Byzantine periods. Classical Athenians, however, did a fair share of it, too. For details, you must ask my wife, Celina Gray, who labors over reuse in Athenian cemeteries. For my favorite article on Late Antique spolia, I send you to Joseph Alchermes, "Spolia in Roman Cities of the Late Empire: Legislative Rationales and Architectural Reuse," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 48 (1994), pp. 167-178.

In this posting, I wish to discuss neither the archaeology of graffititi nor the graffiti of archaeological sites. Rather, I want to highlight the burgeoning scene of Greek street art in a positive manner. Its cultural relevance should be taken seriously. It is Greece's greatest public art and one of the few instances of constructive civil disobedience. I will start with a simple question, which is more than rhetorical. Is modern graffiti inferior to classical art? Of course, classical art is more important, but can we be so sure? One way to test the relative relevance of disparate art forms is to gauge contemporary interests. Although my methodology is by no means scientific, I decided to test cultural value in my local Border's bookstore by conducting a simple statistical study. So, on my way back from work last Tuesday, I stopped at Border's at New London's Crystal Mall. The store contains a modest art selection, covering 18 shelves, or the equivalent of 54 linear feet of shelf space. Scanning carefully all the shelves, I was surprised to find absolutely NO books on ancient art. By the way, my job at Connecticut College is teaching ancient and medieval art (incidentally as Joe Alchermes' sabbatical replacement); my informal survey obviously devastated my sense of academic value. I was disheartened to see that antiquity was found sparingly only in a few general books. I concluded that, similarly, my ancient survey will be the only exposure that my students will ever have to this material. At Border's, a little more than 2 linear feet were devoted to street art, that is 4% of the total shelf space. Thus, we can conclude that for a general American audience, street art is infinitely more important than ancient art. Modern Greek graffiti, moreover, is highly respected within those publications. An excerpt from Nicholas Ganz's,
Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents (New York, 2004), pp. 128, 162-163, best summarizes the Greek scene:

"Greece and its local activists were thrust into the limelight through the Chromopolis project. Concentrated in Athens and Thessaloniki, the movement is enjoying a boom, particularly in pieces. Over the fast few years, pioneers such as Bizare or Woozy have continued to make their mark, and new artists are emerging, often working with stencils or characters." Have the archaeologists quoted in ABC missed the movement altogether? Most likely. Reading the official condemnation of graffiti might give us the impression that street art is strictly an underground subculture. This is another misrepresentation. Preparing for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the Ministry of Culture went hip-hop by sponsoring
Chromopolis, a project organized by graffiti magazine Carpe Diem. In the summer of 2002, Greece invited 16 internationally acclaimed graffiti artists, including OsGemeos, Besok, Codeak, Bizare, Mark1, and Loomit. The artists created large scale compositions at 10 sites (image above). The works were proudly included in Greece's official Cultural Olympiad and elevated graffiti with venues such as the archaeology of Minoan and Mycenaean food at Birmingham, or a Post-Byzantine art exhibit in New York.

Although by no means would I promote vandalizing archaeological sites, the recent growth in archaeological graffiti seems to fit a larger pattern, the explosion and international prestige of Greek street art. In the American context, it would be difficult to ignore the prestige of street artists like Shepard Fairey, who designed one of the most desirable images for Barak Obama's presidential campaign; see my posting "Punk Archaeology: Glue." The recent press on Fairey is more concerned about his mainstream status; see Melena Rizik, "Closer to Mainstream; Still a Bit Rebelious,"
(NYT, Oct. 1, 2008). The elusive Bansky also seems to have made a surprise installation in SoHo, and the press went wild, see David Itzkoff "A Could-Be Bansky Appears on a SoHo Wall" (NYT, Oct. 1, 2008). I fall in the group of people who worship those idolatrous artists. And judging from the 4% coverage at Border's, I'm not alone.

The fans of Greek street art are harder to find. But I'm clearly not the only archaeologist of Greece to see cultural vitality in modern Greece beyond the national love of the Parthenon. Guy Sanders, Jan Sanders and Petros Sandamouris administer a wonderful Facebook Group, "Alternative Athens: Beyond Your Comfort Zone." It's defined as follows: "Εκτός των συνόρων: how can you find a real Athens beyond your hotel or institution or group? A member of one Athens based institution has likened their closed community to a huge sow to which its piglets return and suckle year after year. How do we find out about the life beyond our Comfort Zone? This group is intended to be a place where venues outside the bubble are shared and evaluated." Some of the Group members (Jess Hackman, Eva Akashi, Sara Lima, Isabela Sanders) have been photographing Athenian street art and adding it to the communal images. What we need now is a systematic survey, the archaeology of Athenian street art, the mapping of Greece's newest masterpieces. The Wooster Collective is such an organized venture documenting street art globally. I'm waiting for the Essential City Guide to Athens!!!! I had started photographing street art in Philadelphia, but that was a few years ago. One of my objectives had been to record locations through time and show the temporal nature (both deterioration and addition) of this art form. The survey of Greek graffiti must take inspiration from the Geocaching craze, a hobby that unites GPS, Google Earth and treasure hunting. Deb and Colin Stewart introduced me to this and I look forward to joining. A search under Athens, Greece, produced 91 caches in Athens alone. What are we waiting for?

People catalogue all kinds of things. My dear friend jules, for instance, catalogues built-in ashtrays. Although she doesn't see it archaeologically, she is creating the only existing database of this extinct socio-type. In fact, if you have more instances, send them to me, and I'll send them to BUILT-IN-ASHTRAYS. Needless to say, this is the pet project of a reformed smoker and quite the social thinker.

Curious about street art bibliography? The least that I can do is share what I found at Border's in a measly New London mall. You can map that, too; click here. In the spirit of free art, I bought nothing but browsed to my heart's content. In browsing order: Tristan Manco,
Street Sketchbook: Inside the Journals of International Street and Graffiti Artists (San Francisco, 2007); Josh J. MacPhee, Stencil Pirates: A Global Study of the Street Stencil (Brooklyn, 2004); Roger Gastman, Caleb Neelon, and Anthony Smyrski, Street World: Urban Art and Culture from Five Continents (New York, 2007); Nicholas Ganz, Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents (New York, 2004); Eleanor Mathieson (ed.) and Xavier A. Tapies, Street Art and the War on Terror: How the World's Best Graffit Artists Said No to the Iraq War (London, 2007); Stephen Powers, The Art of Getting Over: Graffit at the Millenium (New York, 1999), Steve Grody, Graffiti L.A.: Street Styles and Art (New York, 2007); Ryo Sanada, Suridh Hassan, Rackgaki: Japanese Graffiti (London, 2007); Jon Naar, The Birth of Graffiti (Munich, 2007); Bansky, Wall and Piece (London, 2007).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Singular Antiquity 5: Tolias on Gennadios

Greek intellectuals of the 19th century worked very hard to cultivate Philhellenism among the western supporters of Modern Greece. Exporting antiquities to the West helped advertise the international relevance of the ancient tradition and, thus, generate support for the emerging nation state. Statesmen such as Adamantios Korais, a renown classical philologist, or Alexandros Moustoxidis did not encourage anti-exportation laws, but remained silent, seeing the political and economic advantages of dispersing Greek antiquities throughout the world’s collections.

Another school of thought that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries became militant about keeping antiquities in Greece and banning any further export of treasures. Ioannis Gennadios, who is best known for the library that he donated to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, belonged in this latter group and is the subject of George Tolias’ essay “National Heritage and Greek Revival: Ioannis Gennadios on the Expatriated Antiquities,” in A Singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in Twentieth-Century Greece (Athens, 2008), pp. 55-65. Ioannis Gennadios, son of the scholar Georgios Gennadios, spent most of his life as a diplomat in London. Interestingly enough, his diplomatic career started when he was fired from a job in a Greek commercial firm because he wrote an apology for the Dilessi/Marathon murders of 1870, see Romilly Jenkins, The Dilessi Murders (London, 1961). Gennadios’ diplomatic career took him to the Hague, Washington, D.C., Constantinople; he spent most of his life in London, where he amassed a personal library of 24,000 books. He married Florence Laing Kennedy but had no children. He died alone at his home in Surrey in 1932.

Two years before his death, Gennadios published a Treatise, Lord Elgin and Earlier Antiquarian Invaders in Greece, documenting 75 cases of looting from Cyriac of Ancona (1440) to the foundation of the Archaeological Society of Athens (1837). Gennadios’ militant position was influenced by Alexandros Rizos Rankaves, who was a student of Gennadios’ father. The Treatise includes a speech that Rankaves gave on May 12, 1842, at the Parthenon, a foundational document for stigmatizing the export of antiquities. Tolias’ essay provides the intellectual and historical context for Ioannis Gennadios’ activism towards “restoring Hellenism.” Tolias warns that “it would be easy to dismiss the positions adapted by Gennadios in 1930 as the romantic ideas of an aged radical patriot.” Rather, we should see the Treatise as an expression of an ongoing tension between Greek nationalism (which sees all Greek antiquities belonging to the Greek state) and Humanism (which sees classical Greece as a universal heritage). The return of the Elgin marbles has been a subject of international debate perculating at different times in history, and most recently as the celebrated cause of Melina Merkouri, when she became Minister of Culture under Giorgos Papandreou’s government. Tolias’ essay brings historical bones to a debate that we presume was always the same. We can almost visualize an 86-year-old Gennadios pacing through his personal library, pulling books out of a collection that he spent an entire life time building. The Treatise suddenly justifies the book collection and illuminates the fundamental nature of a library now owned by an academic institution equally devoted to restoring Hellenism.

For additional reviews from Singular Antiquity, see here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Roasting Innovations

The success of Starbucks has been explained in sociological terms. More than selling coffee, Starbucks has constructed a new social environment, “a third space” that is neither home nor office, a place ideal for introspective mental activities like reading, writing, surfing the web. Consistent quality control from the decorative palette to the audio selections are superior to other offerings and strictly enforced. The choice of music, for instance, is neither too popular nor too weird, maintaining a culturally interesting middle ground. Appropriately, Starbucks (Barnes and Noble) and its old cousin, Seattle’s Best (Border’s) dominate bookstore caffeination. Ultimately, however, the success of Starbucks and the rise of the $2 coffee is the product. Elite coffees have displaced dominant household brands like Maxwell House or Folgers because they use a Arabica beans rather than Robusta beans, the two are considered as different species.

On a couple of occasions this last month, I was served inferior Robusta coffee at friends houses (even elite coffee drinkers go with the Robusta beans when serving a big party) and didn’t seem to mind them. Faced with fierce competition, they are improving. Folders continues to dominate the household coffee market, but it wants to gain back its lost elite customers. For the last few years, Folgers has been developing a new roasting technique, “the biggest innovation since the launch of decaf.” See Douglas Quenqua, “Folgers Markets a New Coffee to Cost-Cutting Home Brewers,” NYT (Sept. 19, 2008), p. C10. To do so, Folgers has overhauled its factory in New Orleans, while it’s changing ownership; Procter & Gamble has just sold Folgers to J. M. Smucker (the peanut butter and jam makers). Most importantly, they need to change popular perception. So, they are launching a new television ad campaign, designed by the infamous Saatchi & Saatchi agency. In the circles of art, Saatchi is more of a household name than Folgers. Charles Saastchi is a major art collector. It was his 1997 Sensation exhibition that caused not only a sensation but launched the career of Damien Hirst.

Folgers is realistic about its goals in dissuading a snob coffee drinker like myself, who will pay the price for organic and fair-trade. But I will give a try. I suppose, I’m a little old-school about some things. I cannot stand the new plastic coffee cans. This summer, we bought a grill. I was looking for a good-old-coffee can to turn into a cylinder for lighting charcoal to no avail. The good old metal can that you could recycle into multiple household uses has expired as a product of the 20th century. Newly wed couples will not be able to tie up a gigantic Folgers coffee tub behind their “Just Married” automobiles. The metal can warded off evil spirits on its way to a new household. The Saatchi and Saatchi TV aspires to strike some domestic chords through sound (drawers opening, spoons rolling in a coffee mug, the slippers of a man in pajamas squeak), but I don’t think it will succeed in the apotropeic magical qualities of pre-Starbucks Folgers.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Goodbye AC/DC

The Australian band AC/DC had fans across the musical spectrum, including my own adolescent admiration. It used to be that punk and heavy metal occupied two irreconcilable positions in rock, although, in the 1990s, hybrid genres like thrash metal dissolved the great divide. AC/DC had an incredible ability to stand on a tight rope between a most conservative (classic rock) and a most radical (punk, heavy metal) audience. I was reminded of this fact last week, while tuning into my satellite radio station devoted to Punk (Sirius 29) and confronting the station's take over by AC/DC. Although I occasionally tune in, I had always been a little ambivalent about Sirius’ marketing definition of punk. My sense of the genre fits more comfortably somewhere between Little Stevens’ Underground Garage (Sirius 25), Left of Center (Sirius 26) and First Wave (Sirius 22). The occasional dose of Back in Black or Hell’s Bells is good for the soul, but the AC/DC take-over is unfortunate and, as it turns out, quite insidious.

Unfortunately, my AC/DC nostalgic listening must stop not because they are loud and immature but because they are old, desperate and they've just sold out big time. Desperado classic rockers like the Eagles and Journey are by definition exhausted, a lazy conservative brand befitting Wal-Mart, who has possessed exclusive distribution rights on their records. AC/DC has joined the ranks of the Wal-Mart musical monopoly, see Robert Lane, “Wal-Mart wins Deal on Album and Game,” New York Times (Sept. 30, 2008) p. E1. AC/DC has signed a contract to release their new album exclusively through the giant retailer. It gets worse. MTV has partnered along in producing an AC/DC version of their popular Rock Band video game to be sold exclusively through Wal-Mart, as well. The Wal-Mart family wasn’t able to buy Thomas Eakins' Gross Clinic, but at least they got the little short-wearing rockers.

Goodbye AC/DC. I am sad to see one of the greatest living proponents of male adolescence join the ranks of the Eagles and Journey. On its last tour the band featured its Malcom and Angus Young, still wearing shorts in his 50s. Founded in 1973, AC/DC has gotten old as have its listeners, who have pushed adolescence into an older age. I think that all of Wal-Mart’s AC/DC products should be accompanied by a complementary copy of Gary Cross,'s Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity (New York, 2008). Cross is a culturla historian at Penn State and his readings of contemporary manhood are great; see interview on Radio Times (NPR, Sept. 30, 2008). All news from the rock world are not negative. It has just been announced that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will entertain the half-time show of Super Bowl XLII in Tampa, Florida, February 1, 2009. Truth be told, as a youngster I hated Bruce Springsteen. I saw him as a commercial stadium rock musician; these were the days of Born in the U.S.A. (2004). Almost a decade later, I listened to Nebraska (1982) and realized how wrong I had been; Springsteen is in the same league as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer and the Minutemen. These days, he has shown the world what it means to age gracefully. Maturity has not left us entirely; some acts cannot be monopolized. The revolution will not be merchandized.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States