Thursday, July 30, 2009

The eternal frame

As I continue to work through the details of the Industrial Jazz Group's upcoming east coast tour, and the logistical and fiscal realities of that operation come into greater focus, I keep coming back to a question about audience.

I'm pretty sure we're going to get a good turnout of fellow musicians for our shows (we usually do), but when it comes to music-fans-who-are-fans-only -- i.e., non-musicians or amateur musicians, who actively and regularly invest in the music they like -- how are we gonna get more of this latter group to give the IJG experience a try?

It's a question with ramifications both narrowly selfish and practical (we need to expand our audience or I am gonna lose my shirt) and broadly philosophical (where will jazz be in ten years if jazz musicians / academics / critics are, and continue to be, the primary jazz fans?).

Of course, those philosophical ramifications are probably only relevant if, as I guess I'm assuming, jazz is in danger of becoming a closed system.

Not that closed systems are necessarily bad for audience development. They seem to work in sports, for instance. Consider: most sports fans participate in a given sport before becoming fans of it. For many, the process of becoming a fan -- following a given team, going to games regularly, buying the merchandise, investing in the activity -- is a way of maintaining an interest in the sport, especially once an individual discovers that he or she can't (or doesn't want to) play it professionally (for whatever reason).

Alas, in jazz, this model seems to break down somewhat. For one thing, fewer people are interested in playing jazz than are interested in playing sports. (Right?) And of those who become interested in playing jazz, I would bet that a higher percentage stick with it as a career (particularly once they get as far as forking over hard-earned cash for an expensive music degree). The process creates a glut of professionals, and fewer jazz-savvy non-professionals to consume the stuff the professionals produce.

Which just takes us back to the original problem.

The thing that may be difficult for jazz musicians (actually, musicians in general, but jazz musicians in particular) to get a handle on is that most fans, regardless of how much they might be "purely" inclined toward certain music on its own terms, and regardless of how much they may or may not even realize this underlying dynamic, simultaneously want a story -- a context or frame for their listening. And not just any story / context / frame, but the right one; something compelling, that helps to draw people in or galvanize their listening experience.

Isn't that kind of what liner notes used to do?

For instance, with jazz, one of those stories -- one of the compelling contexts / frames that attracted listeners who were not necessarily also players, or professional players -- used to be the countercultural narrative: the idea that jazz was part of a quirky (or dangerous, or exciting) alternative to the American (consumerist, bourgeois) mainstream -- including, eventually, the "commodified counterculture" that characterized much rock. (Note that such stories don't necessarily have to be true to be effective.) I know that's what attracted me, long before I actually had the chutzpah to try studying or playing or writing jazz. Jazz was an expression of rebellion, and it intersected with so many of the other rebellious narratives of my youth (both personal and cultural).

It seems almost silly and quaint now to make this observation, because jazz has since been championed by forces that are anything but countercultural (if indeed anything can be "countercultural" anymore). But going back all the way to the beginning, that story was at least occasionally an important part of the way jazz reached outside its base (to the extent that it reached outside its base at all). I'm not even sure how conscious it was (probably not very), but it worked.

And so (talk about "jazz of the future"!) what story or context or frame has replaced (or will replace) the old one(s)? What compelling conversations about or around jazz will appeal to those who are not themselves already intimately bound up in the art form?

If you're already making great music, and you can answer these questions, then congratulations! You win.

[Image credit: Rodrigo Baptista]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A big fat pain in the ass

If you haven't yet read Joel Tenenbaum's essay, How It Feels to be Sued for $4.5m," you probably should.

Tenenbaum is one of the 30,000 random people the RIAA decided to sue for copyright infringement a few years back. His is the second case to go to trial (here is the first), and things got going in earnest this past Monday. You can follow developments via this website, or (of course) via Twitter.

One wonders if anyone at the RIAA is thinking ahead, following this chain of events to its logical conclusion. Let's say, for instance, that they win. What then? They get their $4.5m (sounds like a lot of money to you and me, but it's basically a 10% down payment on a one stage for a lousy U2 tour). They deepen the rift with their audience. The basic activities the case is about continue, unabated. Valuable time and energy that could have been spent working on a new business model (something like this, perhaps) are squandered forever.

Last nail, meet coffin.

Anyway, here's Tenenbaum, in his own words:

In 2005, my parents received a letter from Sony BMG, Warner, Atlantic Records, Arista Records, and UMG Records claiming "copyright infringement". They were given a number to call, which was their "settlement information line", a call centre staffed by operators who, we are emphatically told, are "not attorneys". The process of collecting money from these threats was so huge, they had set up a 1-800-DONT-SUE-ME-style call centre.

The operators did little more than ask how you would pay (they wanted $3,000, I believe) and repeated intimidating lawsuit statistics. I sent them a money order for $500, which they returned. I told them I couldn't pay any more. We discussed whether I might qualify for "financial hardship", and then I stopped hearing from them, which I didn't question. I graduated from college and began studying for my physics doctorate.

And then in August 2007, I came home from work to find a stack of papers, maybe 50 pages thick, sitting at the door to my apartment. [...]

I had frequent contact with one of their Colorado counsel. While she was impudent to the point of vicious ("Come on Joel, I think you did it"), I continued to use phrases like "I respect your position" and "we have a respectful difference of opinion". I have no record of this intimidation because the person in question made sure to keep contact restricted to phonecalls.

Every conversation consisted of her trying to get information out of me about my defense, telling me how much bigger the settlement would be if I didn't settle now. Shaken, I would call my mother, who was a state-paid lawyer in child custody cases, and ask her what to do. We blindly fired all kinds of motions at them. Eventually my mother became afraid to answer my calls, worried it would be about the case. For the court "settlement" I offered $5,250, which the RIAA declined, asking $10,500. I saw myself on a conveyor belt, being pulled inexorably toward the meshing of razor-sharp gears.


My sisters, dad and mother have all been deposed. My high-school friends, friends of the family too. My computer's been seized and hard drive copied, and my parents and sister narrowly escaped the same fate for their computers. And the professor who supervises my teaching is continually frustrated with my need to have people cover for me, while my research in grad school is put on hold to deal with people whose full-time job is to keep an anvil over my head. I have to consider every unrelated thing I do in my private life in the event that I'm interrogated under oath about it. I wonder how I'll stand up in a courtroom for hours having litigators try to convince a jury of my guilt and the reprehensibility of my character.

Jazz of the Future

RIP George Russell.

RIP, also, to the days when jazz could be the subject of its own television show, in which viewers would be invited to understand its present and ponder its future. You know: the good old forward-thinking days.

(Now that the future is here, does that sort of old-time optimism seem quaint to you? I sure hope not. Even the future needs a future.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hot Dogs

Something must be wrong. I had been pondering the sad possibility that I could look forward to less and less truly mind-blowing music as I got older. I felt like an addict who had suddenly been denied his drug.

And then, as if to prove that there actually is a deity (yeah, right), and that he/she/it is capricious as all get out (more likely), I come across not one but three amazing artists in the space of as many weeks (give or take a few days).

First: Electric Ladyland. Wow.

Next: Django Bates. Wow. (And another one of those weird instances where I have somehow previously missed actually hearing the music of a major artist working the same side of the street as the Industrial Jazz Group. Duh! (Thanks to DJA for the tip.))

And now, thanks to Casa de Durkin-Robinson, which I have touted as a home-away-from-home for IJG members passing through Portland with their various other groups, the third band in this personal okay-so-music-is-not-really-dead-after-all triumvirate: Wiener Kids, from Oakland. The group is led by drummer Jordan Glenn (who writes all of their music), and features Aram Shelton and (IJG's) Cory Wright on reeds. When they made their way up to the Pacific Northwest last weekend, for shows in PDX, Eugene, and Seattle, they crashed here for a night.

And now is the point in the post where you click on the previous link and go listen to their music over on MySpace.

I'm luckier than that. I got to see their show at galleryHOMELAND (along with an equally strong set by PDX's own Better Homes and Gardens) on Saturday night.

Here's a short video by Michael Buchino; it captures one of the more introspective moments of the show:

Of course (as Michael notes), that sort of thing (still beautiful) was more the exception than the rule at this show. The rule was more like this:

That video (and the one below) are (apparently) from a previous incarnation of the group.

You can find more stuff on your own. Anyway, for me the appeal here is at least in part the same thing that perked up my ear with Acoustic Ladyland -- a real capacity for doing "more with less" (you know the cliche). An ability, in other words, to pare away all the potential wankery, and go straight to the idiosyncratic core. The tunes are simple, direct, short -- like good punk rock, I guess. And yet, unlike bad punk rock, they're not stupid and boring. And they're not really "simple," either.

* * * * *

My only regret of the evening is that I was unable to get over to hear Mike Richardson's indie rock extravaganza, the Minor Canon, which actually happened to be playing PDX the same evening (also on tour). I am quite sure they were totally bitchen, and my regrets should be duly noted. (At first it looked like there would be a schedule conflict, as both bands were slated to go on at the same time in different parts of town. As things turned out, the Minor Canon ended up going on way too late for my heat-stroke afflicted body. Blah blah blah. Anyway, sorry Mike.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Faking it

Sometimes I feel like my whole career boils down to / can be summed up as a musical version of this.

Of course, I wonder if there is anyone working in jazz (or music) today who doesn't occasionally feel that way about their own stuff? Like we're all pale reflections?

Maybe, like marketers, all musicians are liars? Pay no attention to whatever's going on behind the curtain! Just buy my damned record!

Of course, in another sense, musicians speak the truth like nobody's business. Testifying is a key part of what we do. And it's a kind of truth you won't get anywhere else.

Sorry to be so cryptic this morning. I'm just free-associating between sips of coffee.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Soup of the day

If nothing else, running a big band teaches you to think about twenty-five things at once (your mileage may vary, of course).

One of the things I am thinking about right now (in addition to thinking about the upcoming tour, and also thinking about what I'm going to have for lunch) is this:

How exactly am I going to release the next record?

I have pondered a variation of this issue before, of course, but this time out, I'm not so concerned with the optimum media / packaging for the release.

I'm concerned with the possibility that maybe there ain't no such thing!

Peter Kirn, in responding to a pretty awesome Wired article on the many ways musicians are diversifying the things they produce (bringing real creativity into the "product" side of the music business), has this to say:

From soup cans to music boxes to iPhone apps, there are a few underlying trends in there. One is experimentation in the delivery mechanism itself (including 8-tracks and cassettes, really). The other is in what you can do with the media, as with the interactive remixable iTunes album, or even art books that extend what an album actually is.

As these spread, though, I have to optimistically think that this is more than desperation or brief novelty. Distribution media haven’t just shifted from one popular form to another; they’ve imploded. We’re rapidly approaching a “minority majority” situation in which no one format dominates the others. We haven’t gone from the compact cassette to the CD to the MP3. We’ve gone from the CD to MP3s, MP4s, lossless files for aficionados and lossy streams for kids who love on-demand, vintage formats, physical media and art books and software. Instead of being strange anomalies, these other formats may actually be the new normal. I think in a way the business model doesn’t matter, because, let’s face it, a lot of art making is about losing money. What drives artists is loving sharing the thing they’re making, and finding someone who wants to love it, too. Some people will make a great business model around that, while others won’t.

But if you’re a music lover, we could be facing a new golden age.

Well, this is just awesome. Am I crazy to think these remarks hint at the possibility of a true musical pluralism (aka "minority majority")? Am I crazy to think that worrying about selling the packaging -- which is the basic problem the folks on the Wired list are trying to solve, since nowadays the music itself is always already free, for all intents and purposes -- am I crazy to think that that is better (and less artistically harmful) than worrying about selling the music?

No, I am not. In the past, with (almost) each new technological development, the music industry has been able to respond with the PR spin of "here is the new standard." And for the most part, everyone had to fall in line if they wanted to compete. (And when it comes to art, what's more problematic than falling in line?)

Now (or soon), you make the music you want to make, come up with as many ways to package it as you can think of (at a whole range of price points), put it out there, and voila! You're off to the races!

Well, okay, maybe it's not that easy (or even that new), but it is exciting.

Now, three questions: what weird or interesting ways would you like to see the next Industrial Jazz Group album packaged? We'll definitely be putting out a straight-up CD, but I'm trying to think beyond that too: what is the IJG equivalent of a soup-can album?

And finally: what am I having for lunch?

[Photo credit: basheertome]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let's pretend it's Friday

So I can get to that weekly wrap-up post I hinted at earlier.


Tany Ling riffs on the mustache theme.

Mike Richardson surprises us all by posting two shaving videos.

Ian Carroll does an engaging stream-of-consciousness thing linking beat-boxing, the national anthem, and Nick Cave.

And Jill Knapp anticipates the "United Breaks Guitars" story by at least a little bit.

Just a little nascent band-blogging from this group I love -- with more to come. Get on over there and heckle these brave pioneers in the comments, won't you?

Oh! This should probably go over there too, but what the hell, I'll stick it here:

What is it? Matt Lichtenwalner's video detailing his process for drawing Telepath, a character from the Uniques comic. Matt accompanied the visuals here with the title track from the IJG's second album, City of Angles.

The thing is fascinating to watch. I'm thinking it would be really cool if one could somehow similarly trace the evolution of a musical score (which is, after all, another kind of drawing). But at the very least the software tool involved seems like it could be employed to great effect in an IJG video someday. Hmmm.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

We tweeted about it

Last night's dialogue started off in reference to a comment the great Gunther Schuller made in this interview (which you should also read):

uglyrug G. Schuller: "I wanted to write music that is not written in any way to entertain someone, even though I hope it will be entertaining." Huh?

jimmuscomp @uglyrug he hoped people would enjoy his music but didn't try to write likeable music. He hoped the audience would elevate to appreciate it

uglyrug @jimmuscomp But how could he expect people to enjoy it if it wasn't likeable?

jimmuscomp @uglyrug He didn't TRY to make it likeable. He wrote what he wanted and HOPED people would like the result. It's a fine line.

jimmuscomp @uglyrug His process wasn't cluttered with concern for audience reaction. But like all composers he wanted his music to be liked.

uglyrug @jimmuscomp But if he wanted it to be likeable... why didn't he try to make it likeable?

jimmuscomp @uglyrug He hoped it would be liked but he didn't want to inadvertently censor himself to be liked. He wanted to bring his audience to him.

uglyrug @jimmuscomp Is trying to make something that is likeable the same thing as being inauthentic, then?

jimmuscomp @uglyrug No. Different folks have different concepts. I have a tendency to simplify thing because I am in a Univ. setting and want it played

jimmuscomp @uglyrug I have to remind myself to write what I intend to write regardless of playability or audience reaction.

uglyrug @jimmuscomp But surely, on some level, you "intend" for some % of the audience to like it? Even if that % is only you, the composer?

jimmuscomp @uglyrug BTW, this is hard to do in 130 character bursts!!!

uglyrug @jimmuscomp Yeah! I'm trying to do it while watching the news. (BTW, Olbermann quote (on Palin): "Twitter rhymes with quitter.")

jimmuscomp @uglyrug I do try to write things I'd like but sometimes it's about writing what's in your head. Good line from Olbermann, BTW.

kctiner @uglyrug @jimmuscomp you guys are cracking me up.

uglyrug @kctiner @jimmuscomp Yeah, that was fun.

jimmuscomp @uglyrug @kctiner that was fun. Now on the road back to Bak-O. Boo-hoo.

Who says twitter is good for nothing?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Somebody get in here and clean this mess up

Alright -- at the behest of my personal assistant (i.e., me), I have decided that I really need to organize the two Durkin / IJG-related blogs.

(I told you I would follow up on this sooner or later, right?)

Background: for about a year now there has been an official "Industrial Jazz Group" blog (unnamed, though I have it listed as "Not Really Industrial, Not Really Jazz" in the sidebar here) over at the group website. That one has, until recently, been a hit-or-miss affair, with posts seeming to cluster around the tours, and with long empty spaces in between. Jill, Matt, and I have all been posting over there, but it's hard to keep up the momentum, because we all have our own blogs elsewhere too.

No sense in having a blog if you ain't gonna use it. And what that one should really do, I think, is give you a little bit broader sampling of the personalities of the many folks in the band. I mean, as I have explained before, there is a special camaraderie in the IJG -- I certainly wouldn't be able to write the music I am writing without knowing and liking the folks who play it. They are a varied, fun, interesting, idiosyncratic bunch. I doubt you will find their like in any other big band working today. In fact, I guarantee it.

In short: you don't need more posts from me. You need more posts from them! And to rectify this imbalance, I've started to encourage them to post stuff over at the IJG blog.

Lo and behold, some of them have started taking me up on that request! (Wow, I love it when shit goes the way I want it to.)

So, cool. I'll see how many IJG members I can get involved, you feel free to poke and prod in the comments, and we'll see where this goes, shall we?

NB: for those of you who have no desire either to add yet another blog to your reader or blogroll (can't blame you for that): I'm going to make this easy by linking (here) to everything posted over there. I'm envisioning sort of a weekly (Friday?) wrap-up JtMoU post to let you know everything that was posted at the IJG blog. And while I will occasionally post there, mostly I will continue doing here what I usually do here. Whatever the fuck that is.

Confusing, eh?

[Photo credit: givepeaceachance]

Monday, July 06, 2009

Why I hate blog posts about hating things

Well, actually, I don't, not really. I kind of dig them, actually, because they provoke discussions, and discussions are good. (I do, however, hate the idea that blog posts should be considered "definitive documents" of a writer's state of mind. For the record, much of what I write here (and in comments at other people's blogs) is a reflection of a thought process, not always a conclusive position. (I am large, I contain multitudes.))

Anyway, here's one post, and here's another, that prompted some unplanned fireworks over the weekend. I added my own commentary at that last link, but as usual, I can't let the shit go, so I wanted to throw in one or two more thoughts here on my home turf.

First is a bit that I discovered in the course of following up, for my own edification, on the subject of female jazz critics. Serendipitously, it serves to unite that subject with the "precision" meme stirred up by Matt Rubin's "Why I Hate Big Bands" post. It is contained in this excerpt from a book I haven't yet read, John Gennari's Blowin' Hot and Cool:

From the violent gangster milieu of jazz's early sporting life environs; to the urbane, stylized machismo of the jazz-inflected New Frontier; to Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch's tendentious feminization of the 1960s counterculture; jazz culture has been dominated by masculinist voices and sensibilities. I've noted in this book several important instances in which male critics have buttressed their masculinist authority by distancing themselves from sentimental attachments to the popular music of their youth. This feeds a larger pattern in which jazz's reputed high art autonomy and profundity are complemented by a concept of criticism that stresses taut discipline, rationality, and judiciousness -- qualities assumed to be part of a masculine intellectual seriousness set off from the infantilized and feminized emotional realm of mass popular culture.

I'm not sure I agree with these assessments totally, but I think Gennari is at least productively interested in the "why" question (i.e., why are there so few female jazz critics?) in a way I haven't seen elsewhere. So now I have to read his book, I guess.

(Gennari also reminded me of Helen Oakley Dance, an early glass-ceiling-breaker. I actually read a bit of her work in grad school, and am duly chagrined about my subsequent oversight.)

Also: I was very flattered that James Hirschfeld brought up the infernal Industrial Jazz Group as an instance of an "imprecise" big band (James' comment can also be found at Darcy's post, linked above).

Here is how I hinted at our ensemble concept in one of my posts about our European tour (May 2007):

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of our portion of the evening (confirmed later when I started working my way through the recording) was the emergence of a unified looseness in the group sound. In the past I have generally aimed for precision when it came to the execution of my written charts. I have tended to shy away from recording the band's live performances, because I was always concerned with things staying as "close to the ink" as possible... and the ink is, well, difficult to execute. But I have never subscribed to the "benevolent dictator" model of the composer-conductor, and I think everyone in the band has known that, and with this show there was a strange transmogrification of the set, in that the majority of the players knew the music well enough to be able to play it as if it were all improvised. In other words, the group as a whole started to develop some of the suppleness -- in terms of well-placed and judicious interpretive liberties that never sacrificed the cohesion of a given piece -- that is usually only possible in a smaller configuration (a quartet or quintet, say). They owned the music -- an exceedingly difficult thing to do in a big band setting. Once again, my hat is off to the cats involved: I am humbled and in awe.

"Unified looseness," "well-placed and judicious interpretive liberties that never sacrifice the cohesion of a given piece," and playing the music "as if it were all improvised": still a pretty accurate description of what we do.

Possibly related: with the IJG, I have long been after what Ben Watson, in describing Zappa's early Mothers recordings, called "pachuco charm." Sort of punk, and sort of big band, all at once.

Friday, July 03, 2009

On Acoustic Ladyland

Over at the other blog. (You're still waiting for an explanation for that one, aren't you? It's forthcoming, I swear. And yes, I promise said explanation won't involve you having to update your links.)

Hey, put down those fireworks! It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!

Twitter killed the video star

Or so Christopher Weingarten (high profile music critic, writes for Rolling Stone, et al) would have us believe.

The dude says some interesting things, so check out the video. There's also this response.

Ah, what the hell, let's go for the hat trick. Exhibit no. 3 is the following statement from Arnold Schoenberg, as quoted by Alex Ross in The Rest is Noise:

Art is from the outset naturally not for the people. But one wants to force it to be. Everyone is supposed to have their say. For the new bliss consists of the right to speak: free speech! Oh God!

Oh God, indeed! Interesting juxtapositions.

Of course, that Schoenberg statement won't be relevant in the context of this post if you haven't actually checked out the Weingarten video. Never fear! For those of you with no time to watch, here are some excerpts, along with my (probably unhelpful but definitely not snarky) commentary:

"And then around 2004, 2005, everyone got a music blog [...] and guys like me got scared, and editors got scared, because people were doing our job for free."

(Aside: Yes! 2004, baby! Hard to believe I've been doing this blog for almost five years, or that my first post was so, well, unceremonious.)

"Music writers and editors became a filter for trends on blogs. [...] Magazines and websites don't discover bands, they just report on trends. The blogger hive mind does the filtering and the critic reported on it."

The observation here seems to be that the epicenter of the critical community has shifted somewhat, from the "official" publications, to the blogs. Of course, from the perspective of the artist, that's not a huge difference, in that there are still critical gatekeepers -- they are just farther down the food chain. (And with that metaphor I don't mean to suggest that the music blogs are inferior. Though some of them may be.)

"You don't need a critic to tell you if something is good; you can listen to it."

Hasn't it been ever so?

"All a music review does now is reinforce the opinion that somebody already has."

By which I think he means that there is a bit of a herd mentality going on in music blog-land, and that the traditional publications have to follow that herd, because that's what people want to read. Also: that there is very little reasoned advocacy going on in music writing as a whole.

"One of the unfortunate side-effects of the lack of critic culture is that people are getting more stratified and separated in their listening habits. [...] It's harder to get exposed to things that aren't in your comfort zone. [...] that dude John [...] was up here saying that Twitter makes it easy to find stuff that pertains to you, and he thinks that's awesome. That's the fucking problem. [...] I can always learn about stuff that's important to me, that's easy. I want to learn about stuff that isn't important to me. I want to be exposed to things. Crowd sourcing killed punk rock, hands down. Crowd sourcing kills art. [...] It's bullshit. You want to know why? Cuz crowds have terrible taste. [...] it's all this music that rises to the middle. [...] It's not the music that's the best, it's the music that the most people can stand [...] if you let the people decide, then nothing truly adventurous ever gets out."

This is the money quote, of course. (See Schoenberg, above.)

Holy cow, the question of genre stratification continually vexes me. I guess it's because, the older the Industrial Jazz Group gets, the more we seem to evolve into some kind of weird, idiosyncratic, syncretic-eclectic monster. Which is a little harder to sell to an audience that likes its genres stratified. (Not saying I think Weingarten is necessarily right. But he may be. Anyway.)

"No one said why these bands were great. [...] and that's what we're missing in a world without critics: the because. #musicmonday is another example: it's just [a list of] artist names and song titles. Lots of who, but no why."

Okay, fair enough. This is the complaint of most college writing instructors, too -- it's the distinction between asserting something and making an argument for it.

Of course (and now I'm going off on a tangent): lately, even those pieces of music writing that are argument-based seem to me to be reducible to a two-step process. First, establish (or choose) a set of criteria. Next, examine how well a given work matches up to that criteria. Which seems to me to be both 1. easy to do, and 2. not very interesting. I wish more critics would apply the "why" question to the selection of the criteria itself.

But I'll have to develop that idea in another post.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A post on polkas

Over at the other blog.

I will soon explain why that blog is even there.

Also: big shout-out to Nate Trier for being the only jazz/new music blogger I know of to actually notice (or care?) that the polka category has been eliminated as a Grammy category by the Recording Academy.

Completely eliminated. Gone. Kaput.

It's a goddamned shame, that's what it is.

(Photo credit.)