BookExpo Another (Good) Excuse to Cry, ‘The Sky Is Falling!’

We were all set to write up what is obviously the main story of the 2009 BookExpo America. The bloody evidence was all around us us — publishers from FSG to Random House giving up on expensive booths to hold meetings in dank basement rooms, would-be entrepreneurs hawking unproven business models, panels with titles like “Do Publishers Still Hold the Keys to the Kingdom?” Then we realized we don’t have to write that story — and not just because the Times already has). The fact is, the story — especially the Standardized Recession-Obsessed Culture Lede — has been buffed and tweaked to a fine polish over the past six months. Motoko Rich’s (very sensible) piece is only the latest version thereof. A few other fine examples of the lede we’ve learned to love to hate, occasioned by the once-joyous red-letter events of the cultural calendar, follow.

National Book Awards
“The awards, celebrating their 59th year, were presented at a black-tie dinner for the first time at Cipriani’s Wall Street in Manhattan, on a day when the Dow Jones industrial average fell to its lowest level in five years. Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, said that despite the economic climate, there were nearly 700 attendees, 50 more than last year, paying up to $12,000 per table.”
New York Times, November 19, 2008

Sundance Film Festival
“The good news for the Sundance Film Festival is people still are snapping up movie tickets despite the sour economy. The bad news for the festival’s ski-resort setting and possibly for filmmakers selling movies is that the independent-cinema gathering gets under way with the prospect of thinner crowds on the street and a penny-wise mind-set.”
AP, January 15

Grammy Awards
“The recession means belt-tightening for many, but few in the music industry are having to hock their sequins or gold grillz. Not yet, anyway, if the red carpet arrivals at last night’s Grammy Awards are any indication.”
Newsday, February 9

New York Armory Show
“The signs are literally everywhere in this year’s edition of the Armory Show, emblazoned on prints, spelled out in lights, carved in stone: ‘Capitalism Kills.’ ‘Everyone Is Broke.’ ‘Don’t Cry.’ ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ All parties involved in New York’s flagship international contemporary art fair know that, this time around, something serious is up, or rather down.”
New York Times, March 6

Tribeca Film Festival
“Slimmed down to 85 films, the eighth annual Tribeca Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday, nevertheless had one of its most successful years at least in terms of the films screened. Moviegoers stumbled across quality films with ease and distributors even found a few movies worth acquiring a notable feat in the current climate of independent film.”
AP, May 3

Tony nominations
Billy Elliot: The Musical opened on Broadway shortly after Election Day, at a moment when New York theater, like the nation, was full of uncertainty. Investors were skittish about putting on new shows in a recession, but theater industry leaders suggested that plays and musicals would be just fine if people had good reasons to buy tickets.”
New York Times, May 5

BookExpo Another (Good) Excuse to Cry, ‘The Sky Is Falling!’