Wednesday, September 7, 2011

THE DINGO'S GOT MY MEDALLION WITH A RAINBOW RIBBON!  I suggested back in 2008 that she was long overdue, so it's about damn time that Meryl Streep has been announced today as one of the 2011 recipients of a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts, along with Yo-Yo Ma (what? he hadn't won already?), saxophonist Sonny Rollins, Broadway/cabaret star Barbara Cook, and, um, Neil Diamond.  Past honorees are listed here.


  1. Maret5:46 PM

    That's a solid list. Looking forward to watching the tributes. Is Yo-Yo Ma the youngest person to become an honoree?

  2. Jim Bell5:49 PM

    Not, um, Neil Diamond, "NEAL DIAMOND!"

  3. Jim Bell5:49 PM

    Oh yeah, and go Meryl.  She deserves everything.

  4. Jim Bell5:50 PM

    Meryl Streep is so cool she makes Bridges of Madison County fun to watch for manly men.

  5. Jim Bell5:50 PM

    of whom I like to think I am (was) one.

  6. isaac_spaceman6:26 PM

    I feel like I'm always taking the crackpot contrarian position, but please hear me out:  I do not think that Meryl Streep is always a great actress.  I think she could always be a great actress, but she gets in her own way too much.  At some point, people realized that playing characters as a collection of tics is not great acting, and that the way that Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino and Sean Penn and various others have gone Oscar-begging (often successfully; sometimes not) by playing people with some kind of physical or mental or dialect-based peculiarity is not just unseemly; it is actually bad acting.  Jamie Foxx had the poor luck to try his hand at this right after Tropic Thunder skewered it as "going full retard," which is an offensive phrase, but which also correctly implies that it is the actor, not the user of the phrase, who is doing the demeaning. 

    So why does Streep get a pass?  No, she isn't playing Rain Man, but hers is a more subtle form of the same thing.  She has never met an accent that she won't dial up to 10.  When her characters lamentably are born in the United States, she gives them verbal tics (like her Anna Wintour, or whatever the character's name was).  So much of Streep's performances, I want to say post-Silkwood, seem to be outside-in.  Characters are defined primarily by their physical and speech characteristics, or, more accurately, by the deviations in those characteristics from the platonic Meryl Streep norm.  People say that Streep disappears into her characters, but I think it's just the opposite:  she inflates them so that they puff up around her.  She is a showy, hammy actor who all too often seems to be demanding attention for her own virtuosity. 

    Maybe that's fine.  You don't go to see a cello concert; you go to see Yo-Yo Ma play the cello.  So for a lot of people maybe it's not a problem that MERYL STREEP IS JULIA CHILD or MERYL STREEP IS ANNA WINTOUR.  I think of myself as someone who appreciates good (and, importantly naturalistic) acting but who is not interested in Watching People Act.  So I find Streep totally distracting. 

  7. Jim Bell6:35 PM

    But not in Bridges of Madison County right?  right?  

  8. Jessye Norman appears to have edged him out, being 52 when honored.

  9. JosephFinn7:02 PM

    Can we require that Barbara Cook performs "And Eve Was Weak" from Carrie?

  10. Justify Neil Diamond winning this before George Clinton or Neil Young.  You cannot.

  11. kd bart7:22 PM

    Regarding Neil Young.  Are the Kennedy Center Honors only for American born artists?  Neil is Canadian by birth.

  12. McCartney, Townsend and Daltrey have won recently, sp it's not a restriction.

  13. Hee.  Cook can sing whatever she dang well pleases.  Her selection makes me the happiest, and I am a big Streep fan.

    (Here's where I put in a plug for the book Not Since Carrie, a great history of Broadway flops.)

  14. Benner10:07 PM

    Three good selections. Sonny Rollins, great selection.

    My short list -- Michael Tilson Thomas, Tom Stoppard, Kris Kristofferson (how does he not yet have one, I thought during the Merle Haggard tribute), Prince, Keith Jarrett, Mark Morris, and Al Pacino.

  15. Benner10:09 PM

    Also Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Rick Rubin.

  16. Genevieve10:51 PM

    Not Since Carrie is such fun to read!  

  17. Genevieve10:53 PM

    Also, hearing Barbara Cook sing some songs from The Music Man made me realize what was appealing at all about Marian (no other version has, including my usually beloved Kristen Chenoweth).  

    But most of all, I'd like her to sing something from She Loves Me.  But I guess other people will be singing her stuff, since it's the tribute.

  18. JosephFinn11:23 PM

    It's a fabulous book, a wonderful dissection of how art can go wrong.

  19. Heather K9:35 AM

    I cannot CANNOT get behind Keith Jarret for the weird moaning noises he makes while playing. It sounds like he is giving birth to the song (which for jazz ok, that's a decent metaphor but he makes the noise like he doesn't know it is a metaphor).  He is one of my fiancees favorites and I will hear a song from our stereo and think God that piano is magical and then I find out it is the screamer. It is too much for me. Too much.

  20. Marsha11:07 AM

    LOVE Not Since Carrie.

  21. Benner11:22 AM

    Chick Corea?

  22. J.OConnor12:24 PM

    Ornette Coleman?

    Al Green, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell
    Pacino, Hoffman, and Hackman

    Still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of choosing Neil Diamond to be one of the nation's "most treasured artists" (to quote the press release).  If you wanted a 60s songwriter who went on to 70s  superstardom, why not Carole King?  If you wanted flashy Elvis-in-Vegas showmanship, why not Cher or Bette Midler? 

  23. And Hackman especially considering his announced retirement. The other actors -- including his former roommate, Hoffman -- can wait.

  24. Chuck2:51 PM

    everyone told me Jarrett was great.  i got one cd.  I couldn't stand his moaning.  painful.

  25. Chuck3:01 PM

    Rollins is a super-solid pick.  I have no problem with Mr. Diamond being recognized; maybe Farrell will come and impersonate him.  More seriously, I think Diamond means a lot to people who are old enough to see him not as a joke and who remember him before The Jazz Singer remake.  Speaking of which, some comediain had a joke:  "Love on the rocks . . . hurts my back."   One day at lunchtime I walked by a hotel where famous people tend to stay and saw a bunch of 65-ish year old women lined up outside.  I asked who they were trying to get a glimpse of.  One woman said, "He wouldn't want us to tell you."  It sounded like a cult to me, but no one would tell me.  When I got back to my office I checked to see what acts were in town.  Yes indeed, these are Mr. Diamond's loyal groupies.

  26. Benner3:39 PM

    I like Jarrett as a selection because he covers jazz and classical bases -- the ability to work across genres should be a point in his favor.

    I kind of like Neil Diamond except for his singing, also.

  27. I love Neil Diamond, and having been one of the (shockingly more than I thought) under 30 attendees of several Neil Diamond concerts (a few years ago when I was in fact under thirty), he is well deserving of the honor.

    I'd say his work in the Brill Building, combined with his early career alone proves that while a cheese ball who loves sparkly shirts, he's freaking awesome. Pre eighties, pre bad movies, the man was a freaking icon. And damn if he doesn't put on a show.

    I also stand by my assessment that all of his songs are about drinking, sex or patriotism.

    Also, he's a FENCER. Went to NYU on a freaking épée scholarship. Respect is earned there, yo.