Friday 27 February 2004

Hotel Quite Acceptable Paris From


Hotel Quite Acceptable, Paris.

From the GC Diaries for today --

Sebasti·n GÛmez
Las Condes Santiago, Chile

After reading the response to the quote I made yesterday, I realize again, that I feel the need of crimson coming to town. I have embraced this desire for a long time and in different times I have sensed this will be a smash hit, whichever the formation or whatever they play. My wish is that I was the one able to make this true, but I'm not able economically (so far a problem, not a difficulty). I have no contacts on the music business here too (in fact nowhere). Being far from the north has played against us, I think...

The possibility of a KC tour of South America was discussed, and investigated in some detail, during 2001. Several promoters from a number of countries in SA submitted serious offers to our US agent. I even received a telephone call at DGM HQ from a frustrated promoter in Argentina asking whether KC were going or not. It was disappointing that he had to make the call: I had declined the offer several weeks earlier.

Almost all the performances were contingent upon the shows being filmed for television, a necessity in terms of making up the financing. The fees offered were approximately the break-even price for a KC performance in the US. So not a money tour, then, and worth doing only as music for music's sake (and audience & players). But a series of filming tv shows is/was not my idea of a musical tour; more an ongoing professional ordeal. I regret that the Argentinean promoter was not rapidly informed; KC shows in SA were advertised anyway.

Hernan could write a book on KC's visit to Argentina in 1994. There, Hernan had to form a production company to take Crimson down, given the SOP for Argentinian negotiations. Fundamentally, what is normal music business procedure in South America (as was the case in Italy during the early 1970s, for example) was, to my English sensibilities, infected by an all-pervasive, fundamental & endemic corruption. The macro effect of this has subsequently become evident.

One of the restrictions on King Crimson operating in the market place is that the business context, within which Crimson does business, cannot be acting in direct contradiction to the raison d'etre of the band. If the actions of the artist must be true, how can they justify backhanders, brown envelopes, consultancy & inspection fees?

In practice, if one is to play any part in a fallen world, there will be compromises. So, our choice is: where will the compromise be made? Beer & cigarette adverts on the stage? Television & radio recording? Unsympathetic promoters? Exploitative management? Hardnose agency? Major record company? Appalling venues? Travelling & hotels? The performance? But none of this is any news to the working player.

Assuming a performance in Chile were agreed, the pressure to publicise would begin. Last year, I declined interviews to promote KC touring, and this included Russia. Neverthless, I was hustled to conduct a major interview with an important publication: after all, why would Fripp not conduct a major interview with a major publication? Then, once arrived in Chile, those who might claim to love Crimson & embrace the desire would begin the feeding process to which those with consumer rights are entitled. From the KrimsonNews Guestbook for yesterday --

scorched earth
Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2004 8:00 am

One of the 20 books I picked up for $.50 each at a charity book sale last week was "Intimate strangers: The culture of celebrity" by Richard Schickel (1986). Reading just the beginning the other night, I was reminded of some of these kinds of Fripp-fan encounters. (Not to mention the two Susan Sontag quotations: " To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed" and "There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera".)

Anyway here's a bit of Schickel on the illusion of intimacy with celebrities:

Most of us retain, in most of our private and professional dealings with people we don't actually know, a sense of their otherness, a decent wariness that protects both ourselves and the stranger from intrusion. But that shyness, if the term may be permitted, is not operative when we are dealing with celebrities. Thanks to television and the rest of the media we know them, or think we do. To a greater or lesser degree, we have internalized them, unconsciously made them a part of our consciousness, just as if they were, in fact, friends....

Some among us, however are not tongue-tied. The people who make bold to address the celebrated when they venture forth into the ordinary world have, some of them, the good grace to be embarassed when they approach their favorites but many are not in the least so. One is often struck, observing these meetings, by the palpable air of aggressiveness the unknown individual brings to them, a strange resentment that goes beyond simple envy and bespeaks, I think, a confusion of realms.

Some part of these people has been in intimate contact with the well-known individual for years. Secrets, hopes, and dreams have not exactly been shared with the celebrity, but he is somehow bound up in them. Another part of the approaching stranger's mind is, of course, aware that he is totally unknown to the celebrity. And he resents that unyielding fact. A chip grows on the shoulder. An undercurrent of anger is felt....

The celebrity, on his part - at least early in his fame - is puzzled by these encounters.... With experience of public life, the ability to maintain diastance is developed. The rules of stardom were once summarized quite neatly by a lady who retired happily from the game, Esther Williams, of all people: "Walk fast. Don't stop and shake hands. You touch them, they don't touch you."...

All of this - common sense in action - naturally increases the resentment of the fan. Regal graciousness is not the response you want from old, good friends. What you want is to be able to tell them what they mean, have meant, to you, how they have inspired and consoled you, and in turn, how sympathetic you have felt when you've heard about their troubles. A distant smile is not a sufficient response to intimacies of this character. The worse fears of rejection surface. And are expressed as democratic resentment: "Who does she think she is, anyway?" or, "Boy, does he think he's hot stuff". The formerly balanced equation between love and loathing tips.

I note that those who believe themselves to love the most are the most heated when they consider themselves to be rebuffed. Once, my strategy was to stand and debate rationally with fans who, judging by their reactions, appeared closed to rational debate - they had been insulted! they had parted with hard-earned pay! they deserved acknowledgement & respect! - and had clearly not been given what they felt they deserved. Now, after decades of testing the efficacy of reasoned argument, I run away.

It may be that, in the future, King Crimson tour Chile & other parts of South America. For that to happen, a large investment of my life & energy would be required (in addition to the other members of the band and team) and I am not presently persuaded that this is the best use of the little energy that is available to me. If I felt that music were possible, even likely, my view might change. The KC European tour of 2003 was mostly, subjectively & personally, a joyless exercise in ongoing violation, waste & futility; America & Canada were only hard; Mexico City was a joy.

20.45 Hugh has sent me a j-peg of a snowy DGM HQ. Local schools are closed and the Singleton children are at home. Here in Paris, just back from a walk down Avenue Victor Hugo, I report that it is also snowing in Paris.


An e-mail from a potential Guitar Craft student comments --

It is unfortunate there are no scholarships available. I often wonder if DGM has ever thought about this idea?

Firstly, DGM is a small, mobile, independent music company (which aspires to intelligence) and is not responsible for GC activities.

Secondly, experience confirms that scholarships don't work in GC. Raising the fee oneself is part of the course. Some of the weakest students who attended early courses had their fees paid by their families. This is referred to in the aphorism...

what we get out is in proportion to what we put in.

And an e-enquiry I have sent out to various Crafties --

would it be useful to have a Weekend For Non-Musicians following the large GC multi-level gathering next March in the US?