Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Saturday 06 January 2001

PJ and Richard Parker Crook

PJ and Richard Parker Crook, the artists, are coming for late lunch and tea. Pam's work will be well known to those in possession of Crim DGM archive releases. Richard's work, as an architectural painter, is maybe less well known to the DGM team: it is superb.

Last evening, after going offline, I called them. Richard, apparently, was just about to e-mail me for the information I gave him over the `phone. Perhaps Sidney the Most Prescient of Smiths, is at this moment singing "la la la la la la la la" from "Outer Limits".

Pam's "The Four Seasons" is the cover artwork to "Epitaph" and is hanging on the wall of the Sitting Room, the room next to where I am QWERTYising this. The former Crim who finds himself currently unable to allow DGM to release Hyde Park in the Club series, expressed some suspicion in his original letter to DGM of the Venal Leader's cruel and unnatural impulses, at least to the extent that they impinged on him. He had seen in "Hello" magazine a picture of "The Four Seasons" hanging on the wall of Reddish House. Had I purchased this painting to satisfy my aesthetic impulses, and then stuffed the earliest Crims with the bill for it by charging a "cover artwork" fee to the production cost? The story is this --

"The Four Seasons" was on display at a gallery opening for Pam in Knightsbridge. I acquired two paintings from the exhibition, loved "The Fours Seasons", but at that point was deprived of a sufficient supply of "the ready material" to buy it. Pam very generously gave me the picture. Perfect for the "Epitaph" cover, in my view. Hugh the Fierce of the newly constructed DGM Art Department used it on the cover, with several extrapolations within the Scrapbook. No charge was made to the production costs for this, and no deduction has been made from the royalties of the earliest Crim members for using "The Four Seasons".

This itself was part of a larger concern and complaint from this same member: why was the overall art cost as much as it was (c. £12,500) when cover art could be done much cheaper? Well, I am well aware that cover art can be cheap, cheap & cheerful, and cheap & nasty. And it is, surely, obvious that the "Epitaph" package could only be assembled if care was involved. That involves a sufficient budget, but not throwing money at the project.

The artwork costs for "Frame By Frame" & "The Great Deceiver" were both c. £20,000. These excellent packages were put together outside DGM, although with my involvement. The artwork costs of "Epitaph" were c. £12,500. Even with my limited powers of numeracy available while looking at the sun shining on a blue sky in Deepest Dorset, that suggests a reduction in costs on comparable projects of around 35%.

We created the DGM Art Department to reduce artwork costs such as these. We succeeded. Our overall artwork costs are lower, across all the DGM releases, by having an in-house Art Department in a room where Hugh sits surrounded by our archive materials. Cheaper and cheerful: the gap in the monetary costs is filled by care, with attention.

This is information I gave to the former disputant Crim's manager in October 1998. Then again a year or so later. Also DGM formal responses to the artist's solicitor. But where there is no trust, nothing of value can be accomplished. I sense that money is only a metaphor, in this case, for other concerns; and perhaps those other concerns are unlikely to be articulated.

It is time to move on. The first Crim was a privileged, awful, wonderful, creative, unsettling & ultimately unbearable experience. The privilege was of being given a hotline to Music. This was a gift. What power lay in that music! But these were young men unprepared for a download that powerful. The good news is, music never goes away. If we wish to acquire our own hotline, then the price is years of working to get connected to our local exchange, then the national, and maybe eventually even international. These long years are interspersed with a few telephone calls that, accompanied by the elements of surprise and joy, come to us. This keeps us going in hard times. If my `phone hadn't rung since 1969, I would know despair more keenly than I do already. But I have not been staying in, sitting by the telephone, waiting for our Friend to call. I moved on, and found myself in the same place.

The sun is shining upon damp ground, clouds busying away. The birds are well able to take care of their own provision of food, and what a din at the beginning of each morning! Two young starlings appeared in the house this week, having fallen down the chimney in the Entrance Hall. It's as if the breeding cycle has moved forwards a month or two. And maybe it has. Many thanks to Doug Baldwin for warning me of the dangers of feeding bread to birds: my Mother gave me the same advice many years ago. It was the exceptional weather of last week which nudged my hand into throwing them tasty pieces from our village bakery.

Bela the Groover accompanied my noon-time bath: the first string quartet. At 6'05" into the first movement - aaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeeh! That moment again! I'm not sure that Bela would be a first choice for life and soul of any party, but is one first choice for life and soul. His string quartets invited, insisted that I become a professional musician. Perhaps I should have listened to my Mother instead.

Tasty soup and health food pasties are warming, and I'm draft-lecturing awaiting the arrival of artists.

A wonderful afternoon in the company of friends.