There was a time, not long ago, when every American had at least one fantastic job. There was your primary gig — factory worker, schoolteacher, administrative assistant, whatever — which, admittedly, probably was not that great. And then there was your unofficial gig as vice president of taste-testing at every food and beverage company in the land. This position didn’t pay anything, but the work was easy and satisfying. Just like a real vice president of new product development, you sat back on your couch and did nothing as armies of flavor scientists, copywriters, and graphic designers feverishly attempted to create products that would momentarily seduce your roving attention and please your notoriously fickle palate.

Now, thanks to that Web 2.0 scourge known as crowdsourcing, you’ve been demoted from the executive suite to a marketing department cubicle, and… More…

 

 

Art critic Peter Schjeldahl once compared looking at Edvard Munch’s paintings to “listening to an album of a certain blues or rock song that, once upon a time, changed my life. I can’t hear the songs, as I can’t see the Munch images, without recalling earlier states of my soul, as if to listen or to look were, beyond nostalgia, an exercise in autobiography. Each song, each image, reminds me of myself.”

I was thinking about this around 4 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning as I walked back to the Hotel Munch after an evening out in Oslo. I’d met some lovely people who’d taken me to a country music club to listen to a band called the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, and then to a rock club where a heavy metal cover band played… More…