In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

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Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

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Monday, July 26, 2010


An Announcement

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Friends --

You imagine it can't happen to you, and then it does.

Here's why 2Blowhards disappeared: Our webhost, who'd given us impeccable service for eight years, made a wee goof. He put the backup disk on the same machine as the disk this blog (and various other websites) were on. It was only to be for a few weeks, while he prepared to move the backup to a super-secure offsite location. What were the chances of anything untoward happening during those mere few weeks?

Then the motherboard fried, and it partially overwrote all of the disks on the machine, originals and backups alike. Poof went the blog, as well as its backup.

The damage was so severe that it looked like there'd be no recovering any of our work whatsoever. We had a few anxious days, believe me about that. A lot of heroic work from specialists, though, finally turned up most of our content, enabling us to put 2Blowhards back online, even if minus several months' worth of recent postings. Our webhost swears on a stack of O'Reilly computer books that he'll never do anything so foolish as to put a backup disk on the same machine as the original, ever again.

But our unexpected hiatus gave Donald, Friedrich and me a chance to evaluate where we stand vis a vis blogging. For a few weeks we wanted nothing more than for everything to return to normal. Then, as more time passed, our feelings started to change. We compared notes. We've been running 2Blowhards for a long time. How much did we really want to continue?

What we finally decided is that 2Blowhards has reached the end of its natural lifetime -- and that, because of this, we're retiring the blog. We'll be keeping 2Blowhards online for a while (maybe even several years) as an archive of our work, but we won't be putting up any more new postings. I'll leave comments open for a few weeks, but I'll be closing them down soon after to keep the blog from turning into a spam-magnet.

Friedrich and I first started posting here back in 2002; 2Blowhards was one of the very first of the cultureblogs. (Donald has been blogging with us since 2005; several other writers have contributed as well.) Our shared conviction was that the public conversation about culture was 'way too restricted, and was in dire need of being bashed around. The choke-hold that the official class -- the pros, the profs, the critics, the editors, the journalists, often the artists themselves -- had on how the arts were talked about and thought about drove us crazy.

The opinion-making class would have you believe that there's only one -- or at most only a few -- ways to be a respectable, informed, and legit culturefan. Baloney to that, we felt. As we knew from experience, there are innumerable ways to enjoy an interest in the arts, as well as uncountable worthwhile ways to take part in the general culture-conversation. As bloggers, we wanted to emphasize that point -- and we also wanted to give examples of what a more open and freewheeling approach to thinking and yakking about the arts might be like.

Urge-wise, those are the two impulses that that have driven this blog.

Point #1, it seems to us, has been sufficiently made. If in 2001 the official culture-class still had a choke-hold on how the arts were discussed and thought about, in 2010 many of the old purveyors of respectable opinion are on the defensive, if not actually crumbling. The freewheeling new era that we looked forward to, and that we did our modest best to champion and herald, is here.

As for point #2, well, in my more grandiose moments I like to think that we Blowhards did a bit of pioneering work so far as developing an amusing, helpful and web-appropriate way of discussing the arts goes. The trad approach to artsyak is to (metaphorically speaking) stand on a stage, face an audience, wag a finger, argue, debate, and rail. We set out to do something very different -- to create postings that wouldn't be traditional essays but that would be open-ended conversation-starters instead. We wanted to offer an alternative to the prof-lectures-his-students model of artsyak; we wanted to throw a party instead. (So far as the minor art of criticism goes, that's a pretty radical program, by the way.) It took us a year or so to find our footing, but once we did we were off and running -- and, to be honest, we were often having to work pretty damned hard to keep up with our brainy, informed, and enthusiastic visitors.

So that's our announcement: 2Blowhards is now officially frozen in amber.

Donald will continue doing his most-excellent posting at Art Contrarian, his own blog. Bookmark it please, and visit regularly and often. Friedrich is treating himself to a vacation from writing. As for me, I'm in a self-indulgent, whimsical and scattered mood. Check out my lazily-updated personal website; Friend me on Facebook, where I share scads of links; or ask me a question (and read my maunderings) at Formspring. Formspring's great, btw! Or at least it's what all the cool seventh-graders are doing.

Heartfelt thanks from all of us to everyone who has dropped by this blog, and especially to regular visitors and commenters. Many of you have come to feel like good friends. You've given us far more in the way of pleasure, instruction, and fun than you'll ever know.

All the best,

Ray Sawhill, aka "Michael Blowhard"


posted by Michael at July 26, 2010 | perma-link | (45) comments