Artistic Q&A: The Blogging Craftmanship of David DeAngelo

As part my NaBloPoMo examination of art and blogging, I asked a few folks to consider some of the same questions I’m pondering. Today, we’ll talk with David DeAngelo from the blog 2 Political Junkies.

David DeAngelo
Image: David DeAngelo

 

I met David in early 2006 soon after I began blogging. Our blogging lives brought us to many of the same events and activities, even the occasional joint appearance on radio programs. David has a brilliant mind and a dogged commitment to some of the more necessary evils of political blogging – like fact checking. He is also very fair and open to civil discourse with anyone, including those whose beliefs and values differ from his. David’s weekly dissection of the Jack Kelly columns in the Post-Gazette are an example of blogging craftman-ship if ever there was one. When I began exploring this concept, I immediately thought of David’s trumpet. He posts updates on Facebook which I find give me a unique insight into a man I’ve known mostly through blogging and politics. He is part of the inspiration for this series.

Name: David DeAngelo

Your Blog: 2 Political Junkies 

Where Can People Find You On Social Media: Twitter @numbah_6

Are you an artist? If so, please describe your art. I am a musician with a bachelor of music in trumpet playing from UConn ’85 (Go Huskies!!) I play in a brass quintet called the “Shadyside Brass” (we thought we’d call ourselves “Earth Wind and Fire” but after a few minutes googling the name, we realized someone else had snagged it first) and in the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra.

Are you more inclined to define blogging as an art form, a craft, both or something else entirely? Please explain. It depends on how you define each term, I guess. I don’t picture myself as an artist when I blog, though a certain amount of “art” (in the form of writing) is inherent in the process. I think I’d lean more towards calling it a craft than an art, but that’s just me and what I blog about.

Do you blog about the arts? Please explain. I used to blog at the Pittsburgh Symphony “community” blog. We’d get tickets to the symphony and as part of the deal we’d have to write something for the blog within 24 hours. I took it as an opportunity to write a set of “counter” program notes. For example, a few years ago the symphony programmed Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Also on the program was a piece by another early 20th century German composer, Walter Braunfels. I took the opportunity to point out how each was effected by the Third Reich. While Orff’s work was championed as an example of great Aryan art (let’s be clear about a few things: Orff was never a Nazi and Carmina Burana’s certainly great art, though I am not sure about it being “great Aryan art”), Braunfels was sentenced to internal exile before and during the war, effectively ending his career. The crime? He had the misfortune of being born to a Jewish father. After the war, he was forgotten in history while Carmina Burana gets played at the beginning of Pittsburgh Pirate home games.

I once published a poem at the PSO blog about the composer John Adams (each line is one measure of 4/4 until you get to the end):

Minimal-minimal-minimal-minimal.
Mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini.
Minimal-minimal-minimal-minimal.
Mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini.

John, John, John, John,
Mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini.
John, John, John, John,
Mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini.

Adams, Adams, Adams, Adams,
Mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini-mini.
Is not, is not, is not, is not.
Is not, is not, is not, is not

A minimalist composer.

Whatever your relationship to the arts (literature, music, visual arts, etc), how has that informed your blogging?  Not really sure there’s much of a connection. I’ve read a few books on writing (The Elements of Style, of course. I mean EVERYONE’S read the Elements of Style!) and each year I try to reread “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell. I would think, though, that a great source is “Rhymes Reason” by John Hollander. I found the book in a footnote in something written by Harold Bloom. Bloom was writing about poetry but he stated upfront that he wasn’t going to talk about poetic meter or rhyme schemes – that, he said, can be found in Hollander’s book. So I read it. Not that I want to write poetry, but I’d love to be able to write prose the same way a poet would write prose, which an ear tuned to sound and texture and rhythm. So far I think I’ve come up short but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

Blogs are typically available to the public and open to engagement via comments, social media, etc. Would you consider this a form of public or community art? Not really. Unless we’re redefining “community art” (which, in itself, doesn’t invalidate the question).

How do you define community art?  That’s a difficult question. I tend to separate politics from art (having once heard a professor declare that “Art makes lousy politics and politics makes lousy art) and so since what I do at 2PJ is predominantly politics I can’t see it being “art” much. So the back and forth, either between me and the comments OR as an ongoing “conversation” between me and the news, isn’t so much an art project.

I tend to think of “community art” in much more concrete terms: art BY a community FOR a community. A dance troupe, for example, coming to town to give a recital, however socially relevant, isn’t really “community” art. But for someone in a community to give dance lessons with the express idea of giving a recital later is. Same can be said about painting or sculpture or poetry etc. I just don’t see politics and art overlapping that much. But that’s just me. A local writers collective publishing pamphlets to be offered back to a community to raise money would be community art, in my eyes as well.

I’ll admit the definition lines are hazy and I wouldn’t disagree with someone who’s position differs from mine.

Is there an artistic pursuit you’ve always wanted to explore? Tap dancing. But only if I could take a handful of lessons and immediately be as good as Fred Astaire or Honi Coles or either of the Nicholas Brothers. If not, then no.

David’s quintet is performing Friday night (November 22)  at Biddle’s Escape in Regent Square at 7 PM.

This interview gives you a glimpse into why I admire and genuinely like David. I’m looking forward to discussing these concepts with him in more depth over the coming year.

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