Friday, May 10, 2013

Leaving The Star

The first time someone used the budding cliche  "It is what it is" in a conversation with me, an awkward silence followed.  It was my awkwardness, because I was thinking to myself:  "I bet you believe you just said something that has meaning, but darned if I know what that might be."

The more I heard the expression, the less awkward I felt about the silence. In fact, I inferred that the more I heard people offer the sentiment to signal that acceptance of a situation was called for, the more it became clear that they expected a brief silence to follow, which they took as respectful.  So I grew accustomed to nodding my head slowly, as if processing the wisdom of "It is what it is."  I knew better than to respond with something like "Boy, you got that right!  It certainly isn't what it isn't!"

I'm starting to feel it's important sometimes to just put a moratorium on delving into complexity. Thus, I no longer feel very superior to "It is what it is." And there is complexity behind my decision to resign my position at The Indianapolis Star.  I've worked for The Star for 26 years and 8 months and change.  And goodness gracious was there change!  In future posts in the next few days I will look back -- I hope not too tediously -- on some of the ways in which my career in newspapering came during the last great era when working on a newspaper was far different from "being media." I've had a lot of luck, most of it the good kind.

So I still resist the sense of shoulder-shrugging -- "What can you do?" -- that lies complacently in "It is what it is." There is certainly -- in the First World, at least, despite all its troubles -- much you can do about sauntering down a blind alley that at one time looked like it led somewhere.  There are ways to back out, there are hidden turns you really ought to explore, there's likely a path that wants to be broken through dense foliage.

I see myself thriving on this blog, responding to the arts scene around me, making it clear that I'm not in love with my opinions (I hope), but that my perspective after so much practice of cultural journalism in central Indiana might contribute fruitfully to the arts conversation. I like to think I can encourage people to develop their own thoughtful responses to the arts just by modeling that behavior. I'm dreaming that ever more significant numbers of people will join me.

In the meantime, it is what it is.


  1. Mr Harvey,

    Your son, Theodore, and I are friends. I'd like to wish you a happy and productive retirement. I look forward to following your blog. I am an absolute ignoramus when it comes to the arts, other than literature, and I hope I can learn from you.

  2. I may be a bit biased Jay in that I am fond of you as a person, but I believe you are without peer when it comes to a critical eye of the arts in Central Indiana, perhaps in parts beyond as well. I have long enjoyed, have been challenged and informed by your thoughtful, erudite reviews of the arts. I look forward to the ongoing arts education I have come to expect and cherish from your writing. Three cheers to you Jay! Blog on!

  3. Jay,

    I'd like to thank you on behalf of the "Indianapolis Jazz Scene" We too, have seen a major shift in the "jazz media" in the past few years. You have always been a constant advocate for jazz music (and the arts for that matter) I can only hope that you enjoy this change as much as we have in enjoying your support.

    See you soon,

    David Allee
    The Jazz Kitchen

    1. The support will continue, David, through this blog. Its reach won't be anywhere near The Star's, but I will be able to write about jazz more often. As long as I'm healthy and can keep senility at bay, I intend to be a voice in the arts conversation around the area.

  4. Jay, we are very sorry to see you leave the Star as we have enjoyed your very intelligent writing and reviews for years. We will watch your blog regularly as this community needs some sort of intelligent writing of the arts. I remember the first time we met it seems you were doing all the Jazz reviews at the Star, back in the days when Whitney Smith did classical reviews, and we were standing at the back on the Jazz Kitchen listening to the legendary J.J. Johnson perform. Then when Whitney left we realized your knowledge and writing of classical music is superb and one of the best in this part of the world. Best of luck in your future.
    David Hinshaw

  5. Jay, I too am sorry that you're leaving the Star, leaving myself--not a trained journalist--as the sole classical music reviewer for any in-town print journal. I think the public deserves more than one viewpoint in the concert events we both used to cover as a comparative and contrasting twosome. I constantly hear that post-event reviews are desired by both the viewing public, the musicians and the staff of our local music presenters. Since 1986 (I believe), you've raised, and held, the standard of excellence for most of those years at the Star. I applaud your journalistic ability with word usage, syntax and perfect grammar given in a down-to earth, easily understood manner. Your continued presence on your own blog is welcome, and will continue to provide alternative and consensus views in classical music for the interested (and mostly attending) public to chew on. As for jazz, theater and the other arts you may cover . . . I won't be offering any competition, as I haven't been.
    Tom Aldridge

  6. Best of luck to you, jay. I always enjoyed your reviews and was sorry when you were taken off that beat. As you say, there have been many unfortunate changes at the Star. I retired 21 years ago and never looked back.

  7. I echo Carol's wishes for you, Jay. I always enjoyed reading your stuff and learning from what you had written when we worked together at The Star. I loved our paper and had to leave it 11 years ago when our so-called management made my tenure there untenable. But, that opened me to the last decade of writing and producing media in ways that would have never been possible. So, good luck. I will check in here from time to time.