December 22, 2008

young nick krill’s year-end wrap up… word of the year!

curate: verb [trans.] (usu. be curated) – select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)

being a child of two museum people, i spent plenty of time at the dinner table overhearing stories of curators and the wilds of curation. it seemed like a pretty garden-variety activity in the classy world of early american decorative arts, but as a young pop-rock music maker / recording engineer, 2008 socked it to me pretty hard when it laid “curate” on me…thick.

it started on tour when various rock promoters talked to me about how they curated concerts. fair enough, i guess, although the use of curate seemed a bit lofty when i was talking to a promoter in a crumby club with sticky floors. by years end, i had people talking to me about curating recording sessions, and my personal favorite, an email sharing youtube videos with a subject that ended with “ : a curated email.”

i respect all the folks that have been curating this year (well, maybe only a few of the rock promoters) but for some reason “curate” is giving my spine the same shiver that “zeitgeist” did a few years back. i’ll hand it to the curators for using a pretty descriptive word, but when fancy words are associated with things like bulk emails and assembling five singer-songwriters in one place i think we need to draw the line.

maybe i am being a jerk…after all, i really liked the curated email, and i went to a bunch of fun concerts…and really, who am i to say that high culture gets to use fancy words while low culture has to keep it simple (and who am i to decide what is high and low culture anyways). i guess if you are gonna curate, don’t try to deny a band a few extra waters for the stage or short them some door money…then all your expressiveness does is change you from a wang-dangle to a self-important wang-dangle.

happy new year, and good luck curating your holiday gifts!

-young nick krill


c h r i s t i n e said...

curate is such a specific word it deserves a thick black line between use and misuse. (for whatever reason i almost wrote miss yous?) my word this year is indubitably. so fun to say but so misused.

Katie L. Thompson said...

Have you heard The Curator by the High Strung? Good stuff.

Ryan said...

I agree with this 100%. It's like, hey I curated this festival. I picked 20 of my favorite bands, then somebody else did all the legwork to make it happen. But remember, I CURATED it.

Gabriel said...

Your original definition that you stated for curate sounds like the only definition that should exist, but it occurred to me that many words are gaining extra use in completely different contexts. For example, when one describes a new video game as sick, or ill, they mean that the game is actually awesome. I know that example has been around for a long time but what if this year someone tried to make a run with curate and everything you've experienced has been the fruit of their labors? I think it's entirely possible. Maybe it's wrong, maybe it violates the english language in ways that only youth in the 21st century could manage, or maybe it was inevitable. Whatever the case, you'll have to excuse me now as I curate myself a beverage.

Old Sixties Relic said...

Sometimes I think that I belong in a museum.