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