Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's all a hoax

Three stories about hoaxes: two from today's New York Times, a third from the September 17 issue of the New Yorker.

The front page of the New York Times carries a story that a photographer named Joe O'Donnell, known as "The Presidential Photographer" took credit for many famous photographs actually snapped by other people. The truth has emerged following his death on August 9 at the age of 85.

Inside the paper there's a story about the release of a CD (not yet released in the US) that claims to be rap recordings made in 1988 and recently discovered in a storage locker in New Jersey. Although the hoax seems obvious the producer, Fab Five Freddy is sticking to the cover story.

And in The New Yorker there's an excellent article by Mark Singer called "Fantasia for Piano" about the British pianist Joyce Hatto who died a few years ago after releasing with her husband late in her life a remarkable series of piano recordings and making a sensation in the classical music world with her musicality, and particularly the breadth of her repetoire. The recordings, it was eventually discovered, were not by her but were stolen from dozens of other pianists.

In the case of the photographer his family is blaming simply the faulty memory of an old man. In the case of Joyce Hatto it seems to be a sense on Miss Hatto's part of vicariously claiming a fame and musical reputation that had been unfarily denied her in her actual career, combined with a doting husband with a knack for recording technology and story-telling. In the case of the rap CD, the hoax has a more interesting basis: respect for a lost golden age of a musical style which has now lost its purity and the attempt not merely to cash in on that nostalgia, but actually to recreate it.

1 comment:

Educator-To-Be said...

Sometimes I get so discouraged that I think that everything is a hoax. Amy