“Last night’s event with Steve Martin did not meet the standard of excellence that you have come to expect from 92nd St. Y,” Sol wrote in an e-mail to ticket holders. “We planned for a more comprehensive discussion and we, too, were disappointed with the evening. We will be mailing you a $50 certificate for each ticket you purchased to last night’s event. The gift certificate can be used toward future 92Y events, pending availability.” About 900 tickets to the event, which cost $50each, had been sold; all ticket buyers received the offer. Perhaps the audience saw that message coming. Midway through the conversation, a Y representative handed Ms. Solomon a note asking her to talk more about Mr. Martin’s career and, implicitly, less about the art world, the subject of his latest novel, “An Object of Beauty.” According to Mr. Martin, viewers watching the interview by closed-circuit television from across the country sent e-mails to the Y complaining “that the evening was not going the way they wished, meaning we were discussing art.”
It was, he said, “a little like an actor responding in Act III to an audience’s texts to ‘shorten the soliloquies.’ ” The audience cheered when Ms. Solomon read aloud the note. Still, Ms. Solomon said she had thought until that moment that things were going swimmingly. She said she was “appalled” to have their conversation publicly criticized by the Y and found deserving of a refund.
I read this rather depressing story in The New York Times about a Steve Martin discussion at the 92nd Street Y the other day. Martin was being interviewed about his latest novel set in the art world and…gasp… about art collecting in general. Sol Adler, the Y’s executive director, was just horrified. How gauche! From the NY Times:
Good grief. The public evidently only wanted to hear about what it’s like to work with Alec Baldwin, or, what it was like to be a “wild and crazy guy.” This is the audience of the 92nd Street Y, one of the city’s cultural hubs. I used to go from time to time, in fact, I was even a “patron” (much to the chagrin of some upper crust, upper east side phony jackass that tried to chase me out of a seat more than once). Sometimes they’d screen movies and have a q and a with the director; a quarter of the place would clear out directly after the movie. Ack. If philistinism is what the people want, they will get it, it seems.
Martin’s (far too polite, but menchy) response: here.