Here in Los Angeles, we’re passing our days in the season of awards: The Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards have already exchanged hands, and the new Grammy awards and Academy Awards will soon be in living rooms, safes or pawn shops.
I like to watch the award shows because they are spectacular occasions to spin thin theories about the state of U.S. culture. They’re the equivalent of a cursory Saturday workshop in culture criticism, a brief and superficial look at a subject — how popular culture reflects periods in American history — that would require much more time and effort to thoroughly and responsibly understand.
But award shows also are interesting because smart people produce good music and movies, and when smart, creative writers talk about their work, I consider it a particular treat. I always hope a witty screenwriter, musician or actor will say something wise in the 30 seconds on air that he or she is allotted. To a good writer, that challenge is not an injustice, it’s a dare.
This week, we learned that LMU Magazine won a very nice award. A higher education association, the Council for the Support and Advancement of Education — usually known simply as CASE — is a national organization with regional districts. LMU Magazine won a CASE District VII bronze award for Best Article of the Year. Editors in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam and the Mariana Islands were eligible to submit articles from their university magazines.
In our fall 2011 issue, we published a First Person story by Logan Metz ’10 called “Rockin’ the Bard.” It’s a funny, creative and well-written account of a student who combined his love for music (Metz was a singer/songwriter a touring alt-country band at the time called The Reflectacles) with a Shakespeare assignment.
Metz got some spotlight in the magazine because Theresia De Vroom, a professor English and director of the Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts, told me of a screenwriting student whose band played L.A. clubs, toured regions of the U.S. and was among her best Shakespeare students. I looked up the band on YouTube and found their cover of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” an American classic. Theirs is an excellent version of a well-covered song. I loved the harmonica, rhythm guitar, harmonies and tempo. Metz, by the way, is the guy sporting vest, brown hat and banjo.
As I watched the video, a thought linked two synapses: Here’s a guy who loves America’s great country music tradition and Shakespeare — a genre rooted in stories and perhaps the greatest storyteller the English language has ever produced. “I have to get him to write something that connects music and Shakespeare,” I thought. Well, read for yourself how Metz accomplished that in “Rockin’ the Bard."
What does this award mean? At one level, I’m happy my peers who judged the competition recognized an excellent piece of writing in LMU Magazine. That an alumnus won a writing award is especially satisfying, because Metz’s work competed against the work of people who earn their living as magazine writers. It’s the kind of accomplishment that folks in the LMU community can be proud of.
But regardless of the kudos, I still get excited when I read Metz’s piece because, first, it tells a story of how he creatively completed an assignment and, second, does the telling in a creative, clever way. The story’s appeal doesn’t diminish, no matter how often I read it. Give it a read yourself. Don’t be surprised if you feel an urge to clap the end.
Logan Metz remains involved in creative ventures that mix genres, particularly with his collaborator, Lincoln Mendell ’10.
(Photo by Jon Rou)