November 28, 2005
CALLING ALL BULLDOGS!
Sunday, November 13th: I awaken this morning to the smell of last night’s wine drying into sediment at the bottom of an armada of glasses stationed here and there throughout my flat. I stumble around cross-eyed collecting one, two, three, a dozen empty bottles. Though we were a few days short of the full harvest moon, I’d gotten an email from h calling for a “gathering of the coven,” a bonding ceremony for Bulldoggers, and I have the biggest kennel, so to my place they flocked. The barking went on well into the night. “Wow!!” emailed Joe L., after the fact. “I haven’t heard so much noise since the early days of disco!! Sounded like sausage being made or ideas being germinated.” Blogger at the Dogger Jim Meko said he’d come because of the “hint of revolution in the air.” I had thought of warning my neighbors that I’d have a pack of subversives howling at the moon all night, but they figured it out themselves.
To announce my presence with buffoonery I wore a silly black knit top I found at Armani Exchange, with a cartoonish A X over my tits. I might also have worn a neon arrow over my head. Hey! Hel-lo-oh! I’m Ax of the Ax Files! In case you couldn’t guess. As usual I drank too much at my own party, starting with a few slugs of the red wine I spiked the spaghetti sauce with, and went on from there. I always wind up wishing I’d paid more attention. For instance when Charles K. said in his thank-you note that he’d lost all sense of propriety and hoped he hadn’t been too obnoxious, I thought, damn, where was I? And do I not remember my own obnoxious lack of propriety? I remember a shot of freezing cold Stoli that shivered my timbers, but I wisely left the Wild Turkey for Thanksgivingor did I? Anyway, whether I remember it or not, I’m sure I haven’t had so much fun since that barrel of monkeys.
HOW TO MEET INTERESTING, ATTRACTIVE MEN
Let them come to you. Offer up your place and some booze, and leave the invitations to h. Then every 15, 20 minutes or so, your doorbell will ring and voila, with no effort on your own part, another intelligent, personable male will appear till the place is crawling with them. Deby Inman, the graphic designer behind the Bulldog and I were the only women, drowning in testosterone in this morass of men for quite a while, until thank the goddess wicked witch Krissy Keefer showed up, who is Amazon enough to represent the whole tribe of womanhood.
I don’t think you could say of me, as Kramer did to Elaine on “Seinfeld,” “You’re a man’s woman. Women hate you.” But I’ve always loved being surrounded by men. It was raining men in my kitchen, myself being the only female in the midst of a dozen of them, all talking politics as they would all night anyway. Tony Hall showed up, “because he has nothing else to do,” someone (not at the party) said. There are all kinds of smart peopleJohn Galt types who keep the wheels of progress turning, unheralded science, math, medicine and computer wizards, smart kids on the Honor Roll who ace every testI wasn’t one of those but I have more creativity in a toenail paring that’s stuck in the carpet than some of those types. But the folks in the coventhey’re the smart types who set the world on fire. They won’t shut up and they won’t go away. They have chosen to stay here and fight.
No one can afford the luxury of being apolitical in this age, but I sometimes find myself at a disadvantage because I am a lousy and naïve judge of character and I don’t understand such a thing as political motives. Whenever I hear of some exposé or scandal I wonder, “But why would anyone do such a thing?” I can’t relate to power plays, machinations, influence peddling and ulterior motives and I can’t detect them in others. I’ve never heard of half the people h lambastes, and wouldn’t know if they were screwing me behind my back if they bit my ass while doing so. I’d rather give everybody the benefit of the doubt and wait till they disappoint me. And I’m always disappointed when they do.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE
In the couple of years I’ve lived in “The City,” I’ve seen him here, there and everywhere but had never despite many near misses managed to meet Mr. Matt Gonzalez. I have no problem getting in people’s face to announce my presence with audacity, but not when they’re otherwise occupied. Actually I wrote Matt a fan letter after his campaign inviting him to my housewarming party, but ended up never having one. I was too busy moving into my flat to involve myself in his campaign, but like everyone else I got caught up in the energy of the whole thinghe “wowed me over,” as Mirkarimi would sayso I also framed the very cool original silkscreen poster I got at the Horseshoe (now a burned-out shell, for lease) for a donation of 20 bucks, to commemorate the amazing month of citywide buzz he generated, because I knew the magic dust would soon settle and get swept away into the past. “He gave us such juice!” said even the Berkeley framer who affectionately stroked his face on the poster.
I’d been told Matt was coming over to sign our Bulldog press passes, but I doubted he’d show upI later heard he’d shined Krissy Keefer on, missing his scheduled appearance at Dance Missionso I was a little taken aback when I saw him climbing the stairs; however he managed to forestall personal interaction by talking on his cell phone while entering my flat. For the love of God, people, put those things away before they destroy you! I half-wonder whether there was actually anyone on there.
When he hung up I asked him, “Have you met Miss Jones?” Andpinching his cheek just like my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Wagner used to doI announced, “Well you have now, Munchkin!”
“That hurt,” he replied.
I think it’s a good policy to inflict a little physical pain at the start of a relationship, to keep things off-balance. One doesn’t want to be too predictable. It happens Munchkin was in a personable mood, displaying none of the symptoms of social retardation I’ve so often heard tell of. In fact he was genial and inquisitive and asked for a tour of my flat, concluding that I have “too much art, too many books,” which I took to mean exactly the opposite. I had run out of wine glasses by that time and offered him a champagne glass, a martini glass or the cactus-stemmed plastic margarita glass I was amused that he chose. I can hardly look at the man without biting my lip with amusement. He’s the only person I’ve ever had to at one and the same time take completely seriously, and can’t take very seriously at all. Impish, boyish, mischievous, nothing quite says it; the lad simply tickles my fancy.
He stood at the doorway of my bedroom like he’d get zapped by invisible electric fencing if he dared cross the line. Instead he commented on my hand-embroidered map of the state flowers of the United States and we moved on. When he fingered the scarf I have draped over a lampshade I was obliged to reveal that I’d crash-landed on the lamp while drunk and threw the scarf over it to hide the cracks. Luckily an IKEA champagne glass was the only casualty at this event. As far as I know, wine was spilled, but no blood.
Munchkin left fashionably early, but not beforedid I hear him right?ruminating about running against Nancy Pelosi. He’s headed wherever he’s headed, but I’d sure hate for our little berg to lose him. He gives us such juice!
TELL ME ABOUT THAT BINGO CARD
I love having folks over who haven’t seen my flat because my stuff is so familiar to me, some of it dating back to my first apartment in 1977, that I tend to look past it. I like seeing it through others’ eyes; it brings fresh perspective on how blessed I am. I have a little bit of a problem with treasure hunting and manic spending, but luckily I have good taste, have collected a lot of cool stuff, and stay out of trouble by never charging anything. When someone inquired about the significance of a Bingo card I said there is noneit’s just something I ran across in my travels and brought home. “Just like all you people.” I do have one single modern itema George Nelson cigar pendant lampbut if I were asked to do the interiors for hell I’d look no further than Design Within Reach and West Elm. I am most comfortable in a cozily cluttered eclectic environment; to me it feels warm, charming and lived-in. My laundry room is more pleasant than some living rooms I’ve been in. After all, your home is the only world you can design yourself. I’ve long had a fantasy that someday Mr. Wright (code name for Mr. Right), someone who knows me or of me and may already be intrigued by me, would fall in love with me the moment he entered my flat. I’ve always held that you never truly know someone till you’ve seen where and how they choose to live. This guy would think, “These walls contain everything I need to know about this woman.” But as they say, it’s a good thing they can’t talk.
WHERE’VE I BEEN?
On strike. Informal and unannounced as it was, my silence in this space has been in protest of h’s defection from the Bulldog to the Sentinel. This is my first Bulldog appearance since early October, though I’ve been writing in my head (no, it’s not the same as thinking) the whole while. But I am bound and determined to right this floundering ship, with or without mutiny, and sail it into the new year. And FYI, h, Deby and Frank said they’d be happy to create my own web site for me any time I want. So there. Don’t take the ole’ ‘dog for granted, or it may run off while you’re not looking. The Sentinel may have more readers, but it also has two owners who call the shots. And one can instantly see the benefit of being in charge, because it is only on his own website that Pat Murphy could get away with his utterly bizarre writing style, using language he apparently considers colorful and that I find all but incomprehensible.
JOHN BECK AT THE RED POPPY ART HOUSE
My personal pianist John Beck is in town from Sweden through the end of the year, and will be giving a candlelit holiday performance at
THE RED POPPY ART HOUSE
If you missed his last appearance there in April, a command performance for my 50th birthday, don’t make the same mistake twice. And if you’ve never been to the Art House, you need to discover that space.
1001 SAN FRANCISCAN NIGHTS
October 2nd: The fall season thus far has been great for great events in this great city, and it got off to a high energy start with Krissy Keefer’s Katrina benefit “Truthsayers” at the Brava Theater. The three-hour program was packed with music, dance, comedy and politics, everyone donating their time, including testimony from Malik Rahim about conditions in New Orleans, Ross Mirkarimi with one of his rambling impassioned manifestos, Matt Gonzalez’ pointed call for Democrats to leave their party and Dance Brigade’s own powerful “Dear Fidel,” Keefer’s love letter to same, which I’ve now seen three times and have not tired of. Their drumming is shorthand for what angry women can accomplish. Nobody’d want to mess with these ladies.
KRISSY KEEFER FOR QUEEN
I’ve got the czarina title tied up, so I nominate Krissy for Queen. Her business card should read Krissy Keefer, Force of Nature. Her three-week November Manifesti-val at Dance Mission was beyond the pale of what one would call “entertainment”; it was a call to arms, a trumpet into battle, an insurrectionary challenge of the status quothe sort of performance one doesn’t leave behind in the theater. As Charles Kalish put it,
I would sure hate for our little berg to lose her, but the world needs her message and its methodguerilla artand I would like to see a national tour ending in The White House, and George Bush with his eyelids propped open like in “A Clockwork Orange,” forced to watch the Brigade upstage the military patriarchy. Two of the concerts were followed by opportunities to walk a labyrinth and participate in a healing circle. I haven’t felt so purged and clear-headed since my last hypnotherapy session.
And here it is in Krissy’s own words, from the Dance Mission website:
And Krissy convinces us she will. No wonder h is in love with her. Hell, I’m in love with her. “She’s gonna be in the revolution with me!” he once yelled from my dining room table. Hell, she is the revolution.
THERE IS A THUNDER
…a Fury, a Passion, a Regret, a Raw Nerve and a Heartfelt Beat, a Breathless Free-Fall… and it is called Beethoven.
So read the 1995-1996 Philadelphia Orchestra season brochure, the year they performed all nine Beethoven symphonies. Shit, I was tempted to move back there just for the occasion. There are worse reasons to leave town. In fact, when I heard the Philly Boys perform at Davies a few of years ago I was ready to pack my bags and head back to “my” orchestra. Some things are that important.
October 5th: I paid a visit to Davies to hear Beethoven’s Fifth, which I had not heard live since….May 9, 1977, with Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. I had just turned 22. How do I know that? Because I have virtually every program from virtually every concert I’ve ever gone to. It’s the recording angel in me. I just dove through decades of memories to find that information. Franck’s Symphonic Variations and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 were also on the program; the soloist, André Watts.
I believe the earliest such program I have is a catalog from the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition The Paintings of Vincent Van Gogh from February 1970. I was 14 when I made my parents take me to see it. The catalog mentions that the collection would soon be housed in a “new museum in Amsterdam being built by the Government of The Netherlands.” In 1975, I visited that completed museum and saw some of the same paintings. I love reflecting on these connections from my perspective of decades later.
For instance a heavy 19th century English mirror I bought in an antique store on Pine Street, Philadelphia for my first apartment in my 20’s, fell off the wall of my flat in my 40’s and got a jagged crack in it. I thought what a shame, but I liked the idea that while I buying it I could never have known that it would one day fall of the wall of my San Francisco flat, so I decided to not fix it, as it is now part of the glorious history of both the mirror and myself. To date, the 100+-year-old mirror has hung in England in unknown locations, in the antique shop and three other Philadelphia locations, in Portland, Oregon in six locations, in one cabin in the woods of Whidbey Island, Washington, in Berkeley, California in two locations, and finally, in its current resting place, San Francisco. For all I know, it’s in its final resting placebut who can tell? All the reflections from all those places are contained in its cracked silver. Who knows what else it will see, even long after I’m gone?
Good old Herbert Blomstadt conducted at Davies. He had a smile on his face beginning to end and was practically dancing a jig by the 4th movement. He couldn’t be happier than while in the midst of all this Beethoven leading the charge. He is the luckiest man on earth! his body language yelled.
Beethoven was my first love, and as Larry Rothe remarks in “Beethoven’s Guide to Being Human,” from the SF Symphony’s November program notes, “for many of us [he] continues to be the point of entry into a love affair with music.” Sometime in the 11th grade, I asked myself, what’s the big deal about Beethoven’s Fifth? Why is it the most famous symphony of all time? So I listened to it. And hot damn, is it ever worthy of its rep. It’s got it all. Drama, passion, turmoil, tension, triumphif this is fate knocking at the door, let it on itgrapple as you may with it, it will not beat you down. For the next decade or so of my life, pretty much all of the 70’s, I listened to nothing but classical music, educating myself and running every week to the Academy of Music, the Concerto Soloists, the Robin Hood Dell, the Curtis Institute, “Tenth Pres” on Spruce St., First Baptist and whatever churches were hammering out some Bach. (Why did Bach have 22 children? Because his organ had no stops. That’s the only known Bach joke.)
Classical music offered the depth, complexity and intelligence my scholarly nature, bored by high school and tyrannized by words, naturally responded tobut my passion is for music itselffor the wellspring of human yearning and life force that must be constantly expressed in every culture, every era, because music IS passion. John Beck and I were reflecting that not everyone looks to art to tear their hearts out like he and I do, but few things affect me like certain strains of music. I have cried, lost my breath, felt my heart soar, knelt and pounded my fists on the floor for mercy. My friend Elliot Blake was escorted out of the nosebleed section of the Academy of Music for yelling “Whoa!” during the 4th movement of Brahms’ Third. Indeed!
O FRABJOUS DAY! CALLOOH! CALLAY!
Didja hear? Didja hear?! A musical resurrection of gigantic proportions recently took place in the basement of the Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, PA, where “just sitting on that shelf” of an archival cabinet, one Heather Carbo unearthed a musical score for a four-hand piano treatment of the “Grosse Fugue” in Beethoven’s own hand! “Wow!...This is big,” said Lewis Lockwood, Harvard professor of musicology and Beethoven biographer. “This is very big.” Big? To me it is tantamount to finding the scratched-in-stone notes for the Ten Commandments, or the envelope Lincoln wrote Four score on. Previously heralded (by mesee Axfiles 12) as “the most exciting piece of music in the world,” I hurried to pass the news on to pianist friends John Beck and his sister Kendelyn. Between the two of them, they’ve got four hands and I can’t think of a better use for them.
“Procure it,” said John by email, “and I’ll jillybygashamawiggle, damn straight play it for you!!!!” Procure it? It’s going up for auction December 1st at Sotheby’s London and is expected to pull in up to 2.6 million buckolas. When the work was premiered on March 21st, 1826 (the 141st birthday of J.S. Bach), Beethoven was incensed that the audience was calling for encores of the middle movements of the quartet and not the fugue, and fumed: “And why didn't they encore the Fugue? That alone should have been repeated! Cattle! Asses!”
I love that big lug!
Unfortunately the definitive performance of this quartet, for me, by the Amadeus Quartet, is not in print at this time. The boxed LP collection of Beethoven works I picked up during his Bicentennial in 1970 is in sad shape from decades of wear and there is no CD available. I’ve never heard another performance to equal it. I have a Herbert von Karajan orchestral that is so slow I can play it on 45 rpm and it’s still too slow.
Now I hear that parts of Beethoven’s skull that were handed down in an inheritance have been recovered. I have visited the house he was born in, in Bonn, Germany, and there was a pair of spectacles in a case that had some of his hair caught in the earpiece. That was eerie. I shuddered in its presence, and just did so again. Next thing you know we’ll have a Ludwig clone striding around.
STILL HOWLING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
October 7th: The clock, if clocks still struck, would have struck midnight as I got home from one of the most entertaining, involving, moving and historic events in San Francisco’s already colorful historythe 50th anniversary celebration at the Herbst Theater of Alan Ginsburg’s groundbreaking reading of “Howl” at the 6 Gallery on Fillmore Street, October 7, 1955. That date changed the face of American literature, and as one moderator put it, “Never has anything so great been celebrated so well.”
6 POETS AT 6 GALLERY
That was the notice for the original show, and here was another charming event, another remarkable collection of angels reading other Bay Area authors live on stage, with changing portraits of the writers on the screen behind them: among them Armistad Maupin reading Mark Twain, Cintra Wilson doing Ambrose Bierce, Amy Tan reading Iris Chang, Barry Gifford channeling my muse, Jack Kerouac, Jerry Brown appropriately covering Oaklander Jack London, as well as Peter Coyote, Daniel Handler, devorah major, and starring: Michael McClure as himself. It gave me chills when he made new history reciting the same poems he read at the Six Gallery, exactly 50 years ago that night, and I was in tears by the time the lights went down on the stage and on the screen came some powerful footage of Ginsburg himself reading from Howl. Go! Go! Go! as Jack had shouted from the audience.
I loved Eddie Muller’s reading of The Maltese Falcon; he’s a natural storyteller and did a pretty good Sydney Greenstreet. And FYI, having spoken with Hammett’s relatives, Muller revealed that his name is actually pronounced Da-SHIEL, not “DASH-iel.”
October 16th: Beach Blanket Babylon
Took a visitor from Portland-town as I myself had never seen it. Fun, I can’t deny it, but I’d like to take out that Snow White bee-yatch with a baseball bat.
Oct. 18th: Dr. Atomic at the War Memorial. Loved it. The production, the once-in-history real-life drama and conflict, but mostly, the evocation of the World War II Zeitgeist, a time and place at once exciting, momentous, and deadly.
October 28th: Headed to Davies after work to hear Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony led by musical legend Teutonic titan Kurt Masur, whose visage seems carved from mountain crags. At well over 6’ and atop the podium, he towered above me in my second row seat like a colossus. And the performance was indeed colossal. From the center front orchestra seats the music is a radically different experience than from further back. It’s as close as you’ll get to sitting in the orchestra. It’s a wall of sound that seems to push at you. I felt like I’ve been fooling myself, that I’ve never really heard the wondrous phenomenon of music before. I’m thinking, this is the greatest performance of anything I’ve ever heard! And while you’re experiencing, it damn well is.
(By the way, no one responded to my movie trivia quiz question about the offer that could not be refused. Here it is, as described by Michael Corleoni: “Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my father assured him that either his brain or his signature would be on the contract.”)
October 21st: I kicked off the unofficial Festive Holiday Music season by attending the splendid performance of Mozart’s Great Mass in Cm by the Midsummer Mozart Festival at Old St. Mary’s. A cable car ride up California St., hot and sour soup in Chinatown, and a Hurricane Katrina benefit performance at the venerable Cathedral, and there you have a Monday night in San Francisco. Tickets were being taken at the door by Festival Director Marcy Straw and husband Mark Westlund of the Department of the Environment, a City employee living in Berkeley. Is that kosher, I ask you? Only if you want to own your own home! You may have seen Mark looking dapper in business attire around City Hall but did you know he has a tattoo of Krazy Kat and Ignatz mouse on his upper right arm? Courtesy of Mark, here it is, “right down to the zip and pow.”
He showed it to me once on the H bus.
The concert was an inspiration and I couldn’t help but think of the fucker who stole Mozart’s Requiem from me. I’d been looking forward to the performance at a church in Berkeley for months, like balm in Gilead, as a rest-cure from work and modern life. I told a woman in front of me in the line for the ladies room that this music is better than any therapy or tranquilizer for relaxing the soul.
So I was in Berkeley a couple of hours before the concert time and stopped into my favorite hang, Beckett’s Irish Pub, for a pint of Guinness, which I fell in love with at the Gravity Bar atop the Guinness brewery in Dublin (Ireland, not California)the most international place I’ve ever been. Every language and country seemed to be represented, like a pageant of the nations. I sat myself down at Beckett’s bar and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. He scored points right away with a Michael McClure look he had about him, wearing a hat and vest and cross around his neck, and was interesting enough, an aspiring filmmaker, I think, but broke. I liked his style, but over the course of an hour, the guy went gaga over me. At one point he asked if I’d seen “American Beauty.” You mean this? I asked, whipping out the DVD which I coincidentally had in my bag, having leant it to someone. This seemed to him to be cosmic proof of something or other. I could see he thought he’d met The One. Suddenly I was “gorgeous”which I patently am not, in the current vernacular anyway. He asked if I mind if he accompanied me to the concert. “Well…sure…you do know it’s a lengthy German religious choral work, right? A requiem for the dead?” But hey, it was open to the public, so why not?
Why not? Because baboons do not know how to behave in public. First I could not relax into the luscious opening because he chattered right up to the first damn note. When he had to shut up, the guy stared at mestared at me through most of the show, making my blood boil until I wrote on the program, “You are distracting me! I’m here to hear the music, not to sit next to you!” And he wrote backthe second time in one column a guy said to me: “That hurt.” Sorry! After several such communiqués, he got up and went to the bathroom, making zero attempt to soften the clunk of his boots coming back up the wood aisle. Why on earth didn’t I change my own seat when I had the chance? I didn’t owe that bozo anything. Somehow I suffered through the thinga piece on my Top Ten Stranded on a Desert Island Have to Have Hitsand while others were applauding I was simply livid. My hands were shaking. I could have wrung his neck.
Is it possible you are oblivious to how uncomfortable you were making me? Are you so out of touch?
But outside I calmed down and got talked into giving him a second chance and we went for pie and coffee. Was I judging him too harshly? He even wangled my phone number out of me. But my rancor returned when he left a message on my answering machine that he couldn’t talk long because he was running out of minutes. I thought, I’m not dating some loser who’s counting his cell phone minutes and reveals it to me! The guys at work thought I should have at least returned his call. But no. I didn’t owe that bozo anything.
So there! I lost Mozart and he lost me.
October 22nd: East Village Opera Company at the Great American Music Hall. Yeah. Hot, cool, sexy, tough. The soloists have the best job I can think of: singing the glorious melodies and poetry of opera but with whatever spin you want to put on them. And wear a Jim Morrison T-shirt and low-rider jeans while doing it. I took several months of bel canto singing lessons from tenor Jonathan “The Voice” Nadel (I found his name on the bulletin board of a Berkeley laundry), just so I could better tolerate my own domestic opera singing while washing dishes. The most important thing I learned was: raise your soft palette. Remember that, it may come in handy someday.
October 31st. Halloween in the Castro. What a great way to end the monthand it was as balmy as a tropical night. I have two standard costumes that spare me from being more imaginative each Halloween. One is the debauched vampireconsisting of black bustier and tails, blackened hair, whitened face and blood trailing from my mouth to my cleavage. I did that one last year, when a bunch of us were at the Horseshoe phone banking in the last days of Mirkarimi’s campaign. “That is a wild outfit,” said Ross, checking out my tits. We all went over to the Castro, with Ross wearing some black or purple curly wig in an attempt to hide from this disturbed woman who kept coming into the office yelling for attention and exposing her breasts. She kept insisting that Ross is her soul husband, a patently ridiculous claim as he is my soul husband. Did I hear she once ran naked through a Board meeting? Though I don’t know how she would have pulled that off, as it were. Come to think of it, I think Gonzalez had a restraining order against her. Haven’t seen her around, and I can only hope she has received the professional attention she so desperately needed. I was told not to “engage” her, but I’m not so far off from being the screaming-on-the-street type myself, so I was not put off by her, only saddened.
The other costume which I had planned for this year in honor of my dearly departed Jackson, is The King of the Cats, a character from the Stephen Vincent Benét story of the same name, about a conductor who faces the audience and conducts…with his tail. Once again I am wearing tails (natch), a cat leotard instead of bustier, cat ears, cat mask and cat tail.
But instead, I got home from work wiped out from a head cold, and sat it out. Halloween! My favorite night of the year! Early in the evening I had wanted to see Margaret Cho at Booksmith plugging her new book, I Have Chosen to Stay Here and Fight, but the disgrace they call Muni was so late I would have missed most of it. So I went home and watched Hitchcock’s “Stage Fright,” the movie with the famous false flashback. Screenwriting blunder or cinematic genius? You be the judge.
November 11th: Carmina Burana at Davies, David Robertson conducting, a “6.5” performance beginning at 6:30 Friday with a special presentation by Robertson breaking the music and lyrics down in most humorous fashion. A gung-ho conductor eliciting a flawless powerhouse performance still resonating in my head days later.
Ama me fideliter!
Love me truly!
And all my mind
November 16th: Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (the “Sissy”) and Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony. Now there is music for you, an earthquake and avalanche of it! Ole Vlad the Bad is still leading the charge of the light brigade. I think conducting keeps people young; these 50- and 60-year veterans are still hauling ass in their 70’s and 80’s. Why do some people improve so with age? While others look like mishandled old baggage? It’s love, I think, love of life and passion for continuing to live it.
PATRONIZE THESE PEOPLE
The American Bach Soloists kick ass. I caught their Messiah last year at Mission Dolores and they kicked my ass! Go to their concerts, buy their CDs, give them all that money you left lying around. They’re back at the Mission, and at Grace Cathedral, in December. Give your ears a Christmas present. Go hear them.
There’s a punctuation snafu in the Messiah that my sister and I like to laugh atthe passage that goes, “Oh we, like sheep, have gone astray…” but of course you can’t see the commas hanging in the air, so the net effect in a live performance is dozens of dignified gowned and tuxedoed men and women holding music aloft and singing with glee “Oh we like sheep! Oh we like sheep!...”
Why does the Hallelujah Chorus get all the glory? The Amen Chorus is every bit as glorious, soaring, majestic, kick-ass, and it makes me cry. As the crown jewel of the entire oratorio, it rises to the occasion and then some. Luckily, there’s no need to choose favorites.
LOOKIN’ LIKE AN ARMANI MODEL
Hey, I thought the Gav had the monopoly on that, but did you catch Ross Mirkarimi in all his full-length frontal glory in 7x7 mag last month? He’s ready for GQ now. Lame article, though. “If we stop overrelying on fossil fuel and foreign oil, then we make SFand ultimately the countryhealthier and more secure.” “He really went out on a limb on that one,” said a friend. Don’t go glib on us, golden brown boy. And oh yesas Hannibal Lecter once said, “Love the suit.”
And watch out there, Gav, you lost a load of sexy points with that orchestrated slick-as-the-Exxon-Valdez State of the City Address. You didn’t even make Esquire’s 21 Best Dressed Men List. You’re slipping, Gavin, slipping. Just remember, the slicker you are, the more slippery the slope to the slimy bottom. I vote for Tom “The Continental” Ammiano for best dressed Public Figure. He harkens back to the days of dapper gentlemanly attire. Even Bevan Dufty was looking snappy in his shades outside the De Young on opening day.
It’s that time of year. In the course of my day job, I occasionally find myself talking to the editor of a popular West Coast lifestyle magazine. One year I challenged him to put something on the November cover other than a roasted turkey. No go, by order of the publisher. Give the public what they want. And what the public wants, is turkey. This year I enacted my Thanksgiving tradition of riding the California St. cable car to Whole Foods and bringing my Diestel turkey home in a box on the 49 bus. Just by way of relating that it is possible to get a 14.5 lb. turkey and dinner for six home without a car. I made one other trip to Safeway with my backpack and vintage ‘89 old lady’s cart, which has never burned a single vapor of gas. I burn only calories bringing my groceries home. And no plastic bags!
I wonder how many Americans are really grateful for what they have. I have long considered this to be a nation of spoiled brats with a sense of entitlement, who don’t know what lucky is and are in constant pursuit of more, bigger, newer. “How American to want something better,” says a woman in the Joan Crawford film “Possessed,” when her affianced’s eyes follow another girl walking past them.
The Czech novelist Ivan Klíma differentiates between “external freedom” which one may or may not have been born with, and “internal freedom,” available to any man who can recognize opportunity and regard it fearlessly. “Excessive external freedom which one happens to be born with,” he writes in the essay “Variation on a Theme,” “which is simply given to one without any effort on one’s own part, no doubt has the same effect as any other excess: it tends to make us soft and leads to further excesses.”
My Thanksgiving wish to you is external freedom, and the internal freedom to not squander it.
If you see the author wearing this, all bets are off.
Short Attention Span Poetry Corner
“December 9, 2003”
Early that Morning:
Sometime that Evening:
Later that Night:
Calling All Bulldogs!