The Free Press may have been covering Aretha Franklin in Chicago, but I was at the somewhat less glamorous spring concert of the Brownell Middle School instrumental-music students. Three grades, many combinations and recombinations — 6th-grade strings, 7th- and 8th-grade band, etc. The show ran past 90 minutes, mainly from all the shuffling, but no one cared. Kate’s ensemble, the jazz band, went last. They’re the only purely extracurricular music group in the school, this being a district that believes in arts education, a fading concept in today’s miserly public-school culture. The saddest scenes in this season’s “Treme” are of the New Orleans children in band class, learning how to keep time with finger snaps, because their instruments haven’t traveled down whatever tortuous path, through however many sticky-fingered bureaucrats, to make it to the band room just yet.
No problem with that here. The instruments (rented, mostly) gleam. The director told a story about rehabilitating the school’s harp for a particular number, with the help of a private teacher. Does your school have a harp? I’d imagine that’s a luxury for most. Kate had a little moment in a number called “One Flight Down” (not the Norah Jones song), where she had to carry the rhythm section for a series of baby-step improvisations by trumpet and sax players. It was nice. I told her so, afterward. She said her hand had been cramping and she couldn’t hear herself, so she assumed she’d screwed it up. Where do girls learn this sort of effortless self-effacement? From other girls, if my memory serves. Think too highly of yourself, and you’re stuck-up. The trick is to effusively praise all your friends while deflecting any compliments: I love your hair. It’s so pretty. I wish I had your hair. My hair is so ugly. Or, alternatively: Your thighs are so skinny, I wish I had legs like yours. But my hair is awful. You have better hair. They spend all their time creating an ideal self, made from parts of all the other selves they see around them. How long does this last? Until age 30 or so, I think.
Anyway, I saw Paul Clemens there. Reminded me he ignored my last e-mail, if it even made it past the spam filter. What author flogging a book wouldn’t want valuable publicity from a hyperlocal website? I mean, so what if he’s been on “The Daily Show,” I run GrossePointeToday.com, which draws tens of eyeballs every day. Well, at least now I know he’s in the Brownell phone directory.
I read that Aretha story, linked above. I expect the Freep will be covering all of Aretha’s concerts from now on, sort of a deathwatch deal, although as they point out, she seems healthy and in good voice. I hope this is the last time we’ll see the phrase “triumphant return” in a headline, however. That’s another one of those journo-clichés that has no opposite; everyone’s return is triumphant, or else it’s not noted. Charlie Sheen’s better-received Chicago show, after his Detroit disaster, was probably called a triumphant return to the one-man-train-wreck stage.
A long week, and I’m glad it’s over. We had another bank robbery here, right around the corner from my house, in fact. I have to stop reading about these things on Facebook, because it makes my eyes cross, some of the ignorant stuff people say. For instance: “Too bad no one had a gun, so they could have blown the guy’s face off.” Yeah, that is a virtual guarantee of a happy ending to any armed robbery, don’t you agree? Guy walks into a bank and sticks it up, and some dime-store avenger pulls his own gun, and for what? To keep a federally insured financial institution from losing a couple grand. Of course it would have gone well, because the avenger is able to pull his piece without attracting attention, his aim is true, and the worst anyone gets is a bad dry-cleaning bill. The things some people must fantasize about. It makes you shudder.
Not much bloggage today; I’m tapioca. But a little:
For the first time, a majority of Americans support gay marriage. Enjoy your island while it lasts social conservatives; you’re no longer connected to dry land, and the tide is rising.
Unless, of course, the Rapture occurs this weekend. Then you might be OK.
First comes grandchild, then comes marriage — OK, with different kids, but still. $P is a mother of the groom. Congratulations and happiness to the non-embarrassing members of the family.
And with that, I’m late and must run. Happy weekend, all.