INVISIBLE BISEXUAL PRIVILEGE

 

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I reposted links to my blog piece on “The Nearly Invisible Male Bisexual” on Facebook (and Twitter) for National Coming Out Day.  Which led to the following exchange in the Facebook comment section which I think may serve as a querysome, quarrelsome footnote or addendum or just simply some food for thought on the question of invisi-BI-lity and its discontents and privileges:

(Oh, for sake of context, it might help to know that “P” is a 50something gay male, but this post it not really about him, but about the questions and concerns I felt and needed to express, for which his comments were a catalyst.)

P: I think their invisibility is what is irritating though – they can live perfectly happy lives in a heterosexual relationship without being constantly othered.

Me:  And do you direct the same amount of irritation towards bisexuals in homosexual relationships who don’t claim their bisexuality in order to not have to put up with biphobic nonsense from the Gay community?

This kind of invisibility privilege does go both ways. And does one first and foremost get irritated at the bisexual individual or at the society – straight and queer society – that resorts to a monosexual default? How about being irritated at those (or the society) that would “constantly other” anybody rather than at those who would need to announce their bisexuality at a daily basis in order to not have it be invisible by default.

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Anna Paquin with husband Stephen Moyer

Mind you, I dearly wish there were more like Anna Paquin (who while married to a man went public with her bisexuality), but she is also helped by being famous. One big announcement takes care of it for life. Not quite so easy for a regular bi-Joe. Yet the import of your statement – showing more irritation at the bisexual for being invisible rather than at the circumstances that make him invisible – only contributes to why so many bisexuals feel there is little support for them out there from all sides of society.

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NAZI LEGACY ALIVE AND WELL IN AN AUSTRIAN CEMETERY

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I came upon a plaque on the church wall in the cemetery at the edge of the Austrian ski resort town of Kitzbühel that profoundly disturbed me.  The chiseled marble commemorates a soldier who died in World War II.  There are abbreviations that render at least one line unintelligible to me, but the part that is troubling is quite unmistakeable.  The plaque reads as follows, translated into English:

In memory

of our dear, unforgettable

Son Brother and Nephew

Customs Assistant

Johann Brunner

(these abbreviations are incomprehensible to me, they might refer to his military rank)

who in 10/1/1942 in the Caucasus

in faithful fulfilling of duty to the

benefit of his over all beloved

Homeland in the age of 29 years

found the hero’s death

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I read this and see what begins as the heartbreak of a family; and then moves on to a certain officiousness of detail (most gravestones in this cemetery don’t bother with noting the deceased’s occupation, let alone whatever those abbreviations under his name refer to); but finally devolves into undeniable Nazi propaganda.  “In treuer Pflichterfüllung seiner über alles geliebten Heimat” is a particularly flowery bit of patriotic language I would only expect from a most confirmed proponent of the Third Reich war effort.  But the capper is the reference to the “Heldentod”: hero’s death.  That might as well come with a signpost screaming “NAZI IDIOM” in blazing letters.

The plaque is affixed onto the church wall, not a grave’s tombstone.  Perhaps Johann Brunner’s body was never returned, and thus a plaque on the wall replaces a proper burial.  But even so, I would assume that 75 years later somebody is still paying for this plaque to remain affixed, just like every grave in the church yard remains only as long as the descendants pay for its upkeep.   Do Johann Brunner’s descendants still approve of the language?  Does the church?  Do they consider it for what it is?  Maybe it only bothers me.

Kc-2I looked about the cemetery to see if there were other examples of graves or plaques commemorating local sons fallen in World War II.  I found the “farmer’s sons Alois and Andreas Erber” (right) who “died for the Homeland on the Western and Eastern Front”, a turn of phrase somewhat uncomfortably tied to the poisonous propaganda of its time, but followed by neutral specifics of location and age, and finally a bible quote and a plea for Jesus’ mercy.

 

 

 

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Devout prayers are encouraged for Ferdinand Weiser (left) who succumbed to typhoid in service for the Fatherland in Poland.  “In service for the Fatherland” is surely also a Nazi co-opted phrase, but it doesn’t strike me with the same incendiary branding as “Heldentod”.

Below the names of soldiers Josef and Oswald Obernauer are engraved on a family grave stone that includes family members interned in 1988 and 2006.  Josef is listed as having fallen in Macedonia, and Oswald is listed simply as “missing”, designations that succinctly explain the circumstances of their loss in WW2 without the militaristic or patriotic language of yesteryear.  But then, this grave marker was most likely first engraved in 1988 (then added to in 2006).

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Kc-6So, families can revise grave stones in the cemetery as time moves on, and as future burials add to family plots.  Maybe the questionable aspects of grave markers with Nazi propaganda can be explained by them being plaques on church walls.  Some of these plaques go back even further in time, like this one on the right, a World War I plaque for the “brave warrior” who went missing as a prisoner of war in Serbia.  Perhaps I am wrong to assume families still pay for the preservation of the plaques.  Does the church choose to keep them affixed to its walls for their historical significance regardless of descendants’ involvement?  Is the language on these plaques considered for what it represents?  At what point have we crossed from historical curiosity to something much more problematic, unconscionable even.

I personally am made uncomfortable at references of dying for the “Vaterland”.  “Faithful fulfilling of duty to the benefit of his over all beloved Homeland” turns my stomach.  “Heldentod” is absolutely unacceptable to me.  There might as well be a swastika etched into the plaque to boot.

As the significance of memorials to the Confederacy has currently roiled the USA, including debate on how to deal with such markers in cemeteries, perhaps it is past time similar questions regarding a particular German and Austrian historical evil are not left to rest quietly in Tirolian graveyards either.

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MONARCH BUTTERFLIES’ BROOKLYN STOPOVER

In which Ed and I become Monarch Butterfly Paparazzi

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Ed and I returned from the gym to find a flock of Monarch butterflies flapping about outside our window.  It appears that a particular vine wrapped around our garden fence was offering the migrating fliers a very welcome source of nutrition as they passed through Brooklyn on their way south.  So we grabbed the camera and took some shots to share.

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Coro a bocca chiusa – Giacomo Puccini – Madame Butterfly 

What better “Butterfly” music to grace this post than the Humming Chorus from Madame Butterfly, don’t you agree?

(OK, now, all you Mariah Carey, Jason Mraz, Sarah Vaughn, Weezer, Christina Perri and Crazy Town fans, please don’t get mad….)

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From Wikipedia:

“The eastern North American monarch population is notable for its annual southward late-summer/autumn migration from the northern and central United States and southern Canada to Florida and Mexico. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousands of miles, with a corresponding multi-generational return north.”

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Seeing BATTLE OF THE SEXES with the Next Generation

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Ed’s and my thorough enjoyment of the movie “Battle of the Sexes” was both enhanced and tempered by the group of preteen girls the theater’s reserved seating placed to my right.  Tempered because of the above average distractions I have come to expect from underage movie patrons (especially when in groups, especially in movies for grown-ups), but also enhanced because of what these distractions communicated about how this film with adult takes on sexism and sexuality might be resonating with young girls.

For a perfect review of “Battle of the Sexes” go no further than Manohola Dargis’ in the NYTimes, whose opening line (“Every so often an exceptionally capable woman has to prove her worth by competing against a clown.”) juicily encapsulates not only the plot of the movie’s take on Billie Jean King and Bobby Rigg’s epic 1973 tennis exhibition match, but also the unwelcome additional weight and resonance recent electoral history has monstrously bestowed on “Battle of the Sexes” in a way the filmmakers could not have anticipated (and I presume would not have wished for) during the long years of writing, and preparing before shooting the movie in 2016.

I went in expecting and getting an enjoyable and smart comedy/drama with some great actors (Yeah! Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, Andrea Riseborough), but was happily surprised by just how many other great actors doing great acting filled out the ensemble.  Hello, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, and (Yeah!) Alan Cumming!  Surprise, Fred Armisen! Elisabeth Shue, I didn’t recognize you!  Nice to be introduced to you, Austin Stowell, perfectly cast as Billie Jean’s husband Larry.  Oh look, that guy playing Steve Carrell’s son looks like he could be Bill Pullman’s son; oh, it is Bill Pullman’s son Lewis!  I also was very taken with how Linus Sandgren’s cinematography perfectly evoked a 1970s movie look; and appreciated the strong use of music, not just Nicholas Britell’s (Moonlight) fine score, but the highly effective use of 1970’s pop classics like Apollo 100’s “Joy” and (most sizzlingly, seductively) Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover”.

Joy – Apollo 100

An old man, fuddy duddy notion of “what are 9 or 10 year old girls doing in a movie with themes of sexuality and lesbianism” did hypocritically enter my mind before I reminded myself that this was not even an R rated but a PG-13 rated movie (surely an adult chaperone was seated somewhere down the row, I didn’t crane my neck to see); and I myself had seen even more eyebrow-raisingly adult movies at that or near their age.  And I turned out just … well, I turned out fine enough.

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But I had reason to be concerned about how the movie’s subtle, grown up depiction of lesbianism would go over with my young seat-neighbors (mild spoilers ensue from here on).  The scene where Billie Jean first meets and is given a hair cut by her future lover Marilyn Barnett crackles with sexual tension, as filmed with sensual close-ups and discombobulating editing.  The adults in the audience all held their breaths, spellbound. But the kids to my right kept merrily crackling their popcorn and rustling their candies, the rich import of the scene apparently going over their heads.

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THE COW BELL CANTATA – and a Splatterrific Intermezzo

Wild Emperors, Coxcombs and Horny Mountains in Tirol

Plus Heidi-centric Encores!

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COW BELL CANTATA – CANTATA DA CAMPANA MUCCA

registrato da maestro Daniello Ashkenasi

1. Movimento – Allegro con Forte Subito

 

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The Kitzbühel Horn mountain

K4Encountered some musical cows on the slopes of the mountains of Kitzbühel, Austria.  And so, with the help of three short video clips, the first just above, I present the Cow Bell Cantata, the first dramatic movement featuring a shockingly loud outburst in the brass section.

The other clips of the three movement cantata follow below, interspersed with pictures of the Tirolian splendors around Kitzbühel.

Plus an Intermezzo of a Splat Concert (I’ll explain).

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The Wilde Kaiser (Wild Emperor) Mountain Range rises grandly behind the Lebenberg Hill on the outskirts of Kitzbühel.

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On top the Hahnenkamm (Coxcomb) mountain

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Second movements in classical music tend to be the slower, quieter sections.  No different here.  That doesn’t mean there will be no sudden (subito) surprises, as in a wasp fly-by:

2. Movimento – Pianissimo con Vespa Sorpresa

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The Bischoff mountain, which I fittingly hiked with my erstwhile drama teacher Mr. Bishop years after graduating high school.

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AIDS Memorial, Greenwich Village, NYC

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Breaths – The Flirtations

 

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Jesus to a Child – George Michael

 

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Smalltown Boy – Bronski Beat

 

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Boy Blue – Cyndi Lauper

 

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SECRET GARDEN SONGS or The View From My Lawn Chair

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Secret Garden Song #1

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The other day I was lying in my lawn chair under the Japanese maple tree in my little back yard in Brooklyn and I got intrigued by the variety of colors and shapes and shades catching my eye merely by turning my head from its laid back position.  So I grabbed my phone and took some pictures zooming in on some of these details of geometry and light as they presented themselves.  Including this shot to the right intended to verify my lawn-chaired perspective – like I said, all I did for all these pictures is swivel my head around right where I was leisurely outstretched on the lawn chair for a couple of minutes, zooming in a little, framing the images and clicking the camera phone. Perhaps this makes all this no more than a goofy premise for a variety of out door shots. Or maybe you’ll join me in finding a certain near abstract dynamism and beauty in many of these odd photographic compositions.

And as is becoming a burgeoning tradition here on Notes from a Composer, I will season this post with garden themed songs, but keep their identities secret, for those who like musical guessing games.  All the hints you’ll need to identify song title and artist will be available in the list of tags below this post, which should help narrow down the options and verify your guesses.  But right off I will have to disappoint all those who are hoping for a track from any iteration of “The Secret Garden”, musical or movie or otherwise; because that would be, well, just too … obvious.

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Secret Garden Song #2

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TOTAL ECLIPSE in PAINTED HILLS, OREGON

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The Total Eclipse of August 21, 2017

As Seen from the Magnificent Painted Hills, Oregon

With Eclipstastic Music!

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We left Redmond, Oregon, at 7:15am.  Madras, just north of Redmond, would be smack in the path of totality, but we decided to experience the total eclipse further east at Painted Hills, Oregon.  Because it promised to be an extra special staging ground for the magnificent event.  In the 90 minutes it took us to drive to Painted Hills, I entertained my eclipse companions with all the eclipse themed music I could find on my Ipod, the highlights of which I will include here too, starting with the obvious and undeniable:

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

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Everywhere along the side of the road, people were setting up camp to watch the coming celestial event.

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Eventually we got to Painted Hills…

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Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

Black Hole Sun – Lea DeLaria

(Did you know Lesbian comic/actress Lea DeLaria recorded a jazz album of 90s alternative rock songs called “Double Standards”?  She also recorded a jazz album of David Bowie songs called “House of David”.)  

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Thousands were already parking on the side of the access road to the park.  We still found a spot in the official parking lot.

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The Sun Always Shines On TV – A-Ha

Ed and I making our way to the Painted Hills, joined by many other eclipse enthusiasts, some with especially made t-shirts.

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Shortly after 9am, the moon started making its way in front of the sun.

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Moonshadow – Cat Stevens

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Everyone has their cameras trained at the sun.  But there’s the spectacular vista of the Painted Hills all around for the picture taking too.

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Moonage Daydream – David Bowie

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We decided we would watch the main event from that hill up high:

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The view from up there:

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SONGS to RING IN the NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE

Remember the good old days of daily nightmares of nuclear armageddon?

They’re back!  Yippee!  

So let’s replay some golden oldies of the atomic age!

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Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire “Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” famously ends with nuclear armageddon being rung in to the strains of “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when”.  Ever since the movie’s release that warm World War Two era chestnut has taken on an additional tinge of Cold War cool.

But what of songs that dealt with nuclear war directly, from their inception?  Now that the narcissistic blustering of two Dear Leaders with the impulse control of toddlers (minus toddlers’ instincts for empathy) have quickly resurrected the specter of imminent nuclear confrontation that we all thought had faded since 1989, perhaps it would be fun (fun???) to revisit some of the pop music classics of nuclear annihilation.

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Tom Lehrer

I must start with two classics of comedy songs, both from Tom Lehrer, who twinklingly skewered 1950’s and 1960’s society as America’s premiere lounge singer court jester.  “So Long, Mom” perfectly transplants the “Over There” jingoism and “Send a salami to your boy in the army” boosterism of WW1 and WW2 into the era of WW3 (an era which will last only 90 minutes).  Its musical sibling is the even blacker humored “survival revival hymn”: “We Will All Go Together When We Go”:

So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III) – Tom Lehrer

We Will All Go Together When We Go – Tom Lehrer

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Kate Bush in the “Breathing” video

For some reason, the 1970’s produced almost no songs about nuclear war.  But moving into the 1980s we find many popular songs that treat nuclear war in all earnestness.  The perhaps lyrically and musically most successful, and devastating, is Kate Bush’s epic “Breathing”, which evokes an apocalyptic landscape of doomed survivors, including a fetus inside its mother’s womb, breathing in the fall-out of a nuclear winter.

Breathing – Kate Bush

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Clip from the “Dancing…” video

Also deadly earnest, but set to a bopping beat, Ultravox’s “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” recounts the melodramatic tale of a man hearing on the car radio that nuclear war is imminent and racing home to make love to his wife one last time.  Yep, we danced to this in the 1980’s.  Fun times at the disco!

Dancing with Tears in My Eyes – Ultravox

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WATER LILIES (Pics and Tunes)

Testing out the new camera at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Lily #1

(for details on the “Lily” songs, check on the “tags” at the bottom of the post)

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Lily #2

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QUEEN, ADAM LAMBERT, my dinky little camera, & ME

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Wednesday I treated myself to the Queen & Adam Lambert concert.  Today (Friday) I could have seen them up the street in Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, but I have family visiting, so instead I trekked out to New Jersey’s Prudential Center (only twenty minutes on NJ Transit from Manhattan’s Penn Station, a thirty minute subway ride away from home, no biggie, but when it could have been a simple ten minute walk in total…).

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Yes, I’m the guy who brings opera glasses to a rock concert.  Didn’t need them this time, though.

Anyhow, original Queen band members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have invited openly Gay American Idol alum (and solo star in his own right) Adam Lambert to do the vocal honors.  Stepping into the legendary Freddie Mercury’s footsteps is a daunting task, yet Lambert takes on the responsibility with a light touch, never presuming to replace what is irreplaceable, and serving the songs beautifully with his own impressive vocal chops and friendly insouciance.

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Unlike in the Madonna concert I only sorta saw because the video screens were invisible from my high offsides seat, the Queen screens were, in addition to the back-screen, a wrap-around strip above the stage, bending towards the sides as well as the front.  If I had been sitting in those same Madonna nose bleed seats, these would have given me more to see.  As it is, I managed to snag a pretty good floor seat without paying through the nose.

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Adam Lambert’s arms have achieved full tattage:

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The Passion of Rodin in the Beaux-Arts Court

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Impressions of August Rodin sculptures in the Beaux-Arts Court of the Brooklyn Museum.

Most of the Rodin sculptures are casts of studies for Rodin’s monumental Burghers of Calais.

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Will Whoopi Goldberg Get Andy Serkis his Overdue Oscar?

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“War for the Planet of the Apes” has opened to universal acclaim and a renewed call to give an Oscar to Andy Serkis, the actor who pioneered and perfected motion capture acting as lead ape Caesar in the Planet of the Apes trilogy, as well as King Kong and Smeagol/Gollum in Peter Jackson’s sojourns to Skull island and Middle Earth).

This push to award Serkis an acting oscar (now for Caesar and earlier for Gollum) or a Special Achievement Academy Award has come up many times over the years, yet so far yielded no nominations and no special consideration.  Conventional wisdom is that many actors feel threatened by motion capture, fearing that its special effects creations will eliminate acting work, rather than recognizing it as a vehicle for greater acting opportunities and adding to the art of acting.   However the tide may be turning this year, because a champion of Andy Serkis’, none other than Whoopi Goldberg, has just been elected governor of the actors branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors.  And within less than two weeks after joining the Board, Goldberg made this public endorsement of Andy Serkis on The View:

“I saw “War for the Planet of the Apes”.  It was so good.  It was so good on so many levels. There are a lot of folks in the film, but it’s really a two person character piece.  And it’s Woody Harrelson and this marvelous man who you’ve seen in other films like “Lord of the Rings”, he played Gollum.  His name is Andy Serkis. … Andy is able to do things in this film that other actors would love to be able to elicit from people.  …

I do think it is [a new frontier for actors].  It is a whole other genre of acting.  When you look at him as Gollum … What you see on that creature’s face, all of that that you’re seeing is not made up.  That’s the actor.  The CGI, the dots that he’s wearing so that they can paint in the creature he’s being – it’s kind of spectacular when you can see what he can do, because it’s him doing it.

[Can he get an award?]  I’ve been working on this since he did the very first Gollum.  The first time I saw him and found out it was an actor doing it, I was out of my mind.  Then I saw Planet of the Apes, and I was like ‘Somebody needs to give this man an award from the academy saying: for forwarding the actor’s ability.’  Because he is now taken us to a different level where actors can actually play anything.  They can now play anything.  It’s amazing.”

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The Birthday Evocation Born in a Memorial Service

 

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15th Street Quaker Meeting House, NYC

 

It’s Ed’s birthday today.  Happy Birthday, Love.  And as is tradition now in our relationship, I will gift Ed another viola/piano duet I compose for the occasion, each one called “Evocation”.  This year my husband will receive Evocation XXIV.

I haven’t been doing much composing lately.  Unless one counts the operas I get schoolchildren from Kindergarten to fourth grade to create – and I don’t count that as me composing – my last composition was last year’s Evocation, for Ed’s previous birthday, part of my ever expanding non-musical theater sideline of chamber music.

It has been a year of grieving.  My father’s death last spring was followed a half year later by a series of deaths of close relatives and friends.  In the course of four weeks alone Ed and I attended three memorial services.  Including the one that, strangely, gave rise to Evocation XXIV.

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Ernie and Vince Buscemi, center, surrounded by more lovely Quakers, 2004

Vince Buscemi was a Quaker in Ed’s meeting.  He and his wife Ernie were part of Ed and my Clearness Committee, a group that is formed to meet with a couple that requests their marriage be taken under the care of a Quaker meeting.  Vince was very excited about the prospect of Ed and me marrying. Morningside Meeting was the first Quaker meeting in New York City, let alone religious congregation of any kind, to welcome same-sex marriages.  They married their first male/male couple back in 1980.  And yet in 1998 Ed and I would be only the second.  It’s a small congregation.

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15th Street Meeting House interior

Vince was our greatest champion, and openly hoped I would become a full fledged Quaker like Ed (but I have been content to keep my spiritually unaffiliated status as a “Friend of Friend”, as spouses are designated in Quaker nomenclature).  This happy, lovely, sweetest of men died in his early 90s, his final years marked by Alzheimers; a history which painfully mirrored the recent passing of my 94 year old cousin Monroe, for whose care I had been primarily responsible the previous seven years.

Vince, Monroe, the cascade of recent deaths close to me, all were not far from thought as Ed and I found our seats in the pews of 15th Meeting House where Vince’s memorial service took place.  Quaker memorial services are structured like Quaker meetings for worship.  There is no minister conducting a service, there is only the full congregation, seated in silence.  If anyone feels moved to speak, they rise, and give a short message. Which is followed by an appropriate amount of silence while the congregation absorbs the message; then another congregant may feel moved to rise and speak.  Or silence prevails. A regular Quaker service for worship may have few messages, even be 60 minutes of complete silence, depending on how the Spirit moves the assembled.  Quaker memorial services, like Quaker weddings, however, tend to encourage a lot of messages.

I don’t often attend Quaker meetings for worship.  And when I do, I don’t rise to give a message.  I stay silent.  And in that silence, what comes to my mind is usually music.  Not words, or dreams, or memories.  It is music that fills my mind in the silence of a Quaker meeting.  Which is why I believe, if pressed for an answer on denominational affiliation, I would say my religion is Music.

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Panorama view of 15th Street interior

That day, during Vince’s Quaker memorial service, a rather odd musical idea popped into my head.  Not music I knew, which I would have expected, but a melodic line, by a string instrument.  A willfully odd melody.  Not even sure if it could be called a melody.  Maybe more a motif.  Which would leap up over one octave and jump back down multiple octaves.  Which makes it the kind of motif one can not easily hum to oneself.  It just felt weird and awkward trying to silently hear it inside my head.  Not something for the human voice.  But it made sense for the viola.

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In Which I Complete the 30 DAY SONG CHALLENGE

Fun on Twitter.  Last month I took on the #30daysongchallenge.

Here are the complete results, lightly annotated:

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Kurt Weill

 

No kidding.  Kurt Weill’s haunting masterpiece.

The subject of one of this blog’s most widely read pieces:

Speak Low, Phoenix, Speak Low…

 

 

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See for yourself:

I felt the need to add an explanatory tweet:

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Maybe it’s because Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple reminds me of our housekeeper/babysitter/Grandma-substitute, Frau Borbonus, AKA Tatu, with whom I would happily watch all the 1960 Miss Marple movies on TV when I was a kid.  That certainly ups the nostalgia levels.  But listen to this music.  How can it not at least put a goofy smile on your face.  It makes me want to dance like a Peanuts cartoon.  On a musical side note, I love the way the strings and the harpsichord share the melody and obligato parts.  And those chirping flutes.

Theme from Miss Marple – Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra

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Philadelphia – Neil Young

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I believe I once read somewhere that Kate Bush herself was not sure what the lyrics of “Love and Anger” meant.  If she did say that I wonder whether she was merely being coy.  I understood and related to every word.  At the time the song came out, its lyrics spoke spookily specifically to feelings and circumstances painfully specific to one very special relationship.  And that’s already more than I really care to say on that subject.

Love and Anger – Kate Bush

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Not kidding.  22 versions from Clooney to Sinatra, Pink Martini to Lee Press-On, electronica to big band, high gloss to high camp:

BRAZIL – THE WHOLE FEIJOADA

 

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The Young Lovers’ Path to Speak Easy

Two Fawns in the Wood Dance into the Light

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Maybe it’s just a dream.  Maybe it’s real.  Maybe it doesn’t matter either way.  For the shame and the betrayal are felt just as acutely.

In the musical Speakeasy, an Alice in Wonderland take on Prohibition era New York, young newlyweds John and Jane have each spent a night of passion with lovers in separate parts of the city.  In a nasty twist of space and time, their beds are magically united, and John and Jane discover and are discovered in same sex adultery.

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And so John and Jane sing “A Fawn in the Wood”, a fraught song of a couple clinging and pushing away, desperately afraid, of themselves and the other.  For an act and a half John and Jane sang lovely duets that only sounded like they were in harmony together (see previous post), but in actuality had them physically separate and unaware, directing their shared feelings away from the other.  Now finally John and Jane sing a proper duet, to each other, full of love and longing in the classical sense, but also full of fear, and self-loathing, a fervor to forgive and be forgiven, yet also an unspoken desire to forget, a fear of looking too closely at the truths about themselves.

The title and central metaphor of “A Fawn in the Wood” comes from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” and Alice’s encounter with a fawn.  Alice, after much Wonderland strangeness, is so confused that she can’t even remember her name, let alone figure where to go.  She meets a fawn in a dark wood, that also can’t seem to remember its name.  They both walk together through the wood, Alice’s “arms clasped lovingly around the soft neck of the fawn”.  But when they come to the light of an open field, the fawn recognizes Alice as a human and itself as a fawn and flees in alarm.  Alice knows who she is again, but is left alone and lost.

And so are now Jane and John, afraid and lost together, and clinging to another for comfort, even though the other is as much a cause for dismay as comfort.

 

A Fawn in the Wood

 

Duchess and Julian exit.

 

Long pause. John and Jane remain thunderstruck on the bed.

 

JANE:

You…

 

JOHN:

You…

 

JANE:

And Julian?

 

JOHN:

Duchess!

 

JANE:

You slept with a man.

 

JOHN:

He was dressed in women’s clothes.

 

JANE:

Is that supposed to make me feel better?

 

JOHN:

What was Duchess wearing when you made love to her?

Jane moves to get away from John.

 

JOHN:

No, please. Don’t. I’m sorry.

 

Both remain on the bed.

 

JANE:

Oh, John. What’s happened to us?

 

JOHN:

I… I… please, Jane, look at me.

 

JANE:

I don’t know who you are anymore.

 

JOHN:

Don’t say that.

 

JANE:

I don’t know who I am anymore.

 

A FAWN IN THE WOOD

 

JOHN:

IF YOU WERE A FAWN IN THE WOOD

WOULD YOU FEAR ME

AS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD

OR COME NEAR ME

STILL BE DRAWN TO THE GOOD

YOU HOLD DEARLY

WOULD YOU HEAR ME

STAY BESIDE ME

HEAR THE TALE OF MY HEART

NOW CONFIDING

NO MORE HIDING

WHAT’S INSIDE ME

WOULD YOU FLEE WITH A START

NO MORE ABIDING

ALL THE FAULTS I IMPART

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Posted in LGBTQ Alphabet Soup, Literary Lyricism, The Speakeasy Chronicles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment