Archive for January, 2013

Here for the Music

January 30th, 2013

At 8 PM, the Cantab’s performance space was so quiet we could have heard a caterpillar crawling. By 9, with the opening act half way through their set, the me-me-me birds so overpowered the amplified voices and instruments it was a pantomime.

Straining to hear Hoss Power, then accepting defeat, I thought of the sighs, moans and worse of my musician friends who play in bars. I also climbed into the WABAC machine in a flash memory of when I angered a singer in a New York nightclub.

Last evening was the predictable. By 8:30, the scheduled start, the small room filled, almost entirely with 20-something college sorts. Cantab does a good deed on Tuesdays in bringing in two bluegrass bands for only the price of a passed tip hat and your swilled booze. Being cheap and bluegrass being current hipster fodder, the room, then the adjacent standing space were jam-packed.

…but not for the music.

Da utes were there to socialize and toss back $5 beers and wines. They bellowed and brayed. Some never looked up from their smartphones. A small subset in chairs closest to the stage were clearly there for the band. There were smiles and waves; maybe their were all friends of the group — a lot of folk, mostly women, with a fiddle, mandolin, two guitars, banjo and upright bass. As many as there were hip to hip on the small stage and with working mics, they were no match for the increasing chatter.

Management is used to this and surely the bar had no objections to the non-stop hand signals for another round. We drank a couple ourselves.

alina

In the big-kid world of performance halls with pricey tickets, folk who talk endlessly and in increasing volume over performers doesn’t work. Abutters and staff hush them or remove them. My muse-I-can chums assure me that’s not the way in most bars. Customers are all about themselves. The band is coincidental.

It suddenly reminded me of my own issue many years ago. I pissed off Sesame Street’s Olivia, a.k.a. Alaina Reed.

Before her long stint with Big Bird, she was already a singer and actress. Her blues were powerful and convincing.

I was single and brought a female companion for the show. I also brought my new 35mm camera (decades before digital photography). I was considerate and discreet — no flash and only a few shots. I prided myself in being considerate.

Yet in retrospect, I was different only in degree from the clods at the Cantab last night.

After her long set, she stopped by our table on her way out of the room. She looked fiercely into my face and told me  how rude I’d been. She said that the several shutter clicks had tested her concentration.

To me, the noises were so few and faint that I hadn’t considered them a problem. I immediately apologized and iterated that several times. She was decidedly not placated. She stood there and kept at it.

Surprisingly, she did accept my invitation to have an I’m-really-sorry drink with us. Cocktail in hand, she relentlessly scolded me. Naively, I had assumed that the double social lubrication of apology and alcohol would ease the anger. …not at all.

She must have told me 15 different slight variations on how difficult it is to maintain focus as the sole singer in a room and how my selfish noises had challenged her focus. My and my date’s praise for her show also had no obvious effect.

Eventually, she finished her drink and seemed to tire of verbally slapping me. She never once smiled nor showed the slightest indication that anything was forgiven.

The testiness of artistes is the stuff of legend. Alaina Reed was at once right and self-righteous.

Last night, Hoss Power’s musicians plugged away as though everyone could hear them and was listening to the music not each other. They left the stage smiling and were pretty good. No one learned any lessons from them about how to behave in public.

Different people, places and times…

 

 

Warren’s Roxbury Show and Tell

January 6th, 2013

Not exactly an Andrew Jackson moment, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ceremonial ceremony had little pomp, no fluff and lots of celebrity pols. The conceit was that while she had already legally taken the oath, a show version in Boston would reinforce her populist cred. It worked.

The drama on stage was largely unspoken. Senior Senator for the moment John Kerry towered politically as well as physically. The always funny and nearly as candid as Barney Frank Sheriff Andrea Cabral (check her wonderful lacy black fan she kept flapping) started with the virtual certainty that Kerry will become Secretary of State. Kerry himself said that should that happen, Warren will be the Junior Senator for about three legislative days, as opposed to his 26 years behind Ted Kennedy.

What didn’t happen was anyone overtly pitching for either the resulting interim Senate spot or for the permanent spot to be decided in a special election, likely in June. The tension was there though, with so many possibles within a few yards of each other and sometimes in adjacent seats on stage.

Frank already made his lust known on the Morning Joe Show. He said he told Gov. Deval Patrick he would like the appointment. In his usual straight ahead style, he said, “I’m not going to be coy. It’s not something I’ve ever been good at. I’ve told the governor that I would now like frankly to do that because I would like to be a part of that. It’s only a three-month period; I wouldn’t want to do anything more. I don’t want to run again…Coach, put me in!” With all the looming fiscal conflicts and crises to resolve in Congress, Frank figures he decades of expertise there make him the right temp for the job.

While I saw the two huddling to one side of the stage before showtime, no one could hear, there were no bear hugs following, and Patrick has never indicated approval of the plug-in. MA political gossips instead latched onto yesterday morning’s tweet from Patrick’s campaign demigod, Doug Rubin. While Rubin noted later he was typing only for himself, he did tweet, “I respect Cong. Frank and what he has accomplished, but there are better options for MA Senate interim appointment.”

Rubin is always smart and often right. I lean with Frank on this one. The interim Senate seat is a specialized one for the fiscal expertise and negotiating skills it will require. Frank knows the devil out of the money and tax aspects, as well as the reality of Congressional dealings.

Likewise, no one spoke to the special election. At hand were Rep. Ed Markey, who not only announced first, but quickly got oral support from several MA pols. Most significantly was Kerry.

Yet Congressmen Mike Capuano and Steve Lynch are likely to make plays. Also MA Sen. Ben Dowling was there and could well go for the special election. They milled around the stage, shook hands, hugged the women pols, and tried not to look too eager or needy. As an interesting sidelight, when the college president was calling out the officials there, Capuano was the only Congressman who got big cheers and applause. He truly is the working voters’ champion that ex-Sen. Scott Brown pretended to be. That plays well, at least in the Boston area.

Not surprisingly, over at the Herald, in several posts related to the ceremony, the negativity was predictable. The commenters large dislike liberals, disrespect women, and detest progressives. The usual clowns who ride the fantasy pony of Warren gaining some advantage after the fact from her slight Native American heritage, continued to rant about certain debt and death of honesty via her. A few did manage to note that yesterday’s show swearing in was apt for someone they continue to define as a fake Indian. A lefty woman will never, ever suit them.They become pebbles washed up on the banks as the river flows on.

My mini-rant is one of amusement rather than disdain. Warren believes she is a true egalitarian. Certainly her writings and public service indicate that. Yet the upper distant half of the auditorium of perhaps 1000 seats was for us plebes. Thus, the shots that follow are from over 100 feet away and not all that clear.

Lower seats were for pols not important enough to be on stage, yet more important an ordinary voters. There were press rows, chosen campaign workers and such. No guards kept hoi polloi away, but there was a decided caste system in play. Again, her heart and head are aware, but this was no Andrew Jackson, let-the-rabble-in moment.

No one seemed to notice or mind. In fact, at the following reception in the student cafeteria, hundreds dutifully lined up in airline-ticket-style rows to get pix taken with her, her husband and Justice Kagan. People wanted to be part of their populist Senator’s day.

browniepledge The cute quotient came via the Cohasset Girl Scout, including the short end. They led the pledge of allegiance. Towering pols behind them, Steve Murphy and Andrea Cabral had to nudge the girls off stage as they became stunned by the clapping, cheering audience.
MA Treasurer/Receiver General and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, The latter, publicly at least, gave his Senatorial ambitions a rest for the afternoon. grossmanmarkety
bumpcoakley MA Auditor Suzanne Bump and AG Martha Coakley also got spots on stage and were very busy before showtime. Neither allegedly wants to pending open Senate seat.
On the other hand, whatever Bump had to say to Boston City Council President Steve Murphy kept his constantly amused. murphybump
cabralfan My nominee for best accessory of the day was Sheriff Andrea Cabral’s lacy black fan. She gave it a real workout.
Gov. Patrick stifled himself. Warren praised him and his wife for their support and advice. He said nothing to us about the coming interim or replacement Senate spots. devalmic
kerrymic Kerry managed to speak of his near certain move to Secretary of State in theoretical terms. He did seem elated at the idea though.
Warren as always had the crowd with her populist messages, such as everyone paying fair taxes and government cuts starting, not with Social Security, but with big agriculture and big oil.

She concluded by saying she hoped to be able to live to up Ted Kennedy’s legacy. “As I take this oath of office, I make this sacred promise to each and everyone of you that’s here today witnessing, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as your Senator, I am grateful for your hard work and support, I am deeply touched by the faith and trust you have put in me, and I pledge today that I will  never, never stop fighting for you.”

warrengesture

Pix Notes: You’re welcome to anything useful. They are Creative Commons, so just cite Mike Ball once.