Editor’s note: Since the Oregon Symphony is again playing Beethoven’s Symphony #9 to ring in the new year, we asked Ludwig van’s distant descendant, Beerthoven, to comment on his ancestor’s masterpiece. He didn’t, really, but who cares?
What do Jenna Jameson and Charles Barkley have in common, aside from Charles’ traffic ticket because he was in a hurry to get a blow job (frankly the police should have let him go simply for giving a completely honest answer as to why he was speeding but never mind that)? Combined, we can refer to them as the “Round Mounds of Rebounds.” Aside from that, both of them spent time performing in the entertainment industry. It’s not sports, it’s sports entertainment. That Vince McMahon dude from WWE got it right.
Now what do Charles, Jenna and (and if you have a different conductor that you particularly dislike feel free to substitute your personal choice here) Herbert von Karajan have in common? Absolutely nothing: Herbie the K never did learn that he was in the entertainment industry.
Let’s try a different comparison. What do gold, silver, and copper have in common with Herbie? Again, absolutely nothing; gold, silver and copper are excellent conductors.
Before anyone tries to point out that Jenna’s silicone monuments qualify her as a semiconductor (and that is more credit than I will assign to Herbie), it is silicon that is the semiconductor, not silicone. I didn’t intend this to become a lesson in metallurgy (that is a pretty big word for such a small beer; I had better correct that) so it’s time to move on.
The frequency that I find things noteworthy (good or bad) is not particularly high. The last piece of “classical” music that I heard for the first time that I even remember was by Carl Nielsen, and that was at least 15 years ago (remembering it means that it didn’t make me want to throw up or that I did throw up after hearing it). I don’t count soundtracks for movies; if I did, the Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Alien series would count for much.
I am sure that this is going somewhere even if none of us has figured out when or where. Somewhere along the line, I have referred to some pompous fuck waving a stick. I am sure that if I try hard enough, I can find something good to say about the pompous fucks. Well, this took a lot of effort (and beer) but the really good thing about pompous fucks is that if I wait long enough, they die! Rest in peace Herbie, I can’t honestly say that I miss you or any of the others.
I do not believe that the musicians are so talentless that they require having a stick waved in front of them to be able to perform. I for one would like to hear a piece, and preferably one that I am familiar with performed without the pompous stick waving fuck in front. Maybe it would suck, and maybe it would put some new life into music that is old and stale. Of course I also think that baseball managers don’t know anything about baseball, but they are extremely good (at least the good ones) at managing a bunch of inflated egos.
Now that bowl season is in full swing, this brings me to college football. On the surface, college football does not appear to have much to do with music, classical or otherwise. Perhaps I am dating myself a bit, but there was a time when at halftime, the marching bands were shown on TV. Today was not one of those days however. For those of you keeping track, the USC band played “Victory” 18 times and “Conquest” 22 times. Not that I know the difference between the two (in that respect they remind me of Mozart’s first 13 symphonies except Conquest and Victory are both far more memorable).
These days there still is one game where the marching bands get some airtime and that is the Bayou Classic (someone went to the NASCAR and WWE schools of Marketing) between Southern University and Grambling State University.
A marching band is slightly different from a symphony orchestra. On one hand, the musicians get off their ass while they are playing (unlike a symphony orchestra). They are also spread out over 50 or 60 yards where a symphony may be spread out over 60 feet. There are other things that can be compared between the two and unfortunately one of those is that a marching band again has some pompous fuck waving a stick in front of it. Sometimes it is a couple of pompous fucks waving sticks. Being someone who has actually watched the people playing the instruments instead of the pompous stick-waving fuck, I have a couple of observations.
Some of these people have a card dimension of QxQ in front of them. At an angle Z that represents their displacement in meters T, the pompous stick-waving fuck is completely invisible behind the card, but these people can still play something that is recognizable (even to uneducated barbarians such as myself). Never mind that I left out that sound travels at a specific speed if temperature and pressure are constant. Never mind that the Superdome is an acoustic nightmare. Just ignore that hurricane blowing in, it will not make any difference. If you do not believe me, take a physics class. Fuck, take 2 or 3 physics classes, we are all idiots here (Ok, I’m not an idiot, I just play one on the internet and sometimes I do a better job than other times).
Most of us have seen or heard groups of different size perform. It might be 3 – 5 people, it might 15, it might be 50 or 100 or 435 or 1,000. Have you ever noticed that as a group gets larger, inevitably it winds up with some pompous fuck waving a stick? I rarely see rock bands with 3-8 members or string trios/quartets/quintets with a conductor. On the other side, I see some very dysfunctional groups of varying size like the state legislature, symphony orchestras, the US House of Representatives, and the US Senate. These groups all have something in common. Care to guess what it is? That’s right, it is some pompous fuck waving a stick, including gavels.
Next time you go to the Symphony, or the Ballet, or the Metallica concert, or the Opera, or whatever the fuck I left out, remember that that pompous stick waving fuck really does not have a functional use.
My dislike of pompous fucks waving a stick is pretty well documented. Some of you would consider me a pompous fuck, and you would be right. I however manage to be one without waving a stick in front of a bunch of people.
Next time we search for the elusive non-pompous stick waving fuck, but until then, I am out of beer.
This post appeared in slightly more inebriated form on alitisa.com. Beerthoven is an actual Oregonian, but has never written for Oregon ArtsWatch. The Oregon Symphony performs Beethoven’s — not Beerthoven’s — Ninth Wednesday night at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
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