Thursday, March 12, 2009

taste, talent, and Amy Winehouse in 2009

Venturing out to pick up a load of laundry after sifting through the hamper for repeated wears of already worn socks with livable muck on the bottoms, I met a new comrade at the liquor store buying scotch on the way home; he's a musician, and a very nice young green-eyed human overall, from what I can tell so far.

Calder Hulse (isn't that just lovely?) gave me a delicious Jewish-culture-inspired triangle-shaped raspberry-filled cookie to snack upon, while standing amongst bottles of wine and other boozes, and another to take home with me.

In an hour-and-a-half, we exchanged what had to be the best conversation I've been part of in a while; as well as contact information, to be in touch for more conversations.

What impressed the most about meeting this young man, initially, was his somewhat pretentious confidence in explaining the differences between various whiskeys, scotches and wine.

I told him what I was looking for in reds: not too sweet, a cherry or raspberry versus citrus tone, not too dense, semi-transparent, less peppery, and most importantly--affordable. I stressed my search for the ultimate flavor in a bottle ranging between 10-14, that I preferred Pinot Noirs to Cabs, and then that whites were a rare craving, but mostly a summertime affair.

His take on this was that I drank more like a man than a girl, which was interesting to him, that I wasn't complicated to please in that I actually knew what I wanted, that what I was describing was what pricier reds brought to the table, but that it wasn't impossible to help me find what I was looking for.

After that, our discussion went by the way of how decent new music these days seems to be, and has been, in hibernation with all the pop and eighties and nineties sounds holding strong within its manifested realms of anti-originality.

Whether for the sake of nostalgia or to build a sense of community, hoards of individuals are confused, their identities strongly relying on the way their jeans fall around their carefully picked footwear; their left or right comb-overs looking amazingly effortless; their seamless sense of ennui perfected in times where the rest of the world seems to be in shambles compared to the luck and freedom we have in our lives as Americans.

I told a story of being in DC for a seminar discussing solutions for treatment for the mentally insane, how while waiting in a Renaissance Marriott restaurant for two $5.50 hard boiled eggs for a Nobel Prize winning panelist, an instrumental version Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" played like classical music over the speakers as I stood there in disbelief.

I juxtaposed that incident with one of waiting in a rat infested subway for a train to take me home two days later back in New York. There was an aged homeless black man playing the sweetest version of "Fur Elise" I'd ever heard in my life on what looked like a steel drum banged into shape with a mallot out of a garbage can.

A small child danced as if in a ecstatic trance, while the man pummeled his drum with home-made sticks, spinning and twisting his hips back and forth; his mother occasionally yanking his hoodie to bring him close to her again without even looking up.

It's as if some built-in mom radar sensed he was wandering not dangerously, but rudely, into passersby dropping dollars into the open backpack sparsely littered with dollars and change. The next song the man played, in his tattered, dirty bundle of clothes, was something familiar and Celtic by the one and only Enya.

The story I got back from Calder was about a world famous violinist who played these extravagant sold-out shows on a violin that was valued worth millions. There were people who decided to do an experiment and put the violinist in a subway station in plain clothes, to see if anyone would notice or appreciate the exquisite sounds of someone so revered by the sophisticate community.

Ultimately, the violinist was ignored for the most part, aside from random commuter children who would stop in their tracks and dance to his music as if possessed; or the occasional theater aficionado who would recognize the musician, whereby being flabbergasted and giving him piles of money as if he were downtrodden and begging for handouts.

What these conversations boiled down to was the idea that real technical talent is often unidentifiable by the masses, that they're more likely to be engaged by popular gimmicks, or catchy formulas rather than inventive ingenuity.

That people are so caught up in trying to fit into some category of intelligence or fraternity, their perceptions aren't inclined to fully develop in ways to branch beyond what they learn in books, or from positive social experiences that might make room for a-little-to-some practical impressions on their personalities.

Calder and I agreed that whether the art or music or literature we made was good or bad according to the opinions of others, we needed to proceed in producing what we considered to be "beautiful" regardless--with the confidence to create and define compositions with and by our own unyielding standards.

How else are we to get out of this rut of pop songs about "Rehab" playing in $300 a night hotels charging $5.50 for two hard boiled eggs? I'd like to think that the best music our kids are listening to these days aren't what they catch a glimpse of on route to daycare.

Hopefully wine tastings and glockenspiel infused Indonesian music events with Calder are on the horizon, as well as more conversations regarding the progression of art against formulaic odds within the creative spectrum of New York and beyond.


steve d said...

sharp sabra,

it's good to see that their are two more extended pieces from you before the end of the program.

so many great passages in here, the examined life stuff, the descriptions of the mom and hoody boy and the steel drum subway jammer.

and the declaration of confidence in one's art. focused. good luck with the wine and everything.

Camillionaire said...

I heard about the violinist (Joshua Bell) experiment on NPR. I love that this guy told you about it. :)

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