Month: November 2008

We can hardly stand the wait

If you’re one of those that enjoys the stately passing of the seasons, likes to take the time to appreciate each unique moment, believes in each day having its own dignity, &c.—in other words, if you’re like me, and think that a certain December holiday’s backwards creep into more and more of the calendar is an abomination, you might remember to send a fruitcake to the good officers at the Boston Police Department, who share your pain.

At about 4:04 am, on Saturday, November 8, 2008, officers from Area C-6 (South Boston) responded to a radio call for loud music in the area of 5 Shepton Terrace. On arrival, officers spoke to several residents who stated that one of the tenants was playing his music much too loud. As officers approached the location in question, officers could hear Christmas music being played at an unnecessarily loud level. When the tenant answered the door, officers instructed him to lower the music due to calls made to 9-1-1. Officers further advised the tenant that people were having difficulty sleeping due the loud Christmas music. With the music turned down, officers left the location. However, a short time later, officers were called back to the same address for the same reason (noise complaint). Upon arrival, officers were able to hear the loud Christmas music. When officers knocked on the door, the tenant answered the door and began swearing at the officers.

November 8, mind you. He can’t even make the Russian old calendar/new calendar argument.

Maybe there’s actually a rhythmic lesson here. If you’re right in the groove (carols on December 25th), it’s OK; if you’re sufficiently behind the beat (Christmas in July), it’s a pleasant syncopation. But forty-seven three-hundred-sixty-fifths of a beat early? Throws everything off.

The Remembrance Ceremony

The last Christmas party at our home was that of 1916. Then in 1917 Walker was training at Camp Dix and we all went out with his mother and spent Christmas Day at an inn near by to which he could come. There was rumor everywhere that his regiment was to embark for overseas in a few days, although he really did not sail until May. We all did our best to make it gay in that hotel dining-room, the rain falling dismally. We were so proud of our young khaki-uniformed lieutenant! My Polly played and played, rags, anything and everything, on the old hotel piano. We did not know it was to be our last happy Christmas together, but war had already given to joy a kind of yearning anguish.

My nephew was killed on the 18th of the following September, 1918, at Saint-Mihiel. Reconnoitring to assure the safety of his men, he leaped a fence to join three fellow officers. A shell tore them to pieces. This was in the early afternoon. Walker was taken to a field hospital and died at eleven that night.

—Walter Damrosch, My Musical Life (1923)

Damrosch’s nephew was Walker Blaine Beale, grandson of former Secretary of State James G. Blaine. Damrosch spent the summer of 1918 in France as a war worker under the auspices of the YMCA, conducting orchestral concerts as an outgrowth of his presidency of the American Friends of Musicians in France, and, at the instigation of General Charles Dawes, advising General Pershing on the development of Army bands.

Don’t quit your day job

Music news from the multiply-employed:

Physicist/composer Paul Sutton hears a particularly important song newly recorded.

A nice profile of Israeli organist/composer/trash collector Roman Krasnovsky.

Over the weekend, musician/trainer Enzo Calzaghe saw his best pupil, his son Joe, win quite possibly his last fight, a unanimous decision against Roy Jones Jr. to retain the Ring Light Heavyweight title and improve to 46-0 as a professional boxer.

And R.I.P. to the legendary singer/activist Miriam Makeba, who passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack at the end of a concert performance. Here she is in Stockholm in 1966, singing “When I’ve Passed On.” (With the incomparable Sivuca on accordion.)

To shave-a da face

No real post today, as I’m too tired from wrestling Critic-at-Large Moe into tonsorial submission. However, those in the Boston area can see yours truly wrestle a live accordion tonight, part of a recital by soprano Rebekah Alexander to benefit the HOPE Initiative. The show begins at 8:00 PM at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel; suggested donation is $10 to $20.

Seriously—an hour-and-a-half to give that dog a haircut. What is this, Samson et Dalila?

Fellow cats, mesh your gears / Won’t you lend your politic ears?

A couple of pies waiting at home for my lovely wife, spending the day doing last-minute get-out-the-vote canvassing in New Hampshire. The one on the left is supposed to have the Obama logo in the center, but it’s somewhat obscured due to my filling it with way too many blueberries, which overflowed the vents. (Insert your own joke about liberal profligacy here.) On the right: a sour cream pumpkin pie. I may be an elitist, but not too much of one for The Joy of Cooking: those pie recipes never let me down.

Wash down the past two years’ electioneering follies with this purplish and thus bi-partisan concoction. The scotch gives it a vague sort of toasty, pancake-y vibe; hence the name.

Morning in America

1½ oz. blueberry juice
½ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. scotch whisky
Champagne, chilled

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a champagne flute. Top off with champagne. (I like a relatively sweet, vanilla-overtoned scotch; if your single-malts are on the peaty side, maybe try some Johnnie Walker Black instead. If you’re working with blueberry juice cocktail, perhaps add a touch of lemon juice if it’s too sweet.)

And, whatever your persuasion, get out and vote! Even if you cynically doubt its actual efficacy, you’ll at least be a player in one of the largest regularly scheduled productions of street theater ever conceived.

One more thing: let’s not forget… the farmer: