from Sunday, April25th of the year2010.
So, I write this, as I tend to write these posts nowadays, from the departures lounge at JFK; I have been delayed now five days from the start of the Whale-Watching tour; we have been forced to cancel shows in Germany, the UK, Belgium, and Ireland “” it’s a giant mess. The whole thing, however, has been sort of romantic: I spent twenty minutes on the phone with a woman from the Cunard lines and entertained a fantasy of sailing across the Atlantic with a countertenor friend “” surely they would grant us free passage in exchange for our nightly duets: him singing “Fairest Isle, Ã–ll Isles Excelling” and me accompanying him with the harpsichord patch on the slightly sea-sticky synthesizer with a clattery (but ultimately useless) high F. Surely we would be upgraded to the room with the spiral staircase and a languid Moroccan attendant (all of which are pictured on their dotcom)! Surely we would gorge ourselves on beef Wellington!
Anyway, the moral of the story is that with any luck, I will soon be hurtling on my merry way to Dublin with Sam Amidon, and we will start the tour officially tomorrow in Gateshead. All of this is contingent on, you know, Acts of God, Act of Gods, and all other permutations thereof. Is everybody following @eyjafjalla on Twitter yet? Is she following you? And, as of right now, I am already three days into the tour, so, all went according to plan. I kept all the bit about the countertenor and the cruise ship because with any luck it’ll still happen.
Last week, I posted about something that was very interesting to me, which was a young composer from my high-school writing to me about advice on his choral music; this correspondence was handled over Facebook, and I was rather struck by the right-wingèdness of his profile; I wrote back to him politely and in great detail, and then as an appendix just pointed out that I was a little uncumpf with all the pictures of him with, like, Sean Hannity and Dinesh D’Souza all over the place, including, it must be added, as the primary avatar, as in, the thing that pops up when he writes to you. I then blogged about it in a sort of confessional style; the point was not that I had shut down some kid, nor was it any self-congratulatory story about how I had, like, stood up to oppression, but I received a somewhat alarming number of comments all of which you can read if you scroll back, or, if you’re reading this in some RSS way, in the fashion to which you are accustomed. The comments were surprising especially given the fact that nobody actually had access to any leg of the dialogue, which was, in fact, quite civil and not in the least bit confrontational; I will add here that it has continued and has moved on from politics to something much more interesting, namely, Stravinsky’s religious music. The point of posting about it in the first place was that I was piqued by the exchange; I wasn’t sure how I was meant to behave. Should I not have said something? My father pointed out that it would be the same thing if somebody wrote to him asking for advice about something, and he looked in the background and found sort of loosely skinheady things; should he, as the husband of a Jewess, raise an objection?
The major thrust of why I commented on it at all was that right-wingers like Hannity think that gay people are second-class citizens. We’re not allowed to fight in the army; if you can’t die for your country by your own choice, are you really a citizen of that place? Right-wingers think gay people have a radical agenda and are taking over the country by conwerting children to alternative lifestyles et cetera. So I think it’s quite fair to question somebody whose FB profile features his arm around Sean Hannity at something called a “Freedom Concert” and a Reagan quote talmbout “I believe the best social program is a JOB” writing to a gay person asking for advice on how to write choral music. I have always been obsessively & sometimes maniacally trying to be at the barest minimum, competent at everything. Excellence at everything is, of course, the goal. I realized, through high school and slightly less in college, but even still, that this philosophy is pretty explicitly an oppositional strategy to the lazy entitlement of straight mediocrity. I’m not a gay supremacist; I’m just saying that there is an extra fire burning behind many (not all) of us, an extra master’s whip, an extra carrot at the end of the stick, that sometimes isn’t present in our straight colleagues. And of course this isn’t a universal situation; I’m only speaking from my own experience; I get asked a lot what my sort of desert island books and music would be; it’s mainly str8 people up on there. This is of course a very dangerous path to even write about, and the printed word tends to prefer a generalization (see the comment thread under this exchange). I add this as a caveat that really doesn’t need to be articulated, but inevitably there are comments, so I may as well: this is a very middle-class white problem to have, but I’m pretty chill with having a middle-class white problem because I happen to be middle-class and white.
Anyway, all of this is made deliciously manifest in this insane video of this man William Gheen talking about Senator Lindsey Graham’s closeted homosexuality as a reason why he might be selling out his country. Now. America is an interesting place because we do actually prefer our homosexuals to be out & proud, or at least, have it be an open secret. Surely Lindsey Graham is more hurt by his closeted-ness than, say, Barney Frank, who is occasionally called a faggot on the steps of the palace “” but who among us hasn’t been? Bobby Trendy probably faces a lot less homophobia than Lindsey Graham. After a while you stop noticing. In England, on the other hand, the closet is a very useful tool; you can burn that shit like peat for fuel. The closet there has a sort of built in discursive motor that propels; here, it is already clogged with ash. But the connection between Graham’s insinuated treason and the gayness is wonderfully delicious, and only serves to reinforce my point: fuck these people and everybody they know. I’ve sort of come around to thinking that if you don’t think gay people should be in the army or get married or that we’re trying to take over the schools with a radical agenda, then you really shouldn’t ask them for any help with anything. I’m over it, in 2010, to not be able to call this shit out. And if you think that’s mean-spirited, you should have seen draft one.
I‘m just done with these two concerts with the New York Philharmonic; I wrote them a new piece called Detailed Instructions, which is a chamber symphony of sorts, and it was presented along with two other new works by Sean Shepherd and Matthias Pinscher. All of this was done under the auspices of the Philharmonic’s new CONTACT! program; which I believe I have rendered correctly with the capitals and the exclamation. I look forward to their Latin Outreach Â¡CONTACT! concert next season. One thing struck me as particularly odd about this; I’m not even sure what the word is, but for some reason, Maestro Gilbert and the Concertmistress decided to always do an Entrée Classique, as in, the pieces would be introduced, there would be several moments of silence, then the concertmistress would come out, tune, then the conductor, bowing, then piece. Hmm. I’m not sure that all of that is necessary in what should be such an informal event; after the show, the official photographer wanted to have a picture of me with a beer, which company had apparently sponsored the series, as opposed than the glass of generic antipodean Shiraz I was rather enjoying at the time. “I’ll do it if you’ll go get me one,” I offered, not wanting to leave the conversation with my friends. She was not amused.