from Friday, September3rd of the year2010.
So! Did everybody read this weird thing in the Times? Synopsis: a slightly elderly (72 years old) fabulous German director was meant to do a production of Boris Gudunov up at the Met. He had Work Permit Issues. He was mocked at the US Consulate in Germany. He basically had a emotional pissing contest wherein the following came to pass:
Several weeks later he returned and managed to gain the work visa, helped by a Met employee who had flown to Berlin. But the experience rankled, and Mr. Stein sent an e-mail to Mr. Gelb saying he was “terrified and demotivated” out of fear that a similar incident could occur in the United States.
“If anything happens in the same way, I will leave immediately your country trembling alone thinking of the entrance procedures at the airport,” he said.
Now. I work a lot abroad. I have a lot of foreign friends who work here. It’s a nightmare; there’s very little you can do to have it not be a nightmare: no amount of money, no weird bribery, it doesn’t matter how fancy your sponsoring organization is. It’s a nightmare for everybody. Isn’t M.I.A., like, not allowed here? Valgeir Sigurðsson, who is like, cartoonishly gentle and honest and lovely, was once Physically Deported from the country 8 hours before a show he and I were meant to play together in Minneapolis. Shit happens. Every time I go up into England, a conversation happens like this:
Why are you here?
I’m a composer.
Are you composing while you’re here?
No. I’m hearing a piece I wrote get played.
Is that work?
It’s scary. I’ve been put in windowless rooms for hours. But there’s something irritating about this Peter Stein business, because, sweetie, imagine what it would be like if you were an Arab? And carrying hard drives? It’s disappointing that when presented with a fun 1-page exposé in the Times, homegirl keeps the conversation rooted in his own private emotional drama. Plus also, it’s not like you can get right back on the plane and make a dramatic euro exit. If you land in the states at like, 2 or 3, you have to schlep back up the ramp, then lurk at the Sbarro for four hours until another flight leaves to Europe. It’s hardly glamorous. I should think it’s much more glamorous to confront the Immigration Officer with a Calm, Assertive Politeness, suffer your indignities, and take the car service to the Met. One time, after a particularly aggressive and insane entrance interview at Heathrow, the woman told me that her younger brother was an oboe player and that he was auditioning for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the situation was neutraliz(s)ed and I think on her often despite our rocky beginningz.
Is it weirdly East Coast Leftie that every time I’m detained, I think, it must be so much worse for other people? I saw a woman in full hijab get insensitively frisked in front of her daughter in Terminal 4 of JFK. I saw a 9 year old Pakistani boy have his entire Harry Potter backpack searched in Heathrow while he and his twin brother wept bitterly. I have seen some shit in Paris that would make your toes curl. Has anybody ever been to Russia!?
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about how hard it was for me to get a phone in England. Short story: without an English bank, you can’t get a registered address (and vice versa) and if you try to pay with a foreign card, you have to go through an unreal phone tree and basically you just can’t do it. I’ve got an organist paying my phone bills now. And one of the points that I tried to make was: I am a middle-class white English-speaking person. Imagine going through the phone drama under the aegis of any other subject position.
Anyway, speaking of M.I.A., I liked that album. It’s a little aggro, but really not that aggro, and I think the last track, which is a sleepy slow jam, is extremely beautiful:
M.I.A. Capslock from /\/\/\Y/\
See? It’s totally beautiful. She adopts a sort of Laurie Andersdóttir thing with it; it’s a technological obsession in a mellow key with a good loop. Holla.