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Can we stop the ridiculous routine of bows at the end of classical music performances?

Hola a todos. The back and forth looks ridiculous. It looks silly. These are adults engaging in this behaviour? The classical music field has many ludicrous traditions that some nut(s) dreamed up, and this is one of them. Everyone knows this routine. The performance ends and the audience begins their 20-30 minutes of applause, which becomes a “performance” in itself.

The soloist(s) and conductor bow and then walk across the stage to that door that opens. Soloists and conductor enter that room off stage, they pause for 5-10 seconds, turn around and then walk back out to the edge of the stage to bow again. Why not just stay out there and bow occasionally? What does leaving the stage for 30 seconds do? What’s the purpose of that? Has no one with critical thinking skills ever considered this? Soloist(s) and conductor repeat this routine up to 10+ times, walking back and forth from podium to that room. Often they rush to that room as if they have a time constraint even though they don’t. They walk back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Reminds me of a bird in a cuckoo clock. In some cases, production stops recording so one has no idea how much longer this walking back and forth from podium to that room lasted. In other cases, production stops recording after the very first bows which tells me that production finds this silly tradition ridiculous as well.

Mi amigo/My friend was the first to bring this up. He spoke of how ridiculous it looks after a performance for the soloists (vocal or instrumental) and conductor to wear out the floor walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth from the edge of the stage to the stage door after a performance.

Why don’t the performers all stay on stage, bow occasionally, smile and occasionally say gracias/thank you in whatever international language they choose to the audience, bow once or twice more and THEN leave the stage and don’t return.

Or, do the back and forth routine only twice and don’t go back out there to the edge of the stage.

The point is that the audience (with few exceptions) doesn’t have the intelligence to leave and say “Enough of this nonsense. We liked the performance and we showed we liked it with our brief applause. But we don’t need to keep applauding for the rest of the night. A short applause is sufficient.”

I’ve noticed repeatedly that the vocal soloists-screamers — who too often mistake screaming for singing beautifully — in a performance absolutely gush in delight over the endless applause because they seemingly think it’s all about them and it makes them feel like rock stars apparently, or that’s how they look with their broad smiles — especially the females as they seem to adore the attention they’re getting — as they gaze all about the hall thinking, “I’m so glad you loved me and my beautiful voice (when I mistook screaming for singing beautifully).” Even though the vocal soloists-screamers are treated to rock star treatment, the reality is that since this is a classical music performance probably nobody outside this concert hall knows who any of them are. And why does the audience seem to worship and glorify vocal soloists-screamers when they usually have minor roles in a symphonic choral performance? If only the audience could get as worked up over the (hopefully) superbly-prepared Symphony Chorus. The Chorus and Orchestra are the true “stars” or soloists in a symphonic choral performance. The vocal screamers sit silently most of the time during the performance. And just because someone sings (or screams) alone merits such royal treatment? Why? That’s the way the classical audience has been brainwashed while they see the Chorus as second class musicians.

Another stupid tradition is having the vocal soloists parked on the edge of the stage staring out over the audience. What idiot came up with that idea of positioning the vocal soloists-screamers on the edge of the stage on either side of the conductor? Their backs are to all the other musicians on the stage. They can’t even see the performance; they can only hear it (behind them). Like listening to a CD. They sit much of the time during the performance staring at the back wall of the hall or looking at their score following along the entire performance. And usually they can’t even see the conductor easily because he’s usually slightly behind them. The vocal soloist-screamers should be seated near but not in the Chorus. Over on the left side or maybe down in front of the Chorus. Or, if there’s room on stage, put the soprano in the violin section, the alto in the viola section, the tenor in the cello section, the bass near the double basses. They did this latter suggestion in a performance at Boston University’s School of Music. It worked perfectly. The soprano screamer (and she did scream with heavy vibrato) sat among the violinists. I wonder if the violinists’ ears have recovered by now?

Some readers may be asking: But what about encores?

For encores (pianists come to mind, but not limited to pianists): Play something short. About 5 minutes in length, not some 20 minute piece where the Orchestra is sitting there with nothing to do and thinking, “How long does this piece last? It keeps going and going. This pianist has turned the encore into a solo recital.”

And for encores, you don’t have to play something “showy” and “flashy” to show off your speed skills. A mood piece is preferable, in my opinion. It “calms” the audience after your “main performance” whether it be solo recital or in a concerto.

I’ve seen some pianists whose encore almost turns into a recital. A 10-15 minute piece is too long for an encore in my opinion, especially with an Orchestra sitting on the stage. If anything, the encore — and this should be prearranged with the Orchestra and conductor of course — following a concerto performance could be the last part of the concerto that you just played. That would include the Orchestra as equals in the encore rather than making it all about the soloist.

In some places in the EU, they have stopped this bowing ritual or at least shortened it. Conductor, harpsichordist and horn player Václav Luks and his superb Collegium 1704 (Orchestra and Chorus) from the Czech Republic come to mind. After sufficient applause — determined by either the conductor of the performance or the First Concertmaster — all the musicians (Orchestra and Chorus) file off the stage and they don’t return. The message being sent: Time to go home, people. Glad you liked our performance. Come again. See you next time. Fin./The End.

What about las flores/the flowers given to the musicians: In my suggested way of doing bows, the flowers can be brought out shortly after the applause begins.

And por favor/please: Those receiving flowers — usually the soloist(s) and conductor — should have the maturity to keep their flowers. I’ve seen some male conductors with this, “What am I supposed to do with these?” look on his face (instead of looking appreciative) when given a bouquet of flowers following a performance. The flowers given to the musicians are a gift to them. Don’t give your flowers to someone else. Why would one give their flowers away? Do you give other gifts away in public view? The male performers should never feel that flowers threaten their masculinity as seems to be the case with many male conductors. Imagine innocent flowers having the power to strip a guy of his masculinity. Who would have ever thought that flowers have that much power?! Any guy who feels that way needs to examine his sexist ideas, his masculinity and his possible Male Patriarchy mentality and why he feels that innocent flowers strip him of his masculinity. I’ve mostly seen this from male conductors. With the few female conductors that there are, they have the maturity to understand that the flowers given to them belong to them. The male conductors often engage in a sexist gesture of giving their flowers to only the females in the Orchestra. Why only the females, Mr Conductor? Why do conductors never give their flowers to any of the guys? Didn’t they perform as well as the females? I can hear them now: “Oh but we can’t do that because you know how that would look! Goodness me!” No, I don’t know how that would look, what do you mean? Are you saying that it would look like you’re queer by giving another guy flowers? Are you telling me that only queer guys give each other flowers? If you were secure with yourself and your sexuality and didn’t have some internalised anti-queer feelings, you wouldn’t care if people thought you are queer. Instead, you would maturely say, “People can think what they want, they will anyway.” By comparison, some queers are perceived to be straight but they’re not and they don’t get all bent out of shape just because someone perceives them as straight. So why do you, Mr Conductor, get all bent out of shape if you are thought to be queer even if you’re not? Of course you wouldn’t if you were secure with your own sexuality and saw queer people no differently than yourself. I’ve seen the female musicians with a confused look on their face when Mr Conductor gives his flowers to the closest female musician(s). She stands there holding her violin or viola as if she’s thinking, “Why are you giving your flowers to me? They’re your flowers. Can’t you appreciate them and keep them? Or are you of a sexist mentality that guys don’t like flowers or are not supposed to like flowers? What’s your hang up with flowers, Mr Conductor?” Again, if Mr Conductor were secure with his own sexuality and with himself as a person, he wouldn’t care how it looked to keep his flowers, or is he possibly in the closet? Some of us have thought that about some male conductors for some time despite that left hand wedding ring you wear implying you’re married to a female. I’m not fooled by that ring. I should point out that being married to a female means nothing, even if you have some children. There are thousands of gay guys around the world married to females. They’re called closet cases and they’re following the life that their anti-queer prejudiced and bigoted family expects of them — including pumping out babies — and they’re living with gay shame and living a “straight” life. The world is full of them. There are far more queer people in the world than we are ever told by any statistics and the majority of them are living in the closet. And when they are not with “the wife” as they warmly and affectionally refer to her (as opposed to “my wife”), they’re checking out guys when she’s not looking or not around. In many cases they’re not fooling anyone no matter how many children they have. Some of us have noticed that closet cases breed as much as possible. It’s intended to prove to others how “straight” they are by having an entire brood of children. Here’s one example. I think this guy and his former wife produced 4 children as you can see here. That’s intended to convince people that the guy is “straight” and a “real man.” (roll eyes) But some of us are not convinced by that breeding behaviour because we see Mr Closet Case for what he is. Therefore, your wedding ban does not fool or convince me and others. From this article, which is really about closet cases living a straight life in Deutschland/Germany:

“The research found that out of this sub-group of participants, all of whom self-identified as homosexual, three-quarters of them had never had sex with a man…Professor Kathleen Herkommer, who led the study, explained that these men’s mental health can suffer as a result of hiding their sexuality, and that this groundbreaking research could help the drive to help them. “We identified a group that recognises its homosexuality, but do not live it, and instead lead and have led a purely heterosexual life – often with a wife and children,” she said.” [Source: One in 10 middle-aged gay men have had vaginal sex in the past three months, according to German study.]

Bottom Line: Keep your flowers, Mr Conductor, and don’t give them to female musicians. Why can’t Mr Conductor graciously accept the flowers like any other gift he’s given?

Who would have ever thought that innocent flowers are threatening to male conductors and many guys in general? The flowers are a gift to you for your performance from orchestral management. Have the maturity to keep them and appreciate them, and take them home. Otherwise it will be expected and become another twisted, sick tradition that all guys must give their flowers to the nearest and most convenient female, whether he wants them or not. Muchas gracias. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Artur Rubinstein did not play with “class.”

Hola a todos. For the people who know me well, they would say that I never use the word “class” other than to mock a certain arrogant pseudo-socialist political party (that shall remain nameless) that has been partisan-brainwashed with a “it’s all about class” mentality. Said party refers to “the ruling class” (meaning the US Oligarchy/The Establish) and “the working class,” yet they never define what income level makes up “the working class.” I don’t think about class, except when I see self-entitled elitist homeowners in San Francisco living under the illusion that they have some “special rights” of some sort just because they own some old moldy home and consequently seem to think they own and can ramrod the neighbourhood. Many homeowners hate on renters. They seem to forget that they were a renter in their past. Unlike these homeowners, I see everyone as the same — we’re all human beings — rather than with a divisive class mentality, where all the problems in the world are class-based, according to that political party I referenced above.

So I was very put off when I saw some ignorant commenters on U-toob — willful-ignorance seems to be a requirement for most U-toob commenters these days — say that pianist Artur Rubinstein “played with class.” In their limited musical vocabulary and knowledge of piano training, the Classical Music Snots (CMS) say “Rubinstein played with class.” In reality, “class” had nothing whatsoever to do with how Rubinstein played. During my years of musical training (from age 8 when I started studying piano through my years of Conservatory-training), no one ever used the word “class” when training me no matter what I was studying musically. No one ever told me, “the finest pianists play with class.” It’s not a word I ever heard. Yet I saw multiple comments about “he played with class” under one of Rubinstein’s videos on U-toob.

The word “artistry” is what these people are searching for and it’s apparently beyond these know-it-all CMS basura. The pretentious and elitist CMS (Classical Music Snots) are very class-conscious. I think “class” is a corporate mentality as well as that of the aristocracy. “Sublime” used to be their big word for describing a performance as they try to come off as all pretentious, elitist and as upmost authorities (self-appointed, of course). I still see “sublime.” Perhaps “class” has replaced “sublime?” Apparently they’ve never heard of something called a thesaurus either. The Classical Music Snots like to use philosophical-sounding language Dahling, poetic-sounding language Dahling, “high-brow”-sounding and “upper class”-sounding language Dahling. Yes, they do so love to “keep up appearances” of being know-it-alls of the classical music tradition. They try to emulate classical music “professional” music critics-reviewers, most of whom I avoid because of their elitist snooty pretentious writing, and often because they give minimal attention to the Symphony Chorus in a performance if they give the Chorus any mention at all. With the “professional” music critics, Dahling, it’s all about the celebrity vocal screamers — the opera divas, Dahling — known as “the soloists.”

The CMS’s use of the word “class” doesn’t help matters because classical music unfortunately already has this well-cemented stereotype that it’s music for only the upper class/wealthy Dahling. So when the CMS go on and on about “class” it just reaffirms that negative stereotype. But trying to explain this to them would be most futile. They’re not the brightest people in the world despite the high pedestal from which they presume to speak as self-appointed musical authorities (with no musical training?).

I think most of the Classical Music Snots are wannabe-musicians and or amateurs — that’s how they come off to me; as know-it-all arm-chair critics without any musical talent and or too lazy to pursue and invest in the hard work, the discipline, the dedication, intelligence and of course talent required for genuine music training — so not having trained in a Conservatory or a University’s School of Music (with a Conservatory environment) they would know nothing about serious music training. And their comments often demonstrate that, such as this rubbish about “Rubinstein played with class.” No, he played with artistry as he was trained. For example, artistry (for any instrument, not just piano) involves a very well-trained and cultivated musical “ear” to be one’s own teacher/critic while playing and while preparing pieces for performance. Artistry also involves the highest levels of musical talent, and talent cannot be taught. “Class” has nothing to do with any of this. Shows how much they (the CMS) know! Or rather don’t.

The Classical Music Snots also love to name-drop their favourite conductor(s). I think that’s meant to give them credibility, but the fools fail to understand that if the piece is a symphonic choral work, it doesn’t matter who conducts it if the Chorus is not stellar. And there is only so much that any conductor can do with a Chorus that is not superbly prepared or that does not sing with perfect intonation and impeccable diction. The Chorus Director prepares the Chorus, not the Orchestral Conductor, which most people don’t seem to know from reading U-toob comments. The conductor for the performance — the Orchestral Conductor — usually doesn’t see the Chorus until the dress rehearsal on stage before the first performance. So any small adjustments that the Orchestral Conductor wishes to make or change from the way that the Chorus has been prepared by the Chorus Director, s/he (the conductor) does that on stage.

In my Orchestra Chorus experience, I can only think of two conductors who met with us (the Chorus) in advance before the dress rehearsal. One performance was in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the other was at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts outside the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia. Conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducted us (Norman Scribner’s Choral Arts Society of Washington) with the National Symphony Orchestra. Señor de Burgos met with us for one rehearsal up near Washington National Cathedral where we rehearsed before the dress rehearsal with the NSO. He seemed pleased with us. I don’t remember him changing much. He and Norman got along well. Norman sat next to him so if he had any questions he could answer them. This was for a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The other instance was when conductor John Nelson met with us (Dr Paul Traver’s University of Maryland Chorus) at the University of Maryland’s School of Music before our dress rehearsal with the NSO at Wolf Trap. I remember John Nelson saying something very nice to us at the end of the rehearsal, “This is the finest prepared Chorus I’ve ever worked with.” (In my mind I remember saying: Well of course it is. This is the University of Maryland Chorus after all with its superb reputation). But that made us feel good and I’m sure Dr Traver appreciated hearing that. That was for the Berlioz Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5/(Requiem). But in my experience, they were the only two occurrences where the performance conductor had any prior experience with the Chorus before the dress rehearsal. I don’t remember any conductors meeting with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus before our dress rehearsals in Davies Symphony Hall. And either Margaret Hillis or Vance George had prepared us. (For those who don’t know: Margaret Hillis, Founder and Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, was interim Chorus Director for the San Francisco Symphony Chorus before Vance George was appointed Chorus Director. Yes, she commuted back and forth from Chicago to San Francisco and back to Chicago for awhile).

Most of the CMS could likely not pass the entrance audition into a Conservatory, if they play any instrument(s) at all. So, the sheeple word “class” is all that they know rather than saying, “The finest artists are trained to play as Horowitz and Rubinstein played” as two examples. But upon reflection, since they (the CMS) don’t have the intense musical training experience of a Conservatory or School of Music, they would have no knowledge or experience of how musicians are trained.

Rubinstein — as well as Horowitz — played how he was artistically trained which had nothing to do with “playing with class.” (roll eyes, morons). Again, that expression of “playing with class” is an expression I never heard when I trained. My piano professors never spoke in such language. Neither did any Chorus Director that I had the pleasure of working with. “Playing with class” is the thinking of people who don’t know what they’re talking about, such as most U-toob commenters. Where on Earth do these people come from?

The finest piano training can be very intense, it’s an art form — having nothing to do with “class” — especially for piano majors in the Performance concentration. I seem to be repeating myself, but I feel one has to when there are such thick and dense people out there who may show up here to read this, particularly the CMS themselves.

Both Horowitz and Rubinstein played with what could be described as a quiet face showing little facial expression. They mostly looked down at the keyboard while concentrating and or glanced up at the conductor in a concerto performance.

Horowitz apparently couldn’t stand facial theatrics either as he said, “I’m probably not that interesting to watch. You won’t see me gazing at the ceiling with quivering lips.” Ah, so he had noticed that nonsense too. No, one didn’t see Horowitz looking up at the ceiling with quivering lips, fortunately. (What are they looking at up there anyway? Ceilings are not the most interesting places to look. I mean, nothing changes about them). I believe Horowitz also said that “the music comes out through the fingers,” not through the face, meaning not through needless theatrics or play-acting (as I call it).

I know that some people couldn’t/can’t stand Horowitz. The mere mention of his name puts some piano concert artists into quite a state. Their reaction seems a bit extreme to me. But I’m not talking about that here. This is not about what he played or how he played it and whether one liked it or not, but rather his playing style of a lack of theatrics. By the way, he was critical of his own playing at times. He listened to some earlier recordings of his playing and said, “Oh that’s too fast. I played that too fast back then.”

And for those who know nothing about me: I’m a Conservatory-trained pianist (piano major, voice and pipe organ double minors, and performed with three major Orchestra Choruses in the US), and I know from experience that the finest pianists — and musicians in general — are trained to “make even the most difficult music that one performs look easy to play. Look effortless, even when it’s not. That’s one of the indicators of a real artist.” So there’s no need for needless theatrics or play-acting as if the piece one is playing is the most difficult piece one has ever played and one can barely get through it. There’s also no need for gazing at the ceiling with quivering lips or jumping around on the piano bench as if one is about to attack the closest female violinist during a piano concerto as I saw recently. I thought about the pianist: What is he doing? Is he about to jump up and attack one of the violinists? Loco./Crazy.

I just wanted to make that point that performance has to do with one’s artistry, talent, skill-level, intense musical training and musicianship. It has absolutely nothing to do with “class.” “Class” is the language of the musically-ignorant. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Jazz in the Conservatory with KCSM-Jazz 91

Hola a todos. I overheard some of the jazz students in the Conservatory talking about a piece they had heard on KCSM-Jazz 91 in the Bay Area. I heard them say the name Pedro Aznar. Oh yeah, Pedro from Argentina who joined the Pat Metheny Group (PMG). That was one of the best choices Pat Metheny ever made by bringing Pedro into the PMG. Pedro first appeared on The First Circle CD. I’d never heard anything like that before. Wonderful! Then I later heard the PMG perform live at UC-Berkeley with Pedro doing the vocals. He also played a couple of instruments in the Group when he wasn’t doing the vocals. Later, Pedro left the Group and other musicians sang the vocals for him, but it wasn’t the same. Oh it was still good, but they weren’t Pedro Aznar. He’s still singing and recording mostly solo pieces.

KCSM-Jazz 91 is a good station — one of the few 24-hour jazz stations in the non-United States — and they have an excellent Music Director, Jesse “Chuy” Varela who, I believe, used to be at KPFA in Berkeley years ago during the days of Mama O’Shea. I don’t think Chuy ever has a day off and Chris Cortez’s days off are in short supply too. I enjoy the Pat Metheny Group (PMG) tracks they play from time-to-time. I’ve noticed those mostly from Chris. I enjoy Chris’s voice and repertoire selections. It’s a shame the PMG is no longer around. Who would have ever thought that the Pat Metheny Group would disband? Hard to believe. Lyle Mays — Pat’s iconic and talented keyboardist with his signature sounds — left the Group and started doing his own thing and today Pat, I think, mainly performs solo repertoire or maybe with one other musician.

They play quite a variety on KCSM, and they’re member-supported. I also enjoy “Ooooooh, yeah” (isn’t that Chuy’s signature expression?) Chuy’s Latin Jazz programme on Domingo/Sunday from 2-6PM, and enjoy the español he speaks occasionally. He’s multi-lingual in some world languages — good to hear that — with music being the international language that speaks to all of us. Well, except for the demented, orange-faced current White House occupant which from my understanding has no interest in music of any kind. There are “people” like that — they’re rather dead inside — with no interest or ear for music. (Shaking head in disgust with eye rolls) Hard for me to imagine. That explains, in part, why the current WH occupant has never invited any musicians to perform at la casa blanca/at the White House, not that any self-respecting musician would even consider playing for him anyway. I know I wouldn’t. Why waste one’s time performing for chronically lying basura?

During a recent KCSM-Jazz 91 pledge drive I perked up when I heard something about npr. I thought: npr? Why are they talking about npr on KCSM-Jazz 91? They’re not an npr member station. (Spoiler: Oh yes they are). Then I heard them partially play the funding credits required by the network (npr) for the npr jazz programme they had just played hosted by Nancy Wilson. I thought: Hmmmm? How are they able to play that npr programme without being an npr member station? I perked up because other than at pledge time once or twice where they aired a special jazz “documentary” type programme produced by npr, I’ve never heard any npr programming at all on KCSM. I asked myself: So KCSM-Jazz 91 is a npr member station? Why is that? That’s news to me. Why are they paying an expensive npr membership fee when they don’t air any npr programming except for one or more of npr’s jazz-content programmes during pledge time every few months? It wouldn’t seem to make it worth it.

I used to listen to npr until around the time that Cokie Roberts1 (ugh) was droning on and on one morning about George W Bush and how “He’s a very attractive candidate.” Listening to my radio I thought: What the fuck drugs is she on this morning? What is wrong with the woman that she finds George W Bush “a very attractive candidate?” And what did that mean? (Bob didn’t ask her). That she found him hot to look at or his conservative politics were “attractive?” I don’t know what she meant but it’s not what I had expected to hear on npr. Or had she and Bob Edwards been hitting the hooch in the backroom so early in the morning (3AM East Coast time for the first feed of Morning Edition from the network)? Although I think Cokie was at home and talking with Bob in the studio by phone. I think that’s the way that worked. Politically with npr, things went downhill after that as far as I was concerned. Most of npr’s on-air “celebrities” (such as Mara Liasson) became mouthpieces for the conservative, pro-war Establishment. And in my opinion, Cokie became more conservative after she began working for corporate ABC News. Some npr listeners accused her and others of selling out to corporate for the money, something we’ve seen time after time.

Up until then, I had been a very dedicated listener to npr and I already knew how npr worked with their member stations and their programming, unless they’ve changed something since, which doesn’t seem to have been the case.

Mi amigo/My friend and I had even taken a pre-arranged tour of npr when we were visiting the District of Columbia. This was when they were in their former network headquarters over in the NW section of the District, not their new headquarters in North East DC. We observed the production of All Things Considered one afternoon and saw Ann Taylor read the news in her booth — whom we had heard countless times with her signature sound, “From National Public Radio News in Washington, I’m Ann Taylor” — and all of the other booths in the studio. It was quite a production. Very interesting to watch. We talked briefly with the ATC Producer whose name I believe was Bob Boilen. He was very nice to us, everyone was welcoming. Had a nice time, meaning we just sat quietly in the back behind Bob not wanting to be any problem to anyone, in part, since they were broadcasting live the first feed of ATC to the npr member stations. It was interesting watching Bob’s time counter throughout the programme for when everything throughout the programme was supposed to start on the second, such as npr’s bumper music, the news headlines and the segments of the programme, so that the programme ended exactly on time, then the funding credits began from the network. Then I think the next afternoon I tuned into npr member station WAMU in the District and listened to ATC remembering our experience from the day before.

I suppose someone might want to know: Did you see Cokie Roberts or any of the other npr “celebrities?” No, we didn’t see any of them. We didn’t really think about that to tell you the truth. We were not there to see “celebrities.” It was not something I even thought about. We were more interested in the production aspects of the programme. We arrived at the npr reception area and they phoned up to the ATC Studio and told them we were there and we were escorted up to the ATC Studio. We saw the two ATC show hosts, Robert Siegel and Linda Wertheimer, sitting in their booth. So I guess in that case we saw “celebrities,” and then Ann Taylor of npr news arrived at — what seemed like — about 10 seconds before she was supposed to go on to read the newscast at the top of the hour. We watched her. Even though we had never seen her before we knew who she was. She started her sign on in her signature voice, “From National Public Radio News in Washington, I’m Ann Taylor” into the microphone while standing as we both remember it, and then, plop. Plop was her butt hitting the seat of the chair in the news booth after she said “…I’m Ann Taylor.” Then she read the news. Then later at about 19 after the hour, she read the news headlines followed by the bumper music.

The following is for people who are into bumper music: I don’t know how it works now since I don’t listen to npr, but they played good music during the programmes, both for ME (Morning Edition) and ATC. It was part of the reason why I listened. I really enjoyed their bumper music. The producer had a good taste in music. For their bumper music of each programme they had a set of pieces — I think it was about ten pieces of about 10-15 seconds in length each in the set — that the producer chose and the programme used that set for about a year or so before they changed to a new set of music. So these bumper music pieces rotated throughout the programme during the year and were played after the news headlines. Depending upon how much time remaining between the news headlines and the next segment of the programme, the listener got to hear varying parts of each piece, or on occasion (if the news headlines were longer) we heard hardly any of it as it was fading out in the background. Other times, there would be more time available (shorter news headlines) so the producer backed the tape up (or whatever they were using) because they needed more music to fill the time so we got to hear a part of the music that we’d not heard before — that was always interesting — and then would come the familiar part that we’d heard many times before. Regular listeners, if they were paying attention, got to learn the bumper music quite well because we kept hearing it over and over; these ten little short pieces of 10-15 seconds each. I enjoyed nearly everything they chose. Also, the producer chose the best parts of each piece, I noticed. On occasion, I found out what they were playing (meaning the artist and title) and bought it and listened to it and I said, “Yes, he chose the best part of that. The rest of that doesn’t do much for me.” The same was true on Weekend Edition. One of their short bumper music pieces in one of their sets was a piece by Bruce Hornsby that started out with rich piano chords, it sort of had a gospel feel to it. I always listened for that one. Most of the bumper music was in the jazz category. Over the years, I think there was only one piece in one set that they selected that I really didn’t like the first time I heard it (on ME) and it didn’t grow on me over time and I thought: You mean we have to listen to that every-other-morning or so for the next year? That’s because they only used 4 pieces from the full set during the 2 hours of the programme on one day since there were 4 news headlines segments during the 2 hours of the programme. Initially when a new set of bumper music appeared (roughly every year), they played one group of 4 pieces from the full set on one morning and then another group of 4 pieces from the full set on the next morning, then over time they mixed them all up along with the two extras from the set of about 10 pieces, so it became unpredictable. I hope all that makes sense to you. It seems the best way to explain it. But I’m sure some people liked that piece that I didn’t care much for. All the rest I liked.

From my current research, a npr member station pays a general fee to npr, and in addition they also pay a fee for each programme they take/air from the network and play over their local npr member station. In KCSM’s case, that would seem to be quite a bit of wasted money I should think. Paying a lot of dinero/money for something they rarely use, except for a couple of times at pledge time. Or does KCSM’s npr membership go way back when they used to play some npr programming — before becoming a 24-hour jazz station — and they don’t want to cancel their npr membership thinking they might need it in the future? Nevertheless, I just found it odd. And when they do air the npr jazz programme(s) or part of it during pledge drives — they seem to interrupt the npr programme they’re airing to encourage listeners to call — they don’t allow the required npr funding credits to play at all or in their entirety from what I’ve heard over the air. But isn’t that part of the npr contract with the member station to credit npr for that programme? I think so. That’s why when I was listening to sanitised npr — “National Pentagon Radio,” as some refer to it, or “Nice Polite Republicans” as others refer to it where npr never wants to offend anyone, especially the conservatives as if the conservatives would even be listening to them! — the member station played the funding credits from the network which went like this (it was always the same, very-skilled and enunciating guy who read them, usually at a brisk speed):

“Support for this programme is provided by this and other npr member stations and the npr news and information fund. Contributors include The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, _____________. This is npr. National Public Radio.”

If that is not played from the network with the npr programme being aired over the npr member station, the station (KCSM-Jazz 91) is supposed to read that over the air in its entirety per their contract with npr. Is KCSM doing that each time they broadcast a npr programme during pledge drives? I don’t think so. Well, you couldn’t prove it by me and I was listening for it. And I bring all this up because I was waiting to hear the npr funding credits which would tell me that they are a npr member station. I heard part of a npr funding credit once when they were airing the Nancy Wilson hosted npr programme, but that was the only time. I haven’t heard anything since. The point is: npr does not want the local stations taking credit for their content or being lax about airing the funding credits. Personally, I always preferred to hear it from the network rather than to hear the local guy slur and mumble his way though it — loose dentures? — as they did on KQED-FM. I never did understand why KQED cut it off from the network and had Norm read it instead. KALW played the network version, which sounded far superior and professional.

Hopefully KCSM-Jazz 91 Radio will be around for a long time as they are an excellent jazz station. And they could have less pledge drives if they got rid of their needless npr membership fee(s) they’re paying. They don’t need it. Why pay for something you don’t use, except on the odd occasion? Occasionally during a pledge drive. At least to me, that seems like a waste of money. And a npr membership fee is not cheap. Then, again, there’s the additional fee for the npr programme they take during pledge time. KCSM-Jazz 91 could easily pay a lot less by buying jazz CDs or the like of a similar nature to npr’s jazz programmes and play those on the odd occasion during pledge time. Mi amigo/My friend had these speculative thoughts on this: He says that KCSM is probably keeping their npr membership for safe-keeping because if they were to cancel it and then later want to air npr programming and reapply to npr, their application might not be approved because of too many npr member stations in the Bay Area market. That makes sense to me. From the list I saw, there are already 4 npr member stations in the Bay Area, including KCSM-Jazz 91. And there are over 1,000 npr member stations in the non-United States.

Or they could re-air all or part of some of Chuy’s in-studio interviews that I’ve heard in the afternoons with jazz artists visiting the Bay Area. It would be so much cheaper than a npr membership/fees with no funding credits to play or read. It would give KCSM-Jazz 91 more air time, and Chuy’s interviews are KCSM’s own locally-produced programming. Something to consider.

Oh I wanted to mention this: Was I the only one who cringed the other morning when John Hill on KCSM-Jazz 91 mangled the name: Rubén Blades (who’s full name is Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna). Apparently John didn’t see that accent mark over the second syllable of Rubén (not that it would mean anything to him! no disrespect intended), but which means that the second syllable is emphasied and that it should be pronounced Ru-BÉN and not “Ruben” as John pronounced it, as if it were English. It’s not. It’s español. He also pronounced the surname Blades as if he were talking about blades on a shaver. Instead of: ruˈβem ˈbla ðes. “Blades” has two syllables en español. It’s not pronounced “blades.” John’s español is, well, really, non-existent frankly. His español reminds me of Lucy when she was trying to learn some basic español from Ricky on I Love Lucy. I think we all remember how that went. Choppy and broken. Not fluent and smooth. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the name Rubén Blades pronounced the way John pronounced it the other morning. Has he never heard it pronounced correctly on his own station or anywhere else? He does try, bless him, but I suggest he run it by Chuy or someone else fluent en español at the station who can pronounce it correctly for him. I don’t know how many international/world languages John speaks and this is not directed at him, but my problem with people who speak only US-English is that English is so disrespect of other world languages by trying to put other world languages into English. Most inappropriate. The words of other world languages are of other world languages. They’re not English words nor should an attempt be made to make them “English.” That disrespects them. They are of their native world language. But the English language disrespects other world languages constantly by stripping them of their accent marks and umlauts for example, such as the word Über. That is not an English word. Yet the San Francisco-based corporation by that name for some reason chose to disrespect Deutsch/German by sanitising/removing the umlauts from the Deutsch word Über. Either that or they are ignorant of the Deutsch/German language. Typical of the US and the many proudly and willfully ignorant USians. But the incorrect word “Uber” seems to have stuck so they are responsible for helping to ruin a Deutsch language word because I saw a sports team on television wearing shirts that said “Uber” without the required umlauts. And unfortunately, most US-English language speakers who are parked at corporate microphones — and who probably only speak US-English — seem to take great pride and find humour in and find it funny when they (deliberately?) mangle words of other international languages. Quite an infantile approach. I remember when Whoopie Goldberg found it funny when she couldn’t pronounce Univisión correctly to introduce her guest who worked at Univisión. Whoopie smiled and laughed after mangling the name of the network. The appearance it gave is that she had not prepared properly for the interview — couldn’t even pronounce the name of the network where her guest worked — and was “winging it.” I also remember when the ignoramus in the White House — who has trouble with US-English — told Jorge Ramos of Univisión to “go back to You-nah-vision.” Of course there is no such network name. Jorge should have responded, “the name of my network is Univisión (pronounced: uniβiˈsjon), pendejo.” Chau.—el barrio rosa

CORRECTION: I’ve not heard the programme since I’m not usually listening at that hour, but every Lunes/Monday at 9.00pm for an hour KCSM-Jazz 91 airs npr’s “Jazz Night in America” programme. So other than at pledge time, that’s still only one hour per week of programming from npr. But my point in the article remains true, the mainstay programmes from npr that I was thinking of that they don’t air are: Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, and npr news.

1 Since I mentioned her up above, mi amigo and I were rather shocked to hear that Cokie Roberts had died of complications from breast cancer. Never expected that. She was 75 and was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2002. From what I read, she kept it to herself as she didn’t want anyone to know that she was sick. Even with severe pain and not eating (because of her chemotherapy making her too sick to feel like eating) she kept doing what she would usually do as best as she could. Cokie’s good friend, Linda Wertheimer at npr, went to see her just before she died. Linda said she didn’t know if Cokie knew she was there but Linda told her that she’d see her on the other side in that big studio and Cokie would be a star there. To Cokie: Have a nice trip on your next journey.

Yes, it’s easy to memorise a piece when you’re playing one note at a time.

Per tradition, it’s interesting that memorisation is required for the musicians (pianists) who play the most notes all at one time.

Hola a todos. Mi amigo/My friend and I recently watched a performance of the rarely performed Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy for Piano, Orchestra and Chorus in Nihon/Japan. Marta Argerich was the piano soloist with a very fine Orchestra and Chorus from Nihon, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. It was a concert in honour of his 80th birthday celebration. I can’t provide the details about the performers because they were not listed. Mi amigo didn’t care much for the piece, but I like it and especially the choral section if one has a well-trained Chorus, which this Chorus from Nihon was. They sang with perfect intonation and clear, good German diction.

One person made a comment of disapproval about Marta using her score and wrote, “With her experience I would think she would know that piece.” I wouldn’t. Even though she did know it and played it perfectly. I guess this commenter doesn’t know that Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy is rarely performed in the big scheme of things. Beethoven’s Ninth gets the programming time these days — it’s one of The Big Three — not his Choral Fantasy. I’ve often thought the two works should be programmed together because you already have the Orchestra, Chorus and vocal soloists there on stage so all you need to do is to bring in a pianist to perform the Choral Fantasy. The vocal soloists in the Nihon performance were not screamers, which one typically hears these days. Of the bunch, I especially liked the soprano soloist, which I rarely say about soprano soloists. She never screamed, but sang more beautifully and with little noticeable vibrato. One or two of the guys had occasional pitch problems. And just because Marta used her score which she placed on the music rack rather than trying to hide it inside the piano and had a page turner sitting next to her — which I was very pleased to see — doesn’t at all mean that she didn’t know the piece. That is an outdated myth. If she didn’t “know” the piece, she wouldn’t have played it perfectly. If the commenter had watched her closely as I did, Marta was mostly playing “from memory” at the beginning of the piece. She started looking at the score more closely as the piece went on. But clearly she “knew” the piece. What is wrong with some judgmental people? She just felt more comfortable with the score. And what’s the problem with using the score? Nothing else going on in one’s pathetic life than to be concerned about an artist using his or her score? This is one of the many hypocrisies/double standards of the Classical Music tradition.

Let me explain: For those who don’t know, according to (illogical) tradition and a tradition which makes absolutely no sense at all, a piano artist can use his or her score in some situations, but not in others:

In a piano concerto = no
In chamber music = yes
As a piano soloist, with or without orchestra = no
Accompanying another musician or a Chorus = yes

Let me elaborate on that a bit. So when a pianist is playing with a few (4) other musicians as in a Piano Quintet which is Chamber Music, the pianist can use the score according to tradition. But when a pianist is playing with a whole lot more musicians (as in with a Chamber or Full Orchestra), the pianist is supposed to play “from memory.” What difference does it make how many musicians you’re playing with and whether you’re the soloist or not? Which situation is the more stressful or anxiety-ridden experience where the pianist might appreciate being able to use the score? With an Orchestra where the pianist is the soloist, or at least that would be the more stressful situation for me. Yet that’s the situation in which tradition says, “No score allowed.” And what dictator came up with that convoluted idea?

As for other keyboardists, organists are allowed to use their scores whenever they want. That’s perfectly acceptable by tradition. Depending upon what repertoire an organist is playing, with the pedal work — between the hands and feet — an organist can be playing as many notes as a pianist. But pianists allowed to use the score? No, or generally no, depending upon the situation, as you see above.

So what idiot presumably with a lot of time on his/her hands and nothing else going on in their pathetic life dreamed up these ridiculous, duplicitous rules about when keyboardists can or cannot use his or her score? Or was it to emulate The Holy and Indivisible Trinity god Franz Liszt? Let me say this: The boy (Liszt) could play — nobody’s questioning that — but there’s no need to model the piano Classical Music traditions based on what he did, or what one person did. That’s ludicrous. What worked for god Liszt, worked for him. But no one else should be required to do what he did back in the 1800s. And that’s how outdated this caca is. (Franz Liszt lived between 1811-1886).

I was glad to see Marta using her score because it gave a more chamber music feel to the performance, and much of the piece (before the Chorus comes in at the end) is like chamber music. Obviously Seiji Ozawa and the First and Second Concertmasters had no problem with her using her score, so why would some arm-chair critic traditionalist commenter on U-toob have a problem with it? Maybe he could kindly give us a link to his performance of the piece where he played it “from memory,” no?

As a pianist, I’d like to come to Marta’s defence. The following cannot be said too many times:

Unlike most other instruments, pianists play more than one single note at a time.

Have most people never considered that?

This topic has come up before, and will probably come up again! Some people forget or don’t know that most orchestral musicians play one, single note at a time. That’s one note at a time. Whereas a pianist can be playing 10 or more notes all at one time with every finger on a key. Then we are lectured to by the busy-bodies, arm-chair critics: You cannot use your score. And why the hell not?

No disrespect at all intended to other musicians, but if one has mastered one’s instrument, anyone should be able to handle one note at a time “from memory,” don’t you think!?

String musicians can play two notes at a time — bowing two strings simultaneously — if they have to, which they call a “chord,” although a chord in music technically consists of three notes by definition. Having a single note to play throughout a piece is much, much easier to memorise than playing a handful of notes like keyboardists, guitarists and harpists play, something that many (most?) musicians don’t consider or are unaware of.

If keyboardists only had to play one, single note a time, I should think that we could all easily perform “from memory,” if that is so critically important to some shallow people.

But in the case of Rachmaninov, for example, and I know from experience, a pianist can have up to 11 (eleven) notes to play all at one time — with the thumb on two notes — as in the case of his Études-Tableaux and Piano Concerto No. 3. With Rachmaninov, the entire piece can be thick chords or thick textures using every finger to play his thick (and gorgeous) chords. And the fingering has to be carefully worked out to play his pieces beautifully, but that’s the case with any piece regardless of composer. For some pianists, it’s not easy to memorise handfuls of notes no matter how long one works on the piece or plays it, sometimes to the point of becoming sick of the piece from having worked on it too long or having overplayed it. And as one gets older, one’s memory is usually not as good as it once was in one’s prime. The brain does deteriorate over time, just like the rest of the human body.

There’s one local Performance Pianist — I call him a “production pianist”; he has really pumped out the repertoire over the years — in San Francisco who has a history of usually performing “from memory.” These days, he’s using his scores more. Good to see that. I talked with him on one occasion about his feelings on this subject. He said that using the score or not should be up to the artist; whatever s/he is most comfortable doing to get the best performance. I agree. And isn’t that what it all should be about, getting the best performance?

Some idiot conservative concert managers live with the outdated myth that if a piano artist is using his or her score, it means that the artist is unprepared. Utter rubbish. It’s funny that this outdated myth only applies to pianists — and no other musicians — and pianists have the most notes to play.

At the Conservatory where I trained, of course all of us piano majors were required to play “from memory” in our end-of-semester juries or when giving a student recital, or for the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra’s Annual Student Soloist Competition.

At the Conservatory, one of the more senior-aged piano professors was asked to perform with the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. She asked me to turn pages for her when she performed the first movement of a piano concerto. Nobody cared that she used her score and had me as a page turner. She told me privately, “I can’t memorise all this.”

But any other musician by tradition can use their score — such as all of those other musicians who are playing one, single note at a time — so why can’t pianists use their scores when, again, we pianist can be playing between 2 notes (as in a Bach 2-part Invention, for example) or up to 12 notes all at one time (both thumbs on two keys in some of Sergei Rachmaninov’s music)?

Some musicians say, “Well as long as you work on a piece, you can play it in your sleep.” I suppose that’s true for anyone playing one, single note at a time. But if one is playing a handful of notes in both hands all at one time, it often doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working on the piece. I’ve had other pianists tell me, “The fingers have a mind of their own in performance.” And indeed they do! I know exactly what they mean. Things can indeed happen in performance that have never happened before (including some distraction in the performance space) or, such as memory slips, no matter how well you’re prepared. If you’re playing one, single note at a time, it’s usually no big deal when that happens and there’s quick recovery. But if you’re playing thick chords in Rachmaninov or complicated fugal textures, or anything more than one note at a time it can turn your “perfect” performance into feeling that it’s becoming a disaster — where you feel like crawling under the piano — and a quick recovery can be more complicated.

I’ve seen some pianists locally who never recovered from a memory slip, leaving out a chunk of a movement in a Beethoven Sonata, as an example. I went to hear this local Bay Area pianist awhile back. She played “from memory” and in her Beethoven Sonata she couldn’t remember how to play the second ending in the second movement. So, the second or third time around that she approached the first and second ending, she stalled again and played the first ending again. She kept getting stuck at the second ending because they’re usually similar. Finally, she improvised in the style of the piece — good idea and the sign of an artist — and got past the second ending somehow, even though she never did play it. She skipped over it. And her performance of the piece was about 15 minutes less in length than it was supposed to be because she skipped to near the end of the movement where her memory kicked back in for her. I felt sorry for her. My stomach was turning for her. She played well. I enjoyed her performance. She just had a major memory slip because she wasn’t allowed to use her score, per Classical Music’s fucked-up-in-the-head traditions. Let’s tell it like it is! Ugh, don’t get me started! She looked like she felt like crawling under the piano when she took her bow. Yes, I know that feeling. She felt absolutely disgusted, because I’m sure she knew the piece, but because of performance anxiety she couldn’t remember the second ending. And first and second endings can be tricky places in a piece because they’re so much alike.

During a performance, I’ve seen some string orchestral musicians look “wowed” by the playing of a pianist playing a Rachmaninov piano concerto, for example. It’s as if the string players were feeling inferior playing their one, single note at a time throughout the piece while the pianist was playing two handfuls of notes all at one time perfectly.

But no musician should feel inferior to another musician regardless of how many notes they’re playing. The point of this article is about memorisation and the insane hypocrisies, double-standards dictated to pianists. I have the utmost respect for orchestral musicians and their artistry.

Excluding opera singers screamers (let’s tell it like it is) on the opera stage, vocal soloists are allowed to use their scores. And singers can only sing one note at a time, yet I had one concert manager (a coloratura soprano) strongly encourage me to play “from memory” in a piano performance I gave locally in San Francisco years ago. I played works of Rachmaninov, Poulenc, Howells and others. Then months later, she performed and sang her single notes throughout the piece using her score. Ms Hypocrite. (roll eyes) I would loved to have walked over to her at the end of the performance and said: Mi amor/My love [sarcasm], I noticed you used your score, not that I have any problem with that. It’s just that I thought this was a “from memory” establishment. Or that’s the distinct impression I was given when I performed here. Hmmmmmmmm? Hypocrisy? A double standard? (And then walk away from her).

With all the problems we have in this world, whether someone uses their score when they perform should be the least of our concerns.

For the performance from Nihon/Japan I mentioned earlier, they were using Editions Henle Verlag. I saw that blue cover — I know it well since I often used the Editions Henle Urtext when I taught piano — Marta was carrying her score when she came out on stage and I also saw the choristers vocal score.

I am seeing more pianists performing with their scores these days, which is good to see. Although some pianists lay the score down inside the piano near the strings. Why do that? Note to Pianists: Don’t feel ashamed to be using your score. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone can see you’re using your score because they can see you turning pages during the performance, so just put it on the music rack as you normally would do. Muchísimas gracias. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Homophobia is required for the Tango

Hola a todos. I was talking with some of the students in the Conservatory’s Dance Division this past week about something I saw on television. Shortly after turning my television on, the network I had on showed a headline: “International Tango Championship.” I thought: I don’t even want to see that because I know what that will be about: Him and Her. It’s always him and her. Where some of the guys look queer and are queer but are dancing with females to give the illusion they are straight. More closet cases? It’s quite a misrepresentation of the reality.

The female competitors look like mannequins/Barbie Dolls. As if the guy is dancing with a mannequin he picked up on his way over from a store window with a stiff case of rigor mortis. And check out the female’s extremely robotic, mechanical, head-snapping gestures while dancing the tango. I would think that some female tango dancers would have nerve damage/problems later in life.

Some of the students from the Conservatory’s Queer Alliance are in the Dance Division. They said they had seen what I had just described countless times and feel as I do. “After all this time, there’s such an inequality with gay males required to be paired with females” one of them told me. The Conservatory students from the Dance Division told me, “We’re allowed to dance with whomever we want here in our dance classes. The professor usually doesn’t pair of us up. We have quite a few same-gender couples in our dance class dancing together.” Excelente. As I told them: In these competitions, you can’t tell me there are not some lesbian dancers and they’re dancing with guys, and in some cases queer guys in the closet. What a misrepresentation, a distortion of reality.

The homophobic rules and homophobic people running tango dance competitions and heteronormative dance competitions in general require all dancers to be paired off as breeders/straight — always him and her — even when one or both of the dancers are queer. But watching these competitions, one gets the impression there are no queers in the world. But it’s not just tango. It’s the same on corporate network dance competitions. Queers are required to dance with the opposite gender to give the impression — to their bigoted, prejudiced and anti-gay basura in the audience? — that all the dancers are straight in our 24/7 heteronormative brainwashed society even when it is blatantly obvious that some of the dancers are queer.

In the case of this competition I mentioned at the beginning, the competitors were from anti-queer Russia and the competition was held in Buenos Aires, “The Birthplace of Tango.” But it’s always the same — him and her — regardless of where the competition is held.

The only time you’ll see guys dancing together is in line dancing where they don’t look like they’re dancing together, just standing in one, two or three lines and they’re not touching each other. No, you can’t have guys touching each other! Good heavens no! What will people think?! Yet it’s perfectly acceptable for females to touch each other and hold hands while walking and kissing because “that’s what girls do” says our heteronormative brainwashed society. (roll eyes) But guys?! No way! We can’t have that! (It’s always good to cater to prejudiced and bigoted people, isn’t it?). That’s when the hate starts and terms such as “faggot” and “fag” are screamed at guys. But guys can wrestle and fight and beat each other up, and engage in violence where they’re touching each other all over and sometimes on top of each other and the public love to see that. In fact, they can’t get enough of male-on-male violence. But touching each other in an affectionate way or in any other context? We can’t have that! Wouldn’t dream of it!

Ballroom dancing competitions on television are no different. Dance competitions on television require that no same-gender couples be allowed. Their intent is to give the message that “Everyone here is straight and normal.” Are you implying that queers are not “normal,” Mr/Ms Heteronormative Bigot? Who wants to be boring “normal,” whatever “normal” means, even when half of the guys look or are queer. And I should add that so often the anti-queer heteronormative bigots among us are closet cases themselves with their immense gay shame and self-hate because of their very real queer sexuality as they pretend to straight.

Repeating what I’ve written countless times before: There are still so many inequalities between queers and breeders, but sadly the corporatist basura among us — at those wealthy arrogant and elitist queer organisations at the federal and state level who live under the illusion that they know what is best for queers (of a certain wealthier income bracket of course; those who can afford to attend lavish galas with $250-500+/plate dinners) — decided that gay marriage and being (supposedly openly queer) in the US Military Killing Machine was the ultimate goal of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement, something I never knew. Frankly, I could have thought of much more important and pressing concerns than those two heteronormative goals of trying to emulate the straights as much as possible. And why would queers who initially stood for peace, social justice and strongly opposed militarism now want to be part of militarism and the US Military Industrial Complex Killing Machine and US Empire Building and World Domination? Queers have done a complete reversal. Do queers not realise that the person they injure or kill somewhere “in the line of duty” may be queer? So why do queers want to go kill other queers? Or do you plan to ask before you shoot, “Excuse me, but are you straight or gay?” Or if the person is somewhere in the middle and bi, would decision do you make there? Or have queers never considered any of this? Because not all of our chosen “Enemies of the Day” are straight you know.

Mi amigo/My friend sarcastically asked me: So why aren’t queers screaming about this inequality in dance competitions? I said: What drugs are you on? I realise you’re joking because as you well know, queers aren’t screaming about anything now. In fact, most seem to be back in the closet having willingly gone there including some marrying females to try to give the impression that they’re straight. So perhaps they’re quite comfortable with this back to the 1950s era and portrait of closeted queers in the tango and other dance competitions.

So there’s nothing else to do, such as remedying what I just described with dance competitions. There’s nothing else to work on. The thinking today seems to be that “all has been accomplished for queer equality” based on the behaviour of the now-dead so-called “queer community” in the non-United States. Nothing to see here. Moving along here in these Orwellian days. The Movement and serious queer activism is clearly over; complicit with the status quo. Well activism of any kind really is clearly over in the non-United States, other than the occasional flash-in-the-pan stuff. My point is: One should not expect to see the absolutely vigilant and very creative activism one has seen in Hong Kong happen here in the non-United States. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Muchas gracias to the Conservatory students I spoke with for their input. Chau.—el barrio rosa