Monthly Archives: October 2007

When Bad Luck Turns Out to Have Been a Blessing

This is a great example of the glass half-empty-or-half-full phenomenon.

Monday afternoon, driving back to Greencastle from Chatham, New York (where I performed our Rumi music/drama/dance gig on Saturday), I got off at the Greencastle exit. Just as I stopped at the light, there was a horrible noise from the passenger-side front wheel of my car. I thought perhaps I’d blown out a tire, and as I was stopping there was a screeching sound, as if I had slammed on the brakes.

It was disconcerting! When the light turned green, though, the car went ahead just fine. Maybe some gravel or something and kicked into the tire well, I speculated. Then as I started to slow down for the next light, as soon as a put a slight bit of pressure on the brake, there was a horrible noise and the brakes locked as the car screeched to a halt. Luckily there was little traffic. The car wouldn’t budge for a while, but finally I was able to get it off on a side road, where eventually it was towed to Greencastle (just 7 miles) to be repaired.

At first I was upset that I had a big car problem, and that I had to reschedule a couple of lessons. About a day later it dawned on me how fortunate I had been. The brakes locked when I was stopping anyway, at the bottom of an exit ramp.

What if this had happened when I was driving almost 80 miles an hour on I-70? (The speed limit is 70 now in Indiana, which makes the de facto limit 80). That could have caused a major accident, perhaps seriously injuring me and others.

As it was, it happened not far from home, no one was hurt, and all’s well that ended well. The more I think about it, the more I realize how extraordinarily fortunate I was.


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Saturday’s performance

. . . went very well. I’ll write more about it soon. There was one audience member comment I want to (self-servingly) record while I remember it. “It was the most delicious cello moment I ever experienced,” he said. Or maybe it was “most delightful.” Whatever it was, he really liked it, and that made my day.


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Oops, I did it again . . .

Ate at Cracker Barrel that is, for the low-carb menu. And just to make sure that it’s really OK, I searched the Human Rights Campaign website. HRC’s March 2003 “Lawbriefs [pdf] says CB’s board unanimously approved the addition of sexual orientation to the company’s non-discrimination policy.

Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ll apply for a job any time soon; my DePauw gig pays better, I’m sure. And what would be the fun of a job without tenure, where you can tell your boss off without getting fired? Even better, we have included “gender identity and gender expression” in our policy for years now (something I’m proud to have had a hand in). DePauw is one of the best employers for LGBT people in Indiana, or the entire country for that matter.

Meanwhile, my blood sugar, which had been bopping up above the “this is diabetes” number of 126 on occasion, has been pretty consistly under 100 since I gave up bread and potatoes and everything with sugar in it and started walking a lot (a resumption of strength training is next on the agenda). Some of my vegetarian friends are, well, horrified by the carnivorous aspects of my Atkins-based approach, but everyone is happy that I’m losing weight and the blood sugar is under control.

I’m reading Gary Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories, which is beyond being just the buzz of the (new-to-me) low-carb blogosphere. It’s as if the golden tablets had been discovered, or a Youtube video of Jesus walkng out of the tomb materialized. “We are vindicated!” seems to be the general reaction. Taubes first became a low-carb hero with his 2002 New York Times Magazine piece What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?. More on all this in another post.


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The birds, the trees, and me

The drive today from Erie, Pennsylvania to Chatham, New York was spectacularly beautiful. That section of I-90 has to be one of the most beautiful roads in the country; the splashes of color were worth the drive.

I listened to an odd assortment of music. The Ipod does that, even when not on shuffle; you find things you forgot were on there. A bit of Rostropovich, most of Zoe Keating’s One Cello X 16 Nations: Natoma (which got turned off by mistake), a Joel Osteen podcast (OK, he’s intellectually shallow and kind of goofy, but he’s also energizing and comforting for someone recovering from years of self-hate; he radiates an optimism that needs no scholarship to be powerful), and a bit of a Nero Wolfe novel borrowed from my parents.

What a contrast Keating and Rostropovich make, especially back to back! Two incredibly different worlds.

I arrived at my friend Robin’s house about 5:30 PM. She has a beautiful home, secluded in the woods, with a deck overlooking the forest. As soon as I arrived, I just took the cello out to the deck, and played for over an hour until Robin arrived. After a long drive, which was stressful in addition to beautiful, it was perfect to sit out with this incredible view and improvise. That led into some actual practice and a some Bach. It cleared everything away and brought me back to myself.


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I actually ate in a Cracker Barrel

The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain used to have a policy of “firing employees who fail to “demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” Many LGBT (including me) and supportive people boycotted the place for years. Eventually they changed their policy, and I believe added sexual orientation to their non-discrimination employment policy, but my ill will lingered.

Now I’m overweight and have “metabolic syndrome,” a form of prediabetes. My blood sugars were running way to high and I’m on a low carb diet, which turns out to be an incredibly effective way to get one’s blood sugar under control and loose weight. (And yes, I’m exercising quite a bit, which also helps a lot.) In just a couple of weeks, by blood sugar level has come down to a very healthy level. Jimmy Moore has an excellent low-carb blog, where I discovered the Cracker Barrel still has a low-carb menu. So I had dinner there last night: seasoned catfish, turnip greens, and green beans. It was good and my dietary virtue remains intact while on the road.

Diets, like politics, make for strange bedfellows.

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OK , OK, I won’t steal towels OR iron!

I’m just about to check out of the Microtel (motel) in Erie PA. I’m traveling to Chatham NY where I’m performing on Saturday night, a program of improvised and classical music in “Ruminations on Rumi” featuring dancer/choreographer Robin Becker, actor John
McManus, and flutist Akal Dev Sharonne (and me) at 8:00 PM Saturday October 20 at
St. James Church in Chatham NY. Tickets are $20 with reservations suggested (518-392-4697).

So much for the plug. Meanwhile, the Microtel. Only place with rooms available last night, except for a “whirlpool room” at the Econolodge. I considered it, but didn’t want the chlorine smell all night, as nice a prospect as a soak in the whirlpool was. Plus the Microtel was almost $30 less.

It was comfortable, but I find the warning notices off-putting. One in the bathroom warns guests they’ll be charged for missing pillows and towels, and one on the desk demands we “PLEASE DO NOT IRON on furnitures or beds”, otherwise “an apprprate charge will be made for damages.” Geez. Who stays in these places? Crazed iron-everywhere people and towel stealers?

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Horowitz and Sandow in the WP

Stephen Brookes has a great article in Sunday’s Washington Post on the “post-classical” phenomenon/movement, featuring both Joseph Horowitz and Greg Sandow, both of whom will be participating in the DePauw School of Music symposium, “Preparing Music Students for the Post-Classical World.” Joe is giving ther keynote speech at 9:00 AM on Saturday December 1; Greg gives a talk at 1:00 PM the same day, followed by a panel discussion with the two of them and members of eighth blackbird. The symposium schedule is here.

(Thanks to my wonderful colleague Scott Spiegelberg, a much more regular blogger than I, for pointing out the article.)

By the way, if you have any problem opening the links to the symposium site/blog, please email me or post a comment–I can access it from home, but one of my colleagus can’t. Thanks!

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Gee, there are people who read this blog, or used to. I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted for over 2 months. For those who have asked, I’m alive and well. There was a lot of family business in late July and August, then school starting, and I’m managing several class blogs (a great idea, which was a gift from Scott Spiegelberg). I’ve heard from enough people wondering where I went that here I am agian.

I’m also spending a lot of time organizing the “Post-Classical” Symposium here at DePauw, Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Joesph Horowitz, Greg Sandow, and members of eighth blackbird talking about the classical music crisis and “Preparing Music Students for the Post-Classical World.” “Post-classical” is a term Joe coined, and his short explanation of it is on the symposium site, and worth quoting here:

The 19th century Boston critic John Sullivan Dwight, who more than anyone else defined “classical music” for Americans, did so in juxtaposition with “popular music,” with the concomitant notion that classical music was supreme. (Dwight called Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home” a “melodic itch.”) Dwight’s
understanding of “classical music” illustrates why this term is poisonous today; it implicitly deprecates popular and indigenous music of every kind, Western and non-Western. We are challenged to find a term to replace it. For some time, I have opted for “post-classical” to designate a new and more variegated musical landscape into which classical music fits. I consider, eg, Philip Glass and Gidon Kremer “post-classical” musicians, and so are many others who matter nowadays. The term has been picked up with some alacrity by others.


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