Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happy Bach’s Birthday! Celebrating in the NYC Subways–and “Everywhere”

It’s J. S. Bach’s 327th birthday.

Dale Henderson and about a dozen (last count I heard from him) other cellists and other musicians are celebrating by playing Bach in the NYC subways. A year ago, I was part of the first “Bach in the Subways Day.” Invited and inspired by Dale, I brought a cello and a folding chair, plopped myself down on the 96th St. 1/2/3 uptown platform, and played and played. Tips were offered and declined.  “Happy Bach’s Birthday,” I’d say.

It was one of the most enjoyable, interactive music-making experiences I had while in NYC on sabbatical, or anywhere else, for that matter. Now I’m back at DePauw, teaching this week, not able to play in a subway.  Poor me!

Then it came to me–go play Bach other places.  So a some of my student and faculty friends are putting on DePauw’s first annual “Bach Everywhere” event.  An elementary school assembly program later this morning.  A free, informal, bring-your-lunch concert at the Methodist church on campus.  We’ll be playing outside, dropping into classrooms (where the teacher has invited us), showing up at the Rotary club.

It’s going to be a fun day.  And what better way to celebrate Bach, and music, than by giving away musical presents?

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Kindness Helps Us Survive

“Nature Is Strong, But Kindness Helps Us Survive” is the current headline at the Huffington Post main page. (It’s not the headline of the article itself, about survivors of last year’s disaster in Japan.)

Kindness.  A survival mechanism. Perhaps hard wired into us?

Yesterday, (Saturday) at the Indianapolis International Airport.  My sister, her nine-year-old twins, and I sat down at a table before they go to board their flight home.  “Oh no! I forgot to put all my makeup and stuff in my suitcase.”(That was my sister; in a few years, it could be my niece as well.)

She has a lot of makeup and stuff.

3 ounces containers of liquids and gels inone clear quart-sized bag per person.That’s the essence of the rule. We start going through things, sorting out the mascaras other powders from the liquid and gel stuff. One 6-ounce bottle of skin conditioner; one big 5-ounce tube of hair gel (well, it’s 2/3 used so maybe it would count).  And one gallon-size zippered plastic bag.

We could get all the small bottles into the gallon bag, about half full.  But what if a TSA screener was feeling particularly rule-bound and wouldn’t allow the gallon bag?  It was well over a hundred and fifty dollars of stuff, my sister said.

So we went to the store with the books and magazines and doodads.

Man, you could make a killing selling quart-size bags for, say, a buck a piece, I would have thought. If we got three, we could have easily divided things up, one bag per passenger.

We asked the lady at the counter.  She didn’t think they had anything, so she went off to ask someone else.  A guy, probably the manager, came and told us they had one bag, with some bottles in it, and pointed it out to us.

$16.95!  Airport prices. And it looked pretty crappy, too. We just couldn’t stand the idea.  Plus we’d need two or three of them.

The cashier lady said, “Wait a minute.  I’ll look in the back.” After a few minutes she came back, with a quart-sized plastic container that must have previously held someone’s lunch, probably hers.

That would probably get vetoed sooner than a gallon-sized bag.

But how extraordinarily nice, how kind, of her to make the effort.  And to offer us her container.

So we came up with a plan.  My sister would go up to the TSA agent who checks IDs and boarding passes, explain the situation, and show him or her the  bag.  If (s)he said it would be OK, they’d proceed.  If not, they’d come back to me and I’d mail the stuff to them Monday.

It worked.  The TSA agent said OK (not entirely surprising, since they seem to be calmed down about these things), and my sister, niece, and nephew proceeded through security (which in my experience has always been efficient and pleasant in Indy).

I saw that Huffington Post headline, and thought about how essential kindness is in a crisis.  And I thought about that very nice lady who went out of her way trying to help us out, and to keep us from getting ripped off with the $17 plastic bag.

(And thanks, Greg, for the nudge.)

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