Friday, August 01, 2008

Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl
Originally uploaded by Other Lisa

Thanks to my former boss, I had a lovely terrace box at the Hollywood Bowl tonight for the LA Philharmonic. The program was Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Grieg's Piano Concerto and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol. The latter two pieces I know nearly by heart; they were favorites during my childhood. The second movement of the Beethoven symphony is a piece of music I just love.

So it was a really nice concert, even with the police helicopters and airplanes adding an off-kilter counterpoint to the Beethoven.

First, the orchestra played the Star Spangled Banner. After hearing the anthem butchered so many times by singers whose collective philosophy seems to be seeing how many melismas they can cram into a tune (NOTE: guys, just because you can sing those notes doesn't mean that you should), the orchestral performance was bracing, Stirring, even.

Except that, nowadays, hearing the Star Spangled Banner makes me cry. I think of what this country stands for, the "better angels" of our nature: the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, principles that mean something. I think of what we've become, a nation where the concept of the rule of law has been perverted to allow torture, indefinite detention, coerced confessions. I think of how a tradition of egalitarianism has been replaced by a new Guilded Age, in which a small group of oligarchs has rigged the system to funnel money out of our infrastructure, our poor, our middle-class and into their own hands.

Yeah, I know, bad shit has always gone on. This country was founded on the original sins of slavery and genocide as well as democracy and equality.

I just didn't think I'd be living through another round of it. I thought we were better than this.

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