Friday, March 2, 2012


I have heard it said more than once that Florida possesses a "special" population. Whether or not all "special" people, who were born here, move here, or get dropped off  by the Mother Ship is open to debate. I think we may all have ridden the short bus at some time or another; maybe only psychically, or in the more traditional manner, but I see demonstrable evidence every day that this is true. Weirdness abounds. From the Pirates of Gaspirilla taking over Tampa to the total anarchy of Miami, there is always something going on that will entertain, horrify, embarrass or bring to tears the more normal of us. Heh, I have yet to see normal in Florida and am not sure I would like that. 

This is the state of the hanging chad. I had already lived here six years during the 2000 election, but was in North Carolina during the chad... thing? I had to listen to the North Carolinians who made the guilt by association connection make fun of me during that... event? Occurrence? Incidence? I'm never sure what to call the parade of bizarre that I see every day. I'm glad I'm not missing it.

The Pirates showed up a few weeks back and went to our Mayor, Bob Buckhorn and told him to surrender the keys to the city. They have done this since the days of Jose Gaspar, who was supposedly a pirate here. He died in 1821, which I think was a bit late for swashbucklers, but my pirate lore is sketchy. I was not in my Useless Facts class the day the pirate thing was discussed.I suspect he just had a good PR machine going and they made up a bunch of tales whole cloth to lure the rich down here to rub elbows with the scurvy dogs. Anyway, the Pirates showed up, demanded the keys and you know what the Mayor said? "Go to Hell," is what he said. This has NEVER happened in the history of Tampa!

Everyone knows you're supposed to give up your keys. The Pirates, after picking their jaws up off the floor said in typical panache-like, swashbuckling style, said "Okay," and proceeded to go off to Channelside and drink for three days. They really showed us. We are thoroughly... ambivalent.

This brings me to the news. I read the Tampa Bay Times, a free paper with well-written, thoughtful articles and a lot of wry observations regarding the goings-on here. It can get downright sarcastic, especially when dealing with the idiot politics and social whirl here. This is my kind of stuff. Anyway, I ran across this little gem today that justifies months of reading about terrible events, unkindnesses, stupidity, cupidity and the cruelties that are just enervating and disheartening. Crap like this makes me glad I'm a part of the human race. Seriously, any species that can produce something like this gives me hope. We can't possibly be doomed if we can do stuff like this:


= ????

I so hope and pray the text in the article is legible for you all; if anyone cannot read the text, let me know and I will provide that for you. Number 2 is especially pole-axing. I rolled around on the floor for a half an hour after I read this. I alerted the neighbors; they are Spanish, but pretend they don't speak English, so I pretend I don't speak English and use American Sign Language to addle them. It just enriches the confusion. Shit, I'm still laughing as I type this.

Life is just one giant series of confusion, chaos, missed signals and obfuscation. i used to try and be so clear and focused. Lately, I've fallen down on the job. One of my roommates was complaining about having to get haircuts all the time. I looked at him and said, "this is your first haircut since we all moved here in August." Turns out he was right; it was his third according to the other roomies. For someone who values observance, diligence and keenness of mind, and for those keeping score at home, that's 33.3 percent of awareness on my part. The hell with it. I'm just going to marinate in my own perception or delusion of whatever all this is. Heh.

Beethoven. Listening to his 3rd Symphony right now. Some history here. I have adored Beethoven since I heard him at the age of six or seven. Here it is about 50 years later, and I am as enthralled and in love with him as I was at the beginning. I thought it was serendipitous that we (depending on who and what you read) share the same birthday. Please wags, don't ask me if I was born in 1770; there are days when I feel about that old, but I can't remember the interim until 1955 or so, if that were true. 

The passion, exuberance, anger, delight, joy and serenity just pours from his works. And I still love and thrill to all of it, as ever I did. I listened to his 7th symphony again the other day, for the first time in a long time. It was good to visit an old friend and find what I had originally loved still there, burnished by the passage of time, experiences and the wider understanding of (gasp) age.

I do not like Mozart. I never have. In college, my first year Viola professor substituted the Sonata I was supposed to play with a Bach Suite, because I could never connect any emotion to it, save indifference. Please Mozart-lovers, don't write to me and tell me all about the gorgeous architecture and symmetrical mannerisms of his style. Barf; Mozart sucks.

It doesn't hurt Beehoven's cause that he was the first to truly bridge the Classical and Romantic eras with his Eroica Symphony. It is so apparent in the juxtaposition of his whisper-soft piano passages and his towering fortissimos, often within one measure. I think of the bridge between the 3rd and 4th movements of his 5th symphony as one of the very best examples of this. At one performance, our conductor had us playing so very softly in that transition that I could barely hear the first violins. But, who wants to hear them anyway. Heh. Beethoven also took viola parts out of the whole-note ghetto and made them truly challenging. Instead of having to be recuscitated after falling into comas, viola sections can now actually leave the stage under their own power. Passion, drama, rage, love, sorrow, joy are such inherent elements in music. I didn't spend umpteen jillion years learning to play because I have nothing to say and want to be bored. 

Anyway, I'm on the edge of full screed mode. Back to about 1963. I was living in San Diego with my folks. We used to drive south about 8 miles, every other Sunday, or so to experience the wild hoo-ha that is Tiajuana. Back then, the only kind of thing Customs worried about were people being smuggled in by clueless Anglos, so every vehicle was searched on the north crossing. You could wait as long as half an hour to cross. The more enterprising of small Tijuana businessmen (well, the men weren't small, but the businesses... oh, well, you know) would set up their little stalls, or more typically, spread out their plaster of paris trinkets on a serape and sell from there. 

We were on a "fine art" buying spree at the time. My father had bought my mom a beautiful Venus de Milo that was actually carved from sand stone. Venus was beautiful, really beauteous and wondrous to behold. Horse puckey; she was a cheap, amorphous knockoff, rather in the mode of the Incredible Melting Woman With No Hands. Arms, but no hands. I don't remember the original looking like that, but who cared. Mom thought it would look real swell in our outdoor fish pond; just the thing to impress the neighboring fighter jockeys and merchant marine drunks that visited. Venus looked great for about two days. Then, the water kind of ate her feet or something. She listed to one side for a day or so, and then toppled into the pond. I'm sure the fish loved it. The sand stone probably killed whatever fish were still living in that pond. Daddy had put a Pacific starfish in the pond once, and he didn't fare too well, as I recall. So, Venus lingered in the pool, along with multiple sea life carcasses. I think my father said something about the Wreck of the Hesperas, or maybe it was the Statue of Liberty. I digress.

So, we were on the prowl for some new "fine art". I was sitting in the back of our Volkswagen, staring out the window thinking about nothing. All of a sudden, I saw it. I saw what I had to have; what I wanted immediately and nothing would satisfy that desire until I possessed it. A plaster of paris life-size bust of Beethoven, painted bronze. Actually, several dozen of them. "Daddy! I want that head," I said. He looked and said, "oh, that's kind of plain, I don't know." "I want him," I repeated. He was still doubtful. We went back and forth a bit and I did somehing I have never done before or since. The situation escalated and II threw a tantrum. My parents were a bit taken aback, but they did relent, and my father hopped out and bought me the bust. Just to shut me up, I'm sure. I was over the moon. My very own Beethoven!!! I held on to him tight until we reached home. 

We didn't notice this at the time. The Wallace family can get a bit sketchy on details, a trait that I carry forward. After some wrangling, my mother convinced me that, in fact, Beethoven would not reside in the fish pond with Venus or in my bedroom as a stuffed toy (I am not well), but would grace a bookcase in the living room. My dad put him on the shelf and then, did a double take. He started to laugh, and he laughed until his face ran tears. With no explanation, he dug out a pair of his aviator sunglasses, and installed them on B's head. Curious, I went to look more closely. On the front of the bust was inscribed, "BEETROVEN."

Beetroven, along with his pal, Beethoven resided many years with us. Beethoven is still with me, although Beetroven moved on years ago. Good times, good times.

The Reminiscence Snapshot for this post is also music-related, as well. I am currently reading "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," by Stieg Larsson. It's a terrific book and is set in Sweden. This brings me to the musical part of this drivel. Their conductor is a gentleman named Yaron Gershovsky. He has lived in Sweden, I believe. We talked of cities he had played in and reading the book reminded me of this incident. Mr. Gershovsky is an extremely gifted pianist and has superb musical sensibilities; fun to work with, too. 

I was playing first violin, for a change, being as how all the violinists in Florida had either called in dead, or run off to Venezuala with bassoon players that month. I play the violin, but only for money. I am what is politely known as an "orchestra whore." He and I had been jamming earlier before the concert on Rachmaninov's "Variations on a Theme of Paganini," and having fun. I played the part of the orchestra. The whole thing; I found out I suck on the oboe.

We had to get ready to play for the show that night, and we were trying to change. There was one minor problem, however. The two male vocalists in Manhattan Transfer hate each other with a homicidal passion; they will not share a dressing room. David Copperfield was in one part of the auditorium for his own show and his security was tighter than the Secret Service guarding the Pope, Putin, Obama, Palin and Ron Paul. We couldn't even get in the johns to change. The orchestra was reduced to peeing in the bushes. Just kidding. Anyway, I'm like, "how the hell am I going to change my clothes?" I realized my dress would be my dressing room. At the time, i had a black, stretchy, turtle-neck dress; zipper up the back. Very elegant. I, however am not. I pulled the dress over my head, standing in the parking lot, but didn't put the sleeves on. I looked up. Shit. Here comes Yaron to jabber at me about Brahms, or something. So I stand there, talking to him pretending St. Vitus' dance is normal and change. Wriggling out of my t-shirt and jeans. I decided hose would not be an option. I had forgotten my dress shoes, so had to wear my thongs on stage that night. Yup, a true pro. Wriggle, squirm, giggle. Yaron looks at me. "Are you okay?" " Yeah, yeah," I answer. Snort. Change. "Oh, okay," he says. He's even more oblivious than I. Concert happened. Tour over. The next tour with whoever we played with was not that memorable.

Okay, I can give you thirty-seven and a half cents on the dollar.

One of those Geico Hamsters or Gerbils or whatever the hell that those rodents are dropped his oar. Musta been when the chubby one yelled "Row."

My socks and some unidentifiable things. Don't you love the stark reality of my descriptions? Don't you feel like you're right there?

Unfortunately, Santa forgot to take his Dilantin and had a seizure. I hear he's doing well at TGH, though. He should be out by Thanksgiving.

That's it for this riveting installment of Things That Would Have Been Better Left Unsaid nonsense. I love, love, love you all and I'll see you soon. Let's all go the Trop for a Zim Bear.

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