My displays of books and music (I’ve now done several) are hardly huge successes. Sometimes, the items sit there for days without anyone checking them out. Many never get checked out. One becomes philosophical about it and learns to appreciate the small victories. For instance, I realized that though many books in my display of short stories remained unwanted, two by Alice Munro and two by P.G. Wodehouse had circulated. Triumph! On the last day of my Lincoln display, an old man finally checked out the book that had inspired the display in the first place, Abe by David Reynolds. A girl of 10 or 11 walked up to the front desk to check out a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth from my display. She had never heard it before.
During the curating portion of my Beethoven display (the items were gathered from libraries throughout the county system), I discovered that the county owned just a single old copy of the complete symphonies in stereo. (And that had gone missing; it never made it to my display. It did show up later.) Through a byzantine process, I was eventually able to request a complete set of the symphonies for our branch. This set (led wonderfully by Daniel Barenboim) was put on an evaluators’ list offering it to other branches. Nine of them bit. The county library system will now have 10 sets of the complete symphonies because of me. Makes me smile.
My old life and my new one keep colliding. I picked up a volume of the new 2023 edition of the World Book encyclopedia the other day, just to test it out. It was sitting on a cart in the staff area, waiting to be processed. Let’s see if they have anything to say on Pierre Monteux, I thought. Sure enough, there was a nice little entry on him, mentioning his musical style, the premiere of The Rite of Spring, the various positions he held. It was well done. I checked to see if the article was signed. In small letters at the bottom I was delighted to read “Martin Bernheimer” — my old teacher, boss and friend
I spoke with longtime New Yorker baseball writer Roger Angell back in 2006 upon the publication of his eloquent memoir, “Let Me Finish.” It struck me that his baseball writing was nothing but criticism in another form, and I’ve learned a lot from reading him (for instance, it’s important to be a fan of the artform you’re writing about, and allow the reader to know it). Here’s just part of the interview I had with him, put in the form of a Q and A. Writers take note: you might learn something.
TM: What’s going on with your baseball writing?
RA: Well, I’m not doing much but I’ll be doing some more. It’s hard for any writers to get close to the players now, because there’s so much media around them and they’re so media attuned that its hard to get stuff out of them that really feels fresh. But I share that problem, it’s not just because I’m old. But also I am old and they look at me and they call me sir, which is a big disadvantage.
WEEKEND REVIEWS : Music : Kawakubo, Glendale Symphony BY TIMOTHY MANGAN MAY 6, 1991 12 AM PT It takes time for a conductor to develop a rapport with an orchestra. If the Glendale Symphony’s concert Saturday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is fair evidence, then Lalo Schifrin, now two years into his music directorship, needs more of it. In an old-fashioned program more typical of 1890s London than 1990s Los Angeles, Schifrin led his orchestra in undistinguished, often messy run-throughs. So it remained for 11-year-old violinist Tamaki Kawakubo to steal the spotlight. In her performance of Edouard Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole,” she exhibited enthusiasm and an almost nonchalant technique. Kawakubo is no automaton. Though her musical expression is still imitative, the gusto of her delivery imparts a style that is refreshingly unprecocious. Schifrin closed with a ‘Wagner Spectacular” that included a contrapuntally quagmired “Die Meistersinger” Prelude, a disheveled “Tannhauser” Overture and a fast, ill-balanced Ride of the Valkyries, played twice. He opened with what is thankfully a rarity these days, the “Bacchanale” from Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Delila.”
The following once transpired on network television.
Things are going real bad for Dr. Frasier Crane. His high-school reunion is coming up and he’s unemployed, unmarried and without a date. To alleviate the first circumstance, he goes to a job interview but blows it big time.
Enter Frasier’s dad and brother Niles into Frasier’s apartment.
He is nowhere to be seen. Daphne, the English house servant, approaches.
Daphne: Am I glad you’re home.
Dad: What’s wrong?
Daphne: It’s Dr. Crane. Ever since he came back from his job interview he’s seemed awfully depressed. In fact, he’s as bad as I’ve ever seen him.
Niles (concerned): Oh, I guess it didn’t go well?
Daphne: Oh, I gather not. He mumbled something about it being worse than the Dresden premiere of Schumann’s Second Symphony.