Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I'm totally cheating here; today for the first time since I started with the seizures, psychotic break and tremors, which is about 18 months, I played my viola, and surprise of surprises, I sounded damn good (for about 3 minutes; I have my work cut out for me!) So, that right there is an achievement. My goal for writing still stands, although I have edited nothing, but I'm so over the moon about being able to play. I'm cheating because of NaNoWriMo. Q'uel horrores! Or somethiing...

I wonder if these are free-range violas, because the price has really skyrocketed!

Q: Have you heard about the latest form of urban violence?
A: Drive-by viola solos.

So, here's a little number I cobbled up during the American Football season last year as we headed into our playoff season. Enjoy!

First off, goals, schmoals. AS OF LAST NIGHT, I HAD 10087 WORDS FOR NANO!!!!!!!!!!!! (To quote Andi-Roo, my benchmate in this furball, "there was a great tossing of glitter! "Huzzah!) 

Anyway, I got a wild hair and am completely taken with this topic today last year. My low impulse inhibition just took over. Oh well. I'm off the streets and non-violent. Such is life.

This is not your typical Sunday check in post. Nope, first off, it's Monday and second off, here in the good ol’ U S of A, it is Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday and President Obama's 2nd Inaugural Celebration! So, what better way for me to celebrate, than to write about yesterday's NFC Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers that featured guys running over guys and plowing into unaware guys on the side-lines. That’s right, “UNAWARE” guys on the side lines, during one of two games that will decide which of two teams are going to the Hyper Bowl, er, uh I mean, Super Bowl LXVII (is that 47 or 67? I failed Roman Numerals in Ancient Times class.)

Sing Along: "I see I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV,   XVI, XVII, XVII Wheels"

Anyway, dude got clipped below the knees and fell as if pole-axed, backward onto that hard surface and landed backwards, head-first, with a bounce or two and was thankfully unhurt. Apparently, he works at the Atlanta Falcons field and this was their first ever(!) playoff event, and really, he can’t be faulted for that part of it. The poor guy had his back turned to the action and was most likely, looking at and marveling at the crowd and all of their noise, hoo ha, folderol and mostly, NOISE. And boy, howdy, there was a bunch of it, being as how, my Google says, the Georgia Dome can shovel 71,250 people into permanent seats. 

courtesy of hollandbobolland via YouTube. Plesae visit and "like."

This is the kind of noise that Guy Who Fell Down experienced for the FIRST TIME!

The first time I ever faced a crowd like that was when I played for the Moody Blues. I was in my mid-30s and had been playing viola professionally for about 15 years, by this time. My performing experience went from symphony-polite-coughing and maybe a standing ovation, or two. Occasionally, the 
standing ovations were prolonged.

Stunning, wonderous. I love Mozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... *snore*

Once, during a Grand Pause, or a fermata, where the orchestra came to a screeching, abrupt halt after a fortississimo passage and it was deathly quiet, I had the great good fortune to hear a bellowed “I FRY MINE IN LARD…” from the back of the Hall and then, a stunned quiet, from both the orchestra and the audience. As one, we all swelled up like toads or horses being saddled, as not one soul in that huge hall wanted to be the first to laugh.

The Grand Pause fortunately, is one of those musical devices that has no metered time, so as the Conductor stared us all down, daring us to laugh, and we played “one potato, two potato, three potato, four…” Concert master and Principal Second Violin and Principal Viola and Principal Cello all sitting there, giving one another, the hairy eyeball, becoming rather like “High Noon,” and I and my stand partner who are on the 2nd stand, not daring to look at one another, because we are cut ups, idiots and jokers, are puffing up like horses around rattle snakes, we’re both holding our breaths, because HolyMotherOfGod. . . I’mJustSoGonnaLaugh. . . I see his viola scroll start to shake out of the corner of my eye and my eyes start to water and my nose starts to tickle, am I gonna sneeze? And just then. . . As I start to go eeeeeeeeeee? As the air is leaking out?

The Conductor gives the downbeat and off we go, probably in a swift Presto to get to the end of this bitch, so we can all exit stage Left, Right and Center at a dead run. To this day, I do not remember what on God’s Green Earth we were playing, but it was probably Rachmaninoff. I’ve been ambushed by him a number of times. 

Him, and his Grande Pauses. Well, that was a digression.

Okay, I haven't faced Wembley and I'm sure I don't want to; actually, I probably do. We rocked it at 1-800-ASK-GARY Field. A name like that for a Venue just drips class. I can't wait until Kotex, or Fleet Enema buys a sponsorship and demands to have it named after their company.

In the summer of 1992, the Moody Blues were in a resurgence and instead of having a summer off, we had a tour around the Midwest for a few weeks. We had an afternoon rehearsal with their conductor who told us the basics, miced us up and off we went. We had a full orchestra, and plexiglass partitions between each section. I felt like we were in cattle pens. That night, the orchestra was in place, when the Blues with Justin Hayward took the stage.

There were 10,000 people in the audience. Up to that point, I had never played with that many people in an audience. When that audience roared and that sound hit the stage, the orchestra, who for the most part had not experienced that before, was pretty well aware that this night and this concert were going to be hella different. But first, we had to get over the shock of all of those people yelling. If we had been zebras, we’d have been dead ones. We all just froze for about 2 beats and then our training kicked in and off we went.

It was an exhilarating experience I’ve always loved the Moody Blues for their more orchestral stuff, dating back to 1967 and 1968. The conductor, Larry Greene is also their arranger, and he had gone back and arranged some of their harder rock stuff like “Ride My Seesaw” for strings and that was a blast to play as well. I’ve found that I like music with a harder edge to it. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons I don’t like Mozart and I revere Beethoven, and he would have been down with all of this. Mozart gets right up to an idea and then backs away. He never really releases that full passion that lies underneath his tepid ideas, and maybe that is why; you can't push passion into a tepid idea. The idea itself has to be passionate.

Beethoven takes a musical idea in his teeth and just ragdolls it. He wrings every inch of emotion and pathos and exhilaration from it, until you're exhausted by just listening to it. I love that and I love playing Beethoven; he is so worth it. I also love the fact that he doesn’t bore the violists to death in his orchestral and other ensemble writing. Mozart is too precious, hard to play and there’s damn little reward for all of that work; he’s insipid. Oops, lemme get back to our sideline guy.

My personal muse, from birth. We share the same birthday, some say, just not the same year.

I’ve enjoyed my rock ‘n’ roll violist career, which has also veered off into blues, metal, blue-grass, country, pop, motown and a bit of rap and hip-hop, believe it or not. But, back to our poor dude, man. Did I feel for him. Guy stood up; I was so relieved, he fell hard. As he was turning around, the Fox Team, (Terry, Howie, Michael, Jimmy and Whoever) were helpfully pointing out that this was the Falcon’s first playoff Event ever. The guy who had been knocked over was wearing a jacket that said “Event Team” on it.

As the man turned and looked at the camera you could tell he was thinking, “Oh dear, can I move to Saturn? Maybe to Pluto. Pluto isn’t far enough away… My wife is going to divorce me. What was I thinking? My grandkids are going to be talking about this and wanting to hear this story, forevah!. This is going to be on AFV, isn’t it? Geez, on National TV, no, INTERNATIONAL! Gack! Did my Aunt in Outer Slobovia see me? I hope I don’t get fired. I would have been better off shitting my pants, or throwing up. At least farting, maybe. You can't smell that over the air. I'm so dead”

Relax, guy, if I hear you got in trouble over this, I’m writing a letter. I’ve done so much stupid stuff in front of the public, it’s not funny. I’ve fallen off stages, fallen out of chairs. Fallen off risers. I very gracefully draped myself across 3 people once, along with my viola and bow, held up over my head and rolled like a barrel down to the floor, protecting my baby, my viola, my honey, my Wolf. How I managed that, I will never know. I’ve taken bows wearing Taco Bell on formal, black velvet unknowingly, after playing a triumphant Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. To make matters worse, my stand partner’s fly was open during the whole performance. I don’t think Beethoven would have minded.

The point is, a roaring crowd is pretty impressive; I was awed by it when I was on the “receiving” end of it the first time. It does take some getting used to. So, Guy Who Was Knocked Down and Was Embarrassed, don’t be. I hope you get a chance to get used to it as more Falcons playoff games come your way. I hope you are okay. You made my day.
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