Sunday, November 22, 2015

#ROW80 - NFC Championshi-ERK! EDIT from 2013 Original

As I have mentioned to several of you, I am in the process of editing several of my posts for inclusion in an e-book about my life. I have NEVER edited anything. I just sort of "pants" it and go. I did a bit of work on this, expanded it and tried to clean it up for language. I'm including the link to the original post, at the bottom. Anyone who cares to or who has the time to, is welcome to compare the two and make suggestions. I know you'll be kind, as you always have been to me. Thanks!

I wonder if these are free-range violas, because, if not, 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 almost three years ago as we headed into our playoff season. Enjoy!

First off, goals, schmoals – I should explain that this was written as part of “where am I now” in the writing process of the #ROW80 group that I belong to. We try to set measurable goals for our writing, none of which has ever occurred for me. I am a slacker. Anyway, I got a wild hair and was completely taken with this topic after what I witnessed during a Falcons-I Forget (*scrolls down* – SAN FRANCISCO 49'ers!) playoff game in January of 2013. My latent low inhibition just took over. Oh well, look at the happy part of this; I'm off the streets and fending off muggers, and I'm not mugging anybody. Just kidding.

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 2013'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, or I skipped that day.)

Sing Along: "I see I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVII Wheels On The Big Rig" or however the stupid song goes. Whip that out at parties, and you'll be asked to leave.

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.

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 20 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 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 audience and then, stunning quiet. Nary a peep, cough, fart or rustle.

The fermata, unfortunately, 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 all 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 evil eye, the hairy eyeball, the stink-eye and it's all becoming rather “High Noon-ish,” I and my stand partner who are on the 2nd stand, are not daring to look at one another, because we are truly deranged idiots, pinheads, morons and jokers. We are holding our breaths, and are puffing up like horses around rattle snakes, or, horses being saddled, because HolyMotherOfGod, I’mSoGonnaLaugh… I see his viola scroll start to shake out of the corner of my eye and just then? As I start to go eeeeeeeeeee? As the air is leaking out? And I think I hear a similar eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee coming from somewhere around the oboe section and I'm thinking “If there is a God, may He smite us all now so that we may know His mercy and NOT suffer the Wrath of the Conductor”, who is beginning to sweat blood from his eyeballs, it would appear. . .

But,allofasudden, the Conductor gives the downbeat and off we go. To this day, I do not remember what on God’s Green Earth we were playing, probably Rachmaninoff. I’ve been ambushed by him a number of times. Him and his G. P.s. Well, that was a digression.

This all changed when we started playing in open-air theaters and stadiums.

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 different. But first, we had to get over the shock of all of those people yelling. If we had been zebras, and the yelling people lions, we would 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 more orchestral stuff, but 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’s even more more fun to play. 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.

Mozart gets right up to an idea and then backs away. Beethoven takes it in his teeth and just ragdolls it. I love that. I also love the fact that he doesn’t bore the violists to death in his orchestral and other ensemble writing. Mozart is pwecious, 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.

I’ve enjoyed my rock ‘n’ roll violist career, which has also veered off into blues, metal and a bit of rap, believe it or not. But, back to our poor dude. Man, did I feel for him. Guy stood up; I was so relieved, because he fell so 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.

I hunted and hunted for the actual footage, but alas, it was not to be found. This is pre-game footage in the stadium prior to the NFC Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the S. F. Forty-Niners in 2013, which S. F. won by 28-24. The noise must have been incredible and it is understandable that Guy Who Was Knocked Down was a bit overwhelmed at first. 

As the man turned and looked at the camera you could see the horror slowly growing on his face. You could tell what he was thinking: “That shit right there was just on tee vee. Oh... Dear... God... can I move to Saturn? Maybe to Pluto. Pluto isn’t far enough away… My wife is going to divorce me. No, that's not punishment enough. She's going to kill me and set my ass on fire, and then EAT it! What was I thinking, looking at that stupid bunch of loud-ass people? My ass is on the line, here. My ass... is my ass too wide? Do these pants fit okay? My kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids are going to be talking about this and wanting to hear this story, forever! This is going to be on AFV, isn’t it? 

"No, this is too stupid for that. It's gonna be on World's Dumbest Workers #9 ! Heavens to Murgatroyd and Zeus! on National TV, no, INTERNATIONAL, TV! Gah! Did my Aunt in Outer Slobovia see me? I hope I don’t get fired. Damn, does my head hurt. Can I go home? Do I have a home? My wife has probably packed up and moved by now. Mebbe my wife'll let me sleep in the garage or the dog house. Mebbe in the trunk of the car. Mebbe I should just go to a hotel. . . Mebbe I can become a hobo. They still have those, don't they?”

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, 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 which he proceeded to holler out to me, as we took our bows, during a standing ovation, as if I needed that information to make my post-performance glow complete. 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 playoff events as more come your way. I hope you are okay. You totally made my day! Almost three years later, you are still a fond memory.


Beth Camp said...

I loved this . . . maybe because you are so right about the difference between Mozart and Beethoven. My daughter plays violin and married a violist. I still remember the day she came home from school to complain, "Mom, the kids nicknamed me Mozart. They don't know anything. They should have nicknamed me Beethoven." She was 7. Keep pantsing. Keep writing.

Viola Fury said...


There are only 2 pieces by Mozart I like; his opera "Don Giovanni" and his "Mass in C minor". They are towering works and as he was months away from death, it's almost like he said, "oh, I guess I should write SOMETHING consequential". All else is bubble gum for the ears. I've always been harsh about Mozart, but the resentment stems from the fact we were expected to play this restricted, precise and dry music (to my mind). Bravo to your daughter for marrying outside her instrument! I married another violist. That's a hilarious story for another day! Thanks for stopping by!