Monday, May 5, 2008

Perks of blogging

On Saturday evening, I was invited to San Francisco for a cultural evening by sfmike, the proprietor of Civic Center, a blog I read every day. In the picture above, Mike is dressed in costume as an extra in the opera "Tannhauser". He does not carry a dead wolf prop around every day.

Unlike me, Mike actually takes the pictures which appear on his blog. All of these pictures are shamelessly lifted from his site.

Currently, the statues of Manolo Valdes are on public display in the park in front of City Hall, so I got a chance to see them on the walk from the BART station to Mike's apartment. They are remarkable works, and even the crowd that filled the park attending a pro-marijuana legalization event were hanging out around them, little kids playing games of tag around las infantas, as well as listening to the rap group up on stage. I got there late in the day, and having wandered through such crowds before, I have to say that I got absolutely no contact high from the group. Obviously, they already had their smoke on before I got there.

Mike and his partner Tony and I had burgers at the Blue Muse, a very nice and cozy restaurant in the Civic Center neighborhood. It was really cool hanging out with a blogging bigwig like Mike who is well known by the people who matter, like ushers and restaurant owners and bartenders. The conversation wandered over half a hundred topics, from bowling to health care to local politics to special effects to Edith Piaf to food bloggers and of course, to the music we would be hearing that night.

The symphony had an all-Russian, all 20th Century program, and for me, it was like water in the desert. It started with Stravinsky's arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Bluebird pas de deux, and then went to the Shostakovich's violin concerto #1, with an astonishing performance by soloist Vadim Gluzman. After the intermission, it was Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, which couldn't be more different. I speculated to Mike that the difference was that Rachmaninoff was writing in 1940, before the war began on the Eastern Front, while the Shostakovich is written after the horror of the war. No, said Mike. The real difference was that Rachmaninoff was in New York by then, which is the reason he sounded like Gershwin or Richard Rodgers, or perhaps it's the other way around.

The symphony program was relatively short, while the ballet across the street was a long program of new works. Mike sweet talked two tickets out of two patrons who were leaving, and we saw a new Mark Morris choreography to a very challenging piece by John Adams. The music is fascinating to listen to, but the time signatures are all over the place, and it must make the dancers crazy. All the dancers had large L.E.D. number displays flashing random number sequences on the abdomens of their shiny costumes, which Mike described on his blog as "Teletubbies in Vegas". After the performance, I went back to Mike's place where he lent me the John Adams Earbox CD collection recorded on the Nonesuch label, which I am listening to as I type this.

I want to thank Mike again for being my host on this terrific evening filled with great conversation, wonderful music, fantastic spectacle and generous bartenders.


FranIAm said...

Oh I loved reading every word of ths and enjoying your evening vicariously!

What fun.

I was hoping you would blog about this so that I did not have to e-stalk you for details.

I know, annoyingIam...

Curious minds, what can I tell you?

sfmike said...

What a sweet post and I also had a fab time. Also, thanks for recycling my photo as a German hunter in "Tannhauser." I'll probably never be in such a butch outfit again in my life.

Matty Boy said...

I'm glad people had a good time reading this, because I certainly had a good time experiencing it and writing about it.

The only downside is that my mom is jealous. I actually thought about that when I was at the symphony, how much my mom would enjoy being there with us.

sfmike said...

Dear matt: I think you mean envious, rather than jealous, but if you'd like maybe I can take your mom next time instead.