I think I’ll start a blog series: Things I hate about Massachusetts.
Yesterday, the mayor decided to crack down on all those street artists and musicians making a racket outside his office:
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, upset by the drumming and chanting of street performers outside his office windows at City Hall, recently asked his staff to do something about the din. This week, city security officers descended on the plaza around nearby Faneuil Hall and imposed new restrictions on the artists who have become accustomed to entertaining the crowds on the historic site, known on tourist brochures as the Cradle of Liberty.
The officers shooed away clowns and caricature artists. They ordered music and dance acts to contain their performances to a single, small patch of brick – measuring 15 feet by 15 feet – near a stand of trees. And they erected steel crowd-control barricades in a wide swath around three sides of Faneuil Hall, to make sure the performers didn’t sneak back.
Steel crowd-control barricades???? Really?????? These are MIMES, people!!!!! The worst they can do is pretend to hit you!!!!
And have you seen Boston’s city hall? It’s a Brutalist monstrosity with concrete walls 2 feet thick. There’s simply no way Mumbles Menino can hear somebody playing a dulcimer on the street below.
This is pure and simple mean-spiritedness. And there’s nothing in the whole world that gets up my nose more than mean-spiritedness.
Here’s the link to the full story, in the Boston Globe’s Boston.com: Cradle of Liberty No More.
Update: The server seems to be back up for now, and updated with the announcement of Randy’s death.
This morning, as most mornings, I checked this weird URL—http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/index.html—to read a clumsy HTML page. The sporadic updates of Randy Pausch on his life and health.
There hadn’t been any updates for a month. June 26th’s entry was about a failed chemotherapy treatment, and the one I saw this morning, dated July 24th, was puzzling. I can’t even get to a cached page now; the server’s now completely down. But it was the first anonymous post on the page. “A friend” said that Randy had taken a turn for the worse and was now in hospice care, unable to continue to maintain the page himself. The page had been updated by his wife before, and any information from other friends or colleagues was always sourced. For such a major announcement to be made anonymously was just plain weird.
My first thought was that the page was hacked. But then a few minutes later, I saw a CNN announcement that Randy had died; again, with no attribution and very few details. A hoax?
But now the major news outlets have the story, from a CMU spokeswoman.
Bye, Randy. I know you didn’t want to go.
I promised this earlier, so I’m providing a link to Jewel’s rendition of “Lasciatemi morire” on YouTube. I don’t like blogs that are nothing but a series of embedded videos, and YouTube videos have a notoriously short shelf life, so I’m not going to embed it here. But here’s the link. If the link’s expired, just search for “Lasciatemi morire” on YouTube, and you’ll probably find this and many other renditions.
I’m not going to trash Jewel’s performance like some of the other YouTube commenters. She’s obviously had some classical training, and I’m really envious of the way she can roll her r’s. I can’t. But it sounds like she’s driving the high notes. They’re easier for me: when I sang the high F in Lasciatemi yesterday, it felt like I was floating on a cloud.
My guess is that in singing pop she’s been chesting a lot and just hasn’t been using her high notes, or maintaining breath support. It’s hard to stay in good enough shape to sing your best, and I’m sure being on tour doesn’t help. I say, if the high notes don’t feel good, either don’t sing them, or take the time to get warmed up first.
Three people came: My husband, mother-in-law, and therapist. (Yes, we all sat in the same row.)
I was the best vocally I’ve been so far, and the least anxious. In fact, I barely shook at all. I thought there was something wrong because I wasn’t scared enough. Did that mean I was going to totally screw up? In the end, I realized that I was over-analyzing, and decided to just enjoy the feeling of performing while calm. Everybody sounded better than ever, in fact. This is the first recital I’ve witnessed that I think could have been on TV or some sort of public venue. In fact, it’s a shame that it wasn’t.
My intro patter and acting were the actually the weakest ever. I’ve always used those things to win the audience over to my side and compensate for my poor singing. This time, I knew my singing would be on target, I didn’t feel that desperate need to overcompensate, and so what did I do? I became completely lazy about preparing my patter and adding any gestures to my pieces. Jeez. (Although that trombone move on “By Strauss” was a nice touch, I thought.)
I feel self-conscious about that lack in my performance, so lesson learned. Next time, I work on the whole package.
Now the fun begins: Planning the next recital. But more on that later. For now, I’ll leave you with my current favorite commercial. If my coach would let me sing “boom-dee-yada” at the next recital, I would.
My next recital is next Saturday, June 14. I’m singing “Lasciatemi morire” (Let Me Die), “Passing by” (an Irish song), and “By Strauss” by the Gershwins. “By Strauss” is a piece I asked to do myself. I’m not going to climb on the piano, but this will give you an idea:
I first saw this piece performed in Las Vegas. I was 17, with my family, and it was one number in a topless, Rockettes-type show called “Folies Bergère.” Somehow, the music penetrated my embarrassment about not only seeing a topless show with my family, but the fact that I’d have to go back to school and tell my friends that I’d spent spring break with my family in Las Vegas. I’ve remembered this song this whole time, and decided it was time to perform it myself.
We also saw Roy Clarke, Wayland Flowers and Madame, Andy Williams, and Dionne Warwicke. How cool is that?
By the way, here’s Lasciatemi. I can’t embed it, but you can hear the music by going to this link. This is even the key I’m singing it in (f minor; low soprano):
For even more trivia, Jewel apparently covered Lasciatemi. But I’ll look that up another time.