When we last left off, I had just come home from a sailing race in which we A) lost 2) I tore up my knee and my shin on something hard and sharp that I cannot name. My leg is still recovering, which means that I am wearing pants out of respect for others. By the time I finish this entry, we’ll be setting up for a picnic on the porch, because it’s supposed to rain. Of course it’s supposed to rain on the night when fireworks are supposed to pop all over the DMV (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia for those who don’t live here). My favorite memory of the Fourth in DC was going up to the top of my friend Molly’s apartment building and watching the fireworks on The Mall up close and the fireworks in Maryland and Virginia in the distance. If it doesn’t happen this year, at least I have the penultimate memory of it in years past.
Back to you, Bob. Let’s go to the phones.
Last Friday I went to see Ben Folds: Declassified at the Kennedy Center, and it was my first time in that venue. As I was walking up the steps, every scene in The West Wing ever filmed there went through my head. The tickets were all one price, so I got the perfect seat- row Y in the Orchestra. The concert was not what I expected. It was even better.
It seems as if Ben Folds is a man on a mission, because this was not a Ben Folds concert, per se. He did play Bastard from Songs for Silverman, about losing his grandfather and having to clean out his house. His grandfather was actually a great guy, he explained, but his name was “Baxter,” so all the grandkids called him “Bastard” behind his back just because it was funny. That was pretty much the beginning and the end of the classic Ben Folds old school era. He played piano for the other two artists with the National Symphony Orchestra behind him, and at the end played the third movement of his own piano concerto, which was FANTASTIC. He opened the piano and played the strings Tori Amos-style. I can’t wait until the rest is published.
To me, the mission was simple. Try and get younger people to buy symphony tickets, because in this day and age, they don’t. This is inexplicable to me, because exposure to classical music as a child led me to a lifelong love of it. The two years I spent playing classical music in orchestra were some of the best of my life, and the scariest. They were the only two years in which I had what are called “juries,” which determine your place in the orchestra. I never got first desk, but that is because the actual first desk, Norman, was out of this world good and it would have taken an Act of God to beat him. The first year, it was just Norman and me. The second year, I was moved down to third out of fourth chair, because second chair, Danny, was also Act of God unbeatable. It’s not that I was bad. It was that no matter how much I practiced, I was never going to be a natural virtuoso, one that could play anything put in front of me on the first try, talent beating out hard work, and definitely not beating out that kind of talent PLUS hard work.
It didn’t matter, though. I was just glad to be in orchestra at all…. although my favorite memory of orchestra is the conductor stopping the whole shebang and yelling, “Leslie Lanagan! Get rid of that JAZZ SOUND!”
However, jazz and hip hop backed up by full orchestra went nicely together in Friday’s concert. This was my favorite piece, Wake Up, by Danay Suárez. If you don’t know that name, you should. She did three pieces, and all of them were amazing and get stuck in my head when I’m trying to sleep. It’s ironic that when my head hits the pillow, all I hear is “WAKE UP!” The song itself is about trying to stay woke in an oppressive system, which I know because the translation is in the program… I couldn’t pick up that much Spanish as fast as it was going by…..
A few days later, my certificate of ordination and my letter of good standing in the Church of the Latter Day Dude came in the mail. Now, I realize that to a lot of people, this is sacrilegious and offensive that I would do an end run around graduate school. However, I didn’t want to make Bryn and Corey wait to get married until I finished my last year and a half of my Bachelor’s and my three years of grad school. It was important to Bryn that I do the wedding, so it was a no-brainer to get ordained over the Internet, even though both of those bits of schooling are in the works. One of these days, I’ll be a UCC pastor. For now, you can call me Her Dudeliness, or Right on, Rev if you’re into the whole brevity thing. My father used to call himself “The More or Less Reverend David Lanagan,” which I think is also perfect for me, but I don’t steal. I’m just the “minister” that really ties the wedding together. I am under no illusion that I am really ordained for anything, even though my letter of good standing says I am. If you want to be baptized into The Church of the Latter Day Dude, I’ll give you my phone number…. or if you want to be married by a Dudeist Priest, same.
But I still follow the words of Jesus of Nazareth, and I always will. To me, this is just the stopgap measure on my way to the real thing, like the Hydrox you buy when you can’t afford Oreos.
There is life and truth in the red letters, and I never forget that fact.