Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Carpe Diem and Miscellany

Blame it on the warmer weather this week: my thoughts are leaping leprechauns jumping from one random thought to another.

First of all, did anyone check out the Avett Brothers show last night? I hope it was banjo-string-poppin' good.

As for me, last night I bid my first-ever cello instructor adieu over chai tea lattes at Starbucks on Ninth Street. Being a violist herself, she's passing me off to an actual cellist to continue my lessons. We downed lattes instead of having a final lesson, but it was the perfect close to a six-month run of our sarcasm-laden weekly lessons through Carpe Diem—the new culture center on Locust Street co-owned by Alex Innecco. (Alex is also the artistic director of the Columbia Chorale and the 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra) As we were saying our goodbyes, we ran into Alex himself...

...and he gave me two free tickets to the Opera Showdown next Saturday, March 13, at the United Methodist Church on Ninth. Let's just say, this performance features dueling opera singers and audience participation. Italy vs. Germany...Sweet!

I'm also getting excited for the "festival" of 2010 Oscar-Nominated Short Films currently playing at Ragtag. My partner in musical crime (and all things geeky) and I are all over this! You can view the new Wallace and Gromit animated bread-baking murder mystery. Or see live-action films on magic, modern-day slavery, and Chernobyl (not all in the same film—sorry). Don't forget that the Academy Awards air Sunday night.

Last night after my "lesson," I drove to my friend's apartment and heard an acoustic version of Phoenix's "1901" on KCOU. This got me thinking, What is this song about, anyway? Lead singer Thomas Mars describes it as a song about early twentieth-century Paris. "Paris in 1901 is better than it is now. So the song is a fantasy about Paris." Well, of course! I'm sure every soccer mom and hipster cranking "1901" in the car is celebrating the Belle Époque. At any rate, I didn't enjoy the acoustic version nearly as much, but it did get me wondering about lyrics and our enjoyment of music. Half the time we don't even know what some of our favorite songs are about, but we still love them. Are we failing to appreciate them on some basic level? Does it matter?

A live performance of "1901" (not the version I heard on KCOU)

Perhaps that's a post for another day.

The evening ended on a somber note as my friend and I watched Frontline before we fell asleep. It was a piece about "suicide tourists": terminally ill patients who pay for legal euthanasia in foreign countries. The episode profiled the final days of a retired computer science professor suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), who chose to end his life in Switzerland with the help of Dignitas, a center for assisted suicide. Craig Ewert was diagnosed with the disease after retiring early and planning to spend the rest of his life traveling the world with his wife. Instead he lost the ability to feed himself or use his limbs and journeyed to a nondescript apartment building in Zurich to drink a solution that would put him to sleep forever.

(Craig Ewert) 

We write songs about idealized time periods, go to shows, learn new things, and drink fatty lattes with friends, but it doesn't last forever. Craig Ewert will never see the new Wallace and Gromit or wonder what the lyrics to his favorite song might mean. Let this post be your little memento mori for the day, but let it also remind you of what you have.

Carpe diem and all of that.


  1. This is very sad.

  2. Not my most uplifting post, that's for sure. I'd highly recommend watching Frontline's "The Suicide Tourist," but it is very sad.