Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just Give Them What They Want

High School BAND. YES!!!!!
           Back when all of the financial upheaval started in the orchestras at the beginning of the orchestra performance season I wrote myself a blog post. It went something along the lines of “People in hard labor jobs are making big financial sacrifices right now; there is NO market for classical music anymore; we need to make some sacrifices too.” At the behest of an extremely wise friend, I sat on it and didn’t publish it. As I’ve watched all of these strike and lockout situations unfold, I’ve been amazed at some of the ridiculous demands of some musicians and equally amazed at the even more ridiculous demands of some of their administrators (who across the board seem to be giving themselves raises, JUST LIKE THE GOVERNMENT). Having a good friend who worked as an executive director of an orchestra, quite thanklessly, I must add, I feel able to see both sides. 
           The people I am most amazed at, however, are not musicians AT ALL! Since the San Francisco Symphony has gone on strike, things have declined into a state of ugly that is beyond comprehension. People with NO BUSINESS commenting on the situation, all of a sudden, feel qualified to judge the members of these arts organizations – equating them with overpaid “high school students” and “sulky” people who just “rehearse, play, and go home.” It’s offensive and demeaning, to say the very least.
            I do have a suggestion for a solution. Not a solution to the orchestra strike. That, I can’t fix. My solution is to the problem of these self-proclaimed “geniuses” - it says so right above the picture on Mr. Anthony Alfidi’s blog – believing themselves qualified to offer commentary on the symphony strikes, thinking the musicians should cower back, heads between knees, grateful to be paid at all. Since Alfidi and Ms. Manuela Hoelterhoff, who seems so bitter that I really hope she has a psychiatrist on call, see no difference between high school musicians and professionals, I propose that they be cut off from access to professional recordings. Not just classical music, oh no. All professional recordings, and anything recorded by professional sound engineers. Since we’re all “union thugs in tuxedos,” why don't we do them a favor and just disappear – a bit like the plot of the film A Day Without A Mexican (a satirical commentary on the Mexican population’s impact on the economy of California)? No more radio for them. No more Kelly Clarkson. No more Yo Yo Ma. No more SF Symphony. No more NY Phil. No more music. If they want to hear music, they can go to their local high school band and choir concerts and that’s it. It’s all the same after all, isn’t it?
Mr. Alfidi said if Renee Fleming wouldn’t break the picket line he’d play the kazoo instead – so I’m sure all of his friends who have season tickets to the symphony would be happy to also give up their professional quality music to listen to him play the kazoo as well. They can go with him to the high school concerts too. All of Mr. Alfidi’s and Ms. Hoelterhoff’s friends and colleagues shall also be cut off from the music. Guilt by association. NO MORE MUSIC. OH and DON’T FORGET THE MOVIES. You can have high school kids play your movie scores too! For the few arts patrons who appreciate the difference in quality between amateur and professional, there can be special headsets at the movie theatres that have the real music. OOOH I just can’t wait to listen to my friends’ students rerecord the scores to all of the Star Wars films. It’s going to sound AMAZING with a capital F! I can hear it now. The Imperial March with 9th grade brass players in high definition surround sound. Sign me up for some of that.  
            Let’s not stop there. I’m sure Mr. Alfidi’s view on the “disgusting greed” of the SF Symphony’s musicians spreads to visual artists as well. (How DARE those musicians want health care benefits? Especially after one of their own just recently passed away of a brain hemorrhage (rest in peace Mr. Bennett) - the nerve). Since he thinks the triangle doesn’t look that difficult to play, you know he’s one of those guys who goes to a museum and looks at a Jackson Pollack and says “I could paint that – it’s just paint splatter.” Let’s deny him, and his friends, access to museums as well. They don’t need to look at art. They can paint their own crap to put on the walls. Why pay money to go look at something they could do themselves with finger paint? What a waste, right? The museums would be better filled with offices so let’s just not let them into the museums. It’s for their own good. It will save them the annoyance of having to look at wasted money on the walls.
            Needless to say, they will also be cut off from the ballet, the opera, and the theatre. That’s what they want though, isn’t it? Alfidi says himself that there are fewer ticket sales. In businessmen’s language, fewer ticket sales mean that there’s less of a market. So, we might as well just shut everything down. Forget that it’s an art form we’re dealing with and run it JUST LIKE A BUSINESS. Forget that it’s a non-profit organization. No one needs the arts. Artists are selfish. We can replace them all with talented high school musicians and painters. Let’s make sweeping ignorant generalizations about things we know little about. While we’re at it, we can go ahead and replace all of Mr. Alfidi’s employees with middle school educated immigrant farmers. They know how to invest in the land with sustainable farming techniques. And I’m sure they are just as capable at pulling numbers off of the internet in an attempt to make people think they are intelligent (Yes, Mr. Alfidi, I am calling your bluff. Just because you founded a company doesn’t mean there aren’t many people, including musicians, out there with IQs much higher than yours). That should translate well enough into capital investments right? 

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