Sunday, November 29, 2015

Some Thoughts On Paris



It’s been over a week now since the Paris attacks and, while I have nothing profound or especially insightful to say, I wanted to get a few thoughts and observations down. 

First of all, for all the folks back home who might be worried about us, Paris is about as far from Bordeaux as New York is from Pittsburgh so I’m not particularly concerned. For some reason, jihadis seem to believe the only Western cities worth their time are New York, Paris, London and, for some strange reason, Madrid. So unless Da’esh decides to disrupt the flow of Pessac-Leognan or starts launching Scuds from Andorra, I don’t intend to get any more worked up about this than necessary to stay sane. 

This seems also to be the attitude of most people being interviewed on TV and in the press here. The average mec dans la rue (guy in the street) just wants life to get back to normal. The malls and large department stores have started checking purses and backpacks but, like in the US,  I suspect this is just what’s come to be called “security theatre.”  “We gotta do something but we don’t really know what so this’ll at least keep down the complaints about us not giving a shit.” 

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Tribe



This blog’s been neglected for months now, mainly because there wasn’t much I felt like writing about and coincided with an acute case of who-gives-a-shit-what-I-think-anyway. Last month, I hauled my wife and trombone to Valencia, Spain, to hang with my sister and brother trombone players at the International Trombone Festival, put on every year by, not coincidentally, the International Trombone Association, of which I’m a member and a part of the staff of it’s quarterly Journal. (That could be the longest sentence I’ve ever written.) This festival has been held every summer since 1971 and I’ve been to three of them. The first was in New Orleans in 2005, which was particularly special, coming right before Katrina and I made it to Austin in 2010. For four days it’s all trombones, all the time and now I’ve got something to write about (though the jury’s still out on the gives-a-shit part)

For me, one of the perks, come to think of it the only perk, of being able to write for the Journal it’s that I get to freely associate, even if only by email or telephone, with some of the finest, most well-known trombone players in the world. At the festival this year I got to do that in person and (allow me to name-drop) my hang-mates included Abbie Conant, Branimir Slokar, Andrea Conti and Bart van Lier. If these names are unfamiliar, all I can say is that these folks are on bass clef Mt. Olympus.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The (not quite) Universal Language




            It's probably about time I put some time in on this blog but lately I've been feeling like I didn't have much to say. This, however, has never stopped me in polite conversation so I ought to be able to think of a fairly benign topic now that the vitriol of the last post has dissipated (somewhat). So I thought music might be a nice benign topic.

            Music has been easing the transition to life here, at least for me. Because I can play an instrument with some degree of competence, I've been able to get involved in the local music scene on a couple of levels. One outfit calls itself "TubaBones" and, as you might expect from the name, is made up entirely of lower brass. There are probably around 25 players, the youngest of which looks to be about 9 and the oldest is whatever it says on my passport. The players range from professional to near beginners and the object seems to be just to get together every few months to play and enjoy the company of brother and sister musical outcasts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

             Early Sunday afternoon I started out for the rassemblement, the rally, in Bordeaux as part of mass demonstrations all over France for, well, unless you've been in a coma for the past week you'll know why. Unfortunately I never made it past the tram station. The Prime Minister here (not Hollande, who is the President) had appealed to every citizen of France (except Marine LePen) to join the rallys this weekend as a means of demonstrating that France wasn't going to be cowed by terrorists. As a result, traffic into the tram station park and ride was backed up halfway to the Medoc, mostly by people who probably never go near public transportation and so couldn't figure out how to work the gate into the parking lot. Many of these same folks were further stymied by the operation of the tramway's ticket dispenser so it was slow going from the beginning. The first tram that came by was already packed as full as any Uptown Manhattan subway at rush hour. As an American and a visiter here I wanted to be with them but it was looking like I might have to find another way to show my support. For the moment, this post is the best I can come up with.