The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

MOVIE MUSIC: This may or may not have anything to do with anything; life is like that sometimes, just one damn thing after another; but I am listening via Internet stream from Oregon to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings in a performance from the early 1960’s. It is, as always, a beautiful piece, full of somber beauty and melancholy; I think we can all agree that the Adagio is not a tune you would want to whistle while you work, much less get up and dance to; Samuel Barber is hardly Tito Puente, after all. No, the Adagio is a deep and heavy piece, filled with every manner of musicological and psychological profundity, and likely to lay in your stomach like a day old tuna fish and pumpernickel sandwich.

It is, however, one of the great powers of cinema, in a digression I really should signaled somehow, but didn't, to create mental linkages where none actually exist. Oliver Stone used the Adagio in the soundtrack of his film Platoon, particularly the sequence where the American troops force the inhabitants of a Vietnamese village from their homes and then burn the village down, and now whenever I hear this music I am caught between feeling sad for the twentieth century's many victims of war and the desire to call in air strikes to clear Charlie out of the treeline.

I can’t watch Il Trovatore for the same reason; not for the air strikes, obviously, although Freedonia could have used some in its war against Sylvania, but all came out well in the end; Freedonia was able to win the war using fruit, chimps, and Margaret Dumont. In any case, the Marx Brothers did such a complete demolition job on Verdi in A Night at the Opera that whenever they revive the opera on Live from Lincoln Center or Great Performances I wait and watch for the Verdi to inevitably segue into Take Me Out to the Ball Game and Groucho to come down the aisles selling peanuts to the massed swells. I know that in a non-Marxist universe the likelihood of this happening is somewhere between minimal and nonexistent, but I haven’t given up hope.


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