Saturday, March 21, 2009

This Week: Friends and Enemies

Don't let the 'This Week' in the title mislead you: I don't think I'm disciplined enough to keep a running weekly 'column', as it were. Things just so happened to break down that way (note to anyone hiring freelance writers: I could just about whip up the discipline for a weekly column were it, ahem... paid). On with it!

Friend: The Ionian Singers. I've been itching to start singing again, and since the music director, Tim Salter, teaches at College, there's quite a few of my colleagues already in the choir. Tonight was my first concert with them and it was an all around great experience.

Enemy: Chamberlain, Powell and Bon. Why, one may ask? Because they designed the monstrosity that is the Barbican Centre — a behemoth, industrial concrete complex of concert halls (including the home turf of the London Symphony Orchestra), art galleries, and housing — that is almost perversely impressive in its seamless union of visual miscarriage and hopeless impracticality. Almost.

This evening's concert was in an old church (where, incidentally, Oliver Cromwell was married and John Milton is buried) in the midst of this 1970s wasteland. The church was nice, but to give an example of the sheer comedy of the design, it was surrounded on two sides by water (over which there was no bridge), and on the other two by housing towers. To get to the cafe terrace (which you can easily see; it's no more than 20 or 30 yards across the decorative fountain/lake), you must go up two floors to cross along the housing or walk about two blocks East before turning onto another road that leads you to... never mind. Surely the architects must have been drunk throughout the design process. Surely they can't really be that stupid.

Friend: Traveling. I love it and I'm giddy that we have so much of it planned.

Enemy: Papers to write for class. I'm spending time writing this; need I say more?

Friend: Barack Obama. I'm almost finished with The Audacity of Hope and it is, like his first book, illuminating and well-written. I don't agree with him about absolutely everything, but I do agree with him on almost everything. I'm proud he's the leader of my country.

Enemy: Everyone who is graduating from ASU in May. Why? Because Barack Obama is speaking at ASU's commencement and I'm furious that it's not at MY graduation!

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