“Time to wake up, my fine moron friends.” Cars were stopped ahead at the corner of 97th and Park, despite a green light, and the driver, through this remark, and some gentle beeping, reminded them of this paradox. Ahh, the gentle northeast, which I rhapsodized yesterday on this very site!

From the very first SECONDS of rearriving in the Homeland (a word now inextricably linked, sadly, with Security, and a sense of insecurity), I was confronted with an evocative and representative situation, proving 1) that I was in fact home, and 2) that nothing is too trivial for me to discuss it here on Think Denk. A little backstory: I slept heavily through my entire cross-country flight, emerging into the terminal at a rather advanced point of the day without having consumed a drop of coffee. Au Bon Pain, near my gate, seemed like a good place to rectify this urgent situation, and I placed myself in line. However, there was a small quandary, as shown in the diagram below:

Two persons were clearly and umambiguously in line for the cash register, as evidenced by their proximity, whereas a third man (labelled Man In Question), a rather nebbishy fellow in his late forties, stood rather farther away… I intuited that he was nonetheless probably “in line,” and merely consumed with choosing a pastry, but the question remained open in my mind, and it seemed possible he might head over to the refrigerator, for instance, to get a sandwich, or some sushi, an action in the cruel Lord-of-the-Flies world of the airport concession stand that would certainly place him “out of line” and force him to begin again from scratch. Groggy and caffeine-starved though I was, I reminded myself of our common humanity, and gave him the benefit of the doubt … and … all would have been well … EXCEPT that soon enough, pressure came to bear on this situation, in the form of some impatient youths:

They had in fact chosen sandwiches from the refrigerator and were now coming to consummate their choices with a purchase. However, in the meantime, as the diagram shows, the nebbish in question had moved even a bit farther away from the invisible vector of the line, in order apparently to peer at more remote croissants. I still assumed that he represented the “end of the line,” despite this renegade behavior, but the youths to my rear, in leather jackets, chafing at their fashionable bits, saw the huge gap between Customer #2 and the Man In Question and began to move past me… asking in the meantime “are you in line?” in a very dismissive way, like an unnecessary formality. It seemed too cruel for me to lose my spot in this fashion, and indefinitely postpone my cup of coffee at the whim of these youths, and I felt my hand was forced, and perhaps a bit overforcefully I said to the Man in Question, “Excuse me sir are you in line?” and at that moment he turned his head away from the croissants and gave me a pained expression I shall never forget. It seemed to distill a lifetime of being hassled and to convey a deep consciousness of the inexplicable impatience of the human sphere, within which we are all yoked. Yes: I, I, was the focus of this terrible, baleful, look, like that of an animal you have just fatally shot, and for a moment everything went still and the airport grew dim and the sun went behind the moon and time itself seemed to pause for my punishment:

“That’s a real good question. Yes, I’m in line, and in another way I guess no, I’m looking and deciding; a little bit of both; is that OK with you?; does that mean I’m not still in line? If you have to, just go ahead, go ahead, do whatever you want, please just go on ahead, don’t worry about me… whatever you want…”

So bitter, and so beautifully executed. A man who cut ahead at this point, as he was inviting me to do, would be ravaged by guilt, pursued by a croissant curse, for the remainder of his days; it was a passive-aggressive masterpiece. Somewhere in the cosmos there was silent, respectful applause. I looked helplessly at the youths who now also paused, and fell back into place behind me; I could not now shift the blame onto them, though of course I was caught between the generations, my 35-year-old impatient self harrassing the next older generation at the behest of the younger, by fateful proxy, against my will. It was so archetypal! Oh, the humanity!

I promise at some point some future post may actually discuss music again.

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  1. Allison
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Greetings from Oklahoma City. 🙂 I can’t help but smile at today’s post. I run into similar situations here every now and then, too. Of note, I’m a relatively new reader of your blog and, whatever the topic may be, it’s unfailingly interesting in some manner. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts (music-related and otherwise).


  2. A.C. Douglas
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    You left out (or were ambiguous about) one teensy-weensy bit: What did you end up doing?


  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Welcome home Jeremy and I’m sure you already had cups and cups of coffee esp.the weekend will be chilly and very windy but you’re back to your old bed to snuggle your warmest comforter.Take care of your hands not to freeze them. Goodluck tomorrow.I’ll be looking forward to see you on Carnegie.Hope you’ll meet us after the performance.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Good to be back home even if it’s freezing and very windy.Take a good night sleep for you have to perform 2 more this weekend.
    It must be crazy traveling in different time zone and hotel transfer from one another every day.Now you’re back you’ll be adjusting to the eastern time as well as NY attitude…

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s good to be back home even if it’s freezing and very windy.Take a good night sleep for you have 2 more performances this weekend.
    It must be crazy travelling in different time zone and hotel transfer from one another every day.Now you’re going to adjust to eastern time and NY attitude as well….

  6. Claire
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    hi jeremy!

    nah it’s good to post about trivial things can’t be deep and analytical all the time! the trivial is just as important!

    i had a dress rehersal at the mondavi tonight for a concert my choir is singing in tomorrow (more about it in my blog) – the acoustics in there are amazing! mind if i channel some of your energy tomorrow night? 🙂 huggles!

  7. Anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2006 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Oops sorry,I think I need coffee or perhaps a good night sleep myself.

  8. Claire
    Posted February 18, 2006 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    hahaha anon 🙂

    wow i just posted a huge blog about the mondavi i’m silly 😛

  9. L.
    Posted February 18, 2006 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Well I’m new to your blog as well, and I must say, it’s a fab read.

    Play on, oh ship of Denk!!!…

  10. Anonymous
    Posted February 18, 2006 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Man this blog is just amazing! I couldn’t stop laughing…

  11. Hornk
    Posted February 18, 2006 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I would have made the leather-clad couple’s circles have rolling eyes to denote impatience, but overall it was a great post with an excellent use of visual aids.

    (And it could have been worse. What if it had been the Dali Lama and Queen Elizabeth standing behind you? Talk about pressure!)

  12. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2006 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Attended your concert at NJPAC today, just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed your playing.

  13. Lauren
    Posted February 19, 2006 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Having just come from your performance in Newark today, I had to drop you a note. I went today to see Joshua Bell and came home a J. Denk fan. I was lucky enough to have a seat that allowed me to see your facial expressions, the interactions between the two of you, and your eyes (which tell such stories when you play). You are such a talent. All the best, Lauren

  14. Claire
    Posted February 19, 2006 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    definitely agree with lauren on going to see joshua and leaving a jeremy fan!

  15. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2006 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Congrats JD!!!!I’m waiting for your music analysis but since you just got back from a NJ recital,I figured you’re still gathering more opinions for your next blog.Perhaps on the way to Turnpike some dude caught your attention.
    Congrats again.Great showmanship.You’re a perfect match for him,a J and J duet.Do you have any plans to record soon?and any message board for your fans to gather around?

  16. Vanessa
    Posted February 19, 2006 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I am waiting for you here in Daytona. My daughter and I received, as a Christmas gift, tickets to your upcoming conert, February 24, with Joshua Bell. As a pianist (and I use that term, regarding myself, loosely), I dreamed of introducing my daughter to the piano, and did so when she reached the age of 4. Visions of Mozart danced in my head. Sadly, she did not take to the piano as I had hoped. Even worse; she loathed her piano lessons for the next five years. There is good news,however. My daughter met a strings teacher when she went to middle school this year and fell in love with the violin, hence her desire to see Joshua Bell (shes’s 12, by the way, and thinks he’s hot! Smart girl, but HELLO, he’s my age). Anyway, she picked up the instrument in Sept. 2005, and she is already 1st chair, 1st violin. At their first performance of the year, she was concert mistress. I was so thrilled that she had finally found her musical voice. I wanted to be the one to show her, but it took the right teacher. I’m just glad she understands now. The best news? She practices the piano, too, nearly every day without my asking.

    I don’t know why I wrote all this. Our local paper ran a story on your concert in their Travel & Arts section called “Getting to Know Joshua Bell.” You were glorified in the article as well. Wow! What a resume. Anyway, curiosity got the best of me, so I checked out your blog. Just as I suspected, you are a great writer and a fun read.

    Looking forward to your performance at the News-Journal Center here in lovely Daytona Beach!!

  17. Anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Oh, Jeremy, how can one help but love this – diagrams and all! The archetypal tragi-comedies involved in getting a cup of coffee…
    Thank you!

  18. Claire
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    hehehe anon … you’re daughter is very smart thinking joshua is cute cuz he is! i’m 18 so it’s even bad for me 20 year age difference! my friend and i were talking about how we are going to decorate our dorm room and we were talking about posters of jack sparrow, josh groban, phantom, other musicals, and then she said “and joshua bell! he’s cute!” hehehe he was on her mind since i had seen joshua and jeremy in concert a few days before hey jeremy is good looking too we need jeremy posters!!! and … jeremy is younger 😛 haha poor jeremy we’re talking about his looks on his blog 😛

  19. Anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    JD,you need to have a message board so we can discuss anything about you and your music instead of posting in your comments area for your blog entry.
    By the way,since this is the only way to post about you.Yeah,you’re good looking and younger than Josh.I know it’s not related to your blog but I have to compliment your looks too.You are a musicians pianist…Hurray….

  20. Claire
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    i ditto the message board request!

  21. Claire
    Posted February 20, 2006 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    omg i was looking online and saw that you’re on the faculty of the conservatory at bard college! bard was one of the schools i was considering! didn’t end up applying there mostly because it’s on the other side of the country, and as much as i’d love to go to new york i don’t have the money to fly there and back a lot and wasn’t sure if i was ready to go that far from home but i absolutely loved everything i read about it!

  22. Anonymous
    Posted February 22, 2006 at 9:35 pm | Permalink


    It’s not fair that you play the piano so beautifully, write such interesting musical analysis but to top it off, you can write something as amusing as this.

    Are you sure you need coffee?

  23. Jennifer
    Posted February 23, 2006 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    hey jeremy! didn’t think you had a blog; i met you backstage at carnegie hall. It was nice to meet you, I chatted with you briefly about you being a chem major at Oberlin (I majored in bio)…anyhoo, i blogged about the concert, so come check out my blog if you get a chance. hope to see you again perhaps in a solo performance in nyc?

  24. Qais Al-Awqati
    Posted February 23, 2006 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Jeremy! That was a great concert last night at Carnegie Hall. Everything about it was super ; the choice of music the performance the interaction between and Joshua Bell. Both of you looked focused and relaxed (not likely, but externally) Joshua of course was very soigne so were you with your chic jacket (except you could have more elegant shoes to go with it). The Mozart and Kreutzer were amazing. The Ysaye was like a from a violin concert of 50 years ago when these bon bons were tossed off throughout the encores. All in all a lovely evening. Look forward to more

  25. Anonymous
    Posted February 23, 2006 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Had the joy of seeing and hearing you play with Joshua Bell last night at Carnegie. I’ve been a loyal reader since last summer, and finally, finally had the privilege of attending one of your performances! Beautiful and delightful! You seemed to be having so much fun up there, it was a joy to share such music!
    Thank you!

  26. Anonymous
    Posted February 23, 2006 at 3:21 pm | Permalink


    As I said last night to you what a great showmanship.You are a match to one another.Every body in the audience I heard them saying the pianinst is superb,he has magnifient facial
    expression portraying a story!!!
    Josh and you were like in the play.I enjoyed imagining and making my own journey w/ both of you the whole repertoire of what you two were playing.Remember?we came to see Josh but became more Jeremy fans as well.Thanks for the time to pose w/ me.I wish we could have more time to talk and discuss about your music.Hope you’re enjoying the chocolate bar w/ your coffee?
    What a combination!!!!Great partnership!!!
    You know me.just look on the signature of your chocolate bar..

    See you at Lincoln and Carnegie this Dec.

  27. partyboats
    Posted February 23, 2006 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for putting such a cool blog out here for us to read. Here is a website with charter boats and fishing guides.

    fishing tackle

  28. Claire
    Posted February 24, 2006 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    make another blog post! i’m going to go insane without something from you!

  29. Qais Al-Awqati
    Posted February 24, 2006 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Great Review from the Times with many quotable blurbs but the strangest ending I have heard “These are two interesting, accomplished young musicians possessed, perhaps, of too much energy for their own good. When, with the years, they get as tired as the rest of us, I think they will be more interesting still.” what could he have meant? Who is tired and who are the rest of us, I wonder?

  30. Allison
    Posted February 25, 2006 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you, Qais; this particular quote is intriguing. I’m not a formal reviewer, of course, but I find the energy Jeremy and Joshua bring to the stage both refreshing and captivating. Although their respective styles will undoubtedly continue to evolve, I hope they will retain this element.

  31. kristin
    Posted February 26, 2006 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    My Chinese daughter, a budding vioinist, and I heard your performance with Joshua Bell in
    Daytona Beach, which is a notorious cultural wasteland. Thank you so much for giving us a thrilling and engaging musical evening the likes of which we have not heard since leaving Manhattan two years ago. There was much to savor and ponder musically as we return to our strenous work week (I am a physician). Upon reading your Blog site, which I am new to, another pleasure was added–intelligent, perceptive and witty commentary! I look forward to reading your reflections and perceptions, from your unique and engaging sensibility.

  32. Anonymous
    Posted March 2, 2006 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy, this blog entry was as “beautifully executed” as the monologue from the woebegone line man. Thanks for that!

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