If I Were

URGENT. Can someone PLEASE tell the programming folks at Air France that “If I Were a Rich Man?” from Fiddler on the Roof is not really classical music, per se … though I hate to be a stickler about labels. But once the tune got into my head, sneaking in by a combination of headphone and misnomer, I was humming it all the way through customs, analyzing its phrase structure, etcetera. It was horrible. I will spare you my revelations.

MAGNIFICENT. I have been boinging around Europe with Josh (I realize I have narrowly missed a less felicitous but more suggestive turn of phrase), and in each city and country various items could be slated as gains or losses. For example, Air Iberia lost our bags for four days while we concertized in Mallorca/Menorca, and as I surveyed the baggage office in a cold sweat, I began to lose my faith in humanity’s ability to combat chaos and disorder; and at that moment, I had too much of a stake in my bag to embrace the chaos as a liberating principle. In Menorca, this loss was translated into a last-minute pre-concert shopping trip for yours truly, where a loss of cash metamorphosed into the gain of some really outrageous ties. Which were totally, blissfully, unnecessary as Josh and I don’t wear ties. Hah, so there, chaos. In the (tentative) gain column, somewhere around the Rhine, Josh and I picked up several bottles of wine and let me just suggest now and forever that bottles, packed in a heavy wooden box, are not precisely the ideal gift for a musician in the midst of a tour. But Josh and I were loath to part with all of them, as they promised to be delicious summery Rieslings, and off we carted them in shopping bags, hauling them onto puddlejumpers and into taxis and always carefully distinguishing them from each others’, though they were identical. I enjoyed that part the most. The more airport security lanes we carried them through, the more our resentment began to grow, like a terrible Gifthorse Virus. The handles of the bags would eat unpleasantly into my fingers, and I would begin to feel numb in one or the other, and wonder how I might play that evening’s gig without the index finger, for instance. We began to curse under our breaths, and over our breaths, and the phrases “that &*()#$# wine!” and “I hate the (&(#@#&*$() wine!” came like a refrain in a rondo, again and again, amusing and inevitable. Only the future promise of drinking the delicious wine, at home with friends or lovers, by candlelight, could redeem the endless misery of this recurring burden. So that when, two days before my return flight home, I began to hear reports of increased security, and it began to dawn that the wine would never be carried on the plane by me, I could only laugh and marvel and bow before fate’s delicious ingenuity. At 5:07 AM, bleary and delirious, I stared at the sign at the check-in counter in Florence (not having slept since the 9 PM concert the evening barely before), a sign which read “NO LIQUIDS,” and loved that it was specifically liquids that were forbidden, the ONE THING which Josh and I had persisted in carrying, and I just laughed and laughed, my inner wry laugh which can be confused by the outside observer for utter despair. I handed my bag of wine to Enzo, my very sweet driver with hilarious English (including the wonderful “keephouser”), and said “for you.” And he said why? But I did not tell him why and I hope he is enjoying my Riesling right now on a Monday afternoon, before surveying yet another beautiful Tuscan sunset. Losses and gains spreading through the universe like tentacles.

Oh my I must stop, I have to run to the Hamptons. Steven Spielberg has some crisis or other that I have to deal with.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Welcome back JD! Thank you for blogging right away. So many musicians are now having problems w/ the flight restrictions regarding carry on items esp. musical instruments. At least w/ you, you don’t have to worry. Kenzo must be the lucky guy sipping your supposed to be good wine in his porch w/ his special someone.

    You could have opened the bottle and tasted it before boarding….He he drunken pianist en route to JFK.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Hi Jeremy, believe or not, when I heard the news about the terrors and the new airport rules, my first thought was: Poor Joshua and Jeremy! Hope they don’t have too much trouble while traveling in Europe. Glad you were back SAFELY!

  3. hari
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    that’s a riot! what an ironic thing to happen; all that schlepping for naught. oh well, it’s better to take precautions during these times of uncertainty. by the way, what did josh do with his wine?

  4. Anonymous
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    What did Josh do w/ his wine? That’s the least of his problem. His STRAD!!! I don’t think he allowed himself to have his strad checked as baggage..

    Glad you’re back but how about your next recital w/ him this coming Sept. in Europe again?

  5. Anonymous
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jeremy,

    Cool blog!
    Great to see you in Mallorca, after some 12 years!
    When did you finally get your luggage?

    I hope you played in your red “Spanish bull” t-shirt? We’re missing the Sangria


  6. Andrew
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to Joshua’s Prom in early September. Are you coming back to England to do concerts with him?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Nice blog. Concertize is an ugly verb. Sounds awful (unlike your concertizing). Ok there, I said it…

  8. Mei Ch'ng
    Posted August 16, 2006 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Hi JD, Your blog’s interesting… 🙂

  9. Anonymous
    Posted August 18, 2006 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    URGENT MESSAGE About the Carrot Pudding:
    Grandma used to wrap the pudding in cheesecloth and boil it, which we later thought must have boiled a lot of the taste out of it. But we didn’t think anything of it then. Everyone has their own assembly requirements: Auntie Bessie and I like the pudding with sauce and cream, some people like it with cream or ice cream only, or sauce only (the usual method) and Kathy only likes the sauce, not the pudding, so she has ice cream and sauce.

  10. Carol
    Posted August 20, 2006 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    1. My daughter just went to see a local production of Fiddler On The Roof tonight with her friends – well they liked it – but there was only one violinist in the pit (of rather low talent) – I told Sarah she should bring her violin. I walked in there once and was just going to sit in – they held the curtain until I brought in my bass – talk about trial by fire! However, I don’t think it was considered classical – not even by Long Island standards!
    2.Wine bottles – bubble wrap and backpacks!
    3.There are lots of vineyards on the North Fork of the Island – you can just drive from one to the next for tastings – I think some may serve food (perhaps you should have a “designated driver” depending on far how far east you get). I’m sure they aren’t anywhere near to the wine that you gave away – but it’s a nice drive.
    4.Since you go to the Hamptons, we are playing in “the grand reopening” of the newly renovated Southampton Cultural Arts Center. It was supposed to be in mid-June, but a water main broke, and ruined all the work that had been done – which was beautiful. This is where they hold things like the “Pianofest”,and other musical recitals,and art shows. So I was woken up to a phone call (in a really good dream!)from Sarah’s violin teacher: “Carol, listen to me, you’ll never believe what just happened!” (“Huh,what?”) It was to be a combined concert with the Hampton Chamber Orchestra – which he and his wife are members of – the Peconic Youth Orchestra (PYO) that he (Dr. Perea) founded 6 years ago, and the little ones in the string orchestra. So now it’s on Sept 3rd (I’m sure no-one wants to be on the beach on Labor Day anyways?!) at 4pm sponsored by the Southampton Arts Council. (my one daughter plays violin, trumpet, and piano, the other played the flute, and I got back to playing the bass – only because they needed someone and I hadn’t played since high school. So it’s been a great way back into playing, but I need to find some ADULTS – which is hard to do. SO now the concert consists of the PYO, and assorted adult Hampton professional musicians. So drop by if you’re not too busy with Steven – or consuming wine!
    5. Last – and definately not the least – speaking of carrying heavy items? Try being 5ft, 95lbs, and trying to carry a full-size bass with a very heavy cover! Chivalry IS mostly DEAD! Trying to look cute or fetching doesn’t work too well either! Adults don’t want to hurt their backs, and the kids are oblivious. So I end up grabbing someone with a violin, or a piccolo, and “trading”. You should consider yourself lucky to only carry around music,and have to put up with some problematic pianos now and then!
    I know it’s summertime – but make sure you are doing your practicing, and keep Joshua in line as well! Now, suduko, or,SLEEP?! C.

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