The Weirdest Concert Announcement Ever; or, my Birthday

2 1/2 hours till birthday. I bound out of my apartment and head for the subway. To the tunnels, Batdenk! I have scheduled a massage to oil me into midnight. Swipe this card again, the gate says, but at no other turnstile. Which I interpret: you’ve chosen your turnstile, fool, now live with it. The subway car is rattling, a young man bursts in the illegal door at the back of the train. He has a smile in his eye, he is equal parts dashing and insane. He shows a piece of paper to someone, the person says a word, the young man says “cheers” and moves on, on, on down the train. Hmm, these events are not as dismal and predictable as usual; they promise even more dismal possibilities? He comes up to me, little old me! My heart shakes, quivers. I am in love with this probably humiliating event to come. Everything on your birthday is an omen, it is tiresome. He shows me the same piece of paper, on which is written:


He says, “Can you read me what’s on the piece of paper?”

Hurriedly, I say,


I look up, for approval? Oh, Denk, ever the performer. He says thanks, he seems satisfied, he moves on. I twirl the Z around in my mouth for a while. It pleases me that a man is asking people to read off pieces of paper in the subway. A woman down the way simply refuses to read it. What does she hope to gain by her refusal? I assume the best; it is a sociological study; he is tallying results, trying to see how people react. It will be published in the New England Journal of Weird Subway People. What have I given away—I suddenly wonder—what have I betrayed by my utterance of the word MUNCHEEZ? Did some tender atom of myself leak out into the subway’s fetid tunnels through that final Z, the Z which is another year of my life, the omega of an alphabet of time? Oh Lord, how, how did I say MUNCHEEZ? Did it come out ironic, too cool for school, or did it come out sincere and beautiful? Because no one can say I don’t appreciate snack foods sincerely, if not particularly or specifically Muncheez. God, I wish I had that Muncheez back again! Come back, insane man, come back and I will say it like it’s never been said before.

Imagine: Bach bursts through the illegal door from the grave and comes up to you with a piece of paper. It’s a large piece of paper, to be sure. He is a horrific maggot-ridden sight and yet exudes the humane warmth of all of Western civilization. You’re just sitting there, prepping for your massage by reading Sebald’s Austerlitz, in which the horrors of Western civilization are enumerated. (Worse than Tyra Banks.) He says, can you read me what’s on here. And you look and it’s the Goldberg Variations. Well, he says? Say it now.  Erm, you say, everything on the page is so beautiful and how can I possibly say it but you start anyway …

Except that it’s tomorrow and it’s 4:30 pm and it’s Symphony Space.

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  1. Posted May 16, 2008 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    many happy returns!

  2. lenz
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Happy Birthday,Jeremy!!!

    Hope to see you again.

  3. lenz
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Oh! any chance to update your concert schedule?

  4. Jim S
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Happy BirthdayZ!

  5. Posted May 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    but you start anyway….. and it carries you…. and you say it beautifully…..

    happy birthday jeremy!

  6. brent
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy is featured in Hour 1 today,May 16, on Performance Today.

    After May 16 click the ‘Archives’ link on the home page of PT to hear his performance.

    Happy Birthday, Jeremy.

  7. Jim
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday, Jeremy, from your old jr. high/high school pal back in ‘Cruces. It’s great to see that your career is going so well. I have every confidence that you “enunciated” the Goldberg Variations beautifully.

  8. Posted May 17, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    bwv 66(a)

    happy birthday

  9. rednepentha
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    happy birthday jeremy

  10. Posted May 18, 2008 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Happy belated birthday!

  11. Posted May 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    What is a sign, and what is just random flotsom? How to know the difference?

    I saw this on your birthday, and didn’t comment . . . and then the not commenting bothered me all weekend. If you randomly discover someone’s website on a day that turns out to be their birthday, it feels like bad manners or bad karma to not send special wishes. So, belated best wishes from me.

    Whether in a Kroger’s or trapped in public transport, you are truly an original. I doubt that even the homogeneity of a Starbuck’s could take the edge off inimitable you.

    I look forward to reading more.

  12. Posted May 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy, that was the best plug for a gig I have ever seen. Bravo and Happy Birthday!

  13. Margaret
    Posted May 24, 2008 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy, Wow, were we ever lucky Aimard had a bad back. We caught you at the SPCO Concert last night in St. Paul. Sorry the guys from out state clapped at every movement….trogladytes – but obviously enjoying and wishing to tell you how much they loved the music. The Triple Concerto was the highlight of our night (possibly season). I especially loved the way you worked with Ruggero and Ron Thomas on a seamless talking/phrasing/dialogue of this magnificent music. Please visit us again. Glad they put your blog site in the program, albeit the old one.
    From a new admirer

  14. Posted May 24, 2008 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Happy (slightly belated) Birthday, Jeremy, from one May 16th-er to another 🙂 Hope to hear you play in person sometime!

  15. Posted May 25, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink


  16. Posted May 25, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    awww boo for webpage not recognizing ipa symbols

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