• The most incongruous day of my cultural life took place in 1999, when Time sent me to Milwaukee, a city I’d never before visited, to see Florentine Opera give the American premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s operatic verison of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Milwaukee isn’t far from Chicago, so I persuaded Our Girl to meet me there. I flew out at midday and spent the afternoon walking around the Milwaukee Art Museum, then met OGIC at the train station and took her to the theater. After the opera–which was a knockout and a wow–we went back to our hotel and turned on the TV to look for a chaser with which to clear our spinning heads. There’s Something About Mary was playing on the pay-per-view channel. I hadn’t yet seen it, but OGIC assured me that it was drop-dead funny, so we proceeded to watch it, and I laughed so hard at the first scene that I came close to throwing up.
I recently quoted Greg Sandow in this space:
The [fine] arts–as an enterprise separate from our wider culture, and somehow standing above it–are over….any attempt to revive them (this includes classical music, of course) will have to mean that they engage popular culture, and everything else going on in the outside world.
Somehow I doubt that was quite what Greg had in mind. But maybe not!
• One of my closest friends regularly sends me handwritten letters and postcards, to which I generally respond via e-mail. It’s not that she’s a technophobe. In fact, she’s a blogger of long standing. But as she once explained to me:
Isn’t it nice to open letters, too? In a funny way, I think all the email/blogging returns an almost romantic, Victorian specialness to pen & paper correspondence.
I know exactly what my friend means, and I’ve tried to reciprocate. Yet I still find it all but impossible to sit down and write a full-length letter by hand, in part because I’m left-handed and so have always found penmanship (as they used to call it once upon a time) awkward and ungratifying. I started using a typewriter at the age of ten and learned how to touch-type six years later, and since then I’ve mostly restricted my handwritten communication with the outside world to postcards and very brief notes. Despite my advancing age and old-fashioned inclinations, e-mail and blogging somehow seem to suit me better. I guess I’m just a post-postmodern man in a hurry, juggling too many balls for my own good.
I wish it were otherwise. I love the letters I get from my friend. I love the way her handwriting reflects her quirky, slightly fey personality. Would that I could give as good as I get.