Happy Birthday, Beethoven!

On Sunday afternoons in Vienna at the time of Beethoven, pianos were parked outside in the squares around town and in front of concert halls where pianists would improvise for the Viennese civilians. Beethoven showed up and caused widespread panic. There are journal entries from pianists at the time threatening to lock their doors and cut off their hands. Others claimed LVB was possessed by the devil.

Aside from the piano Beethoven was also an accomplished violinist. When asked to compose something for another house of royalty’s visiting violin gunslinger Beethoven would agree and then write something the new guy in town couldn’t play. When confronted, he would play the piece himself.

My favorite professional story might be how, in the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, he wrote a varying number of bars of introduction where he would weave the themes around each other, exposing the “colors” of the key. He got a lot of critical flack for it. By God, composers were to state the key on the front end, not fart around getting to it. In response to the critics Beethoven begins the Seventh Symphony with the entire orchestra making a one note WHAM of A major. He proceeds to beat us with it several times in the intro. Dum dee dum dee WHAM. Carl Maria von Weber, a contemporary no one remembers, said of the Seventh –

“The extravagances of Beethoven’s genius have reached the ne plus ultra in the Seventh Symphony, and he is quite ripe for the madhouse.” To which Beethoven responded, “I quite liked your last opera. I’m thinking of setting it to music.”

There are far too many stories to tell about Beethoven. Poet, romantic, insane genius, rock star, ladies man. Now, 24/7 two-hundred and fifty years later, someone, somewhere is listening to or playing Beethoven. On piano, violin, cello. On YouTube, on the radio, in school, a movie, a church. However, possibly the closest we may come to immortality, musical genius and artistic vision are not the major takeaways from Beethoven.

Huh?

What Beethoven wanted to show through his music was a way to a better, enlightened world. He dedicated much of his music to a concept of the Heroic Age called “benevolent despots.” Rulers who with wisdom and charity would bring the whole of humanity up out of ignorance by the bootstraps for the common good. We all know how that worked out. It was down to the artists.

His answer? The Ninth Symphony. In which Beethoven declared that the ideal society, Elysium, was not going to rise from heroes, benevolent despots or from God, but it was something we must do for ourselves. As brothers and sisters. As citizens in the brotherhood of humanity.

Even without the music, that right there? Pure. Genius.

Happy Birthday, wild man.

NVDT Totally Random – Happy Birthday Political Failure


Today is the birthday of the Volstead Act.

Huh?

You know, the great American political attempt to legislate morality back in 1919, that in January 1920 became the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Well, if you cut history class or spent it learning about Cinco de Mayo, Jefferson’s slave babies or Washington’s wooden teeth, it was the Thou Shalt Not Drink Demon Alcohol law. Google ridiculous liquor laws for a laugh. One of my faves is a town in California where a man had to have written permission from his wife to buy booze. If I drank, I’d have driven a town or county over. In Texas, there are still dry counties. (!?) With large signage and well-lit drive-through liquor stores a foot over the county line. I ask you, what’s the point? One foot into Texas, weed is illegal. One foot into Oklahoma it is legal? Duh…

What a great segue for – I would take this moment to preach about marijuana, women’s rights to their own bodies, and the general stupidity of trying to run a theocracy inside a democracy. But hell, we can’t get flag wavers or non-native speakers alike to wear masks.

Aside – Has anybody noticed how masks are worn? Like fashion and how to hold your cell phone, mask-wearing is split down lines of age and ethnicity.

We aren’t a diverse culture, we are a bunch of niches standing in line at franchises with menus in six languages. We buy and sell from and to our own. Usually. But dig this – The other night I got behind a car at Rosas. Took forever. I got to the bright sign and speaker, asked the disembodied drive-through voice what happened. “She wanted to know what goo-ac-uh-mole tasted like, and what were tah-mails wrapped in.” I said, “Shit, this is Texas.” Voice says “I know, right? And she had an ‘I voted’ sticker! Twenty-two eighteen at the window.”

My favorite thing about this election cycle is that it’s not about platforms and policies, but about personalities. And free shit. He/She will take away your free shit! He/She is responsible for COVID-19! They’ll take away a million jobs, create a million jobs, take away your guns, take away your pre-existing conditions, build hospitals, take away your welfare, your mail-order ammunition, your gasoline, your Jesus, your police, give you COVID-19, vaccinate you for COVID-19, fire your teachers, pay your teachers more, raise your taxes, close your schools, lower your taxes, steal your tax dollars! This is a conspiracy, that’s a conspiracy. I thought I was tired of pickup truck ads…

We should all know by now none of the shit they’re droning on about is very likely. Why? Because even if they’re elected, they’ll start living on other people’s money and the longer they don’t get shit done, the longer they stay on the tit. I can’t explain how that works. But Pelosi has a $30k fridge full of “let them eat designer ice cream” and couldn’t agree with her own ass that it was time to poop or not. She is not alone with living the trans-party political slogan “I’ll help the people who put me here when it suits me.” Maybe that’s the problem. From the top down, all politicians are so jammed up and full of shit that it’s just a way of life. And all of them claim to be “bi-partisan”, lets-get-things-done types when their voting records are straight down party lines. Which means either way is a vote for stagnation. Would lighting a candle help?

 It’s gotten so absurd that here in Dallas an incumbent got pissed because he claimed the pictures of him that his opponent used in her ads made him look “too black.” WTF? In the midst of BLM you’re afraid to look too black?

An irresponsible hairdresser who opened her shop illegally during the lockdown is running for office, people with no experience except for having a couple of kids and being in the Army think they ought to be in Congress telling us how to live.

People with various targeted surnames are looking for votes from their “community.” Yay! Y’all did such a great job with wherever you’re from you had to leave, so bring on your plan-for-progress-is-saving-water-by-taking-a-dump-in-the-wastebasket-at-McDonalds!

People with perfect hair and perfect teeth who might soon be indicted for something are calling each other liars and mis-representers. “Jane, you ignorant slut.” Life as a Saturday Night Live skit.

Maybe they’ll all get elected, and since they can’t seem to get shit done anyway, regardless of who’s there, maybe they’ll make liquor and a woman’s right to pregnancy termination and being gay and weed illegal again and legislate us some other good old-fashioned morality. Because God knows politicians are the de facto role models for a chaste and moral existence.

Foreign policy. Anybody heard a word about that in this mess? Or how COVID-19 is a global issue, not just a bunch of stupid American politicians on both sides of the aisle tap dancing? No? Me, either. But here’s some good news. At a mosque the size of a county just east of here a dozen guys got arrested for procuring bomb-making materials to celebrate election night regardless of the winner. Who cares? Any opportunity to blow some shit up. Is this a great country or what?What happened to America as the land free of ideological persecution? I mean aside from that Volstead thing. We have paved roads, grocery stores full of food and maybe a couple rolls of toilet paper and some crazies want to turn that into fucking Beirut? Anybody know about real estate prices in Belize?

In conclusion – Celebrate the failure of the Volstead Act for me, as well as the demise of a literate, tolerant democracy. Remember – in times like these Black Lager Matters. But not too black. I prefer the appropriately named Reasonably Corrupt, from Great Raft Brewing.

Here’re my two favorite political signs –