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Mara Gerety

The Provocateur Strikes Again

June 2, 2008 at 5:30 PM

It's "cucumber season" again, everybody! It's hot, it's humid, a nasty thunderstorm knocked out power to half the city (including my house) yesterday, so here I sit in the library on a malfunctioning laptop but one nonetheless with free wi-fi.

Anyways, regulars of this site will know that I'm fond of posting provocative, even incendiary opinions, whether I agree with them or not, to spark debate and watch gleefully what madness ensues. Here is today's offering, a commentary on elitism and high culture (quite relevant to us musicians!) from Ms. Susan Jacoby, published a few days ago in the New York Times. I can't post the full text here without running into copyright restrictions, but here's the link:

Susan Jacoby: Best is the New Worst

Happy arguing! :)

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 6:34 PM
Cucumber Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
pinch o' salt
2/3 cup o' stock
3 medium sized cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup cream

Mix butter, flour and salt into a pot of boiling water. Add stock. Add cucumbers. Add cream. Use as topping for anything you like. Well, maybe not ice cream. That would be disgustingly elitist...

As for the NYT and "elitism", it is interesting that that The Paper Of Record should choose to lob that particular creamed cucumber brick so spectacularly through that particular Phillip Johnson abode, when there is a noticeably spectacular decline in both the quantity and quality of their Arts coverage.

Not to be "elitist", but how did your school year wrap up? Is it "elitist" to inquire about your grades? Is it "elitist" to ask you how the practicing is going? Which "elitist" piece are you working on? (Insert smiley face here).

From Mara Gerety
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 6:58 PM
All in all a weird but good year, decent grades, horrible practice work-ethic at the moment. Off to Italy soon though, so I've got some music to learn...
From Mara Gerety
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 6:59 PM
...Prokofiev sonata for 2 violins (first violin), Beethoven quartet op. 59 no. 1 (second violin), assorted chamber-orchestra music including all of "The Marriage of Figaro" (opera tour! w00t!), Bartok concerto No. 1 later in the summer, along with Beethoven quartet op. 95 (second violin again) and Smetana quartet no. 1 (first violin), and who knows what else....
From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 7:03 PM
Sounds just grand. I just adore the Op. 59s. I hope your trip goes well!
From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 7:42 PM
The opus 59s are some of my very favorites. Have a good time in Italy. You've earned it. Are you stopping in Hungary on the way there or back?
From Mara Gerety
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 8:36 PM
Sadly no, not this year. I was accepted to Gyorgy Pauk's mastercourse at the Bartok Festival in Szombathely, but it conflicted with the schedule of my thing in Italy (thanks to the Austrians and their weird train schedule.) So I can't go this year, maybe next year or sometime later.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 9:32 PM
Too bad about the Pauk masterclass. He is very good. I have some old LPs of him doing the Mozart sonatas which are quite good. I do not know if they have been reissued on CD.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 9:22 PM
I really like my Pauk recordings of Bartok's violin sonatas, and Contrasts, with Jando and Berkes, and also the 44 Duos with Sawa, all on the most delightfully non-elitist Naxos label. (Huzzah for Naxos). Great music, and great prices, for bargain-minded students. Too bad you can't go...

Also, having the afternoon off, which means time to read the Sunday NYT Dead Tree Edition, I got some great fashion advice from the NYT magazine! Here are some great Elitist togs for you to pick up to wear during your trip to Italy:

Prada leather bag, $1,150
Dolce & Gabbana clutch, $875
Dries Van Noten sandal, $1,125
Balenciaga clutch, $945
Giuseppe Zanotti Design shoe, $495

From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 10:08 PM
Anne's given you good advice. Remember that even in the music world you must dress for success.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 2, 2008 at 10:37 PM
Now Holzman, you know perfectly well that I am the last person in the world that Mara should listen to, especially in the fashion department, but, lucky-ducky for her, the NYT features a "Style" section that has all the latest elite designs from all the top designers!

(OK. I will stop now. No more snarky ranting. Thank you).

From Mara Gerety
Posted on June 3, 2008 at 12:40 AM
Well, when it comes to *true* classiness, what matters is not the price but the tastefulness. I've seen thousand-dollar Manolos that are nowhere near as nice as my fifty-dollar concert shoes from Dillard's. It's all how you wear them. ;-)
From Corwin Slack
Posted on June 3, 2008 at 11:40 AM
Wow, 11 comments and nothing about the Susan Jacoby article. I guess its well enough. People who post here are (even the ones who can't play) a bit of an elite compared with our degenerate culture. They are not apt to identify themselves as an elite.

My comment: Susan Jacoby mixes up a few different categories of people in her opinion piece.

So here you have it: There are excellence in example elites and there smirky, self-satisfied and condescending elites.

Each seems to appeal to a different part of the political spectrum.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 3, 2008 at 3:18 PM
Corwin, I found the Jacoby editorial amusing, if you factor in the quality issues the NYT has had over the past few years. Anyone else remember the various problems that happened during Mr. Raines' tenure? Well, at least we can still read about $1,000 sandals...

So, Mara, what is this "thing in Italy"? Inquiring minds want to know...

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on June 4, 2008 at 12:36 AM
I agree with Corwin. Ms Jacoby’s article is confusing, maybe purposefully so but it left me with nothing to further comment on. Anne’s response is perfect! I’m sure Mara just loves it, right Mara?;-}
From Mara Gerety
Posted on June 4, 2008 at 3:48 AM
Eh....looks like my attempt at sparking impassioned debate collapsed like a flan in a cupboard. But points for whoever gets the reference.

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