Visiting New York City, the nation’s cultural center and largest metropolitan area by teeming body count, is great fun. The cultural stew of humanity, the ready access to theaters and museums, a wondrous variety of food and drink in addition to historic and contemporary structures, combine to provide a visitor with memories and stories for a lifetime. One toys with the idea of making NYC home. Even one as provincial as the Clown has been tempted by the siren call that is The Big Apple. But then….
Let’s consider three of the downsides to living in Manhattan, besides the insane cost.
If you live there, no doubt, your circle of acquaintances would tend to expand. At some important tipping point, one of those friends is going to invite you to attend (1) an opera, (2) a ballet or (3) an interpretive dance recital. Because you are right there in NYC and you don’t want to alienate a new friend, you are compelled to go. If, on the other hand, you choose to live in Springdale, Arkansas, invitations such as these rarely, if ever, happen. This is one of the many joys of living in fly-over country.
I do not have any inherent objection to opera as long as I don’t have to actually attend. Most operas are sung in either German or Italian. The Clown doesn’t speak or understand either. Therefore, except for the occasional glimmer of plot revealed in the on-stage action (stabbing, sword play, a crumpled obese woman weeping on the floor, passionate embraces, period clothing and such), the Clown has absolutely no idea what the hell is going on.
In addition, opera singers belt out their songs in a very loud and robust way but quite slowly, drawing out the syllables as they run through several octaves of notes on a simple two-syllable word. Even if the opera were in English, this makes it very difficult to tell the difference between, “My heart is given to great anguish,” and ” My herpes is riven with angel fish.” As the reader can see, the story lines can be wildly misinterpreted.
Finally, opera singers sing from their diaphragms, which I’m pretty sure has something to do with birth control. Ewwww.
Ballet gives the Clown the giggles, thus making him a poor audience member as the swan is dying. The thump, thump, thumping of toe shoes across the wooden stage is an auditory reminder that the dancers are creating a large and profitable cache of patients for podiatrists. It also sends the Clown into the giggles as the flouncing of tutus is rhythmically accompanied by the drum beat of many pairs of feet, on toe, moving to their next assigned position on the stage.
If this weren’t funny enough, the male dancers usually wear tights. Very tight tights. Often, the male dancers are bare from the waist up, revealing exquisite examples of the male form, topped off with the distinct bulge of their package in their tights. They may as well have a large arrow pointed down from mid-chest saying “Stare here.” The Clown is concerned that male ballet dancers whose assets are somewhat wanting, will resort to artificial enhancement, thus diminishing the story line, assuming that one understands the story line since no words are spoken nor any Italian or German songs sung.
Finally, modern interpretive dance is based on the belief that the athletic movements of incredibly fit dancers can impart a story, a mood, a human truth a universal concept or, in the Clown’s case, bewilderment. These dancers go through tightly choreographed routines that no normal human could possibly complete and then, when they are done, are repaid with hesitant applause (“Is it over?”), a small amount of money and a dry towel. The exact meaning of their efforts can then be hotly debated over drinks and bar snacks after the recital. That’s actually the only fun part.
Then too, these recitals are often performed in converted warehouse spaces in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. The cost of admission is low at these venues, thus insuring that there will be an audience, sparse perhaps, but an audience. On the other hand, you could attend an Alvin Ailey performance but the price will be breathtaking. Make sure that your new friend is paying. Regardless of the cost, the dancers movements will be described as “grandiloquent” and their costumes “lavish”. Neither of these adjectives has ever been used to describe clogging.
And so, the Clown will continue to live in fly-over country and visit NYC periodically to take in the sights, sounds, smells, food, Broadway drama (spare the Clown musicals) and museums of his choosing. I know that many readers will consider the Clown gauche. Of course he’s gauche, he’s a clown for God’s sake.
Observoid of the Day: Gifts are not required at a meteor shower.