Friday, April 24, 2009

Pol Plancon and the Cow

I had a dim memory that the bass, Pol Plancon, had been with the Met opera in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake--and sleeping by the river, had awakened when a cow nuzzled him. He then said to Emma Eames, the soprano, Emma, what is this terrible beast?

To find he source, I Googled the key words. And there was the source: me. (I had copied it from some book.)


Always a danger showing a prepub copy to someone. David Mintz, of Tofutti fame, treated my prepub ms as advertising copy--and tried to re-write it. Yuck.


Shocked and unhappy that an old enemy of mine seems to have had a successful career. Well, on the surface she did.


Having friends, it seems, helps you live longer. But having friends may mean that you're an outgoing, warm, pleasant person--type B rather than type a. THAT may account for any longevity.


"Milk," the film, wasn't as depressing as I had feared. but some sex scenes turned me off.


I've given up watching In Therapy. For the shrink to have fallen for that shallow young woman was incredible--and disgusting.


A 10-year-old documentary on black singers, Aida & Her Sisters, was mesmerizing. (Simon Estes has some voice!) How dispiriting, that many black singers despaired of ever succeeding in the classical music world. Miles Davis, who went to Juilliard, gave up on the classical world and went into jazz.


I should finish the little book I've started writing, about investing. Nothing new will be in it, but the advice will be sound, the writing lively. But first I've got to write a piece about the anthrax killings, Wagner and anti-semitism, and prepare some music lectures.


Music lectures: The Great Contraltos, Bass Notes, A Few Wonderful, All-But-Forgotten Singers (Bonci, Schoene, Hayes, Onegin, DeVries). Prokofiev.


Why do contraltos have pleasant personalities? Too small a sample to really generalize, but perhaps...they weren't stars...they didn't face much competition....they were "outsiders." Certainly true of Louise Homer and Kathleen Ferrier and Marion Anderson.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Something Else to Worry About

"By 2100, at the current rate of global warming, the pythons [in Florida] could reach New York City."

-- The New Yorker, April 20, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Carmina Burana

Where did I read that Carl Orff was pro-Nazi? And that he had agreed to re-write Mendelssohn's
works, to substitute his compositions for those of a genetic Jew?

Surprised to read, yesterday, that Maria Jeritza, the beautiful opera singer, started a pro-Nazi group years ago in Hollywood.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Israel Lobby

Response to a letter in the Woodstock Times:

So, Fred Nagel thinks that the Israel lobby is behind all the bad things
that have ever happened in the world! Does he also believe that Jews kipnap
Christian children and use their blood in making matzoh? How about the odeur Judaica?
And what about the Jews warned to stay away from the World trade Center on 9/11...and their responsibility for the
sinking ofthe Lusitania....and the crash of 1929? and the Panic of
And what about those other international conspiracies? SMERSH? The
Tri-Lateral Commission? The Masons? The Jesuits? The Comintern? The
Hominterm (homosexuals)? Fu Manchu?
You think maybe Fred Nagel should read Richard Hofstadter's "Paranoid Style in
American Politics"?

Warren Boroson


Friday, April 17, 2009

Margarete Matzenauer

She married her chauffeur--who left her to become a chauffeur again--in 1922, she asked him to return because she was expecting--he said no--opera singers, he said, live on skim milk and applause--

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fox's Biased Coverage

Why doesn't the FCC take away Fox News's license?

Apparently because Fox is a cable channel, not a broadcast channel.

But couldn't a govt agency go after it for false advertising? Fair and balanced?


Monday, April 13, 2009

New Restaurant

The waitress said, we're all out of that wine, why don't you try this other wine? It's very good--

But it was more expensive--

It WAS very good--

But I wonder: Does the waitress ALWAYS say "we're out of that wine" to push a more expensive wine?

When I got the bill, it seemed high--and there was no breakdown of the charges--that has never happened to me before--I should have asked for a breakdown, but I tend to be timid--

I've sometimes ordered cabernet sauvignon and gotten a wine that doesn't taste like it--any old red--

I remember, with anger, ordering a drink when I was young, and getting a drink without any alcohol--


Some restaurants, I've noticed, have waiters/waitresses who interrupt and say, sorry to interrupt but...
I'm going to say: Don't be sorry to interrupt--just don't interrupt--

Jews who are one-sidedly anti-Israel


In response to a letter from a Jew calling me stupid for arguing that anti-Israel people are mostly anti-Semites:

Why Some Jews Are Anti-Israel

To the Editor:

In a shallow letter (April 9) full of misspellings, wrong punctuation, and defective grammar, Tarak Kauff brings up an interesting question. Why are certain Jews (like Kauff himself) one-sidedly anti-Israel?
After all, one almost certainly must be a Jew-hater not to acknowledge that Israel has been seeking peace, giving in to demand after demand from the Arabs, while the Arabs (like that terrorist group known as Hamas) have been determined to eradicate Israel.
Some Jews, undeniably, are one-sidedly anti-Israel. Just as some blacks oppose affirmative action. (Isn’t “Uncle Toms” the word for them?)
Are people like Kauff “self-hating” Jews? Possibly they do “identify with the aggressor,” as Anna Freud put it. But another reasonable explanation is that these Jews are ashamed of being Jewish; they have bought into the vicious stereotypes about Jews, and are bent on proving that they don’t carry all the stigmata of being Jewish. “How can I be a vulgar Jew if I criticize Israel?” Like that young member of the American Nazi party who, years ago, upon being exposed by The New York Times as being Jewish, promptly killed himself.
Still another explanation: These Jews are desperate for attention, to be noticed. I’m beginning to think that getting attention is one of the great human needs, along with food and shelter. Getting attention boosts a person’s self-esteem; it suggests that someone really isn’t one of life’s miserable losers. And for a Jew to one-sidedly criticize Israel is almost guaranteed to get attention, especially if the critic writes to a newspaper and announces that he is Jewish.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that Kauff is a self-hating Jew, or a Jew ashamed of being Jewish, or even a posturing, attention-getting Jew.
He’s that exceedingly rare creature, that anomaly, that lusus naturae…the really dumb Jew.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mary Garden Dazzled the Eye & Pained the Ear

Mary Garden 1874-1987

Born in Scotland, came to US as a child
Listening to a radio interview with her, in 1940: She sounds pretentious—enunciating like Liza Dolittle via Henry Higgins—the interviewer dares to ask about the poor reviews she received: she pays no attention to critics, just to the public, is her reply—besides, a singer’s personality and acting are what really count—in the past, she admitted she was no great singer—though she had a pretty voice, and her record of singing of At Dawning is pleasant—
A critic who saw her in Thais wrote that she “dazzled the eye and pained the ear.”

She’s famous for singing Melisande (she was a friend of Debussy’s) and Salome—the latter in a very sexy version. She was accused of having had a child out of wedlock when she was young, but it seems dubious—she seemed to be fairly ignorant about sex. She once did one of the wackiest things any opera singer ever did: Donned a man’s clothes and tried to enlist in the army! All in all, she was cute and attractive—and a slight singer who made the most of her meager talent.

A biography by Michael T.R.B. Turnbull (1997) makes hash of a previous work, MG’s autobiography written with Louis Biancolli—“Mary’s distortion of the facts stemmed from an innate tendency to exaggerate which, in combination with her failure to keep accurate records, her later highly developed skill in managing the media, and the onset of senile dementia around 1945, led to the confusion or transposition of dates, events, feelings and even people.” P 1

famous story:

At a party, both Melba and Garden sang—during a dinner later, Melba said loudly, What a poor concert this would have been if I hadn’t been singing!’ When someone tried to mollify Garden, she shrugged it off: She was accustomed to Melba’s bad manners.

She was opposed to women getting the vote. “Woman is made to be loved, not to vote.”

Maeterlink was angry that Debussy chose Mary to play Melisande—instead of a friend of his, Georgette Leblanc, whose voice has been described as “pitiable”—he actually went to his home and told his wife he had come to thrash Debussy with his cane—(when Sam Goldwyn met him ears later, he reported that Maeterlink was indifferent to music)

P 109: “It was one night in mid-February 1913 in Philadelphia … Nineteen-year-old Helen Newby… committed suicide because she was unable to see Mary.” Daughter of a wealhy tycoon, she shot herself in the head on the lawn of her family’s house after Mary declined to give her an interview. “Hidden in the bosom of her dress was a picture of her adored Mary.”

She studied German, hoping to sing Wagner—but said she couldn’t sing opposite a fat German tenor—“Most German tenors are fat, aren’t they?”

A critic wrote of her Louise: “It is to the credit of the great dramatic power of this woman that, although her singing has long been a bad joke, her personation of Louise is still able to command the intense interest of great audiences by the sincerity and power with which she throws herself into it.”
During WW1 she worked as a Red Cross nurse—and on Nov 16 1914, wearing a uniform, she tried to enlist in the French army—she had a “somewhat effeminate bearing”—was she a German spy in disguise?—before the youngster could be examined, Mary Garden tearfully confessed—apparently she had been “seized by a whirlwind of patriotism”—later she defended herself: “I could fight as well as any man if they would only let me. I have never failed to subdue every man I have met so far.”

In 1946 she was hired to teach French to Beverly Sills—Sills: “Charming, she wasn’t. Mary Garden often struck me as the meanest woman I’d ever met.” She was “absolutely awful about allowing me room for a single creative thought….”

She made a silent film in 1917 of Thais for Sam Goldwyn – in Fort Lee. But studio people, Goldwyn reported, said she was “acting all over the place.”
She was enraged when she saw the rushes—she said to the playwright, Margaret Mayo, “Did you see the way they made me die? Imagine a saint dying like that!”
Mayo replied “in a tone of studied insolence: ‘You would have a hard time, Miss Garden, proving to anyone that you were a saint.’”
Goldwyn later came upon her, “weeping hysterically. ‘Oh,’ said she, ‘that terrible woman! Have you heard what she just said to me?’”
(Goldwyn seems like a smart fellow, by the way.)

“When you leave the opera house, you are lonesome with your triumphs.”

A female associate of hers said Mary liked to talk about erotic matters—but “this sophisticated woman was actually as ignorant of most facts of life as a little girl.”

A cop reported on her performance of Salome in Chicago. “Salome is OK. The show was better than gthe movies and he costumes were up to snuff. Regarding Miss Garden in her veil dance, wehave sween worse right on Second Avenue. It was a nifty dance, but it was kind of sad- - John the Baptist being beheaded.”

Her performance of At Dawning was the only one of her records she could bear to hear played.

Standing by a window with Debussy, she killed a couple of flies. He objected to her cruelty and tears rolled down his cheeks.

The women of America, she said, made her career. When they took their husbands to see Thais or Salome and saw that she was nearly nude, they took the opera glasses away from their wives and kept them all evening. They learned “that opera could be made interesting.”

She once said that she had never loved anyone of the opposite sex.

Later in life she said that Mario Lanza had a gorgeous voice—he should to to Europe and study—re Callas, she said, “You know, she is a great actress, she is a great singer, but she acts on impulse. That’s very dangerous.”