Sunday, March 20, 2011

I find this mildly surprising

From the L.A. Times, an opinion piece in which the author reminisces about his childhood and how playing the clarinet and saxophone in the band saved him from being bullied. Of course, it seems like it had more to do with the band's association with the sports teams, but still, I never thought that being a musician would be much protection against bullying.

(Me, I was a weird and awkward smart kid, got teased, but never really bullied. I'm still weird and awkward, but I have a bunch of weird and awkward friends now, so it's all good.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to properly remind people they're in a giant train cave

OK, so the Stockholm subway has exposed rock in certain stations.

How cool are those, and why can't the MBTA have nice things?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Should I worry that this nearly made sense?

Fifth-grade student: You want to hear my new best theory?
Me: Um...sure?
Student: OK, so, the days I hate are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Pick one, and I'll tell you why I hate it.
Me: Okay...Wednesday.
Student: OK, so, Wednesday leads to Thursday leads to Friday leads to Saturday leads to Sunday leads to MONDAY which is ALL DOOM AND GLOOM. But I like Tuesday because it's the farthest away.

Yes, this student does speak mostly in bold and italics.

No, you're not

Dear young man on the bus:

OK, see, I'm a thirtysomething white woman from Iowa. And yet, even I know that if you're bouncing around the back of the bus going into great detail about your outstanding warrants, how they ain't gonna get you and how you got shot because "that's what we gangstas do" are not, in fact, a gangsta. Especially if you're not talking to anybody in particular.

Even the twelve-year-old boy and his seventeen-year-old brother who got off the bus at my stop thought you were high, drunk and "ridonkulous".

At least you probably inspired them to stay in school, in case they were considering otherwise.

Yours in baffled disdain,

The Fiddler

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Suddenly just a little claustrophobic

I like to try to forget that Porter Station is the deepest station in the Boston area. Then they take away the ceiling and expose the rock underneath, and it becomes much harder to forget that you're in a giant cave.

Women and Street Performing

(As I was writing this post, I happened to wander over to a friend's Facebook page and discovered that, in addition to being Mardi Gras, it's International Women's Day. So let's say this post is for International Women's Day, shall we?)

In doing some light reading, I found this about ancient Greek musical practice:

Among the musicians acclaimed for their recitals were a number of women, who were excluded by law from competing in the games, but special decrees gave exceptional performers the chance to be heard outside the framework of the contests. Women were limited to playing stringed instruments*, since the aulos was considered suitable only to slaves, courtesans, and entertainers.

I remembered an article I read about women and busking. The author of this piece is a singer, so much of the article involves the double standards around what she could acceptably sing and say in public and what men performing nearby could (hint: the guys got away with a lot more). I don't have to worry about lyrics, but I'm still quite aware that female buskers are in the minority. In the subway, I see a couple young women with guitars and a young woman who plays viola, and outside during the summers, I used to see a woman with her bagpipes, but otherwise, it's still very male-dominated.

In fact, until 2004, the following law (Police Rule 75) was still on the books in Boston: ""A female licensed itinerant musician shall not play a musical instrument in a street unless she is accompanied by an adult male licensed itinerant musician."

I believe that law was claimed to exist to protect women. It dates back to the 1850s, when a female busker would have attracted a great deal of the wrong kind of attention, as women were supposed to be at home caring for house, husband and children. I'm curious as to how many "female licensed itinerant musicians" there even were back in the day. The word "itinerant" carries the connotation of not having a fixed address, which I'm sure would have been particularly scandalous for a woman (she said speculatively).

There's a whole long sociological post that could be done around this issue, but I think this is enough for me for now.

*I've long found it interesting that today, the flute tends to be associated with women, but when I think of famous flautists, the first two names that spring to mind are James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal, who are...not women. I can't actually think of a famous female flautist.
And the Wikipedia list of flautists is distinctly male-dominated...India.Arie is the only woman whose name rings a bell.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Security sponge

Fifth-grade student, after moving up to a full-size violin: "The person at the violin store gave my dad the sponge* back, so I'm gonna keep it and call it Lucky Sponge."

*Many students use shaped foam as a shoulder rest; I just learned the official name is The Loft Sponge.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pretty sure I misheard that one...

"Next stop, Roxbury Crossing Water Buffalo."