Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dudamel Rocks The House

Carol, my older former adviser and mentor, now big sister, invited me to sieze one of her season tickets to the NSO, insisting I take advantage of the Isreal Philharmonic performance. Not realizing Gustavo Dudamel would be the conductor. If you have not seen him, he is aptly described by Anne Midgette as the "wild child of music." It was incredible watching him blaze through,  2 hours of Brahms and Mendelssohn completely off book, that's right, no sheet music in front of him passionately hair-a-flying!

Gustavo Dudamel, Better Than the Hype
By Anne Midgette
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 20, 2008; C07

Yes, Virginia, there is a Gustavo Dudamel. There has been so much hype around the 27-year-old Venezuelan conductor that you may well have had reason to wonder. But Dudamel is the real thing -- as Virginia, and Washington, got to see when he led the Israel Philharmonic at the Kennedy Center, courtesy of the Washington Performing Arts Society, on Tuesday night.
Dudamel is a wild child of music. The advance billing portrays him as a natural talent brimming over with musical understanding untrammeled by a big ego, and onstage, that's just about what you get. The cushion of springy curls bobbing over the emphatic movements of his arms as he gestures and leaps and exhorts certainly project a state-of-nature exuberance.

But engaging though all this be, the really good news is that he goes beyond it. On Tuesday, for all the rough edges -- and there are rough edges -- he conducted with tremendous emotional specificity. He brought to the music an eye for detail that may have overlooked technical niceties, but could find strikingly nuanced things to do with a single phrase: pausing for a microsecond to give a percussive chord an element of surprise, or unleashing the orchestra's forces only to pull them back again to round out a musical statement with unexpected elegance.

The programming was a little unusual. If you want to show off your young, charismatic conductor, two back-to-back 19th-century German symphonies with similar orchestrations -- Mendelssohn's "Italian" and Brahms's Fourth -- are not necessarily the most obvious choices. Naturally, you want to demonstrate that Dudamel has the chops to deal with demanding music (he does). Presumably, WPAS -- or whoever selected this program from what the orchestra is offering on its current tour -- also wanted to enhance the contrast with Dudamel's second appearance this season, scheduled for April, when he returns with his own Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. That program will feature Ravel, Stravinsky and some of the Latin American works that have become staples of that orchestra's concerts.

Of course, the two symphonies offer a considerable contrast in mood: the Mendelssohn, sunny and lilting; the Brahms, the pinnacle of his orchestral achievement. Dudamel drew links between them, reflecting Mendelssohn's sunniness in a light touch in the Brahms, and exploring the subtleties of Mendelssohn's orchestral writing rather than being satisfied with merely making it sing.

Dudamel is an instinctive conductor. He did not come to these pieces determined to bend them to an interpretation or make a statement. What came through most was his sense of wonder as he shaped each movement without benefit of a score, not with a strong sense of the pieces' architecture but with a strong sense of their musicality. Each movement of the Mendelssohn was clearly differentiated, from the bouncy opening to the spidery tarantella of the finale. The orchestra rose to meet him, its sound warm yet springy, with a Central European coloring freshened by a feeling of air and light.

It takes a lot of energy to carry a piece like the Brahms Fourth on instinct alone, and Dudamel poured every ounce of himself into the execution of it, even leaping from the podium at one point, like a more athletic Leonard Bernstein. Yet the best things about his Brahms -- which kept Beethoven in sight at every turn -- were the moments of restraint: such as the way he created air around the horn call in the first movement, so it emerged from a place of essential stillness. Or the way he charged full tilt at the end of the first movement and then at the last second suddenly tucked in the very end of the chord, so that instead of the expected explosive finale came a full stop, transmitting the clear message that this was a pause in a piece that was moving on. For once, not a single member of the audience clapped in the wrong place. The climax was reserved for the towering fourth movement in an appropriately wrenching performance.

It was left to the first encore to offer a new musical direction: the intermezzo from Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," full of wonderful schmaltz and with some truly gorgeous playing from the principal cello, violin and viola. Dudamel appears to deal with the hype by trying to spread the praise to his players. He did not even take a solo bow, but stood, instead, among the orchestra to receive what by now has become his expected due of thunderous applause.

We've All Seen These

You've seen these Washingtonians, but with gas prices falling to $2.09 at my local Exxon its harder for me to resist the urge to push the elevator button to L instead of G2 in the morning.

The former means bracing the icy wind, to fight for a seat on the metro, but save the environment and feel better about myself. The latter is straight shot from heated garage to heated garage by way of heated car. I get the radio, road rage, coffee time, and save money. You wrestle with this dilemma while I share a little humor for the am. (ps. I have been guilty indulging in the latter in case you were wondering)

WASHINGTON - In train stations, at bus stops, online, even on our coffee cups, Chevron ads are trying to convince us that the key to ending our energy crisis is individual action. Over pictures of everyday Americans, taglines from Chevron’s “Will You Join Us” ad campaign read:
“I will leave the car at home more.”
“I will take my golf clubs out of the trunk.”
“I will replace 3 light bulbs with CFLs.”
“I will finally get a programmable thermostat.”
“I will consider buying a hybrid.”

All good ideas, certainly, but no matter how many clubs they’re carrying in their golf bags, no matter how many light bulbs they change, no matter how hard they consider that hybrid, the folks at Chevron could probably do a little more.

Here are a few suggestions for Chevron’s ad team:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Troy Asks Devon Answers...the new HIMYM

If you have a few extra seconds during the day, you have to watch a few of these. They really adhere to the Keep It Simple Stupid. But so addicting! I actually work with Troy, and yes we tease him! And if you are a closet fan...please forward!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Now That's Soft Power!

Ah memories - I remember reading Nye my freshman year at GW, and he never gets hold. I love this one!

via The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by Joseph Nye on 11/7/08

I gave a speech in London yesterday, and was overwhelmed and delighted by the enthusiasm for the United States as a result of the Obama election. The papers not only devoted their front pages to the election, but multiple pages inside. Many people remarked on "the extra-ordinary capacity of the United States to renew itself." In speaking with a major figure in Gordon Brown's cabinet, he told me that "in one stroke, the election of Obama has changed the American image in the eyes of billions of people." That is soft power!

Monkey Business Meets Media

Not sure what this proves, but back in the days of Desk Assistant Jen, when I landed the first interview with Elise Gazwitz sparking a firestorm of media attention escalating the story to GMA, never once did Armani bite me. (Granted I did my interviews over the phone, but not relevant here.)   

The Reliable Source
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, November 4, 2008; C03

Text hereWho Could've Predicted This Monkey Business?
In an explosion of campaign tension, a prominent pundit violently attacked a local reporter, sending her to the hospital two days before Election Day.
The pundit: celebrated capuchin monkey Armani, who bit a WTOP reporter at the news conference where the primate revealed his presidential pick.
Armani is best known for owner Elyse Gazewitz's long -- and successful -- legal battle to return him to her Rockville home after animal control officers, citing wild-animal regulations, seized him. Since then, he has developed a sideline in punditry, albeit with a mixed record. (He predicted Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee as the nominees and the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. But he successfully matched a couple for The Post's Date Lab.)
On Sunday, WTOP's Amy Held and a Fox 5 TV crew went to Gazewitz's home to see whom Armani likes in today's election. WTOP News VP Jim Farley told us that as Held reached for her mike, the monkey leapt over and bit her on the pinky, drawing blood.
Back at the office, Held's bosses insisted that she get treated. At Georgetown Hospital, doctors gave her a tetanus shot and put her on antibiotics for a week. Held, who returned to work yesterday, declined to comment. "This is the wackiest workman's comp case I've ever had to fill out forms for," Farley said.
Gazewitz offered a different account, saying Armani, perched on her shoulder, "got threatened" when Held approached with a microphone. "It was just a little nip," she said. "He's never done that before. He just didn't like her for whatever reason."
After carefully studying photos of the candidates, Armani made his pick: Barack Obama. "He's definitely a Democrat," Gazewitz said.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aggressive Journalism

Yesterday, Senator Barbara Mikulski announced her proposal to carve out about 2 billion from the stimulus package part II for the auto industry essentially giving new car buyers a tax break to stimulate demand again.

Now getting a senator to talk to you on the phone is hard work for a small newsroom, luckily for us she was making this announcement right up the street. No surprise, but I was running late to the press conference.

After dumping the news van (explorer) off on some poor maintenance man across the street we dove in on the scene. Reporters everywhere and the senator dipping into a car all of two feet away from me. Well unlike those fancy cable teevee reporters, we have a handy cam and a short mic leash.....and no shame. I had that mic so close to the poor woman's face, you'd think she was made of chocolate.

You would have thought we were breaking Watergate the way we jumped into the story, meanwhile the lackadaisical press core jotted notes and causally changed tapes. Anywho - it got our mic flag on two local channels this am. Watch and see! Our mic flag now officially has gotten more camera time than Street Talk's Jen Richer! Harrumph!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chez Copa Votes

This important election season, chez copa did what they do best, participated.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Talk About MoveOn.org

Katie - you're prayers have been answered. I, like mr. hanks, predict a small but noticeable baby boom. Watch those uteri

E. A. Hanks: Obama Babies: Coming Soon

I want to have an Obama Baby. Let me be clear: I don't want to have Obama's baby, I want to have an Obama Baby. One of the thousands of babies I predict will be born somewhere around August 4th, 2009. Don't believe me?

Please recall how you felt on Tuesday night. If you are so unfortunate as to be anything like me, you were alternatively crying and laughing, hugging total strangers and screaming "OBAMAOBAMAOBAMA" at passing cars and strangers. Also, if I'm being honest, you were also three sheets to the wind (nothing makes me reach for the hooch like worrying over counties in Ohio). When President-Elect Obama spoke, I felt the total validation of two years of hard work, and the release of eight years of pent-up anger and frustration. I felt joyful, hopeful, and downright randy.

Baby Boomers were conceived in the hoopla of the end of the World War II, when ladies and gents just couldn't keep their hands off each other. Planting your "victory garden" took on a whole new meaning.

I wasn't really looking to have a baby. Since my comfort with commitment doesn't extend past the third date, and I am generally as selfish as a baby myself, I had thought that progeny would have wait. Parents have to do things. I can't even get up to answer the phone sometimes.

But, whatever! The past three days I've felt enough love and joy to let all that fall behind. If you think it's only the ladies who want to be Obama Mamas, think again. Last night I saw the Decemberists perform at New York's Terminal Five. Lead singer and total geeky dreamboat Colin Meloy called out to the audience "How many babies were made last night!? There are going to be some Obama Babies! Who knows, you might even have one in you right now!" AND THEN THEY BROUGHT OUT A CARDBOARD CUT-OUT OF PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA.

I was this close to lying on the ground, covering myself with leaves and hoping Meloy just happened to fall in.

But I didn't. At the end of the night, I went home to Brooklyn (the land of babies) and found myself stuck behind three hipster moms and their uber-strollers. They looked exhausted, and each and everyone of those babies was screaming at the top of their lungs.

Bring on the Obama Babies! But, uh.. maybe skip me.

(Check back in after four years though.)

Winners And Losers!

Arianna Huffington: The Winners and Losers of Campaign '08
via The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by Arianna Huffington on 11/6/08


The Davids - Axelrod and Plouffe: they spearheaded a near flawless campaign.

Katie Couric: her multi-part interview with Sarah Palin was the turning point in how the country saw Palin -- and by extension John McCain. And she did it in a way that left no room for accusations of being unfair or playing "Gotcha!"

Colin Powell, Scott McClellan, Ken Adelman, Chris Buckley, Kenneth Duberstein, et al: crossing party lines to endorse the eventual winner can't hurt the rep.

Saturday Night Live: went from "Is that still on?" to Must See TV (or, at least, Must See on YouTubeTV)

Tina Fey: her take on Palin was pitch perfect; a comedy mugging for the ages. And with Palin's obvious weight loss during the campaign, she ended up looking more and more like her 30 Rock doppelganger.

Sarah Palin: lost an election but there has to be a reality show in her future.

Michelle Obama: smarts, grace, style, charm, and a serious "good mommy" vibe -- she's got the whole package.

The View: went from gal chat to political headline maker.

MSNBC: Keith, Rachel, Chris... they sent a collective tingle went up the leg of progressive viewers everywhere.

The Internet: click here.


Joe Lieberman: failed to deliver Democrats, independents, or Jews. And on the way to losing his committee chairmanships.

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Morris, and hate-mongers everywhere: the stink didn't stick to Obama but it stuck to them.

Bill Clinton: it's gonna take a lot of work to repair the rep.

John McCain: see Bill Clinton.

Liddy Dole: see Clinton and McCain. Her "Godless" ad will be taught in What Not to Do poli sci classes for a century.

George W. Bush: the repudiation of his presidency was overwhelming and across-the-board.

The Republican Party: the emptiness of its philosophic underpinnings was exposed for all to see.

Joe the Plumber: the clock just hit 15 minutes, and the wakeup call will not be pleasant. Joe the Plumber, meet Clara Peller ("Where's the beef?!").

Karl Rove Buys Shit Cookies

810 Boys On The Assent!

Just Sayin

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Your Asses In Line!

Today I voted....

P-diddy told me to stand in line dammit and like a good American I was in line at a quarter to six - what did you do today?

Les MisBaracks!