never touch the greasy bread
Tuesday, April 17 2007
Late this afternoon, Gretchen and I attended a performance of a string quartet at Bard College. Three of the four musicians in this quartet are in the English class Gretchen teaches there. All four of them are young virtuosos recruited directly from China into Bard's nascent conservatory program. It was a rainy day and the performance had been hastily arranged, so there were only a smattering of occupied seats in Olin Auditorium. But the quartet was, as expected, absolutely amazing. The first half was Franz Schubert's Quartet No. 13 in A Minor and the second was Maurice Ravel's dreamy, nearly meterless Quartet in F Major. That Ravel piece was beautiful in the same way that clouds racing overhead are beautiful. It was also somewhat narcotic. Every now and then, though, the music called for the musicians to vigorously pluck their instruments, causing me to wonder how they could keep from quickly going out of tune (and how I'd even know, given the apparently centerless quality of Ravel's composition).
After the performance, Gretchen and I hit the Red Hook Curry House, which hosts a buffet on Sundays and Tuesdays. The buffet is a good one, with a great diversity of food continuously replenished by the kitchen. The restaurant seems to be a popular place for Bard faculty and students, many of whom are regulars and know each other enough to stand by one anothers' tables exchanging gossip. A woman at the table next to us asked in this way the guy visiting her table about a sarcastic sign he'd recently erected in his yard addressing the plague of mcmansions descending upon the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, though, on the drive home Gretchen complained about her stomach and said "let's never go back." My stomach wasn't feeling that good either, but her judgment seemed harsh and perhaps unfairly distorted by the amount of greasy bread she'd made the mistake of devouring. (I never touch the greasy bread there; it resembles the makeshift grease paper windows of primitive sod houses.)
Back at the house Gretchen and I watched Marie Antoinette, the 2006 film starring Kirsten Dunst. As a historical work, it's an unsatisfying mouthful of cotton candy. But if Marie-Antoinette was actually the Paris Hilton of her day, the movie did an excellent job of portraying her personality.
The movie didn't really come into its own until near the end, after angry mobs (who, up to this point, haven't even been foreshadowed) storm and take the Bastille. The scene in which M-A and her husband (Louis XVI) attempt to eat their usual stuffy dinner despite the roar of an angry crowd outside ends up justifying the journey of getting there; we in the audience were as clueless about what was really going on in the French countryside as the doomed French royalty. It also made me wonder how low George W. Bush's approval ratings would have to fall before he, Laura, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove found themselves in a similar predicament in the White House. Never underestimate the political power of an angy mob equipped with torches and pitchforks!
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