Wednesday, September 26, 2007

RFK Redux

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday in September, the last major league baseball game was played at Washington's RFK Stadium (or the "concrete dump" as many news articles mislabeled it). It was a very pleasant, yet bitter-sweet experience for the more-than 40,000 fans that filled the stadium one last time to cheer on the Nats and remember their RFK predecessors, the Senators (some of whom, including the now-legendary Frank (no-not Ryan) Howard, were on-hand for the pre-game ceremonies).

Just three years ago, the stadium, reborn and refurbished, had made it possible to bring back major league baseball to DC (after thirty-plus years of absence, and lonely treks to Baltimore). Now, RFK was being honored and abandoned by MLB one more time. Fortunately and fittingly, the Nationals rose to the occasion to beat the pennant-hungry Phillies (and their ace Cole Hamels) 5 to 3. Appropriately, the win enabled the Nats to finish their three-year, RFK stint with a home record of 122 wins and 121 loses, and to leave the fans with yet one more positive memory of baseball at RFK.

But this time, unlike in 1971, the Nats are just going across town--to a new home, to start a new tradition.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Classical death/meaning less

Continuing on my earlier theme of whether classical music is dying is a "flight-out," farewell article by Newsday's classical critic, Justin Davidson. While the farewell piece is a sad sign, it is extremely optimistic. Mr. Davidson muses that "[m]aybe it's that in populist America, we take pleasure in the thought that democratic culture can expunge an ancient tradition associated with the aristocratic."

But he goes on to conclude that "[c]lassical music isn't dying, but the term itself means less with every passing year - not because it represents an osteoporotic tradition, but because its ever-widening embrace includes musicians who refuse to be bound by notions of appropriateness." He cites various young hopes such as the NY group Alarm Will Sound (who I am listening to right now); they have a sprightly, modern sound. The full article is at the following web address:,0,2746910.story

Davidson ends the piece blaming the lazy, traditional classic-critic for the exaggerated death of classical music--"There are no accepted standards or styles, which means that the critic lives on shifting sands. How much easier and more rhetorically satisfying it is just to pronounce last rites on the whole thing than to strike out across an unstable landscape and send back a series of un-final reports." Breaking barriers in the unstable landscape is Alex Ross' (of New Yorker fame) blog "the Rest is Noise," which provided the valuable link to the Davidson's article.