Thursday, March 30, 2006

In which Wealth Has Its Privileges

Most of this post is about toilets. Skip ahead if you can't wait. At the end the subject becomes prison riots.

The Ojai Music Festival has been held in the little California city of Ojai for decades. New music is a specialty of the festival. Ojai is north of Santa Barbara, due west of Pasadena. Click here for their website.

Over the years I've attended periodically. I performed there once - a chamber work by Peter Maxwell Davies that still makes me cringe when I think of it. And a long time ago I was introduced to Olivier Messiaen backstage - we didn't have much to say to each other (it was a language thing.)

Concerts are held in a small wooden bandshell in Libby Park. There are uncomfortable benches in front - and grass to spread out on in the back. It's a pleasant if not great place to hear music. The core audience is, by all accounts, pretty well heeled (rich) - but they know how to dress down.

The 2006 Ojai Festival brochure arrived in my mail yesterday. Musically they're going with the current big fashion plate, Osvaldo Golijov. But the most fascinating item was on the donations page. At the top in big letters it says "Enhance Your Experience!".

  • For a $750 donation you get to "mingle with your favorite artists after the concert."
  • For a $1000 donation you get free parking. (no small deal in Ojai)
  • For a $2500 donation you get "Exclusive access for two to the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty during Festival"
I admit that the general facilities provided in Libby Park are pretty basic - you know, kind of like it was in a PARK! When I checked online for the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty offer, it only got sillier.

  • For a $7500 donation you get two additional passes to the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty.

Click here to see the donation levels for yourself. You can donate your $7500 directly at the bottom on the page.

Consider the per-visit cost for Red Carpet Port-O-Potty access. For a mere ten times what you pay to mingle with "your favorite artists" four people can visit the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty all they want for four days. Obviously this is the way new music in the US can achieve better funding -- by providing exclusive rest room access. Red Carpet Port-O-Potty. Sorry. I can't stop saying it.

Here's some links about toilets: Click here or Click there. Here's some videos about toilets: a Japanese toilet seat commercial, an animated porno clip (Mixed Meters' first x-rated link) and a 10-minute 1953 movie called Good Health Practices showing how Jim and Judy live a healthy lifestyle because they wash their hands after. And this short video shows the dangers of using regular, uncarpeted port-o-potties.

Meanwhile, back at the brochure: I noticed composer Frederic Rzewski's piece Coming Together on one program, touted for its "narrative tension" and "pure drama". No mention of the Attica rebellion in the brochure. Even 35 years later Attica probably doesn't sell tickets to bucolic high art festivals like a Red Carpet Port-O-Potty can.

Just for the heck of it, here's the text to Coming Together. It was written by inmate Sam Melville before the "event" (also called "uprising" "rebellion" or "massacre").

I think the combination of age and a greater coming together is responsible for the speed of the passing time. It's six months now, and I can tell you truthfully, few periods of my life have passed more quickly.... In the indifferent brutality, the incessant noise, the experimental chemistry of food, the ravings of lost hysterical men, I can act with clarity and meaning....
Listening to these words set to Rzewski's aggressive music and knowing what would happen later, makes a powerful, brutal musical statement. In a park. Near a horse trail. Charles Mingus, of the previous Mixed Meters post, wrote a nice piece called Remembering Rockefeller at Attica. Too nice.

A couple Rzewski or Coming Together links: Click here or Click there. And here's a page with one Rzewski link for each variation in his piano piece The People United Will Never Be Defeated. Here's a photo history of the Attica Rebellion.

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