Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For the Greater Good

You know me, always willing to drink for a good cause.

With plans to get together with my favorite Southside dweller for sipping and chatting, it only made sense to do it where we could make a difference.

Tonight, that meant at the Give Thanks RVA happy hour at Emilio's, with a portion of all drink sales going to my favorite longhair music supporters, Classical Revolution.

What's not to like about a group whose mission is to bring classical music to bars and clubs? Hello?

The party had already been going on for an hour and a half when I arrived, making it pretty congested around the bar, but leaving a bar table for us near the back that just so happened to be situated directly under a heat vent. Score!

I'd barely sat down when Prabir, one of the evening's organizers, came by to say hello and discuss why it had been so long since we'd seen each other. Best philosophical gem to fall from his lips: "Flesh is torn and then it heals and you're stronger." So, yea, we got deep pretty quickly.

Moira joined us not long thereafter and the gallant Prabir asked to buy us wine and what woman in her right mind is going to turn down that offer? He returned with two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon and a humorous summary of what we could expect for entertainment, but told to us in reverse order.

Turns out he was up first, without his usual guitar but planning to play a little John Williams for us. That's right, we heard a snippet of the theme to "Jaws" played on glasses.

From that highbrow beginning, we moved on to looped upright bass and then violin, all set to the high-spirited chatter of music supporters.

We were so far in the back of the room that all we could do was listen (no visuals) but with two months' worth of life to catch up on, it was probably just as well.

She explained why it's not good to have a double rye and then discuss guns with a conservative and I shared how I took commands from a stranger and caught my first fish.

Midway through our book discussion of "Gone Girl" and what it says about the current state of millennial relationships, our affable server stopped by and we ordered crispy Chorizo and Manchego empanadas to fuel things.

While I was reveling in the direct heat pouring down on us, Moira proceeded to peel off layers of clothing the longer we stayed. Had she not had to pick up her husband, she might have ended up nude.

One of our most interesting tangents was about the future, where we see ourselves a few years from now and what we'd like to do once we're there. She's curious to find out how shedding the tyranny of a regular job will affect her morning lark tendencies, but as I reminded her, I was once a lark, too. I'm of the opinion that night owls lurk inside many larks, at least for those who have that luxury.

We lasted far later than the fundraiser did - not that plenty of people weren't still happily imbibing when we left - and said our goodbyes on the corner after making plans for a cidery trip, an art outing and a space movie while her man is out of town.

My next stop was the Criterion to see "Whiplash," a movie I must have seen the previews for on my last three or four film-going trips. Somehow it seemed appropriate to see a jazz movie at night.

But then I was in full art geek overload as a preview came on for an upcoming film called "Mr. Turner" about - wait for it - the English artist J.M.W. Turner. Thank heavens for directors like Mike Leigh making movies about painters. Moira may want to change her mind about what we see once I tell her this.

But tonight's fascination was "Whiplash," a movie about a drum student at a prestigious New York conservatory (can you say Julliard?) and the sadistic teacher who taunts and pushes him to achieve greatness.

In an early scene, the student Andrew is at the movies with his father sharing a bucket of popcorn into which they've poured a box of Raisinettes. I understand the sweet/salty intention there, but everyone knows it should be Milk Duds (or even Junior Mints) amid the kernels.

From the opening scenes, it was hard not to be thrilled with the fabulous jazz soundtrack of the film. Add in the way that editing almost became a character as we saw all kinds of angles of musicians playing, quick cuts of the musical scores and closeups of the blood and sweat required to play drums at this level. A lot of bloody hand shots.

Being so unmusical, I can't speak to why the elusive double time swing beat seems to be the holy grail of jazz drumming, but watching so much percussion was far more exciting and suspenseful in the context of a 19-year old trying to prove himself to a brutal teacher.

And let's just say it right now: J.K. Simmons as the abusive teacher will get an Oscar nod for this performance, although Miles Teller as the young drummer is every bit as impressive in a less showy role. So that's a killer jazz score, two highly impressive actors and a story that feels less like a music saga and more like a suspense movie.

Walking out at close to midnight, a guy looked as bowled over as I felt and said simply, "Wow!" Don't I know it, mister.

See what larks miss?


  1. did you see the french film, "Something in the Air"?


  2. I don't think so. Why do you ask?

  3. oh..i just wanted to ask your comments on it.[if you had see it].