Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Power of Privilege

       Doctors who use their honorific to secure good tables in restaurants irritate me. But I guess we all have our price. 
      There's a great neighborhood theater here in Seattle, Kenyon Hall, and one of the performers who appears there is Peter Mintun, a marvelous café pianist from New York by way of San Francisco. Peter came to Seattle this past weekend, and a few days before his performance, Lou Magor, Kenyon Hall's major domo, brought him around to our house to see and hear our music boxes. Peter's major musical interest, early 20th-century American music, is well-represented on disc-playing music boxes, so we had a spirited audition of several instruments. And when it came time for Lou and Peter to leave, I hesitated only briefly before I asked Lou whether it might be possible to seat us up front for the concert. He said he thought he could oblige.
      As befits his customary venues, Peter's style is intimate, and for an hour and a half, we sat, Myra and I, six feet from the side of the piano, nothing separating us from the pianist as he played and sang from his repertoire of American show and movie music from the 'teens, 'twenties, and 'thirties - tunes I'd first heard in New York hotel lounges more than a half-century before, songs that had promised an enchanting, beguiling forever to a teenaged boy, nursing his grossly-overpriced glass of coke or ginger ale. At the end of Peter's concert, it took an effort to blink myself back to Seattle and 2010.
      While I was listening to the music, had I felt guilty for having sidestepped into those front-row seats? Not in the least. Could I summon up the slightest regret for my reprehensible behavior? I have to confess, I couldn't. O tempora! O mores!

Go to youtube, search Peter Mintun, and see and hear for yourself what I've been talking about. Be prepared for a long stay. Peter's put up a tune a day for the past 140 days.

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