Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Fine pieces of performance art

Wick's World

 

October 18, 2018



A Broadway play is one of the finer representations of performance art. Cirque du Soleil is performance art at its finest. A person sitting on Broadway and 42nd Street in New York City with a five-gallon plastic bucket between their legs, playing crude bongo and banging away for quarters is performance art. I’ve witnessed breath-taking performance art on a Caribbean island in St. Lucia. Four musicians created beautiful harmonic chords on 55-gallon steel drums at my son’s wedding.

While I lived in NYC, I would go down to Greenwich Village and watch “the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you”: performance art. The most impressive street art in the Village was a 10-year kid “walkin’ the dog” with a yo-yo. Toss in Yo-Yo Ma and another final Eagles Reunion concert, and you have music as performance art.

About the only performance art I omitted was a night out at the movies. My wife and I are movie buffs. Although it can be easy to become a potato on your couch, we like to watch great movies at the theater. The person sitting near me can grunt and groan while making love to their popcorn all they want. I’m not bothered one iota. I know some people who refuse to go out to see a movie because of this. There is actually a name for this syndrome. The disorder called Misophonia is “a strong dislike for certain sounds”, i.e., a person munching on popcorn.

Last night we saw the fourth remake of “A Star is Born.” The first three versions were all Academy Award winners or nominees. This current version starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper should sweep the table clean with Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Country Music Awards and Best Behaved Dog in the show. It was that good. If you see one movie this year, “A Star is Born” is it.

If you go to one play this year, “Hamilton” is it … if you can get tickets. Go online and learn how to join the weekly lottery that allows you to buy four tickets to “Hamilton.” It worked for us as my wife “won the lottery” and it only cost me $500. This play will be around for many years but it does have a limited run in different cities. It was so good that we plan to keep entering the lottery to go back for seconds.

The uniqueness of “Hamilton” is that the musical is done in rap. As my son called it, hip-hop for white people. It is also unique in that almost all of the Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton being the exception, are either black or brown. Except for Thomas Jefferson, it worked for me. And the only real problem I had with a tall, loud black man’s outstanding performance as Thomas Jefferson was this. I’ve always pictured TJ as a small white guy like myself who sat around with his hand propping up his jaw, hemming and hawing about what kind of America he should create or who signs the Declaration of Independence and what day should we celebrate the Fourth of July?

Maybe Jefferson’s character didn’t work for me but the rap worked great. I did like the reference to TJ off getting high with the French while everyone else was back in the States fighting the Revolution. Also cloaked in some of the play’s lyrics were references (this one included George Washington) of our two prominent Founding Fathers growing hemp on their plantations and enjoying a bowl at night. That’s what I like about Rap. It speaks truth and shows reality from different perspectives.

Listen to Alexander Hamilton rappin’:

“I am not throwing away my shot / I am not throwing away my shot / Hey yo, I’m just like my country / I’m young, scrappy and hungry / And I’m not throwing away my shot."

When rap first hit the music scene, like many parents, I would continually yell at my teenagers to “Turn that crap down!”

I was adamant that “Rap is NOT music!” At best, I considered it poetry and bad poetry at that.

Eventually, coinciding with a move to the Twin Cities, I began to open my mind and ears and gave rap a second chance. I started surfing the radio dial and discovered that I liked some aspects of hip-hop culture, including Rap music. Yes, I now concur that Rap is a form of music. And if I wasn’t a true believer before “Hamilton”, I am certainly a true believer after. What a play! I’m going to keep playing the lottery so I can once again pay for the play … and I’m not throwing away my shot.

 

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