Friday, September 28, 2012

The Weisman Art Museum

Minneapolis’s Weisman Art Museum.

The Weisman may be the world’s only museum best-known for what Andrew acidly calls “decorative rust”.

If I were on the Weisman Board Of Trustees, I would instruct legal counsel to file suit against the architect, Frank Gehry, in an effort to recover all costs necessary to remedy permanently the rust problem.

Andrew and I plan to miss—with regrets—the current exhibitions on view at the Weisman: “Ceramics: A Personal View”; and “Contextual Flux”, an exhibition whose title frightens us.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts

The 1915 McKim, Mead and White building of The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts.

“The Will Of An Epoch Translated Into Space”

The ancient Romans built their greatest masterpieces of architecture, their amphitheaters, for wild beasts to fight in.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

TCF Bank Stadium

TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Golden Gophers.

TCF Bank is, I believe, the second-smallest stadium in the Big Ten, very odd, since it is the only modern stadium in the Big Ten.

Friday Concert, Saturday Gridiron

On Friday evening, Andrew and I shall attend our first concert of the season. We shall hear Edo de Waart lead the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in music of Richard Strauss and Brahms.

It is possible that the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will go on strike after the orchestra’s current contract expires on September 30.

A strike will make little difference to Andrew and me, as there is only one other SPCO concert between now and the New Year that appeals to us.

If the strike continues into 2013, however, that will be another matter entirely. The second half of the SPCO season is uncommonly interesting, and Andrew and I earmarked eleven SPCO concerts to attend from January to June (not that we would actually make it to all eleven, given our schedules).

The Minnesota Orchestra’s current contract also expires on September 30. It is possible that the Minnesota Orchestra, too, will strike.

Andrew and I earmarked only six Minnesota Orchestra concerts for the entire season—and only two before Christmas. Consequently, it will make little difference to us if the Minnesota Orchestra strikes.

The 2012-2013 Minnesota Orchestra season is a throwaway season, perhaps the least interesting Minnesota Orchestra season in recent decades. (Andrew’s parents, who—with reluctance—renewed their subscriptions, say it is the most unappealing season in at least forty years.) Orchestra Hall is currently undergoing renovation, and the Minnesota Orchestra is scheduled to present a shortened—and profoundly uninspired—season in a temporary space at the Convention Center.

Public sentiment in the Twin Cities is sharply against the musicians of both orchestras.

Musicians in both orchestras are considered to be overpaid. This is especially the case with the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, paid more than members of all but a handful of American ensembles.

Musician salaries in the Twin Cities will, inevitably, come down—and come down significantly. Salaries have been artificially elevated for years because of what are, in effect, musician cartels—and market forces, as always, are destined to prevail over cartels within any meaningful period of time.

Whether such salary adjustments occur by strike or by agreement is academic; salaries most assuredly will decline.

The musicians of both ensembles seem to lack a clear grasp of the situation, issuing one bone-headed press announcement after another. With each new announcement, any lingering public sympathy for the musicians dissipates.

To address ongoing deficits, the musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, incomprehensibly, have urged management to raise ticket prices. SPCO musicians apparently suffer from vision problems, and are unable to see the rows and rows of empty seats already on display at The Ordway.

To improve finances, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, amazingly, have urged management to work more diligently in raising charitable contributions. Minnesota Orchestra musicians apparently cannot read newspapers, and missed several recent news stories about local performing arts organizations having raised an amazing $129 million in charitable contributions in 2010, the last year for which such figures are available. A significant portion of that $129 million was raised by officials of the Minnesota Orchestra—but musicians obviously (and wrongly) believe that another $10 million each year can be raised with the snap of a finger.

My instinct tells me that the SPCO will strike, but that the Minnesota Orchestra will not (primarily because members of the Minnesota Orchestra are so lavishly overpaid, it becomes difficult if not impossible for them to argue otherwise)—yet I readily acknowledge that my instinct may be wrong.

Andrew says he doesn’t have a clue what will happen, in large part because the musicians in both organizations have proven themselves to be so thick-headed that it is impossible to assess what is going through their muddled minds.

Andrew’s father predicts that the musicians of both organizations will authorize a strike. This is so, he says, because the musicians of both ensembles are clueless: clueless about economics; clueless about limits to the generosity of donors, which is not unbounded; and clueless about the public’s lack of support for (if not outright hostility toward) the musicians. Further, Andrew’s father says that the strikes, if not settled quickly, will go on for months and months and months—and that managements in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul are fully prepared, patiently, to wait the musicians out.


On Saturday, we will attend our first college football game of the season.

Minnesota will host Western Michigan.

Because Minnesota’s football program is so pathetic, the Big Ten Conference routinely assigns bad start times to Minnesota. Kickoff for Saturday’s game, consequently, is set for 11:00 a.m.

This means, as a practical matter, that Alex, Andrew and I shall have to rise at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, leave our houses at 6:45 a.m. (Alex now lives next door), pick up Andrew’s father at 7:00 a.m., and pick up Alec and Tim at 7:10 a.m.

Once everyone is gathered, we’ll stop somewhere to have breakfast, and be on our way to the stadium no later than 8:15 a.m.

Such an absurd schedule is necessary in order for us to avoid most of the game-day traffic, to fight parking bollixes near the stadium, and to arrive in time for the pre-game festivities (which, along with the halftime show, are generally better than the game itself).

Saturday will be the only football game of the season for Tim. One game a year is enough for him—and he will be ready to leave after the halftime show (and so will we).

Leaving as the third quarter is about to begin will allow us to miss post-game traffic and to arrive home early in the fourth quarter. If the game is a good one, we can watch the conclusion on television.