Last Friday night I exposed myself (no…wait! Keep reading!) to some culture. Specifically I went to the opera. It’s not as if I haven’t tasted haute culture before. I rented “Those Amazing Juggs” (twice!), I’ve ordered “pomme frites” with my filet o’ fish. I’ve seen Hulk Hogan beat up a one-armed retarded man on a pay-for-view “Smackdown Las Vegas” Special. But I’ve always avoided opera. I found it depressing. The only use I had for opera was if I ever decided to kill myself, I would listen to opera, so as to not be tempted to change my mind in the middle of doing it.

This night was different, however. Maybe it was the nip in the air, maybe it was the stars in the sky, or maybe it was the free tickets our friend Georgette offered us, but something brought me to the Academy of Music shortly before the curtain went up on “Elixir of Love.”

I arrived at the Academy with great trepidation, being new to the opera world and all. I was told to wear a tie, and I did, although apparently I was also supposed to wear a bunch of stuff that goes with a tie, like a shirt. I just wish someone had told me. I sat in the box, and on my right was a large, rotund woman who I did not know, but who seemed slightly miffed when I draped my leg over her thigh (the seats are so narrow). But I’m always friendly, so I ventured some small talk. I asked her name (“Ethel”). “You look like a woman who knows where to find a snack,” I said cheerfully. But no matter how many times I said “Come on, lets see the chunky bars, I know ya got ’em,” Ethel ignored me. Maybe she was shy.

Soon, with a flourish the opera started. And much to my surprise, I loved it. It was very upbeat, and melodic. The story line was a little difficult to make out at first, being as the opera was in Italian. I happen to know very little Italian. I’ve just learned the very basic things you would need to get by in Rome. I can say “Hello,” “Good-bye,” “Where’s the bathroom,” “Is your sister really twelve?”…that sort of thing.

However, I believe I was able to figure the story out using visual clues and context. In the first act, our hero Nemerino comes out and appears distraught. Below is, as best I can tell, what he and the other main characters were singing:

Oh Christ am I sad. The fair Disolda does
not love me. La La La La La La

(The characters didn’t actually sing “La La La La.” That’s just to give you the flavor of the whole opera thing.)

I am washing apples. What a freakin waste of
time. La La La. I wish I was an investment
banker and not living in the 15th century.

Look! A Bottle. Maybe if I drink it, it will contain
a secret love elixir and Disolda will love me! On
the other hand, maybe it contains Mad Dog 20/20,
in which case, I won’t give a rat’s ass if she loves me
or not. La La La La La.

(Again, context and visual clues. I’m doing the best I can.)

Here I found that Ethel’s shoulder made an excellent pillow. She even seemed to be warming to me. She finally reached in her bag and pulled out a Chunky (I knew it!!), and told me I could have it if I would agree to “Crawl away and die.” I told her I’d think about it. In the next scene, Cockamamie, a rival for Disolda’s affection, appears.

Oh fair Disolda, you must marry me and come
live among others with no visible means of support.
La La La La.

Man am I smashed! La La Laaa ugh.

If I hooked into the A round of a good
startup, I could tell the apple man to
shove these apples up his…La La La
La La Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

(the audience really seemed to like this part)

Finally, in the last scene, Disolda cashes in on a terrific IPO, and a bunch of other people wind up dead. Nemerino in particular manages to sing a long time with a sword in his gullet. Things were really getting good, but I was tired and felt it was time for the opera to end. I turned to Ethel and asked when she was singing. She looked at me blankly, so I explained that I had heard the opera can never end “til the fat lady sings.” I went on to point out that if anything, she was overqualified, and should start belting something out.

I don’t know if this is traditional or not, but at this point Ethel started pelting me with Chunky Bars and screaming obscenities at me in a most untuneful way. But the opera did end. And I formally entered the world of the cultural elite. My buddies from Smackdown will be so jealous.



The other night, Jen and I went to a Simon and Garfunkel concert. As I’m sure you know, they broke up 33 years ago over “creative differences.” Somehow millionaire rock stars can’t stand to work with someone with whom they have “creative differences.” Guys who work next to each other for 16 hours a day for 45 years shoveling coal into a blast furnace for 11 bucks an hour aren’t allowed to have “creative differences.”

You could see that there was still tension between the two of them. This manifested itself mostly in Paul Simon referring to “Simon and Garfunkel” exclusively as “Simon” and repeatedly accusing the man standing next to him of having “brains of glue.” Even during the songs, tension would flare up. Sometimes Garfunkel would give Simon a dirty look, and sometimes Simon would chase Garfunkel around the stage with a gong mallet yelling “Stop stalking me you q-tip headed freak!” Even then, Garfunkle would try to harmonize.

One thing to remember is that S & G are, well…old. By “old” I mean they have lived many, many years. They don’t bring medical personnel on tour, they bring coffins. However, about halfway through the show they brought out the band that inspired them onto the stage. That’s right, the skeletons of the Everly Brothers were wheeled out. The sheer antiquity of their act was reflected in the dated titles of some of the songs they performed, including:

= My Girl Eve
= Inventin’ the Wheel
= Saber Tooth Scratch Fever
= The Tale of the Baby Mariner
= That Methuselah is Jailbait
= I got the Primordial Ooze Blues
= Please come to Mesopotamia

Despite everything, the concert was a lot of fun. My frequent requests to play “Whippin Post” were largely ignored by the band and my constant yelling of “The Pants are Comin’ Down!!” mostly seemed to annoy those around me. But it was fun hearing them sing “Kathy’s Song” and “Cecelia,” although I found it best not to dwell too much on the fact that Kathy and Cecelia have both retired to the Saddle River New Jersey Assisted Living Center, where they spend their days playing bingo and hoarding anti-Semitic literature.

The sad fact is that we are nearing the last days when we can still see the old, classic acts perform. Soon they’ll be playing Britney Spears on the oldies station, and the original rockers from the ’60’s will be, in the words of Monty Python, “decomposing composers” as they follow the route of Mama Cass and one by one choke on ham sandwiches (just a prediction). But at least I got to see Simon and Garfunkel forget the words to “Feelin Groovy,” give each other the finger, and storm off the stage to commence litigation. I will always have that.

Dutch Laroooo
Tomorrow: Will my constituents and I have “creative differences?”