democracy where?

Last evening my rehearsals with high school singers for an upcoming recital and Solo and Ensemble Festival turned into a marathon. I arrived at 3 PM and rehearsed solidly until 7 PM, 8 rehearsals about 30 minutes each.

This is my second rehearsal with all but one of these kids. After some initial haggling, the choir director contracted me at a flat fee of $50 per student. Each time I schedule a rehearsal I am doing more for to earn this amount.

The voice teacher asked me for one more rehearsal with each kid. If this happens, it will mean for fifty dollars I will have commuted 5 times for 5 different services in each case.

I enjoy working with the kids. They seem to appreciate my presence and contribution.  It is a hard pill for me to swallow, however, that of the adult musicians involved I am pretty sure I am paid the worst. I am no less skilled than them. But once again I have positioned myself outside of more conventional working situations and commiserate compensation. Sigh. It’s my own doing.

I have had an intense few days. Watching Eileen go through her recent fall and convalescence has been an exercise in helplessness.  Going back and forth from caring for her and other activities like church meetings and the rehearsal last night requires both physical and psychological stamina.

I have another church meeting today. This will be our first staff meeting for this year. In many ways we are running in place as a staff. I was thinking this morning of what I could contribute constructively toward this meeting.

I found myself thinking of trying to help make the calendars more accurate.

This is exactly the topic I brought up in our first staff meeting a few years ago.  Ay yi yi.

It’s a good thing that I enjoy this work and working with my boss. The organizational end seems to flounder as much as function.

But I’m probably just tired this morning. Heh.

I burned a CD of this Democracy Now report from 2007 to listen to on the drive back and forth to rehearsals last night.

March 28, 2007 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now discussing “A Political Education”

A Political Education is a memoir by Andre Schiffrin, the book publisher I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. He contends that the conglomeration of book publishers has limited the proliferation of ideas via the publication of new books with ideas that challenge and critique the government and the people who fund and benefit from it (the corporations and conglomerates). Schiffrin is a mild mannered highly educated radical and I am quite attracted to his analysis.

The Democracy Now report begins with some interesting reporting about how congress was legislating about the war that year (2007). I was surprised at how the reporting seemed to me in retrospect to be so accurate and insightful, not two words that occur to me about much of the reporting I read and hear and see.

I have subscribed to its podcast. Part of my motivation is that I am beginning to suspect that dialog, analysis and coherent public conversation is almost non-existent in the public arena in the USA.

On a NPR report this morning about the pending legislation tightening up the government restrictions on abortion, the reporter pointed out how the Republicans had responded not to a coherent discussion of their bill, but to the savaging they received on Stewart’s Daily Show.

Rape Victim Abortion Funding – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 02/02/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central

I admire satire and I admire and find Stewart’s show funny. But it’s a sad substitute for accurate information, adult analysis and discussion.


Neil Postman years ago observed that Entertainment standards were changing all public institutions in the US. The chapter titles in his 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business neatly synopsize the idea. “Now This” was about the disconnect in sound bytes in TV and Radio. “Shuffling of to Bethlehem” was about organized religion’s conversion to Entertainment language and theology. “Reach Out and Elect Someone” for politics.

Unfortunately now Entertainment has replaced public coherent intelligent discussion and reporting. We are distracted by the entertaining way public speakers unfairly “frame” issues and vilify each other. It is our ‘bread and circuses.”(Follow this Link to Fallacious Arguments for a veritable guide to 99.9%  of what passes for public conversation in the US right now)

Anyway, I took my sorry ass over to the library yesterday and checked out Schiffrin’s The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read. I look forward to browsing through it, if not reading it cover to cover.

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