Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spike and Sergei

It’s been a weekend incarnate of culture, high and low: live tweeting a panel on vampires at the day job at the Paley Center literally in between two performances of the Rachmaninoff Vespers with The Gotham Scholars, (one in Connecticut last night, and on the Upper West Side tonight). An appetizing, artful sandwich, New York style.

The Paley Center curators decided to look at the phenomenon of the resurgence of the undead, from the recent past—Joss Whedon’s Buffy/Angel universe---to True Blood, Twilight. They ran a poll for who is the greatest tv vamp, going back to Barnabas Collins, and Spike won. He got my vote. The dry wit and his desire to get his soul back to “become a better man” for Buffy made him the winner in my book.

One of my all-time favorite Spike moments is in Buffy, Season 4, episode 8, "Pangs." It happens that it’s “the Thanksgiving episode.” Spike ends up at Giles’s with the Scooby gang, and they tie him to a chair as they argue what to do with them. At one point he says, “So this is the crackerjack team that thwarts my every move,” in that deadpan way.

Then the evil spirits of Chumash Indians attack, and Spike is hit with multiple arrows. When the spirit takes the form of a bear, all he can do is try to jump with his chair out of the way, which makes it tip over. It really is one of the funniest things in the whole series.

The joy of being a fan is the love of specific moments, specific scenes.

Same for singing a piece of serious classical music. There is a transition from Bb to B in the Nunc Dimitis that is sublime, fun to sing, beautiful to hear.

Rachmaninoff emigrated from Russia in 1918, settling in Beverly Hills. I believe he understood American pop culture. From The Atlas Society:

“Like Ayn Rand, Rachmaninoff loved Hollywood, lived there, and was moved by the spirit of what it represented. A famous letter to a friend exults that a newly concocted melody "sounds like Hollywood," which he considered a high compliment. His music can perhaps be heard as an abstraction of the Hollywood spirit, an emotional concretization of all that Hollywood's vision of life offered to the troubled world of the twenties and thirties.”

One of the joys of singing with the Gotham Scholars is the company of first-rate choral musicians, most of them soloists with their own careers. The joy of the Vampire event was the gathering of smart, informed fans, and the likes of Sookie Stackhouse who tweets all things True Blood with finesse.

I'm so happy to be living at a time when it's possible to sample culture across an energizing, broad spectrum, and not have to choose one sensibility over the other.


monkey said...
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