Citizens Report American Irish Culture

Danahey on the Loose at The Morton Arboretum with The CSO


So, Saturday evening typified the WTF nature of Chicago weather.

We leave the far northwest suburbs, it’s muggy and close to 90 degrees. We approach Woodfield – it’s raining hard for about 5 miles, down to 75, then nothing near the mall, and up goes the temperature.

We get toward Butterfield and 88, more buckets o’ rain. Morton Arboretum for a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert – dry. The skies clear, there’s a slight breeze, and it’s pretty much a perfect summer night amidst the trees.

Back home – the streets are slick, it’s close to 80 at 11 p.m., and the humidity is at bayou levels, minus the crawfish and alligators.

But back to the CSO show.

When I hear classical music outdoors, I feel like I’m in a modern version of a Seurat painting.

Saturday the setting reminded me – as clouds of all sort scurried by and traffic mumbled loudly in the background – that way too many people – guys in particular –  have an aversion to the arts and are sort of proud of such deficiencies.

I deal with some of these at my day job. They preface any discussion of the arts with, “well, you know – art, theater, classical music, dance – really aren’t my thing, but….”

Which is an effing stupid thing to say – and usually such a guy thing, as if art emasculates by its very nature.

It reminds me of when I went to a wedding where the bride and groom were vegetarians and decided to serve the guests no meat.

Most of the people at the table I was at bitched about it. Because the usual rubbery chicken, mostaccioli, and Italian beef are always so damn tasty, right?

I am an omnivore so I dug right in – and that’s my approach to culture in general.

Just because you like steak doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try strawberry soup. If you watch football, why is it such a pain in the ass for you to go to the Art Institute? If you like the Ramones, or any number of bands, why can’t you at least try to listen to  Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” (Okay, maybe if you’re over 14 and like One Direction, there is no hope. But still.)10428053_10203270134467227_3164278695443353853_n

Funny thing is, when I talk to people who are involved with the arts, rarely have I encountered the stereotypical Frasier Crane types. Hell, I’ve been out drinking with some of these folks, including opera tenor Bryn Terfel, who could kick the crap out of most guys if just by hitting one big baritone note.

Most of the artists I’ve met seem to want their work to be approachable – in the sense they don’t see themselves as doing something the too-dumb masses can’t understand or appreciate. They are carrying on and/or expanding the culture, and you’re welcome along for the ride.

What scares me is carrying on the culture from this era is so binary. Everything is digitized, so 100, 200 years from now, will records of anything from now exist – or will some evil freak genius sitting around in his soiled BVDs decide one day to write some lines of code that effectively erase anything he doesn’t like, or  everything he can, just because he can? Or will some glitch do the trick? Or will all that’s left be Facebook posts about “Game of Thrones” and tweets linking to cat videos?

Any which way, who gets to decide what, if anything, to erase?

Analog art has survived, the paint and ink dried, the notes transcribed.

Yeah, that’s how my mind wanders as I listen to some Hungarian dances from Brahms, a Scottish fantasy (sans a redhead) from Bruch, and Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” – during which the light bulb goes on for me that a few bars from this is from where John Williams stole his scary “Jaws” theme, if not an idea or three for his “Star Wars” music.

Maybe adult ADHD is what happens to a brain when you mix Diet Coke with Coke Zero – and you can quote me on that, because if it’s on the Internet, it must be true. Right, people who think dandruff shampoo or body spray turns your shoulder into some sort of sea creature?

Art is supposed to make you think – about whatever it inspires you as an individual to ponder.

And for that I appreciate the CSO coming out to the western suburbs, expanding its base beyond downtown and the North Shore with Ravinia to DuPage County as it has been doing with the Morton shows, concerts at Nequa Valley High in Naperville, and a kids’ show at the Community House in Hinsdale.

Author Mike Danahey chows down al freseco while listening to some Dvorak from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Morton Arboretum

I had fun. And smoked mackerel and cheese on Triscuits. And a sub sandwich. And chips.

It was all good – but you won’t know what’s good if you don’t at least try things.

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