Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

20 November 2005

An Appeal for Seriousness

I worked this morning on student and papers and my annual tenure review, but took the rest of the day off, which makes sense for a weekend. I went to a screening of the new George Clooney film, Good Night, And Good Luck, and also caught the Honolulu Symphony.

The movie, as you probably already know, is about journalist Edward R. Murrow -- and his role in bringing down Senator Joseph McCarthy. I loved Murrow’s comments on the idiot box. The entire film was well done, and is very timely. I loved the sounds, and feel of the era (although the smells might have gotten to me). Did the film mention that Murrow died of lung cancer? Perhaps that was mentioned in the first few minutes, which I missed. It is one of the best American films I’ve seen in a long time. Murrow used to be one of my heroes. I was too young to ever hear him live, but checked out records of his broadcasts from the library. I do remember Fred Friendly’s broadcasts though. Check out http://www.participate.net/reportitnow.

The symphony was a mixed bag. I went to hear Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Guest conductor Jacques Lacombe and the orchestra did a fine job. Shostakovich is one of the only composers who allows me to enjoy so many instruments (I would be happy with just a string section). Shostakovich is one of my favorite composers-- I prefer his Symphony 8. I love his heavy sound. I was frankly annoyed that Lacombe apologized for ending on such a heavy note, and followed it with a short comedic “Tango” piece by Shostakovich. The audience loved it, laughing throughout the piece.

I enjoy humor, but I don’t see why we have to fear being serious. The other pieces were light romantic works by Lalo and Ravel, although visiting violist Karen Gomyo did a nice job with Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnol. Despite the long article about applauding between movements in today’s Advertiser, the audience applauded after each movement. Interestingly, this did not happen during Shostakovich. I can’t tell if those new to classical simply bailed after the Gomyo piece or ??

I am ending my night on the town at Coffee Talk to reflect and have tea. I am thinking about the connections between both escapes. My conclusion is that we are well into a period like McCarthy’s 1950s. Or is this just because I live in Hawaii, where I rarely hear anyone discussing politics? It is as if politics was not real or has no impact.

I am frankly frustrated. A war is being held in the name of our country. Over 2,000 American soldiers have died and more than 15,000 have been injured. And how many Iraqi citizens have been killed?

Each day more and more evidence is revealed showing that the “intelligence” supporting Bush’s rationale for war was faulty or fabricated. The Honorable Representative John Murtha was being kind when he called the war “a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.”

This seems to be becoming clear to the American public, who in repeated polls increasingly distrust Bush, and want the war brought to end. In such a case, we need to have serious discussions about how this war happened, and how we can end it. Such a serious dialog requires engagement, and time and space for discussion. There is nothing wrong with having fun or escape, but there has to be an escape from escapism -- at least for a while.

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