aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Practicing the Viper
Typical GrooveLily-style scheduling: Ted had mentioned late on Thursday that he’d like to try the new “Wonderful” reprise with solo violin accompaniment, instead of Brendan accompanying himself on piano - so the only time to write and practice a violin part before performing it was in the rental car between Menomonie and Fairmont, during our Saturday afternoon drive between gigs. For anyone reading this who has not seen us yet, I should mention that my violin is not typical - it’s a crazy flying-V-guitar-shaped six-string fretted electric instrument called a Viper, which attaches to my body with a tripod/guitar strap harness. It’s bigger than a traditional violin, has the range of a violin, viola and cello combined, and has no chinrest so it’s much easier to sing while playing. The good news (for those attempting to practice in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle): it’s quite sturdy. The bad news: it’s really hard to a) get it out of the case, b) strap it on while wearing a seat belt, c) maneuver the empty case into the rear cargo area, d) move the bow at all without whacking the driver and/or the ceiling, or e) hear anything you’re playing with no amplification and above the roar of the highway.
They say they conceived the show, in part, so they could stay home off the road for the holiday. After the performance Saturday, I asked if they’d be back on the road (duh, they’re musicians, of course they’ll be on the road!) and had they played Georgia?
Ineffective pandering to hyped sex panic feeds the crime
California was the first state to establish a sex offender registry, in 1947. Now every state has one and California is again in the lead (Georgia’s right there with them) in the use of GPS to monitor offenders for lfe.
Effective? Not particularly.
Pamela D. Schultz, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is skeptical that broad application of GPS technology will do anything to prevent crimes like the one she suffered as a girl, which was committed by a neighbor. Now an associate professor of communications at Alfred University, a private school in western New York, she is the author of “Not Monsters: Analyzing the Stories of Child Molesters.” Schultz is also a mother of two, who has a daughter in the second grade and a 21-month-old son. Regarding the new California laws, she says, “I think it’s another example of feel-good legislation to get communities to feel that actual action is being taken to stem the problem. GPS monitoring and residency requirements are not going to do anything with the vast majority of offenders. They’re just not."[...]
In fact, many sex crimes, notably those committed by family members or acquaintances, go unreported. Schultz fears that residency requirements and GPS tracking will have the unintended consequence of making victims of these crimes less likely to turn an attacker over to authorities. “When the bulk of abuse happens within families and close relationships, there is going to be less of a tendency to report those crimes,” she says. “If something happens inside your family, and you report that, it’s going to be plastered all over the place. Not only is the offender under public scrutiny, so are the families of the victims.” For these types of offenses, adding GPS monitoring and strict residency requirements into the mix adds “another level of pressure into silence.”
Schultz would rather see the tens of millions of dollars California is about to spend monitoring felony sex offenders be poured into counseling for victims of sex crimes and into programs for offenders that aim to prevent recidivism. “As a society we need to become less hysterical and more informed about sexual abuse,” she says in an e-mail. “When we demonize the offenders, we’re pretty much feeding the crime. We further isolate and alienate the offenders, which is a precipitating factor in many offenders’ impulses to act out. We’re so focused on the minority of offenders who seem to fit our skewed perceptions of what sexual abuse and sexual abusers should be, we fail to recognize that the crime actually occurs closer to home.”
If reporting goes down, arrest rates will go down too and lawmakers can claim success while no actual progress has been made or remedy has been found. There is a real problem to be addressed; our legal system is not addressing it.
Billed as “a cross between a rock concert and a holiday show for people who don’t like holiday shows,” it is everything I miss when I’m home away from New York theater. I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the NYTimes review:
Its sweet-and-sour story line is simple: The cranky hero is seduced out of his emotional cubbyhole by a visit from a kooky urbanite, played by Ms. Vigoda, who goes door to door selling “special full-spectrum holiday light bulbs” geared to keep New Yorkers from succumbing to seasonal affective disorder. Musing on her plaintive reaction when he brings up a comparison to the Little Match Girl - “Do you know what happens in that story?” she asks darkly - Mr. Milburn’s character pulls out his handy Hans Christian Andersen. Forgoing an evening of trolling through the holiday offerings on television (cue a hilarious parody of “Law & Order"), he rereads that touching if gloomy tale, and it springs to life in song. The show then toggles between the urban fairy tale and the classic one.
The most important ingredient for a successful musical, it has long been acknowledged, is a first-rate score, and this one is terrific. The rhyme schemes aren’t particularly complex, but the lyrics are alive with wit and humor, and they don’t shy away from surging emotion either. I was hooked by a single, lovely pair of lines that manages the tricky feat of encompassing both: “I would not dwell on the past/If time would not go by so fast,” Mr. Milburn sings in “Last Day of the Year.” The music is rhythmic pop founded on a rich vein of melody, with Ms. Vigoda’s electric violin adding a distinctive note to the clean but potent arrangements. (Although music and voices are amplified, this is the rare musical that allows you to hear virtually every word of every song.)
The photo is of Valerie Vigoda and drummer Gene Lewin of Striking 12 signing what will be a Christmas gift for my nephew (who is himself a very talented drummer) after Saturday night’s performance.