Thursday, March 22, 2018

chaotic neutral

is a term I dimly recall from my brief and long-ago exposure to D&D, which I think roughly describes the neighborhood meeting I attended this evening.

It was regarding a proposal to convert one of the duplexes across the street from our complex into a preschool. The school's current facility, elsewhere in the city, is necessarily small despite a large demand, and one of their client parents, a Silicon Valley millionaire who can afford such largess, owns this duplex and offered it to them, which could be a larger school, 24 instead of 14 kids.

Judging from some comments cropping up on the neighborhood association mailing list, and some signs cropping up on lawns, some of the neighbors are up in arms over this idea, and so it proved. A round of mutual introductions was civil enough, but barely had the preschool owner begun to speak when some guy, who proved to be a jerk of the "Don't interrupt me while I'm interrupting you" school of discourse, interrupted him to lay out a litany of abusive objections, and after him everybody else came piling in, and the preschool owner kept squeaking that he never got 30 seconds free to say anything.

I had a lot of concerns of my own, but I wanted to hear what the owner had to say first. It helped when the millionaire client, who was a much better public speaker, came up and basically took over. One of my big questions, about dropoffs and pickups congesting the potentially dangerous and cloggable intersection here, got answered before I asked it in a way that enabled me to rephrase it in a way that further advanced the discussion.

That's what I had been hoping would happen in the first place, but the neighbors had derailed it. By 30 minutes into the 90-minute meeting, I was wishing on them every neighborhood preschool nightmare imaginable. As the meeting broke up, the one objector who sounded civilized and sensible, who'd written a post on the NA list with the same characteristics, asked me if I wanted to join her mailing list. Recalling the reference to it in her post, I said I'd be happy to join so long as I wasn't taken as unalterably opposed to the preschool, because I think it's possible that my concerns, at least, could be addressed. But she then withdrew her offer, so I guess either you're against it or you're for it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

white voice

So here's an article, with a trailer embedded, regarding a new farcical comedy movie about a black man who becomes a successful telemarketer when he learns to talk on the phone with a white voice.

It didn't look all that funny to me, and the white voice is actually dubbed, but it reminded me of a genuine story of a black man trying to talk with a white voice. The man was a voice actor named Michael-Leon Wooley (Louis the alligator in The Princess and the Frog), and his story of the strange voice-over job in which he was told to sound white, complete with his reproduction of his attempts to do so, may be found in a video linked here; choose the text link rather than the embedded video to get directly there.

It's actually a very funny anecdote, and it's briefer than the movie trailer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

busy weekend

In addition to a San Francisco Symphony concert on my own dime on Thursday (it was part of my series), I reviewed three concerts this weekend, one from each day, a busy but not impossible job. In fact, the writing of each review went easily, and I look forward to getting critical comments for being too flippant.

Two of the three reviews are now up, so here are the links:

Symphony Silicon Valley on Friday. Big and lively, featuring Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto and Respighi's Pines of Rome - which I don't demur from pointing out is, literally, fascist music. I think it's permissible to like the piece anyway. Note also the rather crafty (I think) pun I snuck into the final paragraph.

Peninsula Symphony on Saturday. Volunteer orchestra, but fortunately on very good behavior this time. Plays in an auditorium without any functioning drinking fountains. Has audience members who hum along with Leonard Bernstein while sitting directly behind you. Writing PLEASE DON'T SING ALONG on a blank page of the program book, holding it over your shoulder, and pointing to it vigorously has little effect.

I was most pleased by the well-rendered opportunity to hear a work by Howard Hanson, whose birthplace in Nebraska I got to drive by a couple years ago (one of three composer birthplaces I've visited, the other two being Henry Cowell and Beethoven). Both the pre-concert speaker and the conductor, talking before the piece, were aware of Hanson's local connection here as a one-time instructor at the College of the Pacific, but they both said it was off in Stockton, not knowing that the college didn't move there until after Hanson left; in his day it was right down the road in San Jose. More local than they thought, but they won't find that out until they read my review.

Sunday afternoon B. and I went to a big choral concert featuring a newer work in the tradition of Bernstein's Mass - yes, there is such a thing, and you'll be able to read all about it when my review is published - and then, having deposited B. back at home because she had to get up early for work, ran down to Mountain View for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's famous worm's-eye view of Hamlet, in a production made entirely by extremely precocious high-school students. R&G and the Player, the principal roles, were all girls, but so what? They knew their parts and how to act and were excellently seasoned for their age; though it dragged a bit at times, there was real talent here. So: Rachel Small (R), Veronique Plamondon (G), Erica Trautman (Player). Watch out for them in future years.

The only flaw in the show was that for the last ten minutes before it started I had to listen to the unutterably Silicon Valley techie conversation of the people seated behind me. One of them was working for a company that's trying to create flying taxis. B: "Why don't you call it Space Taxi?" A: "Because they don't go to space. Next question?" (Yes, he really said it this way.) B: "Have you ever played Space Taxi?" A: "No."

English suites and others no. 29

This is the Petite Suite for orchestra that Georges Bizet fashioned out of selected movements from his Jeux d'enfants (Children's Games) for piano four-hand. He changed the titles of the movements to scrub the juvenile references off, and I've put the originals (in English) in parentheses.

Unlike in the cases of our two previous French children's suites, to my knowledge no actual children were associated with the production of this music.

The movements are: March (Trumpet and Drum) (0.00), Lullaby (The Doll) (2.15), Impromptu (The Top) (5.26), Duet (Little Husband, Little Wife) (6.32), Galop (The Ball) (10.25).

Monday, March 19, 2018

the case of James Levine cont'd

In our last post, I was reading Molto Agitato, Metropolitan Opera press officer Johanna Fiedler's 2001 history of the company, to see what it might say about their pre-#MeToo awareness of former artistic director James Levine's record of sexual abuse. I found four things of note:

1. The Met was well aware of the charges. It wasn't, as some have implied, just one anonymous letter tucked away in one-time general manager Anthony Bliss's office files. Tales being raised were like a car alarm that went off on a regular basis from 1979 on, and rumors about Levine's misbehavior in Cleveland in the '60s were known even when he was first hired in 1971 - and the summary of that matches the recent Boston Globe investigative article about it.

2. And it wasn't just the recirculation of '60s stories. When the Met fired Levine last week, it referred to events happening during as well as before his Met employment. What these might be has puzzled some commentators, since recently-published stories have only been about the '60s events, but details about Met-era charges are right there in Fiedler's book, including a story that the Met board had paid off one boy's parents.

3. The Met's response whenever something was publicized was to deny it vehemently, including the claim that there was a payoff. It seems to me that they did so because Levine was so artistically valuable to the Met and so clearly beloved, but Fiedler's working theory for the persistent rumors - and Levine's, the one time he was forced to talk about it - was that some poison-pen types just mysteriously had it in for lovable, hard-working, talented Jimmy. Whether anybody at the Met actually believed this is an unanswered question, though I have some thoughts.

4. These denials seem to have worked. Despite the charges' presence right there in print, they've been ignored, even by people investigating the Levine stories who have, or ought to have, read the book. I compared this to the treatment of the health problems of Levine's later years, which had cropped up early enough to also make a cameo appearance in Fiedler's book, and which, like the sexual abuse charges, were brushed aside for years until they grew so massive they could be ignored no longer.

Lisa Hirsch, who has also weighed in on the case again, has been looking into the Fiedler book's reputation as an explanation for its being ignored. She told me she vaguely recalled it having been written off in reviews for having too much unsubstantiated gossip. But what's in the book that could be considered unsubstantiated gossip is the "rumors" about Levine.

But in fact it's worse than that, as Lisa has now found by digging out some of the actual reviews. Here's Allan Kozinn in the NY Times and Joshua Kosman in the SF Chronicle. Kosman's review is a particularly amazing document, accusing Fiedler of sneering bitchiness towards one singer, by misrepresenting what Fiedler writes so thoroughly that, by Kosman's standards, he convicts himself of the mysterious "personal animus" he attributes to Fiedler.

But what do they say about the charges against Levine? Kozinn: "She offers an admiring portrait of Mr. Levine as well, but she acknowledges a few foibles," though he doesn't list this glaring feature among them. Kosman does mention "Levine's absolute secrecy about his personal life, which has helped spawn all sorts of lurid rumors and innuendo over the years," but that's as dismissive of the charges as it sounds, for he also describes Fiedler's portrait as a "fawning kid-gloves treatment." Isn't that remarkable? Fiedler not only gives attention to the charges, she details them extensively. It was only the Met’s success at denying the charges that washed off all this mud that Fiedler threw at her beloved Levine, and kept everyone else's eye off it.

That context makes more curious this article that Lisa also sent me, by Ben Miller, who was the 12-year-old son of a Boston Symphony player when Levine began his tenure there in 2004. His parents warned him about the stories about Levine and told him to avoid the conductor personally, which he did. But Miller wound up not believing the rumors, basically because he valued Levine's musicianship so much. Which pretty much puts him in the same category as Fiedler, so that may answer for her sincerity as well.

Miller also refers to Alex Ross's review of Fiedler, which I found in the 5 Nov 2001 issue of The New Yorker, p. 94-96. Ross, who likes the book as a reading experience much more than Kozinn or Kosman do (as also did I), does address the rumors, "curious stories [that] have followed the conductor from the beginning of his career." But he too falls for the party line: "Fiedler, who ought to know, systematically dismantles them." Oh dear. I noted her statements that Levine was not in Pittsburgh and never takes the NY subway, so couldn't have molested in those places, but otherwise she offers no evidence, just denials. On his own hook, not Fiedler's authority, Ross says the rumors are mysterious legends that attach themselves to some celebrities "for no discernible reason." Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I think nowadays we can think of a reason: that they're true? And then he says Levine's "most effective response has been his performances, which make all the gossip sound bitter and small." Which amounts to 1) attributing the charges to professional jealousy, 2) claiming that a great musician can not be a bad person. What? How can one say that in a world which once contained Richard Wagner?

Miller says that Ross has since apologized for writing this, and I hope he has. But it illustrates my point: the charges can be right there in cold print, and yet not there at all.

Both Kozinn and Kosman cite what they consider a much better opera gossip book, Cinderella & Company: Backstage at the Opera with Cecilia Bartoli by Manuela Hoelterhoff (Knopf, 1998). Kozinn says it has "a sharper scalpel." Kosman says it's "a sheaf of wonderful tales" where Fielder offers "a glowing press release." Ross doesn't mention the competition. I went and read this one too. Ross has better judgment, and Kosman is completely off.

Hoelterhoff's is an entirely different kind of book, so in one way a comparison is unfair. Fiedler was writing a history of an opera company; Hoelterhoff was a journalist following then-young mezzo Bartoli around on tour for a couple of years. It's a more close-up book, with more reported conversations and more detail on trivial day-to-day matters. I also found it cluttered and hard to read where Fiedler's prose is clear.

But on dishing the dirt, as opposed to relating the trivia, Hoelterhoff is nearly inert. On the firing of Kathleen Battle by general manager Joseph Volpe, for instance, Fiedler tells the story, and the backstory, in full (p. 283-88, and that's just a sequel to earlier material on Battle), while Hoelterhoff tells it much more briefly, circumspectly, and more sympathetically to Battle (p. 41). (It has to be circumspect if it's to be sympathetic.) Hoelterhoff asks Volpe about it, but he doesn't tell her anything (p. 53).

As for Levine, he is barely a character in Hoelterhoff's story, despite the fact that he conducts much of the music in it. His avoidance of publicity must have kept him away from her, and Fiedler must somehow have overcome this. Interestingly, Hoelterhoff is critical of Levine professionally where Fiedler emphatically is not. Hoelterhoff thinks he's too weak at leading the company to be artistic director (p. 78). (Fiedler acknowledges this weakness, though only by implication, and doesn't consider it fatal.) He arbitrarily overrides directors' visions, even if musically he's right (p. 95). He degrades his talent by conducting the Three Tenors (p. 162-3). (Fiedler thinks it's charming that he does this.) And she finds Levine's giant anniversary gala, the one that Fiedler trills over so loudly, to be a huge waste of time as well as a logistical nightmare to prepare for (passim).

But the rumors? Just this: "Mortified by unsourced rumors about his personal life, Levine long ago found refuge behind a beaming podium facade that shielded him from any possibly unpleasant scrutiny." (p. 134) That's it. Some sharp scalpel; some wonderful tales.

Unless you want to read about why Cecilia Bartoli keeps coming down with colds and cancelling performances, I don't find this a very worthwhile book for any purpose.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

authors it's legitimate to be afraid of in Oz

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Miriam Allen deFord
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin

Saturday, March 17, 2018

conversations not had

I got on the BART train home from the concert on Thursday to discover after I sat down that, though the car was nearly deserted, it was being fully occupied by a ski-cap wearing mesomorph who was one of those guys who likes talking loudly when nobody is listening.

He started haranguing the only other occupant who was seated closer to him than I, and I had to start thinking of what I would do if he turned to me. Normally I resolutely ignore these types (if they're asking for spare change it's quite different), but what if he started harassing me for a response? I needed something deflecting, and since I was reading a New Yorker piece on Rainer Werner Fassbinder, I decided that I'd put on my attempt at an Inspector Clouseau accent - which my brother says sounds like Inspector Clouseau putting on a Chinese accent, and which produces something which, I hope, is unintelligible as English - and utter my favorite Inspector Clouseau line to say, which (in intelligible English) is, "Professor Fassbender and his daughter have been kidnapped."

Perhaps fortunately, this attempt at surrealism was not put to the test.

Next morning, I went into work to check up on a few computer settings and functions I need to have properly understood before phoning the software vendor for a long talk on Monday. One of them was to try to reproduce an occasional glitch that causes an error message to pop up. I succeeded, and it was while writing down the error message that I realized that it refers, not to a subsystem, but a susbsytem, which I'd pronounce "suss beside 'em." I am so looking forward to telling the vendor that I am but a poor ignorant end-user and have no idea what a suss beside 'em is. (To my amazement, a Google search produced 1240 results, topped by an announcement that "Northrop Grumman is now hiring a Susbsytem Design Engineer 4 in Melbourne, FL," so it must be something.)

Friday, March 16, 2018

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

MTT conducted a big and hefty concert.

It began with a newly-composed curtain-raiser by 79-year-old veteran modernist Charles Wuorinen, Sudden Changes. The composer describes this in his notes as "a light-hearted overture." I wouldn't have thought that light-hearted music lay within Wuorinen's vocabulary, and indeed it does not. A consistently bright-colored sonic palette and a construction of herky-jerky motifs does not light-heartedness make. Wuorinen is an unreconstructed chromatic post-tonalist, and his music is of the kind that sounds as if it's abruptly shifting to an unrelated key about once every half-second. I had my fill of stuff like that about 1972. I put my mind on the sort of stasis I employ while waiting for the plane to board and gritted it out.

Matters weren't improved by a conducting assistant's pre-concert interview with the composer. The interviewer claimed to find the piece comical. Wuorinen demurred. The interviewer kept on describing ways that music can be funny; Wuorinen kept on replying, "Maybe, but I don't do that."

MTT, introducing the performance, said that in a world full of compromising music it's a pleasure to have some music that's completely uncompromising. What can he mean, other than that fragmented chromatic post-tonalism is the only uncompromising music? How about some composers who hold uncompromisingly to the principle that coherent tonality speaks more clearly, and still do so in a stringently modernist manner, writing in harmonic and stylistic idioms that, in both cases, simply did not exist as recently as thirty years before their compositions?

Such, at least in the works presented, were Prokofiev and Copland, composers of the concert's other two works, both longtime favorites of mine. (The composers and the specific works, both.)

Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto was vehemently livened up by the presence of young Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov as soloist. Hunched over the keyboard, looking rather like Simon Helberg taking on the role of Schroeder, Abduraimov unleashed demonic, even Argerichian, reserves of speed and energy, specializing in sudden roaring attacks on the music. The orchestra kept up.

Copland's Third Symphony, on the other hand, MTT took rather slowly - especially in the scherzo - except at the end of the finale which lightened up. The result was to make most of the piece grand and stately, a true reminder of the days when this epic work was considered the Great American Symphony, a rather quaint aspiration today. There were some strange passages which sounded unlike any performances of this work I'd previously heard. Was something wrong, or was I misremembering?

As MTT pleafully reminded us before the piece, they're recording this live for a future CD, and our role was to be silent, especially in the quiet opening of the third movement. It sounded OK in the first two, but what should happen in the third movement but a lot of coughs, odd banging noises, and the muffled sound of somebody talking out in the lobby. Well, if they insist on doing this live, they've got two more chances to get it right.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

the case of James Levine

It's less surprising news than it could have been, because he was already suspended for this in December, but on Monday the Metropolitan Opera of New York formally dismissed its emeritus artistic director, James Levine, on charges of sexual abuse of younger musicians. Leading conductor at the Met for decades, also the former music director of the Boston Symphony and many other things, including the man on the podium for Disney's Fantasia 2000, Levine is the biggest name in classical music to have been caught by the #MeToo movement, bigger even than Charles Dutoit, of whom I already wrote.

Many commentators are puzzled, not by the dismissal but because it took so long for the charges to make an impression on these institutions. Stories about Levine have circulated for years and were generally known (though not by me, since I don't normally follow gossip about musicians). Lisa Hirsch writes that the general managers at the Met must have known: "Anthony Bliss knew about the rumors, because of an anonymous letter, and he has to have passed the information along to his immediate successors." Lisa is also intrigued that the Met alludes to events that happened during Levine's time at the Met, "because the published reports are mostly from the late 60s and early 70s, before he joined the Met." She's referring, at least in part, to a horrifying investigative article in the Boston Globe that appeared earlier this month, and which reads like a bad lurid novel. Anne Midgette of the Washington Post also notes the expansion of dates as news: "His allegedly abusive conduct during his Met tenure has yet to be revealed in print."

Well, both these questions - what did the Met know, and what did Levine supposedly do while he was there - can be answered by taking a look at a book cited in the full New York Times report of the firing, Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera by Johanna Fiedler (Doubleday, 2001), an institutional history by the Met's former press officer. I went to the library and grabbed it. This remarkable tome preserves - as if it were sealed under glass - the pre-#MeToo view of Levine's misbehavior.

Yes, it's there. The Met knew about it, and it continued to gain steam after he joined. There's even an index sub-entry under Levine, James: "persistent rumors surrounding." Sub-alphabetized under "P" for "persistent."

Despite being by an official of the Met, the book is not whitewashed or at least not completely so, although the lawyers did have their way with it. There are stories of prima donnas living down to the worst implications of that title, culminating in the famous firing of Kathleen Battle - by general manager Joseph Volpe, as Levine (then artistic director, and supposedly in charge of musical personnel) didn't want to do it. (In his own memoirs, which I glanced at on an adjoining library shelf, Volpe repeatedly describes Levine as utterly averse to confrontational scenes.) There's a genteel power struggle between Levine and Volpe. There's even a backstage rape-murder of a Met orchestral violinist by a stagehand, described in a context of resentment of the musicians by the stagehands, who think the musicians have a soft life.

And there's the Persistent Rumors Surrounding James Levine. They were there even when he was hired, and this is like a two-sentence summary of that revelatory Boston Globe article: "The friends who surrounded him were perceived more as disciples than as friends, and the Levanites began to take on the aura of a cult, with Jimmy as the charismatic leader. There was malicious gossip, rumors of orgies and homosexuality and chamber music played in the nude." (p. 94)

So why wasn't anything done about it? Fiedler goes on: "Thirty years later, the rumors persist, even in the absence of any evidence." Ah, that's it. No evidence. And, indeed, the Globe article explains how Levine's victims were reluctant to accuse him, for fear of the impact on their own careers and that nobody would believe them. Yet they keep coming up. For instance, when Levine was appointed music director of the Munich Philharmonic in 1997, there was a contretemps over his salary, and then "the rumors about Levine's private life crept into the press." (p. 328)

And also at the Met. "Starting in the spring of 1979, these stories came to the surface at more or less regular intervals. Each time, the Met press office would tirelessly point out the cyclical nature of the gossip and the complete lack of substance." (p. 233) All that happened was that, in 1987, when "the 'rumors,' as they became known in the company, cropped up again, this time with a virulence that the Times found impossible to ignore," the resulting news story led to Levine pulling back on his artistic authority in favor of the general manager. (This was before Volpe took on the job.)

Fiedler notes that journalistic searches of police reports at that time turned up nothing. Doesn't that sort of answer the question of why the long-supine Met was today so quick to respond once there was a formal police report?

The same page lists "vulgar stories" (Fiedler's words) that were circulating about Levine's Met years, so here's what you've been looking for. Fiedler dismisses most of these as implausible. Levine couldn't have been soliciting a child in Pittsburgh, because at the time stated he was in Boston on a tour. He couldn't have solicited one on the NYC subway, because he never took the subway. (Yep, that's the reason this was "dismissed as preposterous.")

Even if you leave those aside, though, there's one more concrete Met years accusation. "Levine, it was said, had had a relationship with a boy whose parents had gone to the Met board, threatening to expose the situation. Supposedly the board had then authorized a major payoff to the family. But Anthony Bliss, during whose tenure this reportedly took place, consistently and adamantly denied it, as did other board members." Believe that or not, that's the story, but it does give kind of a context to what Bliss might or might not have done with an anonymous letter. He clearly had a lot more in that file than one anonymous letter.

What explanation can they possibly give for this much smoke, no fire? Levine, previously silent publicly on the subject, was pushed into talking with John Rockwell of the Times for the 1987 article, and said, "I don't have the faintest idea where these rumors came from or what purpose they served. Ron Wilford [his manager] says it's because people can't believe the real story, that I'm too good to be true." (p. 234) Fiedler sort of agrees: "Perhaps the stories arose because Levine - then, as now - exudes friendliness and warmth, yet has an intense desire for personal privacy." (p. 94) So ... some anonymous poison-pen types are jealous because he's too lovable? Is that it?

But mostly, Fiedler makes unintentionally clear, it's because Levine was so valuable to the Met and so clearly beloved. Her history concentrates on recent decades during which Levine was pre-eminent, so he's a major figure in it. Despite power-plays by Volpe, which never rose to personal antagonism, he's the artistic genius of the Met. The book begins with a rapturous account of Levine's 25th anniversary gala concert in 1996, when he conducted opera highlights for eight hours. He knows all the repertoire and conducts it tirelessly and excellently. He's warm and friendly and gives lots of presents. Singers love him. Orchestras love him; they beg for him to conduct them or become their music director; that's how he got the job in Munich.

You know, we've seen the effects of this even before #MeToo. For many years, starting soon after Fiedler's book was published in 2001, the big story about Levine was his health. He had kidney problems, back problems, Parkinson's disease, all requiring surgery, all requiring time off for recuperation. It all ruined his tenure with the Boston Symphony, which began in 2004, the more because - as with the "rumors" - he was reluctant to talk about it and insisted that nothing was wrong. But he was so beloved and respected that the institutions put up with what should have been unacceptable absenteeism. Only in 2011 did his absences, combined with his insistence on continuing to schedule himself for concerts he then wasn't up for, become so debilitating to the orchestra that he resigned. But he didn't resign from the Met, he just took a leave of absence and only retired several years later. The feeling at the time was, what a shame he hung on too long.

Most aggravating was the Parkinson's, which for years Levine flatly denied he had, finally admitting at the time of his retirement that he'd had it for over 20 years, going back into his heyday. Like his sexual molestations, the evidence for this is hidden in plain sight in Fiedler's book. There's a surprising mention that "When James developed a tremor in his arm in the late 1990s," his ever-loyal brother Tom, "with utter discretion, helped cut his brother's food." (p. 268) He what? Surely having an arm tremor so bad you can't cut your food would be debilitating for a conductor, whose artistry lies in his arm movements, but he attributes it to "a pinched nerve" (p. 271) and nothing more is said of it. Levine is loved; he denies anything is wrong; it's brushed under the table.

One more thing got denied and brushed under the table, too. Levine is gay. (His molestation victims were mostly male.) He denied that for years, too. Some people thought he admitted it during his 1987 interview with Rockwell. He said: "I live my life openly; I don't make pretenses of this or that. What there is is completely apparent." (p. 234) What could he mean?

But in Fiedler's book, Levine is not gay. Proof: he's been living for decades with an oboist named Suzanne Thomson. As proof that he's not gay, that must have been quite a pretense. I haven't been able to find out anything about her in recent material about Levine. Was she his beard? Did she simply disappear? I have no idea.

In the end, there's one clue to why James Levine is the way he is. He says, "I was brought up to take responsibility for myself, to obey the natural laws of my personality and gifts." (p. 325) This is put in the context of explaining why he never cut his ridiculous hair, but a man who believes in "the natural laws of my personality" is just as likely to make others bear the burdens of his unpredictable illnesses, or to molest who he likes when he likes and deny it all the way because of the supremacy of his gifts.

Nope. It took a long time, but in the end, it doesn't work that way.

Update and supplement.

driving by protest

I happened to be heading out along a local major street to do errands when I drove by Homestead High School (alma mater of Jobs and Wozniak) just as the nation-wide gun-violence protest walkout was going on. A huge crowd of students, many carrying signs, were congested on to the sidewalk area in front of the school.

From the opposite side of the road, I stuck my arm out the open window and gave them a thumbs up. I didn't know what else to do. Any words of encouragement I might have shouted would have been too distracting for me in traffic and probably unintelligible to them, who were making a lot of noise themselves anyway. Years ago I would have flashed a peace sign, the all-purpose symbol of agreeability and conciliation in my generation, but I was afraid today's students wouldn't know what it meant or found it ambiguous.

I did hear some brief cheers from the crowd; might have been in response to my signal, I don't know.