30 September 2006

Now That I Have a Moment...

So I just got back from the wedding, which was wonderful.

Ordinarily I do not attend rehearsal dinners and receptions. For several reasons.

1. I rarely know anyone outside the wedding party, so at dinner or reception I have no one to talk with, and few find a clergyman their idea of a party animal.

2. If I ate all the food and drink offered, I would be ever expanding.

3. I am not a social person, really. Big informal crowds are hard for me. One or two or even a half dozen people are my idea of a good evening. Scores are overwhelming.

So why did I go tonight? It was a church family whom I respect and appreciate a lot, of whom one was a co-chair of the search committee that selected me. And it was fun, at least for my wife who is far more sociable than I, meaning gifted at it. We left before the cake, which I will miss as I have a sweet tooth. But all the other fine food was already making me feel very full indeed, so discretion trumped desire.

A friend wrote me saying that my last entry was not something that stimulated questions or conversation. I suppose not. The nature of blogs is that they capture whatever moment I have when I write it. Far from being well planned, entries are as much prompted by feeling I should write as having something to write.

This is the discipline that public utterance is about. Whether you have something planned or not, you have to say something every seven days if you are a preacher. And a blog that lies fallow for a long time loses its constituency. So I am flogging myself to sit down after the filet and the merlot to say something because, once again, I shall be away for a few days. And there will be no time until Thursday next.

Far from inspiring, this entry, but I have this habit of candor that I simply cannot shake.

By the way, Die tode Stadt, an opera by Erich W. Korngold, was lovely. That it was composed when he was 24, and was his third, was stunning. It will not be a staple in my repertory, but the lute song in the first act, reprised at the end, is worth the whole thing. Like Bizet's Pearl Fishers, it is imperfect but has moments of perfection.

And the Klimts are stunning. the five paintings I saw in Vienna and on display through this week at the neue gallerie in New York, that will be sold at auction soon, that are among the very best I have ever seen. It was great to see them again, even for $15 dollars. The Shieles and Kokoschkas were great too. But on their own, not worth $15.

There is a nearly perfect cafe there, in the Viennese tradition, which means Viennese coffees like kaiser melange, my favorite. While the Italians disdain cappucino after 10 am, Viennese drink melange into the afternoon. Korngold and Klimt and Kaiser melange took me back to Vienna five years ago and I left New York longing to return to the Cafe Drei Beisl in the St. Michaelplatz, and eat tafelspitz on cold evenings with a tall glass of Gosser beer. I could remember how it felt to ride the strassenbahn around the Ring, the windows cloudy with moisture and the recorded voice reminding us at each stop which lines converged at which stop... Umsteigen zum linea zwei und zwanzig...

Paris is more splendid. London more grand. But Vienna has a tenderness in it, a world weary resignation that is both sad and happy, something that is the heart of the Marschallin's "Ja ja" as she walks away from Octavian. I miss it very much today.

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