It’s been a long time since I’ve written an entry, and a lot has happened, so now there’s much to choose from for the main gist. I could write about the awful traveling itself — including a return flight that took 15 hours — or I could write about the two concerts, or Newman’s birthday, or the yummy meals, or the fun antiquing and our purchases, or the gawd-awful weather in NYC when we were there… Let’s just start at the beginning.

The flight from LAX to JFK was delayed by two hours. That, at the time, seemed annoying, but would pale in comparison to the 15 hour return trip. (Did I mention it was 15 hours?) Due to the delay out of LAX, a lot of people were going standby on other flights, opening up a lot of seats on our American flight. We asked to be upgraded to standby for business class, but Elizabeth Amador, the evil cow American Airlines employee (I believe she has won “Evil Cow Employee of the Month” at American every month for the past 47 years), told us that we weren’t allowed to be upgraded because we’d purchased our tickets with frequent-flyer miles. It didn’t matter that three business class seats remained completely empty on the entire flight. That’s fine, I guess, but Elizabeth Amador was really nasty and bitchy to me and AEJ. Like, unnecessarily so. You, Elizabeth Amador, employee of American Airlines, are a nasty, evil cow. But I digress.

The flight was fine, albeit two hours delayed. Oh, except that the flight attendants knocked a tray of nearly-empty cocktail glasses from first class onto the floor in front of us, splashing cocktail backwash, melted ice, squeezed limes, and shards of broken glass all over us. They, admittedly, were extremely apologetic, giving us a voucher for dry cleaning, a $25 gift certificate for SkyMall (hooray — now we can finally get a break on one of those American Airlines-branded travel pillows), and a free bottle of wine, which we re-gifted to Newman for his birthday. They also gave AEJ a can of her favorite beverage.

Upon our late arrival at JFK, we were greeted by, I kid you not, a comedically large and unfathomably stinky pile of human vomit next to baggage claim. It was as if NYC was saying, “welcome back.” I wanted to take a picture, but AEJ pointed out that I’d have to get close to the vomit, and it reeked quite strongly from 25 feet away, so I left it alone. Your loss.

Newman was gracious enough to pick us up at the airport and bring us back to his place for the night. The next morning, we got up and headed out for breakfast. I had huevos rancheros at a local diner — the diner, reportedly, that inspired the musical “Rent.” Being a huge fan of “Rent” * , I found this incredibly inspiring, and broke into song right there, belting out a heartfelt ditty about my unrequited love for cheese, eggs, salsa, and chips. Sadly, the Pulitzer committee was nowhere to be seen.

* By “huge fan” I mean “I hate that stupid overrated show.”

On the way back to Newman’s, we saw some art.

That afternoon, we drove the three+ hours from NYC up to the Newman Family Compound® in Williamstown. I love going there. It’s this lovely house up on a hill, overlooking a valley full of cows. There’s also great biking. Oh, and nearby, a funny restaurant called the Dakota Steakhouse. We had dinner there that night. In a bizarre turn, a bear tried to attack Newman while we waited to be seated.

AEJ came to the rescue.

Dinner was tasty, but it was dark, so none of those photos of steak, potatoes, and beet salad turned out. (It sounds better than it looked anyway.) The next day, I had a performance at Mass MoCA, as part of the Bang on a Can summer festival. Cristhian Rodriguez, a clarinetist from the University of Miami who had played in the wind ensemble when Gary Green conducted “Redline Tango” this spring, performed two of my pieces at the Mass MoCA festival: “Damn” and “Breakdown Tango.” By chance, I was there for his performance last Thursday of “Breakdown Tango.” Here’s the group rehearsing in the gallery before the concert. I want all of my performances under spacecraft. That would rule.

And here they are in performance. The concert was a lot of fun. Thanks a lot, Cristhian, for playing it! You guys were great.

After the concert, we went to lunch at this diner.

I ordered a hot dog, but what I got was perhaps the most risque-looking lunch I’ve ever consumed. I think it’s the angle.

That night, on my way to rehearsal at Tanglewood, we all went to Friendly’s for dinner. I grew up loving this place, primarily for their ice cream. (Their trademark sandwich, the Fishamajig ®, is pretty special, too: tender fried cod, topped with melted American cheese and tartar sauce, served between two slices of buttered, grilled bread.) This Friendly’s mounted their Muzak satellite dish outside, like a beacon of musical good taste. How do you spell delicious? M-U-Z-A-K.

While we waited a seeming eternity for our buffalo chicken wraps, AEJ made this for me on her place mat. I think the flag is an excellent touch. I salute you, Friendly’s.

What’s cuter than a sundae that looks like a little monster? Well, not much. How Melissa ate this, I can’t imagine, but I’m thinking perhaps she has no soul.

Rehearsal that night was great. Bob Reynolds was doing “Redline Tango” in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood with the BUTI (Boston University Tanglewood Institute) wind ensemble. Holy crap, they were the best high school-age group I’ve ever heard anywhere.

The next morning: breakfast!

And that night, before the big Tanglewood concert, we had a great dinner in Lenox, MA. We started with tasty (and pretty) cocktails. Cheers.

The appetizer : this fantastic sashimi-style tuna.

I had better pictures of my entree, the cornish hen, but this picture made me laugh, and felt somehow related to my previous hot dog photo.

It was, we can’t forget, Jonathan Newman’s birthday. Happy b-day, Newm.

The concert that night was one of the best performances I’ve ever heard of Redline Tango — and these were high school players. Yes, they’re among the best high school musicians in the country, and when you put Bob Reynolds in front of them, it shouldn’t be too surprising that they would sound this good. But I was still blown away. I’ve heard dozens of performances of the piece, but this one was the first that I can remember that actually got me a little misty-eyed. But if you tell anybody that, I will find you, and I will
kick your ass.

That night, back at Newman’s, there was a birthday cake — complete with two cards, one from me and AEJ, and, miraculously, one from Loki, our cat. He’s so thoughtful.

Mmm… CAKE!

On Sunday, we went antiquing. AEJ and I got some good stuff — that’s an entry of its own — and we also just had fun looking at things. Like this creepy little stroller for the dead baby you keep in your attic.

It wasn’t all shopping and eating and concerts. No, sir, we also played games — like Clue! Things got a little out of hand, though, as Mrs. Peacock and Mrs. White… well… It’s legal in Massachusetts.

Here, the Clue gang, and Newman in the background, seem to be judging you — maybe because you keep a dead baby in your attic. Freak.

So, that was basically the trip. We did spend about 24 hours in NYC — where it was 100 humid degrees (it was NYC’s way of saying, “thanks for comin’ – now get the hell out”) — and then spent 7 hours at the airport as American Airlines repeatedly delayed our flight. The moral here : American Airlines sucks. Oh, and Friendly’s is fun but makes you feel barfy; Bob Reynolds is awesome; NYC in late July is hot and kind of awful; and close-up pictures of Clue figurines are funny.


Sarah says

i can't see the pictures! tragedy!

Newman says

"NYC in late July is hot and kind of awful" ...

Yes, that's why we all schlep up to Mass. like all the other stereotypes. I wish we were more creative, but sometimes the tried and true works best...

And Ozawa Hall, as all can see, is stunning. That's not just any wood, there, people. That's TEAK, lovingly felled for our musical enjoyment by Indonesian slave labour.

Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

did you put some sort of MAC curse, so that the super intelligent PC users can't see your pics?


Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

that redheaded clue figure with glasses, clutching his chin ever so intelligently, actually looks like Newman! I sense a copyright infringement case coming on!!

Cathy says

I can see all the pictures...oh yeah, I'm on a MAC! HAH!

Travis Taylor says

I have a theory, 9 out of 10 times you quickly grab your camera and take a picture of Newman as fast as possible, rendering him dazed and surprised. This is why he always has this "Wow!" Look on his face. That, or he just always has his "Wow!" face on.


Kevin Howlett says

It probably was the angle, but that hot dog looked extremely phallic.

Lauren says

Hi Iam realy into to art and music. I play the clarinet,saxaphone ( alto) and guitar. Iam artisticly talented and have won many awards for my artwork. I have also preformed in NYSMA its a music festival.

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