- Increasing Clouds
- Health Order
- Planetary Distancing
- Serious Problem
- Grate Again
- Ed Notes
- Restraining Order
- Treatment Practice
- New Ventilators
- PA Closures
- Yesterday's Catch
- Tragic Karma
- Our Leader
- Financial Relief
- Tests Negative
- Demoralized Masses
- Communist Bride
- Terrence McNally
- Dresden 75
- Bathroom Slot
- Corona Spain
- U.S. Hotspots
- Owner Greed
- Lockdown Scenarios
CLOUDS will be on the increase across the region today, followed by shower activity tonight through early next week. (National Weather Service)
SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS said Tuesday, March 24, right after the Health Officer’s latest Shelter in Place Order:
“There is a constant stream of questions about allowable activities and exceptions under the Shelter-In-Place order, as well as criticism for unnecessarily restricting civil liberties. This [March 24] order came from our appointed Public Health Officer, who I believe is competent. Against days of requests for draft review by Supervisors to catch locale specific realities and improve readability, the order was published without such input. While I believe this is not the best model, I am tightly aligned with the goals of the PHO and order. We see potential for 1800 patients in a county capable of caring for about 45. The SF Bay Area will likely surge before us, filling all regional hospitals. If and when we have our surge, it's foreseeable that people in need of care will be beyond our capabilities. I would have preferred a less legalese order, but what's important is we maximize our social distancing. That's Plan A. We don't have a Plan B. I ask for your support in following the health officer order.
The new order has no end date. It cannot be predicted. June would not surprise me.”
WE HAD SOME DIFFICULTY even finding the details of the Health Officer’s Shelter In Place Order which is buried in several layers of links on the County’s website.
The restrictions describe essential activities in several broad categories:
• Health of residents and their families and pets…
• “Outdoor activity … initiated from one’s residence, which does not involve the use of a motor vehicle or public transit to the location of exercise.”
• Operations and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure…” including grocery stores, and related non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences…
• Agriculture, including but not limited to, food and beverage cultivation, farming; ranching, fishing, forestry, livestock and legal cannabis and other medicines…
(“Beverage cultivation”? … “Other medicines”?)
• Businesses that are necessary to supply agriculture, food, and beverage cultivation, processing and distribution…
• Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services…
• Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities…
• Banks and related financial institutions…
• Hardware, home improvement stores, home appliance stores, and nurseries…
• Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses…
• Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes…
• Laundromats, drycleaners, and laundry service providers…
• Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry-out.
• Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate…
• Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences as long as all COVID-19 precautionary measures are implemented…
• Taxis and other private transportation providers
And so forth including travel to and from the essential services.
The order also requires that all “social distancing” rules be observed in the conduct of the essential services.
It goes on the prohibit ALL vacation rentals and any “self-service” food activity involving shared utensils, dispensers, etc.
An employer who “knowingly allows an employee to work sick” is also violating the order. And “violations are considered an imminent threat to public health.”
Interestingly, the order designates County Counsel Christian Curtis as the person designated to answer any interpretation or enforcement questions, not the health officer or her staff.
WE UNDERSTAND and support (most of) these restrictions, of course, especially during this initial phase of attempting to contain the spread of the virus. As Supervisor Williams noted, it would have been nice if the Health Officer had considered supervisor or public input, but time was of the essence.
WHAT WE HOPE will happen next is that 1. The health officer will avoid getting into so much detail that nobody will be able to keep up, understand, or comply. 2. The order will be revised and adapted as circumstances dictate, with input from others as needed. After all, this latest order is itself a revised and expanded version of an earlier order. And 3. That the County and local media do a better job of informing people of the order’s particulars. (For example the order should be a simple one-click on the County’s home page, not buried deep in the website.) We also hope that if County Counsel Curtis issues any significant interpretations of what is or is not “essential” that they will be prominently announced as well. Maybe an easy to print summary of the order that people can print out and carry with them when questions arise. The summary might also be in small poster form so it can be easily posted on front doors.
WE ARE ALREADY HEARING STORIES about wannabe hall monitors types in the various government, non-profit, and commercial offices that are still open who have grandly appointed themselves as unofficial Shelter In Place Control Officers. To avoid unnecessary disputes, the order, which in its breadth and scope is inherently hard to enforce on the ground, needs to be as widely noticed and distributed as possible. We can’t depend on official enforcement on such a county-wide scale, so observance of the order requires wide and frequent distribution plus ongoing review, adjustment and refinement.
PS. FOR EXAMPLE, we have yet to hear if Sheriff Kendall has ruled on whether gun stores are essential businesses. As we read the order in its present form, they are not.
VIA ANNA SHAW (Fort Bragg):
Dr. Doohan (Mendocino County Public Health Officer) was asked to comment on the fact that some residents are not taking Shelter In Place orders seriously.
“If there are people in our community who do not think this is a serious problem, I think it’s only going to be a matter of a week before their eyes are open, as the Bay Area has this exponential growth and it starts hitting regions closer to us. Anyone who sees the pictures of New York City is going to cry. And weep. We have no protection around us to keep this disease out. I believe it’s here, in our county. We haven’t hit the exponential growth phase, where it’s impacting our hospitals in a big way, but if we don’t take these serious efforts of social distancing and shelter in place, we will. I don’t know what to do to change people’s minds whose eyes are closed. I will continue to be the voice that says this is serious,” she responded. "We are limiting the freedom of individuals to participate in their daily activities, and businesses are being limited. I would never do this if I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary for the survival of our health care system in our county.”
TRUMP'S PRESSER Thursday afternoon was, as he said 38 times while I watched, "incredible." Everybody and everything was incredible. Except, of course, the fake news bedeviling him despite the incredibility he's created. Incoherent as always, Trump did manage to confirm, for those people who look to him for confirmation of reality, that the manufacture and distribution of the products required to test and treat the virus has nearly caught up with demand, which may mean that even the outbacks like Mendocino County will soon have the testing devices with which to confirm the true number of cases here. So far there are two confirmed with nearly sixty tests pending. Both of those two patients are quarantined and neither of them have required hospitalization.
GETTING KINDA ROUGH out there judging from on-line back and forth. A Coastie wrote, "There are 21 active Airbnb listings in FB taking reservations. Last time I checked, Airbnb wouldn't divulge the names or addresses of the hosts."
AS THE MOB howled condemnation, a knowledgeable person calmly pointed out, "Appearances can be deceiving. They just haven't updated their calendars; if you did try to make a reservation, the host would most likely decline. I know this because I help AirBnb hosts with marketing online."
JAN THE MAIL LADY reports that the volume of mail she delivers 6 days a week, is way down. Jan herself is retiring at the end of this month, and more on this major change in the life of West Mendocino County as we round up the details.
MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS: Anne at the Boonville Post Office says that package volume, however, is up (much of it arriving at the Post Office via UPS and FedEx from Amazon etc., not via Jan The Mail Lady).
THE NOT ENOUGH bailout money won't reach the millions of people who need it until early May, and so far it's a one-time payout of $1200, twice that for a couple, $500 per child.
3.4 MILLION people have already filed unemployment claims, a figure predicted to double in a week.
THE ON-LINE UNEMPLOYMENT APPLICATION SYSTEM itself is overloaded too.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY MARKET has installed a pair of plexi-glass sheets at the busy store's checkout and deli counters. Store hours have been reduced to 10-5. All the Anderson Valley's food venues are operating on reduced hours, laid off staff, take out only. Boonville's a virtual ghost town. Lemons Market is one bright spot as they now offer home-delivery.
FROST FANS roared on Thursday morning about 4:30 although there was no freeze. The fan due east of ava headquarters didn't cease its unholy din until around 9am.
BOB MAKI of Starr Automotive Towing and Repair writes: “I would like to thank Gary Island and his crew at the Philo I&E Lath Mill for his generosity in putting out mill trim ends for the public to pick up. As we get older, it gets hard to find and cut wood. The only thing he asks is that you pick up the broken pieces and strings that are left on the ground. This is a great deal for everyone! Thanks, Gary.”
AMERICA'S MEDICAL MAN, Dr. Fauci, said yesterday that Americans should prepare for the outbreak to become seasonal. "I think it well might become a seasonal, cyclic thing that totally emphasizes the need to do what we're doing in developing a vaccine, testing it quickly. We're dealing with Cycle A right now.”
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT reported Thursday afternoon that Sonoma County had five more positive virus test cases bringing SoCo’s total to 44. On the somewhat shaky theory that Mendo is an off-shoot of Sonoma County as things move north, that might indicate that Mendo’s numbers might start creeping up. If so, we will see how well Mendo’s attempts to shelter-in-place, shut down non-essential services, and practice distancing and hygiene are working in the next few days.
IS YOUR CURRENT OR FORMER INTIMATE PARTNER abusing, harassing, or stalking you? Think you may need a restraining order? First, contact Project Sanctuary https://www.projectsanctuary.org/ to see if they can help you. If you cannot get help and find that many of the places you would normally get help from are limiting their services, you can fill out all the forms online using a computer program at: https://lawhelpinteractive.org/…/GenerateInterv…/3039/engine
Create an account online, answer questions, and the program will fill out all the forms you need so you can file them at the Court.
(Mendocino County DA Presser)
THE ONLINE FORM LINK above did not work; however, an online form for a restraining order can be found here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/dv100.pdf
FROM SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS:
Within hours of forwarding a quote for ventilators to John Allison, he and the Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation directors were able to announce funding for equipment that will save lives on the coast when the pandemic reaches our communities. The people behind this purchase have my gratitude for moving at a pace government often cannot approach. Best use of funds ever. Well done. The hospital also deserves recognition for quick action on documenting machine specifications.
Some really positive news. Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation has funded an additional four (4) ventilators for the Mendocino Coast District Hospital for expected critical needs patients. The $165,000 funding will also cover the cost of ancillary equipment the ventilators require.
Both MCDH CEO, Wayne Allen and Dr. William Miller, Chief of the Medical Staff at MCDH expressed their gratitude for this Foundation funding and commented “The purchase of these ventilators will save people’s lives.”
As a healthcare foundation, MCHF is positioned to meet the ongoing needs of our coastal community and take on unexpected challenges, including response to the alarming spread of COVID-19. Foundation Executive Director, Michelle Roberts noted “The ripple effects of the Coronavirus outbreak are already hitting our friends, families, and healthcare providers and facilities. The Foundation is committed to assisting with equipment and programs, which is our mission.”
ARENA COVE & PIER CLOSED TEMPORARILY
By a unanimous vote, the Point Arena City Council has enacted a temporary ordinance closing the Point Arena Pier and Arena Cove due to public health and safety concerns from the spread of the COVID19 virus. The Council will review the ordinance within the next 31 days.
The City Council found that continued parking and loitering at the Arena Cove parking lot and on Point Arena Pier poses a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Point Arena and that adequate regulation was necessary.
"Our number one priority is to make decisions that ultimately benefit the health and welfare of the people in our community," Mayor Scott Ignacio said, "We hope that implementing these measures now will shorten the time it will take for our businesses and our public areas to reopen."
The purpose of Ordinance is two-fold:
Loitering or remaining in the parking lot, on the pier, or other outdoor premises adjacent to the parking lot or pier without any apparent business purpose -- such as commercial fishing -- is prohibited until further notice.
The parking of vehicles at the Arena Cove parking lot is prohibited, unless related to the activities of commercial fishermen, Arena Cove businesses, or vessels that have paid parking privileges. This includes all automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, vessels and any other motorized vehicles.
The City Council will review the ordinance within 31 days for its continued appropriateness.
The County received its first positive test for COVID-19 on the South Coast in Gualala at a visitor-serving facility. Despite the County Public Health Officer's Shelter-In-Place Order of March 18, 2020 and follow-up letter of March 19, 2020, the South Coast has seen an influx of visitors from outside the area including at Arena Cove.
On March 24, 2019, the County Public Health issued an updated order that limits the use of parks in the County to those that are accessible by walking and biking from one's place of residence.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 26, 2020
BRETT BARNES, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
TYLER HURN, Potter Valley. Protective order violation.
ALVINO MIRANDA, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.
BENNY SHARPE, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
YOU CAN ALMOST SMELL THE FEAR-LADEN SWEAT oozing from the pores of television broadcasts and social media posts as it finally dawns on our political and media establishments what the coronavirus actually means. And I am not talking about the threat posed to our health. A worldview that has crowded out all other thinking for nearly two generations is coming crashing down. It has no answers to our current predicament. There is a kind of tragic karma to the fact that so many major countries – meaning major economies – are today run by the very men least equipped ideologically, emotionally and spiritually to deal with the virus.
— Jonathan Cook
YOUR PALS, THE BANKS
"SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that financial institutions will provide major financial relief for millions of Californians suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
'Millions of California families will be able to take a sigh of relief,' said Governor Newsom. 'These new financial protections will provide relief to California families and serve as a model for the rest of the nation. I thank each of the financial institutions that will provide this relief to millions of Californians who have been hurt financially from COVID-19.'
Governor Newsom secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to protect homeowners and consumers.
Under the Governor’s proposal, Californians who are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for the following relief upon contacting their financial institution:
• 90-Day Grace Period for Mortgage Payments
Financial institutions will offer, consistent with applicable guidelines, mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19. In addition, those institutions will:
• Provide borrowers a streamlined process to request a forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation;
• Confirm approval of and terms of forbearance program; and
Provide borrowers the opportunity to request additional relief, as practicable, upon continued showing of hardship due to COVID-19.
• No Negative Credit Impacts Resulting from Relief
• Financial institutions will not report derogatory tradelines (e.g., late payments) to credit reporting agencies, consistent with applicable guidelines, for borrowers taking advantage of COVID-19-related relief.
• Moratorium on Initiating Foreclosure Sales or Evictions
• For at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions, consistent with applicable guidelines.
• Relief from Fees and Charges
For at least 90 days, financial institutions will waive or refund at least the following for customers who have requested assistance:
• Mortgage-related late fees; and other fees, including early CD withdrawals (subject to applicable federal regulations).
Loans held by a financial institution may be serviced by another company.
Please note that financial institutions and their servicers are experiencing high volumes of inquiries."
FROM THE CANTONAL HOSPITAL he wound his way up the slopes where the more prosperous Swiss burghers had clambered high above the city, closer to forest and sky, with a view far over the lake, and built their houses, the miniature palaces of the bourgeoisie. Every one of them had thought of new ways to beautify his home—whether with patterned brickwork, ornamental tile, a spire, big gates, a veranda, a coach house, a fountain, or by calling the house “Mountain Rose,” “Gordevia,” “Nisetta.” Wisps of smoke were rising from the chimneys—the fires, of course, were lit for comfort.
This carefully contrived combination of beauty and comfort, shut off from the world by fences, railings, title deeds, and convenient Swiss laws, remote from the herd down below, filled him with seething irritation. Oh, how splendid it would be to swarm up here and destroy these garden gates, windows, doors, flowerbeds, with stones, sticks, heels, rifle butts—what could be finer, what could be more fun? Were the deprived masses so demoralized, had they sunk so deep into the mire that they never would rise in rebellion? Never remember Marat’s burning words: Man has a right to wrest from his fellow man not only superfluous possessions but bare necessities. So as not to perish himself, he has a right to cut his neighbor’s throat and devour his still quivering body!
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Lenin in Zurich
TERRENCE MCNALLY, one of America’s great playwrights whose prolific career included winning Tony Awards for the plays “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class” and the musicals “Ragtime” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” has died of complications from the coronavirus. He was 81.
McNally died Tuesday at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, according to representative Matt Polk. McNally was a lung cancer survivor who lived with chronic inflammatory lung disease.
His plays and musicals explored how people connect — or fail to. With wit and thoughtfulness, he tackled the strains in families, war, and relationships and probed the spark and costs of creativity. He was an openly gay writer who wrote about homophobia, love and AIDS.
“I like to work with people who are a lot more talented and smarter than me, who make fewer mistakes than I do, and who can call me out when I do something lazy,” he told LA Stage Times in 2013. “A lot of people stop learning in life, and that’s their tragedy.”
by David Yearsley
When the English music historian Charles Burney arrived in Dresden in 1772, he found mostly ruins. This most beautiful of northern cities had not yet recovered from the ravages of the Seven Years War, concluded nearly a decade before: “It is difficult for a stranger to imagine himself near the celebrated capital of Saxony, … [since] so few of its once many cloudcapt towers are left standing; only two or three remain intire, of all the stately edifices which formerly embellished this city.”
The Prussian bombardment of 1760 seemed to Dresden’s inhabitants to have been a vengeful attempt by Frederick the Great to destroy the monuments of a city which had, ironically, given him such powerful inspiration for his own cultural projects in Berlin and Potsdam. Though politically tolerant of all faiths, the Prussian monarch made no secret of his contempt for organized religion. He must have found it strangely exhilarating to watch the spires of Dresden’s Baroque churches topple from the horizon.
Dresden’s eighteenth-century skyline was dominated by the magnificent dome of the Frauenkirche—the Church of Our Lady. Intent on breaking the spirit of the inhabitants, Frederick had, according to Burney, pointed his cannons at the city’s proudest landmark: “The King of Prussia, in his last bombardment of Dresden, tried every means in his power to beat this church … but in vain, for the orbicular form of the dome threw off the balls and shells, and totally prevented their effect.”
That church fell with the rest of the city seventy-five years ago last week. In the night of February 13th-14th, 1945 the British air force dropping some 200,000 bombs—high explosives followed by incendiaries—on Dresden. The Americans followed up the next day with similar tonnage as rescues efforts were underway down on the ground. Between 20,000 and 30,000 civilians were killed, the Florence and the Elbe erased by fire.
Burney writes with a courteously well-hidden, yet still palpable, disgust that war should be used as a means of cultural destruction.
If only Dresden had been lucky enough to suffer merely Prussian cannons and not the apocalypse of 1945.
The Dresden Burney visited is gone forever, in spite of decades of effort to reconstruct its landmark buildings. Even the Frauenkirche graces the city again, rebuilt using both new stone and the much darker blocks salvaged from the rubble that had stood on the site since the War.
In 2005, the year the Frauenkirche was reconsecrated, I played a concert in Dresden in the 250th anniversary year of the famed organ built by Gottfried Silbermann (though he died before its completion) for the Court Chapel — now the city cathedral. Unlike the organ in the nearby Frauenkirche also by Silbermann, that in the Court Chapel had escaped destruction thanks to its timely removal in 1944, returned to the rebuilt church in the 1960s. The concert organizers put me up the reconstructed Bishop’s Palace. The facade of that building and all the others that front the River Elbe look again like they do in Canaletto’s famous paintings.
During my stay, I visited the then just-opened Grünes Gewölbe (green vault), recently victim of a shocking heist that touched the cultural nerve that is Dresden: the value of priceless jewels stolen was put around a billion Euros. In these sumptuous rooms, the Saxon Electors displayed their treasures in jaw-dropping profusion: hundreds of perfectly faces carved into a single sixteenth-century cherry pit; impossibly beautiful and complex ivory wonders; amber; silver, porcelain. In the 1720s, the mightiest of the Saxon rulers, August the Strong opened the doors to the public, happy for his subjects to admirer his goodies.
Many, though not all, of these holdings were, like the chapel’s organ, spirited out of Dresden before the bombs fell. Dresden’s musical riches also largely escaped. Unlike organs, manuscript can be removed to safety with relative ease. And if these are saved (like the early version of Bach’s B-minor Mass which the composer offered to the Saxon Elector in 1733) the music can be performed—it can burst out of the museum and into the modern world. We can listen in on the musical world of Dresden’s Golden Age.
This huge body of music represents one of the city’s most lasting cultural achievements.
The finest English-account account of musical life in Dresden’s eighteenth century remains a long chapter in Daniel Heartz’s magisterial yet gracious Music in European Capitals: the Galant Style, 1720-1780 (Norton, 2003).
Patrons, musicians and their music are encountered with a critical ear and enlivening appreciation of the subtleties of style, previously dismissed as superficial. With Heartz as guide, the this musical world gleams and glories anew.
The pathbreaking apostle in the performance of this nearly inexhaustible hoard of music was Reinhard Goebel and his ensemble, Musica Antiqua Köln; the vivid results of his research can be heard in four beautifully produced recordings brought out on the Archiv label between 1993 and 1996. Although these recordings represent only a tiny fraction of the surviving manuscripts in the Saxon State Library, they offer a rich sampling of the immense musical wealth of the Electoral chapel and court.
The Saxon electors of the first half of the eighteenth-century—August the Strong (ruled from 1694 to 1733) and his son, August II (ruled 1733-1763)—had prodigious appetites for sensual pleasure and the means to indulge them. Favorite pursuits included not only food and women—August the Strong tallied up 354 illegitimate children—but music as well. The Saxon court orchestra was arguably the finest in Europe, with an international cast held up as a model of ensemble accomplishment by no less demanding a judge than J.S. Bach. He admired many of the leading figures of the Dresden musical establishment and counted several of them as his friends.
Musica Antiqua Köln’s tour of the Saxon capital’s musical heritage begins at the Moritzburg, August the Strong’s hunting lodge, which, because of its distance from the city, escaped destruction in World War II and can still be visited. The main dining room at Moritzburg is a high hall with dozens of stags’ heads. The trophies peer down at the banquet table. It was here that many of the concertos of Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729), August the Strong’s music director (Kapellmeister), were performed as music for table, soothing the Elector’s ears after a long day game beating and shotgun blasting, though August also had some musicians to accompany him out in the field as well. The heroic horn calls and Arcadian flutes heard in the Dresden Concerti commemorate both the raucous glories of the hunt and the calmer delights of pastoral landscapes when blunderbusses were silent. Love was in the air—along with the scent of gunpowder.
The Concerti “per l’orchestra di Dresda” from Musica Antiqua Köln offers a panorama of Dresden instrumental music members of court orchestra, as well as scores acquired from afar for the Elector’s enjoyment. The offerings include two exuberant suites by Heinichen and an eccentric overture by the temperamental—some said mad—virtuoso Francesco Maria Veracini, personal chamber musician to August the Strong and rival of Vivaldi. (Veracini’s other five overturesare to be found on the third recording in Musica Antiqua Köln’s Dresden series also on Archiv). You will also hear J. J. Quantz’s remarkable concerto for two flutes, a tremendous piece of technical exhibitionism, whose extraordinary demands could have been answered only by Quantz and his teacher, the French virtuoso Pierre Gabriel Buffardin, two of the many famous members imported to the Dresden orchestra.
Any musical tour of Dresden must include a visit to the Court Chapel for the opulent and moving sacred music. In the Saxon heartland of Lutheranism, August the Strong, whose ancestors had harbored the Reformer himself, opportunistically converted to Catholicism in 1697 to be able to become Polish King as well as Saxon Elector. It was a move that disquieted the Lutheran faithful, but also produced a vast quantity of the elaborate music for the Catholic liturgy. In Goebel’s two-disc recording of Heinichen’s Lamentationes/Passionsmusik the emotional range of Heinichen’s passion music, operatic in scope, is given perhaps its most memorable dramatic urgency in the tumultuous tenor aria depicting the earthquake at Christ’s crucifixion. This amounts to Italian opera dubbed with German biblical texts: a feast for the soul and the senses.
But the greatest treasures from the Court Chapel are to be found among the works of a man Bach greatly admired in his later years—Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745), longtime double bassist in the Dresden court, and Electoral church composer. Zelenka produced his most sublime religious music in the last decade of his life, while nursing a long-held grudge against the Elector. Not only had Zelenka been passed over for the coveted position of Kapellmeister (Director of Music), but both Augusts had, in emulation of the famed secrecy of the Sistine Chapel, forbidden Zelenka from publishing his music or sending it to other courts, thus denying him the opportunity to gain a position elsewhere.
Thwarted in his attempts at professional advancement, Zelenka turned his melancholic thoughts to his art, and his Last Masses are a singular triumph over his personal disappointments. Indeed, it is almost an impertinent luxury to be able to listen to his transcendent Missa Dei Filii in the performance, by turns euphoric and brooding, of the Kammerchor Stuttgart and Toronto’s Tafelmusik.
Would it be musicological suicide to claim that Zelenka often matches Bach in the mastery of diverse styles and the ability to synthesize ancient musical traditions (counterpoint and Gregorian Chant) and the latest stylistic impulses (opera), or to suggest that his spirited melodies often appeal more than those of Bach? If name dropping is what it takes to give this great composer his due, I’ll put it this way: Zelenka’s music combines Handel’s vitality and Bach’s erudition, and anticipates the genius of Mozart’s sacred choral works. Zelenka’s masses are perhaps the city’s greatest monuments, untouched by bombs and recreated not in sandstone but in sound.
No tour of Dresden’s music would be complete without a trip the opera: the prestige entertainment of its time. In those days of enlightened despotism there were no pseudo-political debates about state funding of the arts. August was a National Endowment for the Arts unto himself: all seats in the opera house were free, and anyone could sit in the Parterre. More than thirty years ago the renowned conductor of baroque operas (among many other genres), William Christie recorded a performance of Johann Adolf Hasse’s Cleofide, premiered at the Dresden opera house on September 14, 1731, the year in which Hasse returned to his native Germany from Italy and claimed the title of Saxon Kapellmeister, apparently to the chagrin of Zelenka. (This four CD of the opera set was reissued in 2011 on by the Capriccio label.) Bach himself was in the audience for that premiere; he played a concert on the Frauenkirche organ the next day. Listening to the four hours of Cleofide with its seemingly endless string of rousing arias spinning past your ears, it is not hard to understand why Hasse’s gifts for melody made him one of the most famous and richly-rewarded musicians of his time.
When Burney arrived in Dresden the opera house had been out of use for some time. Deploying a favorite military metaphor, Burney writes that he “was extremely curious to see this celebrated scene of actions, where general Hasse, and his well-disciplined troops, had made so many glorious campaigns, and acquired such laurels.” Sadly, the opera house Burney found had become nothing but a memorial to musical heroes and to a city that had been “regarded by the rest of Europe, as the Athens of modern times’ where all the arts, but particularly, those of music, poetry, and painting, were loved and cherished by that prince, with a zeal and munificence, greater than can be found in the brightest period of ancient history.” Bankrupted by war, the music and the other arts fell into neglect. America take note!
Seated in the opera house for Cleofide, Bach would have had a chance to hear another of his friends, the lutenist Silvius Leopold Weis, shine in his solo in an aria from the third act, “Cervo al bosco” (Stag in the woods).
A mini-concerto for lute and horns introduces the singing of the hero, Alexander the Great, depicted in the aria as a stealthy, magnificent animal stalked by his enemies. It was obvious to all in the house that Alexander was a stand-in for August the Strong, who himself must have enjoyed the reference to hunting, assuming he wasn’t disporting himself on the floor of his box with whatever female company he’d brought along when the music failed to hold his wandering attention.
However dramatic and unexpected this aria is, Jakob Lindberg’s performance of Weiss’s solo Sonatas on a gorgeous instrument from the late sixteenth-century demonstrates how the profound intimacy of the lute explored by its greatest eighteenth-century genius draws the listener’s attention more forcefully than lavish court spectacle.
There are those who give voice to a more vicious version of Burney’s sentiment, and claim that Dresden deserved its annihilation in 1945. When the Frauenkirche was reconsecrated in October of 2005, Queen Elizabeth praised the reconstruction as a symbol of reconciliation, but carefully avoided any hint of apology for the crime of destruction. At present, far-right groups in Germany seek to inflate the number of Dresden dead to the 100,000—or more—mark claimed by the Nazis and long insisted on by others. A new book on the fire-bombing from the English journalist Sinclair McKay has come in for criticism for its sensationalism—and the embarrassing fact that the cover photo of the German edition shows the destruction of Danzig, not Dresden. Seen one bombing seen them all. Whatever the wartime city being razed and its inhabitants killed en masse, the center-liberal press resists the rise of German victimhood, even if the Allied aerial bombardment of German civilians—and therefore of Dresden should count as a war crime.
Near the end of Burney’s 1772 account of his visit to Dresden a note of reproach creeps in, as he gropes for an explanation of Dresden’s troubles, suggesting “that some part of the late and present distresses of this country, may have originated in this excessive magnificence.” The current misery could only be punishment for past sins.
If I thought like that for a moment, I could not listen to the music that has survived the city’s destruction. To go on listening would be to reduce pleasure to sadism, beauty to lies.
(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
LOUIS BEDROCK DOES THE MATH
Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by Corona Virus.
Corona Virus in Spain—Cold Facts:
Population of Spain: 46,660,000
Population infected by Corona: (As of 26 March) 56,347
% of population infected: 0.12%—Slightly more than 1/10 of 1%
Deaths—% of population .0089%—Less than 1/100 of 1%
Death—% of infected—7.372%—About one in 14 people who get sick.
(via Louis Bedrock)
BILLIONAIRE NBA OWNERS HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO HELP SUFFERING ARENA WORKERS—NOW
by Dave Zirin
New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is about as exciting and interesting an NBA player as we’ve seen in years. The 19-year-old has stepped up in a crisis, offering to pay all wages for the stadium workers at the Smoothie King Arena where he plays while the NBA season is on hold because of the COVID-19 crisis.
In a post on Instagram, Williamson said,
“…some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center…. these are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them are still recovering from long term challenges created by Katrina, and now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.”
Zion is not the only NBA player who has ponied up some of his own mega-salary to help those most hurt by the stadium closures. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Detroit Pistons’ Blake Griffin have all donated $100,000 to arena workers. The Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry brought together players and management to pay $1 million in order to aid Chase Center employees in the Bay Area.
President Obama gave them a backslap on Twitter, writing, “A shout out to Kevin, Giannis, Zion, Blake, Steph and all the players, owners and organizations who are setting a good example during a challenging time. A reminder that we’re a community, and that each of us has an obligation to look out for each other.”
Let’s unpack that term, “obligation.” What the generosity of individual players really highlights is just how few billionaire NBA owners have stepped up to aid the low-wage workers that make their stadium economies hum. So far, owners of only roughly half the teams have pledged to help.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement: “NBA teams, arena owners and players are working together in partnership to support arena employees impacted by our season hiatus. Within the last day, many have already announced their plans while others are in the process of formulating them.”
They need to move faster. Credit to Mark Cuban of the Mavericks, for leading the way. And credit to Atlanta Hawks franchise owner Tony Ressler, who said,
“We have a pretty clear set of priorities in this kind of remarkable time that we’re living through. Protecting our fans, protecting our employees, and protecting the reputation of our league, all of which is important, but let there be no confusion, that means taking care of all of our employees, our full-time, our part-time.”
This commitment to “taking care of all of our employees, our full-time, our part-time” should be league wide. As Obama said, they have an obligation to do so. This isn’t about feel-good generosity, it’s about right and wrong. When NBA teams get hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to build new stadiums, it is always done with the promise of jobs. These promises are always problematic, since they often, when not unionized, don’t come with a living wage and of course by their nature comprise seasonal, as opposed to year round, work. The coronavirus response has shown just how precarious these workers’ jobs are.
Now is put up or shut up time. The ownership plutocracy must provide paid leave for these workers, because promises made have to be matched by promises kept. One team, my hometown squad the Washington Wizards. and team governor Ted Leonsis will be doing the right thing and funding salaries of arena workers during this crisis. I spoke to one, who said to me, “Paid leave means I can stay home, care for my kids when they’re home from school. That means groceries. That means everything.” It’s unconscionable that half the teams are still dragging their feet. It shouldn’t take a 19-year-old rookie to shame these cosseted billionaires into doing their duty and to make sure everyone can play a role in getting us through this pandemic in one piece.
(Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket).)