Monday, August 8
Ain't Gonna Play Sun City
Indianapolis Star photo/ Matt Kryger
DAVID Hyde Pierce joins Carmel Center for the Performing Arts Artistic Director Michael Feinstein, above, in opening The Tarkington, the intimate 500 seater which takes its place in a princely Public/ "Private" diadem with the Carmel Palladium at its center. Feinstein is pulling down a reported half-mil a year to lure other big names to the place, so that first-night royalty, your Real Estate Barons, your Furniture Kings, can tell friends and family they seen that guy from teevee.
And, okay, people in Carmel don't talk like that. Carmel's the other side of the Marion/Hamilton county line from Indianapolis, and owes its twenty-year metamorphosis from sleepy farming/antiques whistle stop to Richest City in Indiana to the completion of the interstate highways, specifically the Federally-funded I-465 ring it borders, and well ahead of schedule in the 60s, thank you, combined with the subsequent influx of money and white people escaping public schools the government put Negroes in, and a rock-solid one-party system.
Carmel became an extension of Indianapolis' "cultured" side of town, the North, in the late 70s to the 80s, a time when people with money stopped respecting wit and started respecting real estate holdings. And so it came to pass the City of Nouveaux and Racists decided to build itself a big culture center, and start drawing off the sort of midsteam-to-slightly-inside popular music/ dance troop/ Broadway road show performer who had only five or six alternative showcases available in Indianapolis. And it gave half a mil (reported) to Michael Feinstein, who, and this is not exactly my forte, not that anything really is, does not appear to me to be someone who'd have been filling 500 seaters in Central Indiana on a regular basis without this relationship. I don't recall anyone ever telling me they were headed out to the big Feinstein show at Clowes, or the Circle, or the IRT, or the State Fair. Hey, can-can a son gout, whatever. I don't particularly have any use for Feinstein's crooning, or drenching myself of an evening in a double-dark chocolate truffle of The Great American Song Book. I'm glad someone works to preserve the greatness of Gershwin, Porter, Arlen, Kern, and Carmichael (that's two Hoosiers, in case you lost count); I'd just rather hear them sung by Fred Astaire. Or Lotte Lenya. Let alone someone who could sing.
Of course one thing that will bother me forever is the whole "Let's pretend those dreadful 50s and 60s did not exist, unless it's time for some campy good fun" ambience; so maybe Feinstein blasts Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, and Lowell George when he's home, but there's just no way he could sell it to the swells. But they, on the other hand, are just appropriating the wit of Ira Gershwin and Dorothy Fields, and Betty Comden, and maybe a little Fats Waller some night if they're feeling naughty; they sure ain't votin' for Sophistication. And when Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Smokey Robinson, and Holland/Dozier/ Holland make the cut, I'll let you know. Until that time this isn't a movement, it's a cultural tic from the same people who brought you Disco. And Nile Rodgers can send me all the unkind emails he wants.
Without question the real issue here is just that Hamilton County, Indiana, is the poster-child for solid Republican rule/ pro-bidness, anti-tax rhetoric division, while taxpayers are still on the hook for anything their elected representatives fancy, though it won't be public housing or low-cost medical insurance. But, y'know I look at that picture and see two accomplished professionals whose marriages Indiana does not recognize, by order of the party that Hamilton county bankrolls. This is between them, their consciences, and their accountants. I'm sure there are bigger and more fitting windows I could be breaking elsewhere, myself. But just for the record, I'll be skipping the Spamalot touring company, thanks anyway.
Labels: The Republican Jobs Program