Friday, June 26, 2009

Art, arrogance & a whiter shade of pale

Today, art lovers and those who simply love paintings created by beautiful young ladies, is another from Frances Anne Hopkins. I think I should like to name a daughter Frances Anne, but that occurrence is very doubtful. Oh, well. This one is titled, "Rue St. Dominique Montreal." The date looks to be July 4 (or July 9), 1866. It appears to be a watercolor, with soothing shades of pastel to send the viewer drifting away into the sky. (Sound like a wannabe art critic, do I not? Worse things could happen. Done books, movies and music professionally, why not art?) Note the tracks in the mud on the street. Note the pedestrians and, in the distance, a pair of buggies, and in the far distance, the church spires reaching for the sky. Frances knew what she was doing. Like another of her watercolor paintings, "Ile Dorval," also done in 1866, this is one where I want to close my eyes, to step into and to forever become part of the painting and of Montreal in 1866. Dream on, Fram ....

Sometimes the arrogant thrive ....

A few days ago, I entered into a difference of opinion discussion with an individual regarding what I consider good manners and consideration for other people.

While not directly related to that, one of my "personal rules" is that I will not stand in lines. This began after my departure from the Marine Corps. The "hurry up and wait" doctrine approaches near-religious dogma in the military, and I was done with it forever after, I vowed. I absolutely refuse to stand in a line for more than a few minutes, which, translated, means probably five or, maybe, even ten. When preciseness cannot be a consideration, for instance, such as waiting to be seated in a restaurant, I generally will grant two or three couples ahead of me as worth standing around and waiting to be seated before me. More than that? Adios.

My second rule, which was the topic of the conversation, centered on my devout habit of not being willing to wait for people who are late. Would I be chauvinistic to say that is a difficult rule to apply to a young lady?

When I first was starting out in the world of adult work, I made it a habit to arrive five to ten minutes early for an appointment. Almost invariably, I had to wait those minutes, plus another five or ten, for my appointment to arrive. Frustrating, to me, at the very least. Somewhere along the line, I changed by habit and began arriving five to ten minutes late, ostentatiously to ensure that I would not be kept waiting for anyone.

At some point, I decided that was not appropriate, and began to arrive a minute or two before a given appointment, but to wait no longer than five or ten minutes before I left, had my appointment failed to arrive. As a reporter, this tact worked well. The majority of people being interviewed wish to be interviewed, and do not want to get on the "bad side" of a reporter.

And now, once again, loom machismo and arrogance, in perhaps the strangest event from practicing this "rule." On one occasion, I was to be interviewed for a job as a reporter at a newspaper. When the person who was to interview me failed to appear in ten minutes, I began to depart the building. On the way out, I met a man who assumed I was the job applicant. He introduced himself as the newspaper owner. He said he was surprised the interview was finished so quickly. I told him there had been no interview, and explained by point of view on the matter. After turning several shades of red, the gentleman said he would conduct the interview personally. He told a receptionist to track down "Mr. Make Up A Name," and to tell him to come to his office immediately.

Without going into further needless detail, I will note that I did receive a job offer, that I did accept it and, approximately six months later, that "Mr. Make Up" A Name was demoted to a reporter and I was promoted to his position. Sometimes, displaying a machismo and an arrogant attitude pays off.

Another anthem from long, long ago ....

Without wasting my own time and words (= money), I shall again literally steal words from those brave souls who operate Wikipedia, this time to introduce an anthem that was born in the 1960s and persists to this day. It is, for sure, one of the most beautiful and haunting melodies ever produced, some of the most discussed and mysterious lyrics ever written and, quite simply, a really neat song. This version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale," by the one and only Procol Harum, was recorded two or three years ago in Union Chapel in London.

Whenever I hear this song, I want to pick up my drink, light a cigarette and drift onto the dance floor with the prettiest girl in sight. Oh, baby. Just listen to it, close your eyes for a moment and dance to it in your mind ....

From Wikipedia:

In April 1967, Gary Brooker began working as a singer/songwriter and formed Procol Harum with Keith Reid (poet), Hammond organist Matthew Fisher, guitarist Ray Royer and bassist David Knights. The band name was chosen by its original manager Guy Stevens after a friend's Burmese cat, and has been alleged to be Latin for "beyond these things," however the correct Latin translation of "beyond these things" is Procul His. The band's name actually means, in Latin, "of these far off things" (harum is in the feminine, genitive, plural). However, procul would not be followed by a genitive in Latin. The name of the band is frequently misspelled; often with Procul, Harem, both, or other variations.

At Olympic Studios, with session drummer Bill Eyden, producer Denny Cordell, and sound engineer Keith Grant, the group recorded "A Whiter Shade of Pale." The song was officially released on May 12, 1967. With the sudden success of this single and The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin," their label, Deram Records, became known as a premier progressive rock label.

With a structure reminiscent of Baroque music, a countermelody based on J.S. Bach's cantata no.140 assigned to Fisher's Hammond organ, Brooker's soulful vocals and Reid's mysterious lyrics, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" reached #1 on the British charts and did almost as well in the United States, reaching #5. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic, placing on several polls of the best songs ever.


Magdalena said...

Wow, Fram, you are so manful in this post, mmm... Beautiful painting and my second name is Dominique, so I'm taking it :-) Also one of my favorite songs. I feel abundantly gifted, so I can forgive your chauvinism this time. Have a good day :-) Bye, bye.

Rachael Cassidy said...

Whiter Shade of Pale... wonderful song, timeless.

I also have a thing about being early/late. I think my first marriage ended because the husband was perpetually and predictably late to everything. I am an early arrival as well.
Thru my son's cancer ordeal, however, I was forced to wait wait wait....drove me mad. Most of the experience of a prolonged illness/healing is waiting....

Katy said...

A beautiful picture and a great song, Fram, thank you. My mother - who was a very good pianist - used to play the huge ancient organ for weddings at church. I remember well the week (in the late 70s or early 80s) running up to a wedding that she spent practising "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at home on the piano, often in the wee small hours of the morning as was her way.

On waiting, well, I guess I'd rather not in my personal time. But in work time, these days, I take a very relaxed attitude to it (unlike in the past). I always carry my book, a notebook and a book of puzzles in my handbag: person arriving late to their appointment = reading / writing / puzzle time for me all paid for by the firm. I also never clock off late at the end of the day :-)

TheChicGeek said...

Lovely painting, Fram. I like the muted colors that she uses in her work. The music is beautiful too.
Remember, patience is a virtue and some things are worth waiting for...especially where women are concerned :D
Have a Happy Day!

Fram Actual said...

Beautiful girls with beautiful names should be surrounded by beautiful paintings and hear only beautiful songs, Magdalena Dominique. Now, I learned something new about you today. Thank you.

Yes, my arrogance and my chauvinism are something, are they not? Please, feel free to lecture me when I start getting carried away with either of them. That is the only way I ever will grow up.

Fram Actual said...

There are some times when there is no choice but to wait, and to hope. The ordeal your son went through and the helplessness you must have felt cannot be imagined by anyone who has not experienced them, Rachael. The two of you must be extremely brave and tremendously strong to have survived that period of time, while also continuing to meet the ordinary, day-to-day challenges of life.

More power to you.

Fram Actual said...

Good golly, Ms. Katy. You might have had a rock star for a mother if only you would have pushed her out of the church and onto the stage. I guess being able to listen to practice sessions would be a fringe benefit of having a piano and someone who enjoyed playing it in a home.

The mild mannered shall outlast the impatient, as long as the mild mannered are readers and writers and puzzle players. Much better way to keep the blood pressure under control, too, I would imagine.

Fram Actual said...

A great painting and a great song are a perfect mixture, yes, for sure, Kelly. I love the pair I have today.

I guess there is no way I can argue against your second point regarding patience being a virtue and some things being worth waiting for -- especially where women are concerned.

Therefore, I hereby resolve: I shall begin training my patience to behave itself immediately, at least as far as women are concerned. How is that?

TheChicGeek said...

Very nice, Fram Actual :D

Peggy said...

Fram, your posts always get me thinking and offer a treat for my eyes, ears and brain...

Your song selection today throws my mind back to the late 60s and how wonderful it was to be a young teen at that time.

As for your machismo and arrogance, I think it suits you. I always had a thing for a guy with an edge. Glad to hear you encourage us, your entourage, to call you out on it.

I think that enforcing this personal "rule" rigidly without considering context or circumstance, could be considered the height of arrogance and almost as bad as someone with the the "hurry up and wait" mentality. Having said that I find this arrogance of yours in keeping with the interesting and complex picture I have of you in my mind and not the least bit off putting. I might not feel that way though, if it were me you abandoned having been kept waiting 10 minutes.

I like to be punctual and I consider it bad form to be kept waiting. The culture of the society one is in or the crowd one hangs with does make a difference though. Where I am working at the moment, it is quite acceptable to be late to meetings, since none of us are co-located but instead are in several buildings 5-15 walking minutes and elevator rides away from meeting participants. Most days consist of 3-5 meetings sometimes back to back - so there is no way people can always be on time. We make do. The meetings start when the main participants arrive and people wander in and out of the meeting as required. (If the next meeting is really important you might need to leave the earlier one before it ends) Some bring work to fill in time, others use it to cover off other stuff. I have learned to be patient and tolerant of this corporate culture. Also, I bill by the hour and so it doesn't cause me a financial loss.

I find it very interesting that you would abandon an interview when kept waiting. Somehow, this is also in keeping with my mental picture of you principled even if adhering to these principles will cause you a negative outcome. :-p I don't know I would abandon an interview if kept waiting... it may have been an unavoidable circumstance and I would be the one at a loss in abandoning it. In your case it turned out well (you must have been meant to have that job)- however for most of us it would have been just a potential opportunity lost.

As I was reading your post I recalled leaving a first date waiting in a restaurant for an hour - I had a car accident on the way to the restaurant. This guy had driven 3 hours to meet me, I was very excited to be able to meet him in person at last, so this was not good. As I recall there was some issue with phone numbers and I was not able to call, or at least right away. We did get in touch but maybe 45 minutes after he arrived at the restaurant.

We did eventually did meet that day, but a few hours later. Despite this bad start, we had quite the fling and are good friends today still. I am glad he didn't abandon me after a 10 minute wait. :)

Fram Actual said...

Aye, aye, Kelly.

Fram Actual said...

Many of these things, I have written about in the past, too, Peggy, and all the portions make up the whole. This post was just one more portion.

Among other factors I previously have noted is that I am not proud of arrogance rising to the surface on occasion, that I try to keep a lid on it, but that it is present in me so I will not pretend otherwise. One young lady was astute enough to figure out that it first became an actual force within me as a survival mechanism, something I had not realized until she pointed it out.

As to not standing in lines or not waiting for people who are late, I do try to accommodate young ladies, but at some point along the way, I might say enough is enough.

In terms of losing out at times, I generally am an easy come, easy go guy. I have a tendency to always be on the move anyway, do not hesitate to jump careers for the experience of doing something new and different, am goal driven rather than career driven, and am not afraid to work two or three jobs or to take a high-risk, high-pay job if money is required in a relatively short period of time.

In closing, I am glad your date did not abandon you after a ten-minute wait, either. Lasting friendships do not come easily.

A Cuban In London said...

Ah, I had already forgot that sometimes you write your posts in 'threes' or indulge yourself in a literary threesome.

At first I thought the painting was of San Francisco, so thanks for the explanation. I love thenatural feel of it, the vastness and the blurring of the figures (the buggies) in the distance. Yes, yo could be an art critic, sir.

Lateness, I can't stand it. And I take it to extremes. Well, I am a Scorpio, what do you expect? Keep me waiting for more than five minutes on a date and you're history honey? And did I tell youthat there are more gals than blokes on earth? You do the maths. For job interviews, always the first one. The only time I have been unemployed was a year ago to the day and it was painful. So, promptness is one of my better traits, I think.

And that song, that song. It sends chills up my spine everytime I hear it. It never ages and it never will. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Yes, indulge myself. Perfect words to use, CiL, at least in reference to this blog.

You are right about the painting. A first impression very well might be that it is of San Francisco, and Frances was a very skilled painter. I am an art critic, no doubt, but there is substantial doubt anyone would ever pay me to do it.

Promptness is an excellent trait to possess, so congratulations to the both of us on that score.

The song is dancing music to me, CiL. Not chair dancing in this case, but looking into the eyes and drifting off in time and space dancing.

Take care, London man ....

Polly said...

Wow, that is a nice long read for Monday morning - thank you, very interesting.

If I ever have a daughter I will call her Frances Anne, it's a lovely name.

It's hard to believe this is Montreal, how things can change in 150 years (not such a long time really, but I'm a historian so my sense of time is skewed)

And I hate being late, and hate it when others are late. My tolerance for lateness is zero!

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, for the thank you, Polly.

So, you are among the ranks of the on-timers league, and proud of it. Good deal.

I was not aware that your field was history. One of my two undergraduate majors was history, and I have been involved in it from many directions my entire life. To paraphrase Will Durant, answers to all of life's questions are to be found through the study of history.

I am constantly moving around in the past, so you never know where you might run into me.

Something special ....