The Church Of Beethoven.
The next day, our tour guides, Linda and Jim, took us back to Santa Fe where we meandered up the Canyon Road art district. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the way of art in its countless galleries, you may as well give up. From there, we had lunch at the the historic La Fonda hotel, right on the central plaza. Nothing changed my opinion that it’s tough to get bad Mexican food in New Mexico.
Back To The Four Kachinas.
On out way out of town, we drove by the Four Kachinas, the B&B I’d stayed a couple of nights before. Something we did a few days later in Albuquerque turned my thoughts back there.
The cook responsible for the second “B” was a young woman who lived in a trailer home outside of town. After the other guests had left, I visited with her as she cleaned up.
She’s studying to be nurse at night school. When she learned I was from Denver, she asked, “Have you ever heard of the Victory Chapel in Lakewood?”
An impressive woman. Working at a B&B that caters to the affluent, scraping by in a trailer park, going to night school, and yet willing to go out on a limb for her Lord.
“No,” I answered, “can’t say that I have. How do you know about that church?”
“It’s the home church for the one I go to here,” she replied. “And I’m going to Denver this summer for a weekend convention there.”
“Well,” I said, “hope it goes well. My wife and I attend a Greenwood Community Church in Denver.”
The Chattering Classes.
Sunday morning, back in Albuquerque, the four of us went to Chatter. Not our first rodeo there with Jim and Linda; it’s an intimate space in the warehouse district where chamber music-among other things-are performed.
Formerly known as the Church of Beethoven, I have to confess to a frisson of Schadenfreude when I learned that the name change was due to a trade mark dispute with the estate of the deceased founder, Felix Wurman and his collaborator, David Felberg.
While, by the way, there is some dispute about Beethoven’s religious beliefs, it is generally agreed that he never attended church. His friend, Haydn, thought he was an atheist.
Call me hopelessly old fashioned, but why not go to a real church on Sunday mornings? Don’t get me wrong. I like classical music as much as the next guy. And the musicians excelled on works by Mendelssohn and Schumann.
However, I found that a couple other offerings on the morning’s program were about as soothing as ragged nails being dragged across a chalkboard. The “Spoken Word,” by Megan Baldridge, featured a mercifully brief anti-Trump diatribe from her cleverly titled, UNpresidented, collection of poetry. The audience was suitably appreciative.
And then there was the “Celebration of Silence: Two Minutes.” It was so easy to imagine this exercise morphing into an Orwellian “Two Minutes Hate” if the fellow up front had suggested that we focus our thoughts on the President.
Classical Music Awash In An Sea Of Fracked Oil.
At the bottom right of the program there was a little box that read, “Chatter is grateful for the support of New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.”
“Aha!” I thought, “just like cultural events in Denver, this outfit is probably supported by a regressive sales tax to subsidize the elite pleasures of the old and affluent.” Sure enough, as I walked out I conducted an unscientific survey and counted no more than about 20 in the crowd of 200-300 who appeared to be under the age of 35. The rest, like me, were old codgers.
Wrong again-at least about the sales tax. Although I checked the NMA website when I got home, it only said that the state devotes “1%” to support public art. But one percent of what? It didn’t say.
So I called.
The lady who took my call was pleasant and helpful. “I went to Chatter recently,” I said, “and saw that you provide some of its support. I looked on your website, but couldn’t figure out where that money comes from. Is it a sales tax or something else?”
She reported that the legislature set the budget each year. “And,” she continued, “a lot of that comes from oil and gas revenues.”
Indeed. New Mexico recently passed Oklahoma and California to become the third largest oil producer in the country. Being pumped from the Permian basin just across the border from Texas, virtually all of that oil is coming from fracked wells.
Maybe at the next Chatter, the leader of the “Celebration of Silence: Two Minutes” can suggest that the crowd send happy thoughts the way of the oil business.
What’s In A Name?
According to an Albuquerque newspaper, the organization’s founder, Wurman, intended the name, The Church of Beethoven, to be “ironic.”
Now, I know that “ironic” can be one of those slippery words with multiple definitions. But according to Google, some synonyms include “sarcastic, sardonic, cynical, mocking, satirical, caustic, wry.” And context is telling.
And could the context make it any more plain what was intended by the original name? The Church of Beethoven. On Sunday morning. This, in other words, is where the smart set is on Sunday mornings.
And to what end? To demonstrate that these “church” goers aren’t among the booboisie squandering their Sunday mornings at those oh-so–retrograde real churches.
Like, for example, the Victory Temple. The church the young woman at the Four Kachinas attends. And who, scraping by in a trailer park, is going to night school. And is, no doubt, a card carrying member of that booboisie.
I wonder what those two Jewish founders of the Church of Beethoven would think of a Friday musical soiree, at sundown, called the Shabbat of Wagner? The irony would probably have them in stitches.
Happy Trails To You.
I could probably go on. But, I fear, I’ve already kicked over too many hornets’ nests.
So, until we meet again.