Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Adventures with El Maestro Buffoono

The doofus rube without a clue (that'd be me) shuffled up to the stage yesterday for a public display of wretched orchestral conducting in front of 4,000 people.

It may have been the most fun I've had while humiliating myself in years. I've done some odd things in my career at The Herald — flown with the Blue Angels and the Canadian Snowbirds, interviewed royalty, sat through a Papal Mass — but this one takes the cake: I was a guest conductor for the Monterey Bay Symphony at its Memorial Day Concert at the Naval Postgraduate School.

It got off to a bad start; someone had stolen my conductor's baton. But I was able to improvise with a pair of chopsticks I happened to have with me.

Fortunately, the orchestra and the folks at the symphony were gracious and indulgent. They were, in fact, very sweet about my public embarrassment.

Many thanks to the symphony, to Ron and to the musicians. And I apologize to music fans, to the Arts Council and to the Naval Postgraduate School for klutzing my way through "Stars and Stripes Forever."

To witness the carnage yourself, see the video produced by Peri Basseri and BigTime Productions at www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRG1HRIX35A


  1. Joe, you have a future...in the newspaper business.

  2. I don't mean to waste a lot of space -- or blow my own horn -- about my train wreck of an appearance on Monday, but the reviews are pouring in. Here's one of my favorites:

    Dear Joe - my wife and I enjoyed your performance yesterday! It inspired me to write the attached poem - but all kidding aside, thank you for putting a smile on many faces during a time when we all can use such touches in our lives.


    Resplendent in his brand new tux
    The conductor took a bow
    Then turned to face the orchestra
    About to show them how

    To play a flawless Sousa march
    But suddenly he halted -
    He turned back to the audience
    And, with all protocol assaulted,

    He looked out very quizzically
    And said, as in a trance
    "I cannot lead this symphony
    As my baton's not in my pants"

    He opened up a backpack
    Pulling scarves that looked quite loud
    And he even pulled two Frisbees out
    And tossed them to the crowd

    At last, he found two chopsticks
    Which might help in time of want
    (I'd almost bet that they were purloined
    From a Chinese restaurant)

    With some duct tape wrapped around them
    He created a baton
    But he still was not quite finished
    So a clown's hat he put on

    Looking like a weird musician
    With a mustache, white as snow
    He turned back to the orchestra
    And whispered "Here we go!"

    While he stood in front and waved his arms
    The orchestra did play
    "The Stars and Stripes Forever"
    In a most heart-pounding way

    I guess I'd give him a B plus
    As he had no fear about him
    But from what I saw and what I heard
    The orchestra played without him

    There's just one comment that I have -
    It refers to his apparel:
    "Clown hat, new tux, and tennis shoes" ---
    It was worthy of Wil Farrell

    A young man in the audience
    Turned to his mom and cried
    "Mom, that guy is wearing tennis shoes,
    Does he not have any pride??"

    His Mom just gently stroked him
    And told him, "Honey, don't you fret -
    He's just a newspaper editor
    And hasn't grown up yet"

    Keep up the good work, Joe.


    Bill Hood

  3. Great editorial in the Pine Cone today!

    I quote "The pressure of working for a dying, exploited newspaper must be getting to the Herald’s editors, who presumably still care about the community where they live."

    There you go Joe, you now know the identity of one of your critics... let's see if you come out swinging or if you crawl back under your rock...

  4. That's right, dumbass. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I admire Paul Miller because when he voices an opinion everyone knows who he is. I'm fair game for him, he's fair game for me and we know who we're dealing with. That's the way gentlemen operate. Cowards wouldn't know that.

    Paul and I exchanged pleasant email yesterday afternoon.

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  6. Are you guys still bitter about the Biasotti thing? I think it's time to maybe see some counseling or something.
    Are you also writing to KSBW and nearly ALL of the other local news outlets for reporting this story??
    I think Jim Vanderswaan once got a speeding ticket or something....i guess KSBW shouldn't be reporting the story either.
    Got off the web and go see a shrink before you go postal about a non-issue.