Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bicycling in my neighborhood at dusk today, I waved hello to my librarian and stopped and chatted with the produce man and the former meat counter man at my grocery.

I don't know any of these people's names.

I love my neighborhood.

* * *

The sweetest montage I ever heard was in an NPR piece when Mr. Rogers died. A reporter collected recordings of people singing his theme song, and edited a complete performance from his interviewees, each of them singing one line apiece, in correct order. I heard old people, young people, white people, black people -- everybody loved Mr. Rogers.

And it's a nice song! He was a music major in college, and the chords are jazzy.

I used to sing the song to my son when he was a baby -- it was a diaper-changing song. "I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you." Tender song.

* * *

I dissed NPR recently, in limericks, in the comments thread of a post by Kyle Gann. Then I felt bad for dissing NPR -- and not just because they played an excerpt from a song of mine in a story once (and posted the whole song on the web). (The song is satirical, so my dismissive formulation "aesthetic mock tale" isn't necessarily dissing myself -- necessarily.)

I don't like most of NPR's news hosts -- the chronic ho-hum tones of their voices are the sonic equivalents of the dictionary-picture definition of "liberal elite." But they do have some good stories and shows. I don't expect aesthetic adventurousness from them.

* * *

My song, which NPR posted in November 2005, is a setting of an excerpt from a letter Scooter Libby sent to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, urging her to take the necessary steps to win her release from jail. (Alex Ross suggested it as a possible song text.) Now Libby has been sentenced to 30 months. He deserves it -- at least.

* * *

And, you know, even if I bumped into Libby regularly at my neighborhood grocery store or library, I'd still think he needs to go to prison. But then, I have never wanted to have a neighbor just like him. I feel bad, thinking Mr. Rogers might disapprove. But some of my neighbors, I don't like them just the way they are.

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