In John Gardner’s seminal how-to-guide On Becoming a Novelist (a professor once told me all books about writing books suck….except for this one), he addresses that nasty habit of writers and other general creative types hating on each other’s work.
This is okay, even cool, Gardner says. Just means you have standards.
Naturally, this was the only thing I’ve learned from this book (that and don’t write like Studs Terkel and don’t make your cigarette ash trays “overflowing” with ashes. Got it.). So, as I was saying, this credence to hate on the creative products of others has been immensely freeing.
Which brings me to this morning (Easter Sunday). What in the hell did I witness? I haven’t been a faithful attendant this Lent. But, you know, a wayfaring Catholic has got a fucking right to some professionalism when he shows up for Easter Sunday mass, huh? The Bishop. Some spraying of water. Maybe a shout-out to the poor. A couple old gezers in gurneys who’ve come for the last time, maybe? It’s a spectacle. And you expect the A-game for music.
But, that’s not what we had. Instead it was kids. Kids in the choir. Kids hanging off the organ. Cute kids. Fat kids in tuxedos. One obnoxious somabitch with too-large glasses on tambourine. Blond girls with shiny black shoes and pigtails singing a million miles off key. Snot-nosed kids touching themselves nervously with incurable lisps carrying out the “s” on “transubstantiation” or whatever they were singing for way too long. Thankfully I was in back. So the grievances were merely sonic in nature.
But still. It was miserable.
And then I got thinking: you know, enough with the children’s choirs already. I don’t think you should have to put up with children’s choirs if you’re not directly-related to the child singing and/or working in a middle school. I mean we were served with no less than 5 or 6 hymnals about the “risen Lord” and “halleluah” and “Jesus be sh-sh-sh-shakin” delivered in that atonal, collective shriek kids consistently come through on so well whether it be a choral arrangement or the reaction to an exploding cake detonated by a clown at a birthday party.
For starters, children’s choirs have a very limited appeal. Not to mention, they’re a complete travesty, aesthetically. And I don’t think I need to apologize for this. It’s not like I dislike kids. Please. That’s been done before. Kids are fine for comedic relief and presidential speeches on education funding. And if you have ‘em, I get it. It’s like how I used to think about Netflix before I started my account. But maybe a song, or two if the flash didn’t work on your camera the first time around, and then cart ‘em off stage.
But not a complete billing! Children’s choirs are oppressive. Like a manifestation of home videos that really should be saved for the inner-family circle thrust upon the rest of us innocent, childless bystanders.
So, anyway, I started banging my head against the wall of our church (I was way in back, on a folding chair). It was all I could do. And of course this gained snotty looks from people around me. So I started texting, just to piss them off more. Look. It wasn’t the finest moment as a Catholic. But I want some real ball-busting vocalists when I show up to see a dead guy come back to life. That’s a BIG DEAL. It’s not Ordinary Time Slough-Off week. This is like what it’s all about! So don’t farm out the entertainment to a group of singers who in a matter of hours will be passed out with chocolate on faces/grass stains on knees.
Like Gardner says, I have standards. And the rendition of “How Great Thou Art” rendered by little Johnny and his gang of 45 tone-deaf rugrats just isn’t cutting it.
Photo courtesy BMBCPhotos