THE STORY OF MARIE FABI AND A CAMEL-COLORED COTTON CREW NECK SWEATER
A Novel in Twenty Minutes or Less (It starts here)
Chapter 12: To me fair friend . . .
@cgwarex @ideflex @ellowrites @kseniaanske @ddailey @crumbled @annemio
I once rode on the Metro with Andres Galarraga. He got on at the Atwater Station and sat right across from me. I was on my way to work. Andres was on his way to Olympic Stadium because there was a game that night and that means it must have been September. He was not wearing socks. I pretended I did not recognize him. I think he appreciated that. No, I do not know why he was taking the metro to the ballpark, except his uniform would have been there. My guess at the time was that he lived in Westmount Square - he could have afforded it for what they were paying him. This would have been before my classmate at Yale, with the connivance of Bud Selig and MLB, absconded with the team’s assets. They even took the hard drives out of the computers. This more or less put an end to my emotional commitment to major league baseball, and although I do watch the occasional game I have lost any real interest in the sport, which is sometimes annoying because my old friends, not to mention cousin Leon, still expect me to know something about this or that player or how the Red Sox are doing, and I can’t very well just tell them to fuck off. Sooner or later somebody - could be Cousin Leon or one of the old friends - will tell me the Expos moved because the fans didn’t support them. The real story is that the Expos moved because Lucien Bouchard refused to give a lot of money to Jeff Loria so he could build a downtown baseball stadium, thus enabling him to make a lot more money than what he already had. Loria couldn’t afford to build the stadium himself; he was already leveraged to the max. I didn't agree with Bouchard about many things, but I agreed with him on that one. But I digress. Unusual to digress before you even get started telling the story you’re planning to tell, but just get over it.
Andres Galarraga is not the only famous person I ever saw on the Metro. One day Kent Nagano got on the train with me at the Atwater Station - no doubt on his way to Place des Arts - and he sat right across from me. He probably lived in Westmount Square which after all was designed by Mies van der Rohe, so it would be a good place to live if you are the conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, not to mention you could get to work in about ten minutes without even wearing a winter coat even on the coldest day of the year, and we have a lot of those. We also have Place des Arts, which is a lot better thing for a city to have than a giant money vacuum in the shape of a baseball stadium, although I wouldn’t mind having the stadium as well as long as the rich person who makes the money is the one who pays for it.
One of the things I like about Kent Nagano is when he said “creativity doesn’t cost anything.” I heard him say this at Place des Arts the other night where he was being interviewed before the concert, which was part of a series called Le 7e Art et Brahms. If you are wondering what on earth the seventh art would be, it's cinema. The interview was in French. Nagano’s French was entirely adequate, but he did say “challenge” when the word he should have used would be “défi.” Nobody minded. Funny to think about creativity doesn’t cost anything when you’re sitting in La Maison Symponique looking at your ticket, which somewhat indiscreetly tells you how much your son paid for it, but at the same time you appreciate his generosity even if you’re not quite sure you deserve it.
It is proverbial that if you bring a pistol on stage in the first act, then someone has to fire it by the third act. We will understand the relevance of this observation shortly. Thursday night’s concert was scheduled for 8:00 PM, with a pre-concert interview at 7:00. The doors were opened at 6:40 and a small crowd filed in - and I mean small only relative to the size of the hall and the eventual size of the audience. The first thing that caught my eye was a neat row of double basses lined up - too heavy to carry in and out I guess - and then at the edge of my peripheral vision I noticed something else, if you can call awareness of something as big and as improbable as what was standing there “noticing.” It was an object shaped like a gargantuan bass, towering over everything, clearly much too big for anybody human-sized to play it, so I turned and asked Doris if she thought it was really a musical instrument or some kind of jokey post-modern sculpture. And just about the time I was asking this question a guy walked out dressed in white tie and tails who began tuning this thing. His name is Eric Chappell. So yes - OMG - it was an actual musical instrument, roughly 3.5 meters high and about 130 kg.
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra is the only Orchestra in the world to possess an octobasse, the other six are all in museums, and therefore they have the only octobasse player in the world, so I was sort of gaga with anticipation because I wanted to see him fire the pistol or at least play on the octobasse because how could you have something so absolutely crazy sitting there in plain sight and not have somebody actually play it? I had to wait for the third act. The concert started off with a performance of a Mozart Violin Concerto featuring a thirty-year old German violinist named Veronika Eberle. The thing I liked about Veronika - there was a lot to like actually - was the way she would bob her head and even shuffle her feet in time to the music while the orchestra played and she was waiting for her next solo. Since I'm often following the rhythm that way myself - hoping to be discrete enough so nobody notices - I felt validated. Then there was the piece for orchestra and bass clarinet composed as “music for cinema.” Norman McLaren's Pas de Deux was the screening chosen from the National Film Board archives, with Vincent Warren and a ballerina whose name I forgot. Fortunately My Mysterious Friend remembers - her name is Margaret Mercier. The ballerina is Margaret Mercier. I'm not telling you the name of My Mysterious Friend, but she did know Vincent Warren from when she was a little girl dancing in the corps de ballet in The Nutcracker. Well, finally, after the intermission, the guy came out and he did play the octobasse with the rest of the orchestra doing Brahms Symphony no. 1 in Cm, a.k.a. “Beethoven’s Tenth.” It can remind you of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony which is also in Cm.
On our way home from Place des Arts on Thursday evening we changed at Lionel Groulx. There was a small group of kids sitting there - a young woman wearing a stylish gray ball-cap with the Winnipeg Jets logo and three or four boys all wearing Montreal Canadiens jerseys. They probably got on at Lucien L’Allier, unless it was at Bonaventure. So the boys stand up to give us their seats and Mme. Doris asks “how did the game turn out.” Big smiles: “We won 5 -2. It was a great game.” We got the complete game summary, including the predictable observations about Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s irresistible smile and the kids were all excited, except for the young woman, still seated, still wearing her Winnipeg Jets cap. She looked a little sad, so I turned to her and I said “nice hat!” by way of consolation. The guys were all grinning and she said “I’m also wearing a Canadien’s jersey” and she unzipped her jacket to show me.
I suppose if you start off riding downtown on the Metro with Kent Nagano and Andres Galarraga it makes pretty good sense to go back home riding on the Metro with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, or anyway somebody who just saw him playing at the Bell Centre. It was cold walking home from the 105 bus stop, but not as cold as walking to the Mont Royal Station on Friday night after that concert at Le Conservatoire. We probably should have stayed home. The sidewalks were pretty slippery, there was a strong wind out of the North, but the tickets were free and I was glad I didn’t miss the concert. Trio Hochelaga were playing Gabriel Fauré, Piano Quartet # 1 in Cm. It was the same piece they played the night Marie Fabi played the slow movement for my birthday. Marie Fabi wasn’t there of course, and I cannot find out where she is these days, except I will never hear that piece without seeing her lovely face smiling at me again.
. . . such seems your beauty still.