Being sent up to the City as a late fill-in reviewer for a concert on Saturday evening, I decided to make a day of it, since up there is also the only place around here that Saving Mr. Banks is playing at the moment, and I wanted to see it that much.
Well, I saw the movie and got to the concert - more on the movie later; here's the concert review - but making a day of it was a mistake.
It's just before Christmas. It was Saturday. The streets were packed. The movie house was perched on the top floor of a gigantic five (or six, if you count the below-ground level) story shopping mall in the middle of downtown. High-rise hell. For dinner, I meandered my way through the crowds and finally managed to get to Tropisueño a couple blocks away, which I'd been meaning to try for some time. The food was good, but neither it nor the decor and atmosphere were really to my taste, and my discomfort was increased by the number of friendly employees who stopped to ask what book I was reading. Probably they were curious because it's unlikely that any customer had ever previously tried to read a book after nightfall in Tropisueño's dimly-lit, tightly-squeezed, heavily-social interior. Although I'm not at ease with such queries from strangers, they were being perfectly genial about it, so I talked with them on the subject, but the fact that the book was a history of the Warren Commission investigation rejoicing in the title A Cruel and Shocking Act didn't increase the festive joy of the conversations.
Then I had to trudge uphill to the church where the concert was being held. 1111 O'Farrell, the address given was. That's at the corner of Franklin St. 1111 O'Farrell turned out to be a locked building, with a sign on the glass door instructing postal deliverers to take mail for that address around to the other side of the building. So I trudged way around to the other side. Also locked. Behind it all was a further complex of buildings evidently also belonging to the church, but it was dark by now and it took some searching before I finally located the actual church, where the people hosting the concert - this is not some lowly ticket-taker, but people actually in charge - didn't feel it was their responsibility to have given better directions or put up signs, or to have clued in the custodian whom I'd futilely asked, nor their fault that the Post Office had given the church a misleading street address. (Actually, I later found, the church building has its own separate street address, which would have given me a much better idea of where I was going.) Besides, they said, next time I'll know where to go. Next time? Am I the last new attendee they ever expect to have?
Although it didn't surprise me - nobody ever takes responsibility for incomplete directions or lack of signs, or has it occur to them that first-timers need to be told where to go - this exchange put me in a bad mood. Fortunately, the music cheered me up immediately. As I wrote in the review, "the 21-member chorus was just fantastically good." Their program largely of Italian Renaissance church music included a few ringers from later periods, and concluded with a semi-encore, as brilliantly performed as everything else, of an old novelty song about the Italian Christmas donkey. It was later suggested to me that I should have written that the chorus kicked ass, but that's not something I would say.