I write this during Ramadan, the Islamic month of spiritual fasting, a practice I have followed since my early teenage years. For many of my friends, it’s a practice outside of their understanding and a source of confusion for those who know me more casually through my work. “I didn’t know you were religious”, they tell me, often with a tone of skepticism and perhaps caution. I get it, there is a lot of baggage with the idea of religiosity. To be religious is to potentially believe in dozens of totally irrational things; to adhere to beliefs handed down through generations with blind faith, to maybe even trust without questioning the veracity of these beliefs regardless of contemporary knowledge and insight. In the media, we typically see religious individuals are capable of incomprehensible acts of irrationality from bombing abortion clinics, to sacrificing animals, and flying airplanes into buildings — all in the name of their faith.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m not a regular concert goer. It’s partly because I’ve come to understand and enjoy the concert experience from the stage rather than the audience, and also that I’ve become so particular about my listening experiences I don’t want to be trapped at a concert that I’m not enjoying. But when I do make it out to a concert, it ofte feels like a religious experience. The concert hall is my sacred space, music is my sacred text, and the audience around me are my fellow congregants. It’s an involved, sometimes exhausting, and deeply meaningful ordeal, and in the last few weeks of being ordered to stay-at-home, I’ve come to miss it a great deal.
There is a man sleeping on an abandoned couch across the street from my house. I walk by him as he sleeps, an older man with grey hair and beard, sleeping in a fetal position, knees drawn to his chest, hands between his knees for comfort or warmth or both. As I walk by I turn to my wife and ask, “Do we have an extra blanket we can give that man?” Perhaps we could give one to him when we finish with our walk. She thinks we did in our blanket closet, filled with an assortment of comforters.
Not a melting pot, nor a mosaic, America is a Pizza.
The exotic toppings give it the flavor, the zing and pizazz. Some stick with one (pepperoni forever, though it’s forbidden to many), or we mix and match according to our preference. Salty and sweet, spicy and sour, strictly vegetarian for some, everything but the kitchen sink for others. My family are the feta and olives (we are still unclear if they belong on a pizza or not) my wife’s family the ham and pineapple (natural enough to seem like one singular topping to some, unacceptable to others). The toppings may touch and overlap, but each remains distinct for the others. We do not mistake ham for olive, or onion for pineapple.
A number of years ago there was a movement on twitter to create transparency in the work force around salaries to help combat the gender pay gap, especially in the tech industry. I noticed such transparency was lacking among musicians as well, especially when it comes to commissioning rates for composers. Fees for performing gigs can vary wildly, and many wonder if they are being offered a ‘fair’ amount of their time and talent