Tuesday, February 06, 2007


One Friday evening in the early 1970s I was chatting with colleagues over coffee in the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) student union and we noticed people passing through who were dressed to the nines. Oh, Van Cliburn is playing tonight.

Van Cliburn was a classical pianist whose fame was more political than artistic. His became a household name at the height of the cold war in the 1950s when he won an amateur piano competition in Moscow.

So he was doing a one-nighter in Lincoln, Nebraska (pop 150,000), state capitol and home of the land-grant university.

For the rest of the evening, in various locations around town, when we saw people dressed up we knew they were going to or coming from the Van Cliburn recital. We knew this because there was nothing else going on in Lincoln that evening for which people would dress up.

The hickness of a town can be measured by what’s news, or what’s a big deal. Van Cliburn came to Lincoln and everybody in town knew it. He may have played here in San Francisco many times and I never noticed. I don’t think he’s considered top-tier.

So San Francisco showed some of it’s own hickness this week by going ga-ga over a visit by the QEII.

I would have expected protests and mockery of the wealth-disparity the QEII glorifies. Where was the Cacophony Society? Instead it was heyday for the local crypto-monarchists.

Even one of SF’s snarliest pundits went soft. Just the pictures, of Mr Brown, Angela Alioto, and the QEII in the bg made my heart sink.

Oooo! Big boat!!

Oooo! Rich people!!


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1 comment:

sfmike said...

Bravo. There was a rumor that the boat would be greeted by a sea of people mooning the boat and its lovely passengers, but San Francisco (the entire Bay Area), as you noted, went gaga with hickdom.