What the hell is this?

I Can't Stand [Meeting] You is a collection of all the ridiculous things I've written to and about drummer and composer Stewart Copeland.

I actually did meet him for about five crazy seconds in 2007, again for a few exciting moments in August 2009, and my most recent (and most thrilling!) encounter took place in October 2009, where I proved myself capable of being, yet again, a total dork in the man's presence.

I can't believe what I get up to. And neither should you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dear Stewart, (Edited)

Hey, there, Stewart,

So this weekend was a nice long one (I had Friday and Monday off), though I didn't really do anything. I was at the theater Saturday and Sunday, which you would know if you've been reading these letters. Or had gone there yourself? Actually, seeing you this weekend would've been extra-awesome: I was in a bit of a bad mood for some reason (not really just "some" reason, but I'll stay silent on that. For now), and your blond head would've been just the thing to cheer me up.

Yesterday I got together with my friend Patty and one of her former flute students, a guy about my age who I've known since we were both in high school. We didn't go to the same high school: he went to a fancy magnate school with a terrific music program, and I went to the local high school with a lame music program. It all evens out, though, as we're both pretty good flutists. We also got together with another friend, Judy, and sight-read some quartets, including a couple movements of the "Holberg Suite," by Grieg, which I've never played before and rather liked. It was a very nice afternoon spent in Patty's warm living room. Getting there was another story, however.

Monday morning it started raining like crazy over here. I'm not sure if you're in town or still live here or what (and why should I be sure, or even unsure? Your whereabouts are really none of my business), but I am sure you remember what driving in LA in the rain is like. When I left home (a tad late, I guess I should add), it wasn't too bad - gray, and windy. Patrick predicted that it was going to get uglier outside, and he wasn't kidding. About halfway to Culver City, or at about the city of Carson, the rain started coming down in buckets.

Luckily, I was prepared (and, I was fortunate enough to have a sweet little red Mini in front of me almost all the way to Culver City. Without that red car to follow, the reasonable but not too slow pace they set, I would've been literally swamped. There were portions of the freeway that I didn't even recognize in all that rain, and I drive that exact route probably 15-20 times a month), and I had something to think about and to listen to.

In December, the flute choir played our annual holiday concert for the residents of Lamp Community, in downtown LA (this is the facility made famous by Steve Lopez and his stories in the Los Angeles Times about street musician Nathaniel Anthony Ayers). We've been playing there for at least 10 holiday seasons. They seem to enjoy it. We always end each concert with a holiday sing-a-long section, and Patty, our leader, takes requests, which is kind of funny, because many times the songs they request, while holiday songs, are unfortunately not in our repertoire (we need, for example, a flute choir arrangement that can also be sung, of "Up On the Housetop," or also, maybe, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"). They're always satisfied, however, with whatever we can perform for them, and a lot of the audience will actually sing along, which is fun for everyone. "Silent Night" is gorgeous, and hopeful. We've also sometimes had people willing to take a solo, and man, if that doesn't touch you, you need a new heart.

This year we got a more unusual request than "The 12 Days of Christmas," and I've been thinking about it ever since. One guy, who had been engaging with Patty throughout the whole sing-a-long portion of the concert, stood up and asked if we knew any music by... the band Metallica.

I know Metallica has done a lot of work with orchestras, but as far as I know, nobody has arranged anything by them for flute choir. This request got me to thinking.

I'm not a huge Metallica fan. I like some metal (Corrosion of Conformity, the Melvins), but Metallica, in general, has never really interested me. I think they're kind of whiny and full of themselves (we saw that movie they made where they're all in therapy, and it's pretty boring and yet strangely, funny); Lars Ulrich is not my type of drummer at all, and sometimes, when I've seen live videos of them, I wonder if that guy can even keep a steady beatBut, he's in Metallica, and I'm not, so whatever. (Interesting side note: Robert Trujillo went to my high school! It was before my time, and I have no idea if he was a product of the lame music program I referenced earlier. Oh, it wasn't that it was all that lame, exactly, we had a ton of great musicians, but the opportunites for a little kid flutist like me were few. I needed more outside involvement than I got. Maybe was lame. And now I am whiny and full of myself, so I'll shut up now.) But ever since the guy made that request, I've been listening to them. I downloaded a couple of their albums ("And Justice For All," and the black album), and some of it is totally listenable and fun (and some of it has the worst lyrics known to man). And now I'm wondering which song we should have arranged for flute choir, and what that would involve, exactly, and if I possess the skill and patience to do it myself (the answer to this question is "no").

All the way to Culver City yesterday, I listened to "Nothing Else Matters." Sure, it's one of their most popular songs, and kind of a cliche by now, but I like it because it has a pretty melody, minimal drums, and a killer (if surprisingly short) guitar solo. Also, it's sooo dramatic.

Then, because I guess listening to Metallica brings out the megalomaniac in me, I started thinking how amazingly theatrical a solo it could be. It couldn't be a true solo, because then it would be boring, but maybe done in a music minus one way, and filmed, like those old Paul McCartney videos, where the flutist (let's face it: me) is shown recording all the accompanying parts, and plays the interesting parts live, including the bass drum line! Well. Sure it was raining cats and dogs, but my little brain was on a stage somewhere, playing "Nothing Else Matters" with just the right combination of humor, irony, and technical skill that people everywhere would be brought to their motherfucking feet by the brilliance of the performance.

Really, I'm lucky traffic was so light yesterday, because without that little red Mini, I don't know that I noticed anything else at all going on around me on the freeway.

(I've mentioned this before, but I think a Stewart Copeland penned flute choir piece would be awesome.

And I know just the flute choir to perform it.)

Love you,

P.S. I realize that permission from Metallica would probably be necessary for this project, and I started off badly by impugning Lars Ulrich's ability to keep a beat. Hmmm. I may have made a serious tactical error, here, which is why we need some Stewart Copeland original stuff. And hey, a steady beat is overrated. Right, Stewart?

P.P.S. Apparently there is a flute choir out there performing Metallica songs already (I can't access You Tube right now but there's a video of six flutes doing a song by them called "Mama Said." Hmmm. See what I mean? I need you, Stewart. Help keep my idea original. And if you do this work with another flute choir or flutist, while I may not be the best or the most qualified...

(Not a threat, I swear. I would just be very, very, very disappointed.)

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