Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Election Fever!

Elections are less than a week away and I have a funny feeling in my throat.  First I thought it was from the burned hamburger that I forgot on the grill while I was searching for a trombone player in my new musical piece.   Legend has it that composer Anton Webern said that the best performance was in his head. While I was meditating on that thought, my meat burned.  I ate it anyway and pretended I was at a Yom Atzma’ut barbecue.   I hope that this year we have something to celebrate, though with so many parties calling for legalization of marijuana I hope people don’t slip something into the hamburgers.  If we take Webern’s concept of “best performance”, even more to the point is that we all try to imagine the kind of leader we really want. Perhaps it will silently happen.  Ah, but then there are those tiny slips of paper that really determine the results; like notes on a musical page they sit there neatly nestled in their pocket, where Bibi does not touch Gantz, and Feiglin never Tamar.  But in the end the little cute pieces (or at least some of them) make up and dance together.

All kidding aside, this election is serious business (though for me composing is equally serious!).  In today’s Times of Israel,  Gantz speaks about the final frontier for our beloved country as a democracy.  He may be right.  He did hit the nail on the head by supporting limited Prime Minister service.  We have certainly learn our lesson.

My dear father, Wolfe Horenstein z”l, had a shoe store in Manchester, Hampshire.  I wrote about this in my previous blog (which I think was pretty good).  What I failed to mention is that the name of the store was Bee Bee Factory Outlet.  Legend has it that way back when it was the first factory shoe outlet in the United States.   As yesterday was my late father’s yahrzeit, I thought a lot about Bee Bee.  Those were romantic times, when there was sawdust on the floors, and the signs were hand-written.  But times have changed. It is only NOW that I realize that yesterday I was subconsciously reflecting on this election and the name of our current leader.

Another mintzeh. Legend has it that the famous musician Duke Ellington never gave shoes as a present to his friends, because he believed that if he DID they would walk away.  But what of politicians whose time has past? So I have an idea.  If a gazillion of us send Bibi pairs of shoes in the mail (they can be new or used, either is fine) and if Ellington’s legend holds true, then Bibi should then walk away, right?  Ah, but to some of us Bibi is not our friend.  Well, no matter.  The legend doesn’t pertain only to friends, but only speaks of the pain one would feel if one’s friend walked away.  How many of us would feel pain if Bibi walked away?  I guess we’ll know in six days.

As I am writing this, I seriously do worry.  I worry about our solidarity.  I worry about that we are losing sight of what really matters.  At this moment a pigeon has decided to build a nest on my window sill.  Now THAT matters. He /she doesn’t see me because the curtains are drawn and I see him/her as a shadow.  He/she seems quite contented.  I guess so is Bibi, because he is utterly convinced that he will be re-elected and asked to form the next government.  But like the pigeon on my window sill, if elected Bibi would be only a shadow (or more precisely a “shadow figure”) simply because of the indictment hanging over his head.  How on earth could he possibly govern?  The pigeon (or it’s mate) has just laid an egg, but because the wind is strong in the late afternoon and the window sill is slanted, I fear that the egg fall –splat.  So like Humpty Dumpty, all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty back together again.  Bibi will NEVER be the same.

Pigeon on my window sill

So what happened to my father’s epic store? I heard that it was finally sold and made into the new Manchester Fire Station. At least it was put to good use. The famous Bee Bee Factory Outlet became the home of water hoses and brave men.  Hopefully our new government will also be made of brave men (and women) and that they will have not only water hoses, but also anything it takes to put out the fires in our midst: fires in Gaza, fires in the North, fires of hatred in our enemies hearts, fires in ours to (as we hate each other), fires of war, fires of quick-trigger anger (and anything else one can imagine).

I wish us all a sane election–and may the best men and women win!

Coda: For our listening pleasure here is Duke Ellington’s extended work, Tone Parallel to Harlem which celebrates the unity of diversity. Ellington took as his inspiration the view of a typical tenement building, with everything seen and heard at once/in sequence, through the individual apartment windows (of which there were many! (P.S. and please remember never to send shoes to your friends).

About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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