Tuesday 28 November 2000

Now returned to NJ with

Now returned to NJ with John Sinks & Jonathan Brainin, our host & honorary roadie.

Before the performance I sat quietly in the wonderful space of the World Financial Center's Atrium. Then, suddenly, I knew that there was someone staring at me from behind. I turned and, 40 feet away and to the right, there was the man.

Shortly afterwards another man came up to me & said (very close paraphrase): "I don't want to disturb your preparation, but would you sign these albums?" My reply: "You have already done what you set out not to achieve".

I might add that the gentleman was lying. He had no concern for my personal state, nor for the performer's preparation for performance. His interest was solely to get what he wanted for himself, regardless of the impact that might have. Where are you when needed, Chris Murphy? Chris might have walked up to the innocent audient and asked: "Why do you feel the need to radically fetishise the inherent & delineated meanings of Robert's music?" (with acknowledgement to Dr. Lucy Green, whose about-to-be published book, on music learning in the contemporary English oral-aural mode, is another excellent piece of work).

The lunchtime show tuned the air for the series of six performances. I hesitated to demand much of a mainly accidental audience during their lunch hour. At an evening performance the bulk of the team come to listen, and are more prepared to extend themselves to bleeping & droning.

Lunch afterwards with Karen Durbin, current Elle film critic, former editor of the the Village Voice & longtime NY friend. Karen is known to cognoscenti as Fripp & Eno's mother.

The evening performance was more musically substantial, an hour of continuous music addressing the same (musical) theme, and returning at the end to the beginning theme through variations.

Photography to an impressive & disturbing degree. John Sinks asked one character, who was shooting throughout the evening performance, to stop. He claimed his right to photograph, despite being asked constantly to refrain. His (spurious) justification: the Atrium is a pubic space. On John's third approach to him, asking him to stop, out it came: "This is a public space". John's reply: "But Robert has asked that you not take photographs, so why do you have to be an arsehole?"

The justifications we seek to defend improper behaviour are without end, for those who are careless of others. Legitimately, a balance is needed between legitimate individual & social needs. But look at this specific justification: the photographer was in a public space, therefore he could behave in a knowingly non-consensually fashion towards another individual. The principle here is not one that would walk very far on its own in daylight.

In the Atrium, there is constant photography by visitors. This is something to which I could not rightly object: it is a low-level background disturbance which accompanies this particular space, and is not directed towards myself. But attention directed towards me as an individual, knowingly non-consensual, is not part of the "rights" available to participants in an interaction within a public space. Do our responsibilities towards each other as individuals cease because our interactions take place in a public context?

Tom Redmond also had an adventure, which I'll leave him to write up in his GC diary. But I gave him a present: a double CD of Grumpy Ludwig's Adagios. This is a favourite that has been supporting me towards the end of the KC tour. I was so looking forward to playing this chez Redmond last weekend. Except Tom's hi-fi system has no speakers. Truly, a Hell Boy Sound System. Now, I've bought Tom a copy so he can't hear it as well.

On our return from the WFC, John, Jonathan & I had dinner in Hoboken, Jonathan's old neighbourhood. Lots of money appears to have gone there in recent years.