Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cuts of Beef

Where is today’s Beethoven? Does he struggle in a condo somewhere, writing furiously, ripping masterpieces to shreds, ignoring Beltone advertisements? Has he discovered conveniences such as triple-headed razors, his pate shaved to simplify life? Are his lips locked in a perpetual frown or does he smile to use fewer muscles?

Plop the real Beethoven into our world. Could he taste trans fats, reverse sugars and the dyes added to products he and our grandparents wouldn’t recognize? Would he notice that the meats we eat could barely walk and never saw real sunshine, that most of us haven’t dissected frogs in science class, much less wrung a chicken’s neck? Like us, would he wash his hands after meeting new people while letting entrees prepared by strangers pass freely through his lips?

We’re so specialized we might die if others stopped working. We dwell on the pronouncements of pretty people who entertain us, politicians who pretend to know what’s best for us (even though we say they don’t), and spoiled brats born with more money in their pockets than we can picture. We have allowed “them” to persuade us to spend our hard-earned cash on things Beethoven didn’t know or need.

“He’d probably enjoy every moment listening to sounds he never knew,” says Virginia, “like crunches of potato chips, the snap, crackle, pop of Rice Krispies, and Muzak on elevators. I bet he’d laugh at the ‘experts’ who try to re-create his music the way it was played when he was alive, as if he could have heard those concerts. I think he’d be more interested in the musician who makes each classic his own.”

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