Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evanston: enough?; music; the full berg

        How much is enough?  Enough time?  Enough money?  Enough stuff?
        Obviously there are no objective answers, only subjective desire.
        I was thinking about this partially because of Ty Warner.  
        Mr. Warner, creator of Beanie Babies and Chicago area resident, is said to be worth $2.6 billion, making him the 209th richest American.
          I find it astounding that you can amass that kind of money selling small fuzzy toys.  I find it even more astounding that Mr. Warner has just been put on two years’ probation after  pleading guilty to tax evasion.  What is astounding is the proportion.  Mr. Warner hid $25 million in a Swiss bank and failed to pay $5.6 million in taxes on earnings from investments in that account.
        $25 million is a lot of money to me.  So is $5.6 million.  It probably is to some of you, too.  But—and I must confess that there are so many zeros after these numbers that I had some difficulty reading them correctly on the screen—$25 million is slightly less than 1% of Mr. Warner’s wealth; and $5.6 million about 1/4 of 1%.  It’s chump change.  Why would he even bother?  $2.6 billion isn’t enough?
        Obviously for Mr. Warner, it wasn’t. 
         Lamentably, as part of his plea agreement, he paid civil penalties of $53.6 million.


        Many of you are musicians, and I appreciate that you treat me kindly, for, as I wrote some years ago, I am not.  Some one has to be the audience.  In music, that’s me.
        Many of the women in my life were musicians.  Probably still are.  A violist.  A pianist.  A guitarist.  A flautist.
        And although it is off the subject, I have realized that I, famously or notoriously, an only child, have never had a significant relationship with a woman who was an only child.  Unless I’m forgetting someone.  Always possible.  No conclusion; just the observation.
        After writing about Vaughan Williams, I heard from several readers suggesting other works of his I might enjoy.
        One, James, included an amusing and vivid quote from Ralph Vaughan Williams about the harpsichord, “sounds like two skeletons making love on a tin roof.”  
        I like it, even though I also like the harpsichord.


        I thank Fred, my father-in-law, for the above rare view of an ice berg above and below water.  
        The berg was drifting toward an oil rig off Newfoundland and had to be towed away.  Estimated weight:  300,000,000 tons.
        Probably almost as big as Mr. Warner’s fortune.