Monday, March 12, 2007


A couple years ago, after the 2004 Library of Congress National Book Festival,* we were introduced to a man named Jon Singer. We were planning to dine-out in Chinatown that night. Mr. Singer is quite the well-known gourmet; however inaccurate to use French terminology for a gastro-intellect mostly focused on Asian cuisines. For Chinatown, Mr. Singer was necessary, and throughout that evening, he captivated us. He did indeed find excellent food in a tiled underground Chinese shoebox with cheap wall-tchotchkes and a group of heavily tattooed tong in sunglasses watching over the place. He steered us through the hanging magic-marker-on-yellow-posterboard menu. He proceeded to explain how the food was prepared, letting that lead into topics of chemistry, which morphed into the science of historical pottery glazing. Long after dinner we stood on the corner talking to Jon Singer. Then we didn't see him again until today at the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater on the GW campus. Mr. Singer plays the gamelan, and he'd attempted to explain what that meant during our long-ago Chinatown evening. Today we got to see him perform as part of a gamelan ensemble accompanying a montage of pan-Asian dance performances.* It was great to see Jon Singer again, and now I've seen a gamelan, too. I'm still unsure what it is, really--an Indonesian band? sport? martial art?--some lingering confusion stems from Jon Singer's explaining it scientifically while still keyed-up from today's performance. I can say this: a gamelan resembles a room--a kitchen, specifically--where pots and drums and other melodic percussions are neatly scattered before a group of players, each concentrating on piecing together music. A sound assembly line. For all of you who thought there really were little people inside the calliopes of your youth, the gamelan* is for you. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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