BAKE-OFF IN FORT WORTH

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BAKE-OFF IN FORT WORTH

Postby STEWART on 28 Sep 2006 20:21

BAKE-OFF IN FORT WORTH
1990

HOLY BLOOD AND THE CRESCENT MOON is going up again in Fort Worth. Opera is an expensive hobby for any city and part of the funding comes from gala events at which the burghers, oligarchs and grand matrons can be snobbed into making larger contributions than each other. To support our production, the opera community is throwing a black tie bake-off. The contestants are: the Mayor, the owner of the football team, one of the players, the director of the Fort Worth Opera, a telegenicly quadriplegic kid who has won the heart of the city; and me, the opera composer.


One month earlier, when the event is proposed to me, the organizers are asking about what delicacy I might like to enter into the competition. Well the most complex items in my repertoire are “bowl de cereal” and “cup a tea”. Fortunately, Fiona has an under utilized flair for following recipe instructions, so we propose a Wolfgang Puck dish that is an angel hair pasta with broccoli.

The event is held in a Texas sized convention hall within which there is a village of extravagantly designed kitchens built on little stages like TV sets. I think each of the little kitchens is the creation of a leading local home designer.

Fiona and I have made some friends among the faster set in Fort Worth and some of them have stopped by our kitchen, bringing with them a gift of aged tequila. Their Texas hospitality is in perfect tune with my own shine for this spirit, and soon both Fiona and I are singing and carousing as she cooks and I entertain. A mysterious Frenchman appears wearing a sash and medallion. He wants a taste of Fiona’s pasta.

Now Fiona has been rummaging around the fake kitchen for the proper ingredients and utensils but has come up with only an approximation of the right stuff for the Wolfgang Puck recipe. The pasta that has been provided is spaghetti not angel hair. There are no forks. But Fiona is resourceful and has managed to fix up a brew that I’m ready to try myself. The man with the sash and medallion is looking expectant so I find him a plate, tell him he can cut the phoney French accent and then attempt to ladle the pasta using the most efficient utensil that I can find, which is a teaspoon. Most of it ends up spattering his forearm. He’s holding a clipboard, which he uses as a kind of shield from my over-eager hospitality. By the time I get a pile of noodles mostly on his plate, he’s backing away. But he hasn’t got any broccoli! He’s taking evasive action but he’s not yet out of range yet so I lob the perfect broccoli, dripping with Fiona’s perfect sauce at him. The little blighter is too fast for me and he bats the flying vegetable away with his clipboard and escapes into the throng. Never mind, more for me, I sneer hungrily to myself.

We are having a fine time but all too soon it’s time for the real dinner to begin. We are summonsed from our nifty little kitchen party spot to the big dinner tables in the dining hall. This is the dreary part of the evening. Major sponsors of the arts are rewarded with proximity to the artists. It’s a symbiotic but not necessarily fond relationship, and it’s a fact of life in “Fine Arts”. Fiona is ripped from my embrace and seated at the far side of our round table where she must endure the fawning attentions of those donors who have earned face time with “Fiancé of the Composer”, while I’m stuck on my side with the grandest contributors of all, who get to dine with the composer himself.

You may be wondering what this is all about. For extreme fans of opera (or ballet, or any of the fine arts) who are extremely wealthy, dinner with your humble correspondent is like dinner with Mozart himself. Since every composer that they know of is a piece of cultural history (or they wouldn’t have heard of them), so must also be the composer sitting right now to their left. As I chat with these individuals, I can see them already formulating the tale for their grand children. It’s sort of like rock fan-dom but in black tie attire. And they aren’t teen-aged girls, they are ancient plutocrats.

Finally, the dinner drags through dessert and I can’t bear another moment without Fiona at my side. I bid extravagant farewells to the opera loving oligarchs, catch Fiona eye, and we begin to make our escape. We’re almost out of the room but are caught by my handler who insists that we return to our seats. I try to reassure her that we’ve locked in the next ten years of sponsorship with the money folk. My old English boarding school trained me well in the art of brown nosing. But the prizes for the bake-off are about to be given, she persists. By now we have figured out who the French guy was and I reassure her that there is not the remotest possibility that we will be judged the winner – even though Fiona’s pasta was way better than the formal dinner.
“Trust me, we didn’t win “ I assert confidently.

There is no escape however and we must return to our table. As we sit back down, rejoining our dinner companions, a voice is booming over the PA. It’s the wind-up to the prize giving and no sooner do we tune into what the voice is saying, then we hear the announcement:
“…And the winner for the Most Interesting Something, Something is….STEWART COPELAND!”
The name echoes around my head.
“Whaa…?”
Fiona recovers quickly and urges me toward the stage. On my way up, I grab her to my side and mount the stage to thunderous applause. I’m still gaping as I take my bows. After years of this sort of thing, I’m pretty good at impromptu speeches so I’m just clearing my throat to thank whoever I can think of, when the large voice booms out of the PA again:
“…And the winner for the Most Colourful Use Of Blah Blah, is…Someone Else!
And with more applause, we are joined on the stage by another winner, with whom we unexpectedly must share the accolade. Then the voice booms out again, and it finally sinks in. The Last shall be First and the First shall be Last. Everyone gets a prise; the Mayor the manager, the player, the director and of course the winner, to tumultuous applause, the quadriplegic kid.
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Postby Mrs. Gradenko on 28 Sep 2006 21:00

Opera in Fort Worth? I would have thought it would happen, well ...anywhere else. Fort Worth is one of thoes areas where if I'm there at night, I immediately lock the door, and get out of there quick....like Dallas.

Maybe it was different 16 years ago? Well chances are it wasan't in the old part.
“...and er, did anyone try just pushing this little red button?”
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Postby Divemistress of the Dark on 03 Oct 2006 15:54

Oh man. I loved this. Um...I wonder if Stewart doesn't occasionally get in trouble with the folks at whom he's poking subtle fun. I guess it's been long enough now that these folks wouldn't remember who else was there, but this was hilarious:

<i>For extreme fans of opera (or ballet, or any of the fine arts) who are extremely wealthy, dinner with your humble correspondent is like dinner with Mozart himself.</i>

I'm sure there's a certain amount of bullshit that goes along with any level of fame in the arts. One wonders how a moderately well-grounded person manages to keep his sanity...

<i>A mysterious Frenchman appears wearing a sash and medallion. He wants a taste of Fiona’s pasta. </i>

And all of a sudden the shoe's on the other foot! I've seen a photo of Fiona, she's a dish (sorry, couldn't help myself)...I'd be interested to know if she's musically-inclined.
On Google - site:stewartcopeland.net "your keyword here" - thanks DM!!
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Postby georgygirl on 05 Oct 2006 03:19

Very interesting tale.

Finally, the best cuisine was yours, and everybody won.
Wildy Pelous!
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Postby jedsoon on 28 Feb 2007 23:23

It's like the Special Olympics, where everyone who participates gets a gold medal.

But you know, *you* could have just as easily tried your hand at a delightful dish i recently mastered and think you could to: spaghetti de microwavabel!

Thanks for sharing!
-chris
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Postby Allegra on 16 Mar 2007 17:12

Well the most complex items in my repertoire are “bowl de cereal” and “cup a tea”.

The little blighter is too fast for me and he bats the flying vegetable away with his clipboard and escapes into the throng.


LMAO!!!

I sure hope you were able to experience the "Real" Texas cuisine while you were down here.

And yes, there are a few of those high falutin people in every city. Even in places you'd never think of like Fort Worth "Cow Town," Texas.

I wish I could have been there since Stew is so anti-high falutin. Too bad he didn't take his movie camera with him! I would have loved to have seen him in action!
Seeing The Police live for the very first time - priceless!
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Hey, I missed the gig in Oakland because I was giving birth

Postby Marcela on 08 Jul 2007 21:00

Stewart,

Your love for Fiona, the mother of your children, comes across in this piece. So, how about you hook me up with tix in NYC or Boston or Toronto as I had to miss the Police in Oakland on June 13 because my baby was born a month early? Do it for the mothers and the children! I love you guys since I was 16 and was so looking forward to the concert but my baby Nina decided I she wanted to be born. Maybe the excitement of seeing you guys brought about the labor. At any rate, I still want to see you and am trying to get good tix for a fall show. [size=18][/size]
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Postby lotus_blossoms on 15 Dec 2007 07:25

Gotta love Texas, you know? Let's see, 1990...Was this for [i]Holy Blood & Cresent Moon[/i]? Wanna know what I was doing in 1990? Eh, I'd better keep it to myself.

Speaking of Texas, I've often wondered what celebs think of San Antonio when y'all come here. Let's see, y'all generally stay somewhere on The Riverwalk, which is downtown in a pretty nasty area. Hmm. (I get lost almost every time I'm downtown, so I'm familiar with its ick factor.) Sad, simply because downtown is not a fair representation of the city as a whole.

By the way, I said "y'all" when I lived in California. Non sequitur, I know. I must be sleepy.
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Re: BAKE-OFF IN FORT WORTH

Postby sockii on 15 Nov 2009 19:15

You know, this tale doesn't seem to get as much love as some of the others here on the board. But after a recent experience myself (black tie dinner with a bunch of fine art patrons in high-society, old-money Atlanta) I just listened to this chapter on the audio book of STH and was pretty much howling with laughter. The jibes and the observations are oh-so-very spot on, especially this:

<i>For extreme fans of opera (or ballet, or any of the fine arts) who are extremely wealthy, dinner with your humble correspondent is like dinner with Mozart himself. Since every composer that they know of is a piece of cultural history (or they wouldn’t have heard of them), so must also be the composer sitting right now to their left. As I chat with these individuals, I can see them already formulating the tale for their grand children. It’s sort of like rock fan-dom but in black tie attire. And they aren’t teen-aged girls, they are ancient plutocrats.</i>

Loved it.
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Re: BAKE-OFF IN FORT WORTH

Postby policefan on 16 Nov 2009 00:12

[quote="sockii"]You know, this tale doesn't seem to get as much love as some of the others here on the board. [/quote]


Oh, it gets plenty of love from me just for mentioning Wolfgang and Wolfgang.

; -)
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