Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The air can hurt you too

Today I came across this piano piece, which is titled "Suicide in an Airplane". It was written in the early twentieth century.

I had never heard of this Leo Ornstein before, but what he does here is really fantastic, conjuring up the image of an airplane motor with tone clusters in the low bass, while the right hand just runs haphazardly around the piano striking dissonant chords, maybe lightning flashing around the plane, maybe something flashing through the pilot's troubled mind--whatever you get out of it, you know that there is definitely a plane and it's definitely nighttime, and something bad is definitely happening.

Somehow this all reminded me of one of my favorite cocktails, the aviation, which is comprised of gin, lemon juice, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, and maybe creme de violette. Because the latter two components are both kind of obscure and archaic, I can't really order an aviation anywhere except Blackbird, which had it as a cocktail special when they first opened. It's a shame because the aviation is really fantastic. It is the color of a foggy sky, and it tastes like stars and bracing cold air and limitless potential. I could try to describe it in more detail, but Esquire has pretty much nailed it already:
[Think of] DC-3s with 21 seats and tablecloth service, of lazing along at a sensible 8,000 feet over a checkerboard of farms and sprawl-less little towns. Of smiling stewardesses and china cups, of elegant women and debonair men, of drawing your trench coat tight around you as you walk across the night-wet tarmac toward the bright light of the terminal and the bar it contains. That's the kind of aviation we're talking about here.
All this made me think about what romance, both good and bad, once surrounded aviation--visions of red barons and cocktails on the night-wet tarmac and death over the low hum of the propellers. Now we seem to have forgotten the miracle of human flight amidst the bustle of accumulating frequent flier miles and breathing recycled air and paying for cheap sandwiches and, well, standing in line to have our junk x-rayed.

It does seem more than a little excessive for the government to require a picture including one's genitalia as credential for boarding an aircraft. Since 1776 is my favorite musical, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety..." springs to mind. On the other hand, I kind of agree with this guy when he says, "This is not the great civil rights battle of our time ... What's going on in the airports is simply a form of government humiliation that has hit the professional class." I guess these two views are not mutually exclusive. Anyway, all in all I'm a lot more freaked out by cat thrown in rubbish bin by complete stranger as a sign of an emerging dystopia.

But that is a story for another day, and one which is not even tangentially related to food unless I go to Peru and eat cat or something (just you wait).

No comments:

Post a Comment