October 31, 2002

From the Horse's Mouth

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On Saturday I saw Beck and The Flaming Lips at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse. It was a terrific show, save one incident that I’d like to relate. During the car ride I remarked that Beck is an artist that, in some sense, epitomizes our generation. He is one of the few artists that remains artistically merit-worthy while achieving a popularity that transcends cult-like status. Like it or not, Beck is a star. His popularity coupled with his artistic innovation gives him cultural significance beyond my beloved indie geniuses. Arriving at the Landmark proved my point. The nucleus of our generation was heartily represented. Some interesting people, some that only appeared so.

The Landmark is one of the most lavish and beautiful theatres I’ve seen. An interior of carved wood, gilded mosaics, and lavish paintings — like a lost treasure discovered in an old section of Vienna. Person after person entered the lobby and froze in astonishment. It was a beauty that everyone recognized. Throughout the building were signs requesting people not to smoke due to damage caused to the restored ceiling art. I was surprised, because it seemed like a point that was too obvious to make. Sure enough, a girl sitting in front of me lights up. I’m an ardent supporter of smoker’s rights and believe California’s laws banning smoking at bars are absurd. I hold the somewhat insensitive belief that in most situations non-smokers complaining of second-hand smoke should “tough it out” (what’s next, a ban on burritos since the fumes from the arse of the consumer will surely offend some patron and might lead to choking?). This situation was different. It was appalling for her to have so little respect for what was so beautifully surrounding her as to not step outside. Imagine a person sitting at the Metropolitan Opera and lighting up during La Traviata, or even better tapping the diamond-clad lady to the right and asking for a light. Even more disturbing was that this didn’t bother many; in fact many others followed suit. Now I am certain that the life of this girl was worth far less than the beauty she was helping destroy. Most lives aren’t — cynical, but true. If this was the nucleus of our generation, the part that will impact the future, where was the embrace of art and beauty? In a generation dreadfully obsessed with individuality, where was respect for it. The Landmark is an individual irreplaceable artifact. Judging by the wisps of smoke rising around me, I realized that most people aren’t the irreplaceable individuals they brand themselves as.

Peace, “the dark horse”

Archived article by Maxim Pozdorovkin