COACH SAYS he's sick and tired of reading in the newspapers about the sort of stuff that went on last weekend in the locker room after we played Boston.
It had been a long afternoon. People were tired. We'd played the previous night and we hadn't had a break since Tanglewood. Then there'd been the recording sessions with Deutsche Grammophon. And we did Wolf Trap!
It's always a little frisky after we play. Some of the guys start acting up. Snapping their cumberbunds. Buck, he's second violin this year, come up to us from Baltimore where he was with Zinman, starts doing this, I don't know, I'd guess you'd call it an X-rated Aaron Copland imitation. I mean it's funny. It's crude. But it is funny. A few of the boys from the wind section got to cutting up. Telling Vaughan Williams jokes. Old Red'll put a towel around his waist and start doing Alicia De Larrocha. He does 'em all. Adrian Boult. Neville Marriner. Herbert von Karajan. Georg Solti. Renata Scoto with a cigarette holder. Alfred Brendel with these joke shop glasses. He's got a really funny Andre Previn. You have to do it with a sweater. Red's a funny guy. He's a little crude, too. But he's funny.
You know how people are when they been out on the road a long time. After we play, somebody'll make a pot of Earl Grey and we'll start to horsing around.
Well, wouldn't you know it. We're sitting around in Boston after a matinee. I blame it on the program. Guys are tired of dong "Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus'." Tired of the "Fantasia on Greensleeves." And most of them would bite the head off a live chicken before they'd willingly do "The Lark Ascending." We can only take so much. You can just push them so far. But Coach says that this is what the people want to hear. So we play. Hell, the night before he had us doing Dvorak's "Slavonic Dances," Opus 46 and 72.
Well, as I was saying, Andrew Porter comes in. Shoot, we didn't expect to see nobody from The New Yorker in Boston. And there's some bad feeling 'tween him and some of boys in strings. People have a long memory in this line of work. They don't just forgive and forget. No, siree. I know for a fact guys who carry around a bad review in their wallets for years.
Coach says this guy has got a job to do and he's a professional. And you guys, and that goes for the gals, too, have got a job to do, too. Coach says we got to get along.
Coach say we're supposed to set an example. For school kids. High school bands. Students out there in conservatories around the country. Positive role model and all that. But, hell, people are only human.
Well, Porter's sitting there taking notes and these guys from strings. You know how those guys are. One on one. Perfect little gentlemen. But you get a big bunch of them in a group, especially if you have a couple of bass players, and mister, you've got yourself trouble. And there was a couple of oboists in there, too. And you know how they are. And the women can be just as bad as the men.
Okay, so I was there. I seen what happened. I didn't have anything to do with. I don't condone it. But I admit I didn't say anything at the time. I let it happen, too. But so did a whole lot of the others. Well, hell, it's been in the press now. GQ had it outside. Women's Wear Daily. Vogue. Both editions. And you can only imagine what The New Yorker's got planned for us. I don't know, these guys just lost their heads. I know for a fact that Pierre, Anton, Fritz, Buck and Red were in on it. Cuz I saw them. Damn, but they took their jackets off, right there in front of Porter. Took them off and draped them over their shoulders. Coach went just about crazy when he heard bout it afterwards. Hell, he's an old fashioned guy. Coach says, "Ver zee hell do you guys zink you're working, a piano lounge? Nobody takes zer jacket oof ear." (Coach talks like that. He's from over Europe.) Well, the damage was done at that point. Porter went straight to the commissioner's office. It was in all the New York papers the next day.
We'd had a couple of problems before. Two young kids. Just out of Juilliard. Wearing running shoes on the job. Coach sees that and he says, "Get yer butts out to der bus, I'll tawk vit youse later." As I understand it, he threatened to send them sorry sonsabitches down to Richmond if a thing like that ever happened again. Coach runs a tight ship here but we respect him. He's a good old guy. But he's only going to put up with just so much.
Hell, some dame from Mirabella is in there with him now chewing his ear off. No, siree, I don't think we seen the end of this thing . . . .
Christopher Corbett is the author of the novel "Vacationland."