Latest posts by Senor Weaselo (see all)
- Your “Championship Saturday” 2020 Banner Madness Championship and Saturday Morning Open Thread – March 28, 2020
- Your 2020 Banner Madness Penultimate Four! – March 25, 2020
- Senor in the City, Episode 2: Work in the Time of Corona – March 24, 2020
Senor Weaselo is a freelance musician living in New York City. As you would expect, this means he has had some stories and adventures in his time. These are not all of those stories, and definitely not the more specific ones, due to at least a veil of anonymity and not wanting to get blackballed.
But what these are are ramblings of a New York City musician as he tries to make some sense of the hustle. Or at least of his surroundings while making sense of the hustle. Okay, it’s a little bit delayed because it’s mid-February and I expected to get this done mid-January, so I’m already on backlog. So we are off to a flying start. But there was an Episode 0 so I’ll just say that affected it. But this is the real beginning. These are his stories.
We start these vignettes with the peak season for musicians, the holidays. (Tells you how delayed this got.) December’s got pretty much everything—holiday concerts, Christmas, and of course, the biathlon of Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Which since I mentioned it means I can repost this.
It’s like Michael Bolton singing Baroque. Fucking fantastic.
I didn’t actually play either Messiah or Nutcracker this year. I did have some concerts—the string ensemble at the school I TA for had their concert which led to my viola debut. For those who don’t know viola, it’s the middle child of the string instruments that nobody gives a shit about, and uses a clef that nobody gives a shit about (alto clef), and it’s not likely in a quartet that you’ll hear it as clearly. Also, prior to November I had never played one, which means I’m spending the entire piece trying to a) transpose from treble clef (which violin reads) to alto on the fly, and b) remind myself which string I’m playing on because viola’s strings are one string lower than the violin’s. I only got lost in the piece once! Maybe twice. Which I think means I’m a decent violist!
But since that job takes up a decent chunk of my time there weren’t a ton of outside concerts until after the winter break started. But if it’s Christmas Eve, it means there are extra services, and the big one is Midnight Mass. I had never played one of those before, instead playing Christmas Eve either at a friend’s church off Wall Street, or the (in)famous redheaded cellist I reference occasionally at the church where she played organ for (she is no longer there). So let’s go through your itinerary for Midnight Mass.
-Get there at about 8:45-9, which I shouldn’t have had to because rehearsal was at 9:30, but the rest of the strings wanted to make a good impression. Fine, I guess, but 9:15 would have been just fine and I could have spent more time having dinner instead of driving.
-Rehearse from 9:30 to about 10:45. This goes over both carols and Midnight Mass music, and gives a slight break for the Carols concert. Instrumentation can vary, but in this case it was singer, keyboard (piano/organ), and strings. Brass came later, around 10, 10:15.
-Carols concert starts at 11. You have to be done by about 11:50 so Midnight Mass can start at, you know, midnight. This may include cutting a tune or two, depending on how much is done/how much is left. ‘Tis better to overprogram than underprogram.
Then Midnight Mass starts at midnight, and I imagine some of us, fucked up as we are, have gone to Midnight Mass and know the drill. It’s a Mass, plus Happy Birthday Jeebus. It went fine, and we finished sometime around 1:30. Which meant we got to drive home and got home around 2:30, 3. Oh, there was some good old street racing on the Cross Bronx on the way home, that was fun to deal with. And I was right behind them as they rolled to basically a stop, also fun. Especially with a truck honking behind me. I’m glad that’s not how I went out, with a string quartet in my car getting crushed by an 18-wheeler. By the way, if there’s street racing it’s almost always a Challenger vs. a Beamer, usually an M4 or a 330i, probably with an “MpireBoyz” license plate holder. But, yes, we all made it home safely so I could wake up and do Christmas Day things that morning and afternoon.
Fast-forward a few days and it’s time to rehearse for New Year’s concerts. Rehearsals are normally fine, even if it’s occasionally cold and windy and shitty out because it’s December. But 40 degree rain and wind always seems more of a trudge than snow. Maybe because snow at least has that nicer look, while rain just looks like shit. Yet some horse carriage guy insisted on driving out there, with horse, in said rain and 30 mph winds. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like a very profitable endeavor. Prime season or not, nobody’s gonna go in a horse-drawn carriage in that weather, my dude. Horse should rightfully be pissed.
As for New Year’s Eve itself, the concert was at a church on the West Side, close to the Park, which means in eyesight of Hell. Because that is precisely what Times Square at New Year’s is. And guess what? Because it was a mild night, and maybe because it was a decade New Year’s rather than a regular one, I guess it was more crowded. So although it was fine getting to the venue for soundcheck and the concert, afterwards, Senorita Weaselo and I, looking for the N train at 57th and 7th, could not get there because the area had been closed off. So we walked up to 59th to try to get to the stop at 59th and 5th. Except we couldn’t get there because 6th, 7th, and 8th were blocked off. In hindsight maybe we could have gone through the park and around the throng of people, but even the park was getting to people where you couldn’t actually get in without at the least some struggle. So all we want to do is get on one train to get to my car in Astoria so we can go back to her place in Brooklyn, and in order to do that we end up having to take a train downtown to get on an uptown. Times Square Station was, fortunately, still having trains stop there so we could transfer, because everything stops on 42nd Street. (Please note the J, Z, L, and G do not stop at 42nd Street; the former three don’t go uptown enough and the latter doesn’t go to Manhattan at all.) It wasn’t that much of a pain in the ass the previous year, so I’m definitely blaming it on our decimal counting system making it a nice round number.
As I said, I didn’t do Messiah the week of Epiphany/Little Christmas/Orthodox Christmas as I’d done the last couple weeks, but I couldn’t have because I was busy playing something else, which’ll be for another day. Still, surprised I didn’t get a call…
Senor Weaselo is against the bills AB-4 (California, already law), S-6699A (New York), and HR-2474 (United States, passed in the House), bills that would limit freelancers to the amount of work they could do in favor of trying to label them as “employees.” Meant to combat Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies, it kneecaps all freelancers instead in part due to a questionably worded “ABC” clause. So if you’re part of the 36% of Americans who are considered freelancers, you should probably be concerned. And if you hire freelancers, you should probably be concerned too.