Chit-chat, the archives and high society

by Ted Holteen

I don’t like small talk. When you ask me if it’s hot enough for me or tell me that we need the rain, then say the same thing to the next three acquaintances you run into, that’s small talk. Often, people get the mistaken impression that I’m rude when I don’t respond in kind to such banalities. Nothing could be more untrue. My usual reply is something akin to “No, it won’t be hot enough for me until the old people start dyin’ and the babies with ’em,” and I usually swear a lot, so you see that glaring silence here is the lesser evil. Refer to the cliché about the nothing nice to say and saying nothing bit. My Emily Post tip for the week is this: You should never feel compelled to drum up a perfunctory conversation with a friendly acquaintance that you hadn’t planned on seeing for weeks or months to come just because chance put you both in line at the post office at the same time. “Good afternoon, Vicar,” “Top of the morning, lasses,” or “Nice to see you, Henry” are just a few examples of friendly, disposable greetings that don’t invite another word from either party. That said, I would never want to dissuade meaningful dialogue between intelligent adults. For example, some people are just compelled to approach me on the street and say, “You’re a jerk” or “Did you cut your own hair?” That’s taking the conversation to the next level, and I’m all for it.

I also believe that at least one of every four or five promises should be kept whenever possible, and upon that integral plateau we head, as promised, for a visit to the Animas Museum. As I’ve alluded to previously on these pages, I’m a dork. And as corroboration, this week I’m tackling etiquette, a museum and classical music, all in Durango, Colo., no less. Wow.

Anyway, the Animas Museum is another treasure, inexplicably hidden to many, which every resident should take the time to see. People say to me, “Ted, why do you hate kids so much?” It’s because they’re ignorant, and as is so often the case with ignorant people, they don’t even recognize their own ignorance. I see the same frustrating stupidity in many grownups when it comes to knowing and understanding their collective history. If every new, semi-retired carpetbagger who moves into a trophy home subdivision were required to view the archival photos on display at the museum, perhaps they would carry with them a little bit more guilt and even begin to understand why we all hate them so much. Locals always speak of the charm of the town, and how growth is hurting it and oh goddamn it why won’t it just stop? Such longing is often interpreted by our Realtor overlords as anti-growth whining and even anti-capitalist ideology. But all it takes is a look at the way things used to be to understand those sentiments, and Museum Director Robert McDaniel and his staff have made it so you can see a photo history of Durango from its inception right up to, and including, its Aspenization. I won’t go into detail of all the exhibits, but they are many, and I think it’s a lot of fun. And you just might learn something. The museum is located at 31st Street and West Second Avenue, they’re open Monday through Saturday, and it’s only $2.50 to get in. And it’s air conditioned. Please visit soon.

Last year I was shocked to receive sincere thanks from Music in the Mountains staffers for my “coverage” of the festival. Of course I was flattered and immediately began to exaggerate within my own mind the influence my exposure had on ticket sales among Telegraph readers. Then I remembered that Telegraph readers tend to be poor, uneducated, anti-establishment libertines, and therefore unlikely to attend a catered wedding let alone a classical music festival. So why the love? If the positions were reversed, I would designate a staff member to keep out the riffraff, muffling wannabe socialite writers like myself who’s piping can serve only to bring a plague of rats upon the slopeside Hamlin. But you and I know you won’t be a rat forever, and our annual cultural revolution is your best chance to take the next evolutionary step up to wombat or badger. In the interest of interest, I’ll just give a brief rundown of performances going on in the big tent at Purgatory. There’s a bunch of stuff taking place in Roshong Hall at FLC, and some other random events, but the festival promoters put a bunch of money into brochures and websites so I wouldn’t have to drone on any longer than necessary, and I’d hate to see that printing budget go to waste. Here’s some good stuff this week:

Thursday: Chamber music entitled, “Hungarian Heat!” No, it’s not a porno, but the music would probably make for a great soundtrack. Works by Dohnanyi and what I think should be the highlight of the evening, a piano trio by Mendelssohn. Featuring the Adkins Family Trio, one of whom is named Edward Newman.


Saturday: First night of the whole big orchestra, with Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and Shumann. Still hoping “fugue” can become profanity in some circles. Reception with the musicians following the performance. I’m sure they’re dying to meet you.

Sunday: “Soaring Strings” – more of the whole orchestra, with lots of string pieces (duh). Highlights include Nicolai’s “Merry Wives of Windsor Overture” and a violin concerto by Brahms featuring soloist Vadim Gluzman, who’s not from around here.

Tuesday: Back to the chamber music, this time called “Summer Dreams.” Normally, I’d call this a yawner, but it includes a piano trio from Mozart and a quintet by Lieberman that would keep me awake if I didn’t have a softball game that night. Tape it for me.

Unfortunately, what many think will be the highlight of the festival is sold out for next Wednesday, so I won’t tell you about it. But there are plenty of tickets available for some great shows, and remember, attending things like this makes you a better person. Check for tickets and more coherent information on all events.

Quickly – two things happening that we’ve talked about before but are still fun. (1) Boxing at the Sky Ute Casino this Saturday. (2) Warsaw at the Summit next Wednesday night. Thank you for your time.

Let’s talk about the weather. Welcome back, NHL hockey.