Listening Post: Which kind are you?

Times Square, New York: JasonParis and  Bourbon Street, New Orleans: Kyle Monohan, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Times Square, New York: JasonParis and Bourbon Street, New Orleans: Kyle Monohan, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

There are two kinds of people… no, no–not beer or wine, not Yankees or Sox, not Star Wars or Star Trek. I mean Met Opera listeners or American Routes listeners. In the interests of democracy, NCPR serves both in their proper season, but personally, one of my “Signs of Spring” is the voice of Nick Spitzer and the sounds of his roots show from New Orleans.

Maybe there are two kinds of people–New York City or New Orleans. New York is too big and too fast and thinks too well of itself for my comfort. I feel a little out of place there, a little in the way of business–like a flock of sheep crossing the Thruway. And the Met Opera is a little too grandiose for me–great music, high drama, spectacle–it’s a little exhausting. Plus, I mostly dress up for weddings and funerals. I prefer to witness music performances with my blue-jeaned backside planted in a folding chair on the lawn.

Though I haven’t been there yet, New Orleans seems more like my kind of town, a little slower, a little unbuttoned, even a little unglued. A town obsessed with good food and good music has its priorities in order. For example, I can’t think of a single Fortune 500 company headquartered in New Orleans. My kind of town.

The North Country is my home, but like most people, I have been to other places that made an impact on me–Portland, Oregon felt homey to me; Seattle did not. San Francisco here I come–but San Diego, not so much. Albuquerque, yes–Phoenix, no. Miami Beach, hola!–Orlando, where’s the exit?

Where do you fall on the opera/roots spectrum? What are some of the towns and cities you love and why? Spill it in a comment below.


27 Comments on “Listening Post: Which kind are you?”

  1. carol says:

    Yeah! I’m also thrilled when opera leaves the airwaves and i can listen to American Routes on Saturday afternoon. Although I have to admit I always thought it was American Roots. you learn something new everyday.

    Burlington I love, Scranton gets me depressed. Both are near mountains, but one is vibrant, energetic, green, musical. the other is not.

  2. A O'Connor says:

    With all due respect to the opera fans, I dread the opening of the Live at the Met broadcast season. While the stories are great, the music, especially the singing, is often over-wrought. While I enjoy classical music, this is just not my cup of tea.
    American Routes plays such a wide variety of music. Though it isn’t always my favorite, I have yet to hear a show I just wanted to turn off. I have been looking forward to the return of this program since opera season began last fall, and I am so excited to hear what the theme will be this Saturday!

  3. Susan Gaffney says:

    I like them both. You can have the best seat in the house at the Met. Opera at the Movies, even wearing your comfy clothes. It’s really something else.

  4. Hank says:

    This is an easy one, Dale. Here are my favourite urban places in the US (in alphabetical order):

    Bend, Oregon
    Bloomington, Indiana
    Boise, Idaho
    Burlington, Vermont
    Duluth, Minnesota
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    Portland, Oregon
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Wausau, Wisconsin

    These are all smaller places (a big plus!) and many of them are either a university town or a state capital or they are just plain attractive by their nature or their natural surroundings.

    Among larger cities, I lean more towards San Francisco (natural scenery) , Boston (history) and St. Paul, Minnesota (relaxed).

  5. Deke Morrison says:

    Hi Dale,
    Sorry you find opera too grandiose. You know, it is not required that you go to NYC to hear really high quality opera music and black tie is not a high priority item at most concerts. If you are near Old Forge you might want to look into the “Broadway Meets Opera @ View” concert celebrating a “Third Annual” on July 18th this Summer. You will not be disappointed by the lovely and talented Soprano, Claudia Boyle or the voice of Italian tenor, Luigi Boccia.
    Claudia and Luigi are featured in “La Traviata” at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland June 5, 7 & 8 before appearing in Old Forge. Email for any more info.

  6. Pablito says:

    You don’t like opera. You think some of the greatest museums in the world (Metroplitan Museum of Art, zMuseum of Modern Art, etc) are not wortha visit. You are intimidated by New Yorkers’ self-confidence. So glad you shared that. And by the way, lots of people go to the opera in jeans.

  7. WoodCook says:

    I’m so happy you are on the correct side of the No Cal / So Cal debate, Dale! :-)

  8. Lynn Couey says:

    Definitely love American Roots. Opera, not so much.

  9. Julie says:

    Try Chicago! Midwestern friendliness, gorgeous architecture, amazing culture w/o being pretentious and that lakefront… all for the public! We live there during winter( lots to do!) and Brantingham Lake is where we want to be in summer. Best of both worlds!

  10. Byron Whitney says:

    For radio listening I much prefer American Routes. I have never been a fan of the Met on radio, but I thoroughly enjoy the Met Live in HD at the theater. To appreciate opera you really need to see as well as hear the performance. Casual dress is much in evidence at the HD performances, but even at the Met dress is much more casual these days. If you want to see a live opera performance without going to the Met, Glimmerglass is a delight in the summer, and you can take in the Baseball Hall of Fame on the same trip. Cities and towns I like are: Boston, San Francisco, Wellfleet, MA, Brunswick, ME, Vinalhaven, ME, Potsdam (NY and Germany), Canton, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Cooperstown, Savannah, Asheville, Monterey, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Stratford, Niagara on the Lake, London, Oxford, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

  11. Jim Benvenuto says:

    American Routes, hands down. Potsdam is home now and, as we all know, there’s no place like home. Burlington, Ottawa, San Francisco and New Orleans all have their charms but it’s good to return home.

  12. Dale Hobson says:

    Hi Pablito–

    I didn’t say I was caveman for cripes sake. I go to NYC, I go to the museums and the Library, and Broadway shows. I visit friends and see the sights. It’s a great city with great cultural opportunities, including the Met Opera. I just don’t feel at home there. I visit, and I’m glad to go back home. I concede that opera is great art. But I’d rather go a symphony, or a jazz club, or a rock show. I’m not particularly intimidated by New Yorkers, but I find the pace and scale of the city nerve-wracking. And a lot of New Yorkers do tend to think of living anywhere else as a step down in the world. I never try to argue with someone else’s patriotic feeling, but I don’t have to share it.

    Maybe a lot of folks do attend the Met in blue jeans, now. But I would feel the need to dress for the occasion regardless. It seems to me to be in keeping with the experience.

  13. Holly Chambers says:

    Met Opera listeners OR American Routes listeners?? What does that make me? I love both!! As I say with every pledge, “Long live opera and American Routes.” Why do we have to choose?

    Hmmm, cities…I like Ottawa, aspects of my home town Berkeley CA, Portland OR, London, Stratford, and so on and so forth. And Potsdam. etc.

    I second Byron’s recommendation of Glimmerglass. Then there are good performances right here in Potsdam, at the Crane School. It is fun to see talented singers at the beginning of their potential careers.

  14. Dale Hobson says:

    Hi Byon–

    Yay Wellfleet , MA. We’re going for a week at the end of June. Went last year and had a great time.

  15. Tanya says:

    Sooooo glad the Met is tucked away for another year!! Spring has sprung!! Whoo, hoo!!!

  16. christina mccarthy says:

    Absolutely a consumer of most of your programmes, opera, american roots + + +.
    However, since Live at the Met at the movie house here, I don’t listen as much to opera on the radio.

  17. Claudia MacDonald says:

    Introduced to live opera (really, the only way to see/hear opera to receive the full impact) at Artpark (Lewiston, NY…north of Buffalo), aprox. 5 hours away. They also feature jazz, blues, rock, country, ballet, musicals, etc. Just google Artpark. You are in for a treat. (I worked in the pr dept many years ago. One of my assignments: attend every performance! Worked with Beverly Sills, Oscar Peterson, Sun Ra…many wonderful performers.)
    I’m pretty fond of Bar Harbor, Maine. The town’s movie theater, Reel Pizza offers pizza and other excellent food as well as soft and hard beverages sold before, after and during intermission. Has sofas and chairs and tables for your food. So civilized. Bar Harbor is on the ocean, home of Arcadia National Park, home made ice cream (President Obama had some) with a wide varieties of flavors including bacon. The local library has numerous alcoves for reading quietly and a big basked of yarn…take or leave as you please.
    Of yes, my #1 son and his wife and their daughter live there as does my niece and many friends.
    Another former home and favorite place is Estes Park, Colorado, nestled in the Rocky Mountains…sheer beauty, over 300 sunny days per year, dry climate, elk roam in the town and are hazards on the golf course.
    Two other favs are Laramie, Wyoming (retains the feeling of the wild west in some of its bars, yet the University of Wyoming makes its home in Laramie. And the Snowy Range is within spitting distance. The badlands in South Dakota are mesmerizing.
    Then, there is Spain…and Morocco…so many places…so few years on this planet.
    But, I definitely want to go to New Orleans some time soon. (Have you watched Treme on HBO?)

  18. American Routes! Can’t wait to listen again. Makes Saturday chores some much more enjoyable! Thank you for variety.

  19. Lenore says:

    What kind? Global –
    How about Rome, Paris, Budapest.
    LaScala in Milan or Fado in Lisbon.

    I love the North Country, it’s home; but the greater world out there makes us so much richer.

  20. Jeff Biby says:

    The only time that I ever turn off NCPR is Saturday afternoon when the opera comes on. Not a fan. Amarican Routes year-round, PLEASE!!!

  21. Pablo says:

    American Routes AND the Blue Note!

  22. connie says:

    American Routes yes, opera no. Copenhagen yes, Istanbul no.

  23. Bob Falesch says:

    “Signs of Spring” are the most welcome signs on my calendar, for sure. Being able to leave the gloves and scarf behind when going outdoors really works for me.

    American Routes is a great program, with nice balance between entertainment and, might I call it, “anthropological study.” For me, the Saturday Met radio is not essential as I am bored by the “normal” opera fare we almost always hear in the world’s opera houses (Mozart-Da Ponte, or pre-classical, say, Handel or Gluck, but especially 19th-C. Italian). However, every two years or so, and more frequently this season, one of my favorite pieces of music is given by the Met (most recently, Die Walküre). At these times I’m riveted and very thankful NCPR does the Met.

    As for dress, I couldn’t care less and always go with comfort (my jeans never have ragged knee-holes, just the normal fade-spots). My experience at symphony and opera reveal that those who are talking in full voice or snoring are invariably some well-dressed possessors of some age. I’ve attended Met HD at several movie houses (Potsdam NY, Ottawa ONT, Chicago) and find the sound quite substandard with the vaunted multi-channel surround-sound hardly in evidence to redeem it. Visually, however, it’s a splendid experience and beats any seat in any theatre on the planet, IMHO. I also enjoy the audiences at these HD shows, who seem to me more enthusiastic than the comfortable season ticket holders of major theaters.

    I thrive on the vitality and the choices big cities can offer. There are small town $$$holes, big city $$$holes, and narrow-minded people everywhere. The behaviour of the locals is not part of my calculus. Favorites cities? Nah, just the big ones, here and abroad. From reading previous comments here, I know more than ever I *must* visit Burlington.

  24. Jeffrey Fink says:

    Sorry to tell you that Entergy, the company that operates the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, is a New Orleans based company and is a Fortune 500 company.

    New Orleans is fun for three days, after that your entire system is oversaturated by the food, drink and humidity.

    The saddest truth of all is that it is a very difficult city to make a living in.

    I lived there in the mid 70s and would not have missed it, but on the other hand I have had no desire to go back beyond short visits!

  25. Susan B says:

    American Roots please!!

  26. Claudia MacDonald says:

    Last time I was in Burlington, I ate dinner sitting outside on the walking mall. Food=excellent. People watching=good. Alas, tons of smoke! (not from fires…rather from cigarettes or similar pacifier replacements…smoke seemed more intgense as the buildings surrounding the mall seemed to hold the smoke in the walkway)
    As most university towns have, Burlington has its fair share of coffeehouses, entertainment and funky places…but it also has its ‘burbs’, strip malls and the usual trappings that ruin a city.
    Across the pond, I’m in love with Spain, Portugal and especially Morocco.

  27. Byron Whitney says:

    Hey Dale,
    Wellfleet was a regular summer visit for our family every year. My grandmother grew up there after emigrating from Finland. My great grandmother lived there. My grandparents had a summer home which became their retirement home there. One of my grandmother’s brothers was a fisherman based in Wellfleet. My grandfather had a permit for digging oysters which we enjoyed raw on the half shell regularly. Newcomb’s Hollow was our favorite back shore beach and Great Pond our favorite for freshwater. On the bay side we liked Duck Harbor as there were never many other people there. Enjoy your vacation.

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