And the band plays on

Your corporate planners booked an award trip at a remote location, complete with mixer party and Gala. Except for the entertainment part. How would you feel? Just pop in a DVD, have a few drinks? or resort to karaoke to save a few bucks?

We need artists, musicians and singers. We need actors who can portray a range of personalities.

Before music, there were words. Writers and coders who recorded human earliest attempt to leave behind and beyond death, some forms of communication. See me, hear me.

We need to acknowledge and be acknowledged.

Throw me a line, pass me the salt. Buy me a drink, show me the way.

In hard times, consumers cut spending (high gas price), hence live entertainment often is first to go.

But when music starts, we feel a surge of emotion, the affective. I did not know until recently that the Deer Hunter piece was also played by the Shadows (famous for Apache).

The underlining sense of loss, of coming back to a no-longer home, because one has changed completely inside. It doesn’t matter that the same ensemble are still there. What changed was your view of the world, ill-exposed. Robert De Niro had to duck in the back of the taxi (while he never bent in war zone) urging it to drive pass the welcome home party. Shame, loss, self-alienation, self-recrimination. What on earth are we doing to ourselves. After putting a man on the moon, we could not bring him back to the welcoming arms of friends.

It’s not war that kills. It’s the shadow of war that lingers on, eating you up one cell at a time. Until you wake up one morning, and wish it were hell right then and there. He had to be back to the war zone, to get his friend out. Marines don’t leave marines behind. The choppers on the roof. The looting and shooting. Every man to himself. Baby got tossed over barbed wires at the embassy in hope of getting picked up by choppers (they must have confused between Operation Baby Lift vs Operation Frequent Wind) just to land on top of the Soviet-made tanks the next day for photo ops. Soldiers of the same side shooting civilians and each other. Commanders took their own bullets, an act viewed as coward for fear of reprisal , or bravery in the tradition of samurai.

A city under its own siege, like a three-legged stool, unable to decide which side to stand on. Money changers and side switchers.

The losing side lost their shirts. Underwent a humiliating stripping process at the camp. A coke and a sandwich, received with grace from the priest’s hand as if it were communion (not yet wading clear of the water, hence, like a forced baptism by fire and by water). Army in retreat. Democracy retrenched.

Lives got rebuilt. One toilet at a time, evacuees need to make a “janitorial decision”. Reverse social order. What’s your income level? Let’s see if you are qualified.

“Band on the run” was played over the radio while visas got processed. Temporary shelters, short-term mindset.

Life on hold. Future on pause. The sky is the limit except for turning back. “Do you know, where you’re going to” (Theme from Mahogany). ( Diana Ross)

And the band plays on. We need new tune for new times. Who needs liberal arts folks. Just let the machine synthesize.  So we got lip sync, and karaoke. One-man band and computer-generated poetry. Algorithm and outsourced blog.

Back to our corporate planners. At the end of the retreat, should you have it all out with a night of karaoke or hire professional musicians to show us “a time of your life”, when you still dream, explore possibilities and pursue “creative destruction”. Instead of urging employees to “think out of the box”, we should have never put them in one.

But if we did , the least we could do is to change the tune once in a while, knowing full well music started out with locked-in 7 notes. Yet the band plays on, each time, rendering a different interpretation. Try Catavina with different musicians: all out-of-the-box.


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