Magnanimous musical moments 1: Billy Joel

When it comes to enjoying music, there’s nothing like being in the audience watching one of your favourite artists perform live. Some of the most viscerally and physiologically pleasurable moments of my life have been in the company of sound, emotion and atmosphere circulating about my body via the acoustics, sublime or otherwise, of live venues.

There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to do something to break through that invisible barrier of the performer and the audience, but for a variety of reasons never felt compelled enough.  But there are those fans – those huge fans – who have an extra dose of chutzpah, talent and perhaps a fantasy. And sometimes, when luck is on their side, that fantasy becomes a reality.

Billy-Joel-Michael-Pollack1Over the last few years, I’ve seen some wonderful clips where this has been captured; an audience member has broken through that barrier, and, as a result, something special happens. At that moment, not only does the audience member step into the world of his or her idol for the experience of a lifetime, but the performer takes a leap of faith too – a huge gamble on the outcome.

After all, what happens if the fan is – well, a dud? And it all goes pear-shaped. And awkward? I haven’t seen those videos. But boy, have I seen the opposite.

I’ve been storing up a few of these to share as a series on HH, because they make me feel so good. I call them magnanimous musical moments, because as a result of the performer’s magnanimity, three groups are changed:

  1. the fan, who couldn’t be happier – either that night, for a week, a month or maybe the rest of his or her life;
  2. the audience, who, through the fan, enjoy the experience vicariously while still enjoying the performer, and so take an extra-special memory home with them;
  3. the performer, who, through his or her action, has consciously or subconsciously given the most wonderful gift, the willing ‘transfer of the baton’ not just of their own music – the highest honour – but acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes you’ve just gotta give someone a chance.

So where to start? I’m going to start with my most recent discovery, because it’s perfect. Watch Billy Joel a) make the split-second decision b) realise he’s made a good decision and c) enjoy it. Enjoy!

ps – if you have any doubts about points 1. and 2. above, check out this ‘accompanying’ video which is the perspective of Michael’s friends in the audience.


I rest my case. And if you haven’t smiled at least once in the last 10 minutes, you’re a hard person, my friend.

[Pic courtesy The Tenneseean]

“You like me, right now, you like me!” *

Well, some of you like me, and I thank you for it.

And because I’ve now passed 5000 visits, I’m really curious to find out where you come from as you can’t all be my mother logging in from different IP addresses.

So if you haven’t already, could you please show me you Like HH by visiting the Facebook page and doing the Like thang? I would be very grateful, in an integrated linked-in-social-media-networking kinda way, because then I’ll “get access to insights about my activity,” which sounds like fun. Even if they are just statistics. But you are more than just a statistic to me, really.

* And who uttered those heartfelt words from the title? Cinefiles will know:

Facebook: leaving v consuming v producing

A few weeks ago I followed a friend’s lead and decided to back off from Facebook for a while. My friend had eloquently explained on her blog the reasons for her decision, which included, among other things:

Since bushing the Book, my productivity has soared in the office and at home. I have had far more, what I like to call “voice-on-voice” conversations with gorgeous friends and perhaps most telling of all I have stopped thinking in status updates.

There’s been quite a trend of abandoning Facebook in recent months; just Google ‘leaving Facebook’ and see what comes up. People are leaving because of privacy concerns, useability for techno-types, time wasting, social issues around friends and content, but what my friend said about thinking in status updates really hit me.

In my case, as a part-time student with kids and a busy life anyway, there was an element of “if I’m on Facebook, I really should be doing something else, like writing an essay or cooking dinner,” plus there was the non-Facebook communication factor: I have a handful of good friends who aren’t on Facebook and I was ashamed to realise that on one occasion I’d become annoyed that they weren’t, because it meant I would have to ‘double-up’ to get in touch with them. Why couldn’t they just get on Facebook and be like everyone else, for heaven’s sake!

But still, it was the status update (my own) I realised I was most attached to. And I started to ask why.  Yes, I genuinly think it has been useful and entertaining to read other’s choice of words to keep me ‘in touch’ with their emotional, professional, political, economic or cultural state at that moment in time. Except for vaguely stated emotional attention-seeking behaviours which, fortunately, are few and far between because I have nice well-adjusted friends (mostly).  And we all love a link to a cute video of babies doing something adorable. Don’t we.

But still ….

After making my decision, I had a week or so before going on holidays. During that week I pretty much abstained. And it was okay. I started to think: what difference does it make to my FB user experience, and my friends’ user experience, to write about my reaction to Japan’s tsunami crisis, or what movie I just watched, or who I was going to have lunch with? What does it change in the overall balance of my social relationships, if I were to email the same information with more detail, or bump into someone and have a chat about it? Answer: absolutely nothing.  What need does it fufil in me, when providing a status update? That I matter? (If so, to whom?) That anyone cares? That I prove I’m fabulously witty, insightful, clever? That it’s important, heaven forbid. Nope. Not a bit. Big step.

Status updates are pointless, and yet oh-so-clever at the same time. Clever Mr Zuckerberg et al.

However, as if to prove the clever bit above, when I went on holiday, my ambivalence and questioning of FB was conveniently ditched and it was a godsend, and not just because I was at a Formula 1 race where there’s only so much time you can sit watching fast cars zoom past with engines so loud you have to wear ear protection, so that makes for pretty boring company if you’re not an F1 super-fan-geek. Which I’m not.

Anyway, it was great to take the odd mobile pic, upload it to FB, throw in a status update, and keep all those people on my carefully selected and maintained Friend list (note I didn’t say ‘all my friends’ because, alas, they’re really not) ‘updated’ on my holiday. Hell, I’m sure sure you all felt you were right there with me encouraging Webber along (in ear-plugged silence). Nice.

So on return from the holiday, I made another grand announcement:By this time, I had come to a fundamental realisation about my use of Facebook. I was only checking out of ‘the status update’ but still keeping my FB relationship open. Yes, I’d removed the shortcut from my browser, and I wasn’t contributing updates every day – but I’d still ‘drop in’ and catch up on the day’s activities, and occasionally post on other people’s comments.

I have predominantly become a FB consumer, not producer. Does it make a difference to my time?


Will I blog more?


Does that defeat the purpose?

You might have to read my Tweets to find out. At least they’ll only be 140 characters long so my irrationale will be more succinct.

And have I stopped thinking in status updates?

JB says yes.

My Top 10 lists

You either love ’em or you hate ’em, but Top 10 lists are popular these days, so here are my top 1o lists:

  1. The shopping list – an eternal favourite, never quite complete, which you never quite know until you get home without the milk/lentils/Vegemite/castor sugar. However, disappointment and frustration can somewhat be mitigated by using just gorgeous shopping list stationery. Two of my favourites – Remo’s fridge magnet and pad with helpful memory prompter (right), and, from the 1980s, Sandra Boynton’s clever little ‘Chopin Liszt’ (couldn’t find an image anywhere!)
  2. The Christmas present list – begun in earnest about September, edited and reviewed about November 30, and then scribbled and rewritten frantically on 23 December, just to make sure. Try not to add a $ column; I used to, but have now abandoned it as I just get depressesd.
  3. The Christmas card list – this one’s just come back into vogue as a reaction to the separation of church and state good ol’ fashioned card writing from the online social media circus that allows us to say “Merry Christmas”- and in only 15 characters too, enough left over to tweet a link to my blog with the remaining 125 and upload a pic of the Christmas tree on Facebook and did you see The Digital Story of the Nativity on YouTube it was really cool and Tumblr’s the one to watch — where was I?? Oh yes, getting out my pen and writing cards to the special people on this list who may only hear from me once a year, but it’s Christmas,  goddammit, and we’re all full of love and my thoughts are with them; that is, if I have their address, and extra time after the present shopping. So don’t take it personally if you haven’t received a card, it’s early days in a Back to the Future kinda way.
  4. The dreaded ‘To Do’ list – oh, my notebooks are full of them. It’s a subset of its own: there’s the renovation to-do list, the cleaning to-do list, and the work to-do lists (blog post lists, chargeable hours lists, tax document lists); even the gardening to-do list, which seems a bit silly as you’re not going to have your notebook outside to check items off the list with mulch-encrusted gloves.  But this is a real one from a clean-up a few years ago – and notice the diagonal line, a healthy sign of list completion!
  5. The New Year’s resolutions list – the last one seen was as recently as 2009.  Most of it is still waiting to be achieved. Achieving my new year’s resolutions is going to be one of my new year’s resolutions … next year.
  6. The calendar list – this is a fairly new arrival on the scene, for all those busy parents who now not only have the option of individual columns for each family member, but can also make lists within the columns with nifty little stickers that say things like, “Piano,” “Dentist” and “Play date”. They never seem to have stickers for “Euphonium,” “Gynaecologist” or “Big night out” so you can see who they’re pitching at. I received one of these as a present this year (although I confess I’ve been buying them for the past couple of years) and, by coincidence, it’s a Boyton calendar. With stickers. And a fifth column, which I like to call ‘Other’.
  7. The holiday list – now divided into four columns to ensure all parties of the household are accounted for, although the kids pretty much need the same things which wastes a column, unless you use that now-vacant column to put in all the things that are for the whole family – like iPods and toilet paper.
  8. The ‘just in case’ list. This is not a favourite of mine.  This is the list you make when you have to remember details just in case they a) are needed for future medical purposes, b) are needed for future insurance purposes or c) are needed for future legal purposes, possibly as a result of the outcomes of a) or b).  I have one of these too, from a particularly nasty time in 2009 that involved four hospitals, three ambulances, an RFDS flight and a great potential for the unintentional spread of misinformation. So I recorded everything according to who was affected and treated over a 30-day period. Don’t call me OCD – but at the time I would have answered to “that anxious, stressed-out and exhausted mum over there”.
  9. The wish list! This is a real thing in our house now, thanks to my friend Julie. How many times throughout the year do you see or hear about something and think “I’d love that for Christmas”, or your child/spouse/ significant employer says “I’ve always wanted one of those”.  Well, when you/they do, nip over to the printout you’ve stuck on the fridge/filing cabinet with the handy table courtesy of MS Word and write it on the wish list! Then, come little or big Johnny’s birthday six months later, or at Christmas, you nip back to the list and see that he wanted a Star Wars: the Force Unleashed DS game, or Bluetooth, or hopefully something under $200. Problem solved!
  10. Rounding out the top 10 list is this top 10 list because, frankly, I didn’t think I’d be able to find 10 lists I use and can demonstrate. But I have. And that’s a bit revealing.  Hmm, there’s an idea for a list: top 10 things I’ve revealed about myself on this blog …

[And I’ve just thought of two more: the Santa List for True Believers, coming soon on Brownie Talk; and the, ahem, To All The Men I’ve Loved Before list, Julio Iglesias style.  I’m not the only one, right?]

Cool word stuff – really!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Wordle!   This nifty thingy takes words of your choosing – from blogs, essays, letters, anything – and makes pretty patterns out of it.  Like this, from my blog!

I’ve also discovered Wordoid, and enjoyed its offerings so much I’m thinking of renaming Hegemony Heights to Hegemonymously, or Hegemonymouth. Put in a word of your choice with some limiters, and be amused at the linguistic permutations it throws out. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

If you want to see a really cool piece of Web 2.0 ‘poetry in motion’, literally, check this video out.  From the web, called The Future of Publishing, “it was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. We hope you enjoy it – and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point, there’s a surprise!”  That last bit is really important.

Okay, this bit might be a bit boring for some of you, but Yahoo! is going to publish an Internet style guide.  This will make life easier for some people, while the rest really don’t give a shit.  So be it. 

Right then.  That’s enough words for now.

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