The other day, I was on a New York City bus, heading uptown towards Harlem. Sitting behind me were two kids, both African-American teenaged boys. There was an empty seat in front of them, which I took. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop on their conversation, but I couldn’t help but hear what they were talking about.
One kid said to the other: ”So my mother is screaming at me to turn down that fucking (sorry – they used this word a lot – and I’m an accurate reporter) music. So I’m yelling back that it’s fucking daytime and nobody’s trying to fucking sleep.” Other kid: ”That’s fucked up. So what did you do next?” First kid: ”I told her, ‘Damn Mom, don’t fuck with my Mozart’. ”Other kid: ”Who the fuck is Mozart?” First kid: ”You don’t know what opera is?! Man, you’re ignorant.”
Lifelong opera fan that I am, I turned around and asked the kid what Mozart he loved. He told me he loves Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, my personal favorites, too. He also loved Beethoven and Mahler.
Somehow this encounter was all the more meaningful because it happened this week. A week when Spike Lee went crazy over the gentrification of Brooklyn and our Mayor continued his campaign against New York City’s charter schools, which give kids – especially inner city kids – a better future by giving them an education. I wish I had known he was against education before I voted for him.
I say we need less politics, more Mozart.