Sunday, December 12, 2010


Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars - From "Fly me to the Moon" composed by Bart Howard, sung by Sinatra

A few hundred years ago when I'd just finished university ('yooni' in OZ-speak), the Kubrick movie, "A Clockwork Orange" was released.

It is set in a Britain of the future and is the story of a young delinquent Alex DeLarge (played by Malcolm McDowell). Alex is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem. The therapy involves him being forced to watch violent scenes on film while listening to classical music, specifically Beethoven's 9th, 4th movement.

Among other consequences of the "therapy" he is forever more unable to listen to classical music - music which he once loved.

I hated the film. However I was apparently alone amongst my circle of friends at the time. It was after all "in" to hate big brother, government, and aversion therapy. To love classical music was apparently the character's (Alex Delarge's) saving grace. Government bad, classical music good. And somehow Alex's horrific rape crimes that were the cause of his imprisonment were lost to all, or at least forgotten. I hated the film as they way I interpreted it was that ruining Alex's enjoyment of classical music was somehow worse than the crime he committed against a middle-class couple. Alex was of course working class and somehow sacrosanct.

I'd forgotten all about "Clockwork Orange". And then suddenly, unannounced, it all came flooding back to me.

Living in New York it is not uncommon to hear Frank Sinatra songs being played. In gyms, dental offices, stores, pubs. I don't normally notice them, well, not consciously at least.

But last night, there I was in my favorite Japanese restaurant. I'd asked for the check (OZ-speak = "bill"). When the check is brought at Konomi, it is always accompanied by a segmented orange. Why did I suddenly feel so ill? My jaw ached.

I could hear "Fly Me to the Moon" sung by Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Then I realized Sinatra songs had been playing all the time I'd been at the restaurant.

And what music is piped into the room at my dentist's? Sinatra of course. And I've had several very long sessions at my dentist's lately. Must have heard every Sinatra recording several times over.

I'd been aversion-therapied!

Now when I listen to Sinatra I hear drills. My mouth goes numb and I imagine Malcolm McDowell ramming a golf-ball down the mouth of the husband whose wife he's going to rape in " A Clock-Work Orange".

What's more I remember my old friends telling me I was bourgeois and didn't understand Kubrick's message. Oh the fear of being thrown out of the in-crowd!

Furgeddabout Beethoven's 9th. It's hardly played here in Ol'-New-York-New-York-so-good-they-named-it-twice. But Sinatra, he's EVERYWHERE!

I tell you guys, this is just hasn't been my year!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not a Very Good Year, as Sinatra would sing. I have little emotional response to Sinatra, didn't like him in my youth (Forties/Fifties) thought he was a good accompaniment to smooching in my early twenties, but tired of him after I discovered Billy Holiday whom I think he shamelessly copied - phrasing and song selection.

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