“The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.” – William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice, act 5, scene 1)
On Friday, August 11th, 2017, white nationalists chose the largely liberal town of Charlottesville (Virginia) to stage a protest march. The alt-right, of whom white nationalists and white supremacists are an integral part. met with counter protesters. Violence and bloodshed erupted when an alt-rightist, in an indisputable an act of domestic terrorism, drove a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring several.
On Monday April 3rd, musicians, artists, actors, poets, and dancers assembled on the steps of City Hall to protest the attempt on the part of the Trump administration to destroy art and culture in the United States. This press rally “Save The Arts” was organized by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Representatives of the Local 802 Musicians Union, The Actors Equity Association, Musicians for Musicians, Asian American Arts Alliance, and other music and arts organizations gathered at the steps of City Hall. David Byrne (Talking Heads), L. Steven Taylor (The Lion King), Ciara Renée (actress, singer, and musician) , The CEOs of the New York Public Library systems, Neil Shapiro of WNET, president of the Local 802 Tino Gagliardi, Brooklyn Council member Mark Trager, Bronx council member Andy King, Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Upper West Side), New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and others spoke and shared their views on the dynamics and nuances of this important issue.
“The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.”
Trump’s people are finding it impossible to find anyone to perform at the presidential inauguration on January 20th, 2017. John Legend, Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Elton John, Kiss, Garth Brooks, Céline Dion, Andrea Bocelli, and even several Washington DC high school marching bands (who’d performed for the inaugurations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama) turned him down. This, despite being offered exorbitant fees.
The situation is such that Trump’s people have gone so far as to offer ambassadorships to talent agents who could secure an A-List performer. The desperation in the act is appalling, indicative of the low moral character of Trump and his people, and the pitiful estimation people have of him.
However, there is also the factor of Trump’s reputation. Musicians will negotiate a contract to be hired for the inauguration. After the gig, Trump and his people might refuse to pay the musicians. This is keeping with his consistent pattern of dishonest business ethics. Trump would doubtless justify this by saying something like “I wanted this inauguration to be tremendous, and it was. It was really tremendous. It was the best inauguration ever. But the music was bad, I mean, they were really bad, these musicians. These are bad musicians. They didn’t do a good job, it’s that simple.” His people will offer the performers, maybe 30-40% of the previously agreed upon remuneration, reminding them that it will cost them more in legal fees to sue (and, to add insult to injury, expecting them to be happy with the “honor” of performing for Trump).