You might wonder what Whitney Houston (and her much expected Japan tour) have to do with collapsed empires. Well, let me tell you that the only difference is that those empires did not have a choice. I know that certain decisions made in certain historical and political contexts led to disastrous consequences, yet I believe the fall of empires was not something that happened in one generation. So they did not have the choice of retiring in full glory. I mean, it’s not like Octavian could have said: “We’re pretty big and famous now, I think we should withdraw our armies from the territories and become a rich neutral country. Switzerland seems to be a nice-sounding name.”
But performers do have the choice of retiring when they feel there is nothing more they can do for the artistic world. And I think they have the duty to retire when they cannot perform anymore. Even if you are a groupie, seeing your idol miserably struggling on the stage won’t enhance your love for him or her.
So let me tell you about Whitney Houston’s concert in Osaka (the first one, February 17. I’m not sure she can perform again tomorrow; she looked pretty exhausted even when she first showed up on stage last night). In short, it can be described like this: less than 90 minutes of panting, sniffling, talking (more or less coherently) in a very hoarse voice, disappearing from the stage for long periods of time, drinking water, and pathetic attempts at dancing, all interrupted by very very short musical moments. And I mean VERY short. And very BAD. But I learned a lot of useful things: Whitney loves us, she loves Jesus, she believes that there is only one god no matter how we name him (aren’t you just amazed by the originality and depth of this thought?), and she is allergic to mangoes. Of course, the climax came at the end of the show, when she made one more bad choice: she tried to sing “I Will Always Love You”. A brave choice, actually, coming from a person who could not sing for 20 seconds without panting and who would definitely not pass the American Idol auditions. She realized it was a bad choice mid song, right before the well-known “I will always love you” line, and she stopped. To inform us that she had broken a nail. I quote: “See how hard I’m working for you guys”, she said, biting the afore-mentioned fingernail. I guess in any other country but the kind and polite Japan she would have been pelted with rotten eggs. Even in Japan, we heard the fearless voice of an old lady: “Come on, sing now!”
Of course she did not. Because it was obvious she couldn’t. And the entire Osaka Jo Hall (several thousand people) had just wasted their money, on tickets which were not cheap at all. If I were her friend, I would probably feel sorry for her. But I am not her friend, and I only feel sorry for the money I spent (I could have bought the National Geographic complete collection, the deluxe edition and still have enough for a dinner with my husband!) and for the time I could have spent watching soap operas on TV or sleeping. Or thinking about the glorious fall of the City of Byzantium. Heroic. Impressive. Very much unlike a hoarse lady who steals money from honest working people under the pretense that she can entertain them.
PS. We apologize to our faithful readers for this off topic post. We know you are here to read about my latest fashion achievements and, sometimes, to read about Scrabble, and we promise this post is only the result of temporary insanity caused by very bad music.