Monday, October 25, 2010


One week ago I was in Scotland for a three day festival-- mostly in Glasgow, but also a day in lovely Edinburgh. As you can see from the photo of the festival poster, I was last but not least. They put on three pieces--Fog Tropes, Alcatraz and Orphic Memories; the last played by the stellar Scottish Chamber Orchestra --it was a really good performance under the guiding hands (he doesnt use a stick!) of Baldur Bronnimann

The festival was simply called "MINIMAL," and featured music by most of the usual suspects.
I used to be adverse to the all too facile use of this sobriquet--the "M" word--and would rail against its indiscriminate use in musical taxonomy. But now I don't care anymore; it is what it is, and once these labels catch on, people get use to them and that's that.
I could argue that early Steve Reich (Violin Phase for example) is actually Minimalism as an "aesthetic," but early Adams (Shaker Loops for example) is actually Minimalism as a "style."
But I won't, because the time has come to leave these distinctions to the nit picker musicologists who will need fodder for their mills
But in one area there an undisputed legitimate use of the word Minimal--the mushroom scene.
There has been nothing, not even a minimal flowering of fungi to speak of. When I returned fom my Scottish trip I scoured the woods of East Rock park and found nothing but a bunch of old King Stropharias, not worth bothering with.
This year there are no Honey mushrooms, no Bi color boletes, no black trumpets.--none of the usual Fall species one would expect to find. Not even agaricus campestris on lawns.

The only mushrooms I have found recently has been a cluster of "honeys" (armilleriella melea) growing at the base of an oak tree in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park. It was a healthy looking cluster but I didn't harvest them, for where was I going to cook them up? in my hotel room?
Also, "honeys" can be surpsingly bitter or acrid in some areas (something to do with the tree they are growing on--they are lignacious), so why take a chance? I remember that in San Francisco honeys growing in eucalyptus groves always had an off, camphor like taste.I ate them anyway--stupidly.
So, this has been a truly Minimal season for mushrooms. I am almost tempted to rename my blog "The Minimalist Mycophage"

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