Psychologist and Jungian analyst in Barcelona and online.

3 June, 2021

Liza Minnelli and cheese

As I said in one of my previous writings here is the article about the star and the dairy product.

In the summer of 2016, Liza Minnelli, the American singer and actress, gave a concert at the Cap Roig Festival held annually in Calella de Palafrugell, one of the most beautiful villages on the Costa Brava.

I have always been an admirer, and somewhat mythomaniac, of these stellar figures of show business, especially American, but not only, so I did not hesitate to buy tickets for the concert, and there my wife and I were, but not in the front rows because these events are mainly for the Catalan bourgeoisie, who live in these parts during the summer season, and the prices are quite prohibitive.

This bourgeoisie, as we all know, lives in precarious conditions because of the subsidised Andalusians and the toll-free motorways of the Castilla-La Mancha, among other grievances.

It is normal at this kind of event for almost everyone to know each other, but there is always the odd outsider, as we were, who swarm around the gardens at the cocktail hour before the show begins. – We middle-class people are quite identifiable, and I am convinced that it takes a split-second glance to know that we are not one of them.

But we weren’t alone that day, of course. There was a somewhat contracted-looking character with a long beard, entomologist’s glasses, Bermuda shorts, cowboy boots and socks. I think that if one day Minnelli finds herself in an auditorium full of people like this she leaves the song.

He was with a girl, slightly attractive, who was listening attentively to him with a face like “this one paid for my ticket, let’s put up with him for as long as it takes” and, at one point, when passing near them both, I heard him talking about cheese, exactly about different varieties of cheese. I suppose he felt that the context and the atmosphere called for such a conversation, and what better act of seduction than to get his companion to salivate.

But I sensed something, and I said to my wife, “we’re going to have him next door”.

Sure enough, as we got ready to take our seats, we saw this character and the girl approaching and sitting right next to each other. I breathed in deeply because when I go to a show like this I experience it as if it were the enthronement ceremony of a monarch and I were the overseer, and I feared that the character would not fail to have an impact on his speech.

As it was, in came Minnelli, who has the same sense of tempo on stage as a soda seller in a 1950s cinema – in other words, I didn’t know whether it was her or someone from the cleaners who was rushing to pick something up.

– How important is the mastery of time for an interpreter! There are those who, with their silences, get the whole audience on their feet applauding fervently. For those mature people who have seen Raphael in concert, they will know that he could sing intoned and still make the audience burst into a kind of collective delirium-.

The boy went on with the cheese theme, mercilessly, too… And then came the highlight, the first notes of “New York, New York”, this song was composed by John Kander and Fred Ebb in 1977 for the film of the same title directed by Martin Scorsese and performed by the singer herself. This song is for liberals of a certain age comparable to the International for communists. The first five seconds usually generate a buzz in which for a brief moment we feel in control of our destiny and empowered to achieve our dreams, then we return to reality, but no one can take that away from us.

What did Mr. Fromage do? He raised his voice because with so much applause the girl could have missed the wines with which the cabrales is paired, something fundamental for her future.

I couldn’t take it any more and I said to her, in Catalan, in a firm tone: “Will you please stop talking about cheese! At that moment he fell silent and I think he realised that he was at a concert and that the maid who was accompanying him was about to throw herself down the steps.

It’s not so much that it annoyed me, which is fine too – mean people give me hives – but that it made me think. From time to time the subject comes to mind and I am surprised by its decontextualisation: you pay for a ticket, not cheap at all, you take a girl you supposedly like, you are at a concert of a certain level and you don’t stop talking about cheese?

It is true that we all fit in this world, this is an example, but the truth is that depending on what we think, what we aspire to, what excites, inspires, cheers or motivates us, we are observing one evolutionary level or another.

I insist on my theory, increasingly contrasted by life experience, of the different levels of soul (of consciousness, to put it more prosaically) that coexist on the planet, independently of the condition of origin of the person and the education he or she may have received.

Meanness is the very opposite of nobility, and while some people dig into the small, living in circumstances that would allow for greater breadth of vision, and even make a way of life out of it, others transcend the limits of the ordinary to approach a fuller, less conditioned, freer and more authentic existence.

I hope, at least, that our expert’s desired “Beatrice “* was not lactose intolerant.


* Character from Dante’s Divine Comedy

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