Harvey Pekar's New Opera: Leave Me Alone

Harvey Pekar, who you probably know from his most popular comics work American Splendor, has written an opera based on the life a math teacher who struggles to balance his day job with his passion for being a jazz musician. Pekar is trying to spark an interest in the average person in experimental music through this "jazz opera". You can stream the opera from Oberlin College's website, here.

Pekar quoted as saying:
"Well, I'm trying to get everyman involved in art," he says. "And I'm trying to get them involved in thinking about what it takes to get everyman into experimental music or painting or novel writing. I think it's important to have the support of the masses."

I see what Pekar is saying but really, he's being fairly idealistic. There's a reason why this stuff is considered experimental! because it's taking a chance and playing into some weird interest of the artist. In today's world, you can't expect to be successful without playing the game a little bit by at least, winning critical acclaim. It's also weird for his conduit for this message to be Opera, a notoriously polarizing art form.

This opinion puts me semi-parallel with R. Crumb, who discusses the similar topics with Pekar in the NPR podcast. It's interesting to hear the dichotomy between Pekar and Crumb in this podcast because Pekar is expressing his interest in the average person, which is also apparent through his comics, and Crumb is just being himself, a radical individualist. They end up discussing music and based on my previous knowledge of what Crumb likes and Pekar's interest in promoting experimental jazz, their differing tastes in music only further expresses their difference in attitude; Crumb does exactly what he wants and seems like an oddball, Pekar tries to be different, innovative--and maybe not always succeeding--with some interest in the outside world.

Crumb's Taste in Music


Pekar's Taste in Music

BONUS: Crumb explains the BEAN effect

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