Been busy as of late. If I’m not busy listening to different versions of the Bach cello suites and obsessively comparing them, I’m at Walmart buying clothing for the children, it seems.

I know – Bach and Walmart. Doesn’t that give me whiplash? Pretty much.

I’ve spent more money at WalMart the past month or so than I have in my entire life, I think. Yes, I’ve gotten over yet another of my certainties.

I used to avoid Walmart because of how they invaded small towns and run the small businesses out. I was incensed when a Super Walmart threatened to build in a cornfield near the neighborhood in Stoughton I grew up in.

But I have since started to chill. One thing that did it was this post on the Ochlophobist blog:

The merchants that WalMart replaced deserved, often enough, to be replaced by a box store because they essentially sold the same crap that WalMart does, only less of it sold at a greater cost. By the ‘50s and ‘60s most small merchants in America were buying all their goods from distributors who bought from distributors who bought from distributors who bought from manufacturers. Why not consolidate such an economic affair? This is different from the grocery man of 1900 who knew most of the producers of the most of the goods he sold, and personally held them accountable for their products. WalMart is the summation of the überization of the markets. WalMart is not the cause of the problem, it is the economic end result of the problem. WalMart simply “perfected” a process of economic exchange already in place. So yes, the merchant families in the county seat of the county I grew up in all deserved to go out of business, which half of them did when WalMart came to town, because they sold crap which they really didn’t know anything about at too high a price. But this does not mean that WalMart is a good thing. It is just a bigger and more efficient version of a bad thing.

Then I noticed that Walmart has basic clothing items that are so hard to find at other stores. It’s remarkably difficult to find, say, a black children’s turtleneck, at most stores but Walmart has them. And for only $5.

Then I noticed how nice the underground parking is in this cold, wet weather.

Then I noticed Tom and Lorenzo (my favorite fashion bloggers) said they buy basic clothing items at Walmart.

Then I found a pair of jeans there – in size long, even – that fit so well that I’ve finally been able to wear jeans again, after a few years of not being able to find jeans. And for only $20.

While strolling the aisles of Walmart I usually have a Bach cello suite going through my head because I recently read the book  The Cello Suites: J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece.

It’s as engaging as a mystery novel because it talks about how the cello suite music disappeared for a time and was rediscovered in a small music shop in Spain by cellist Pablo Casals when he was 13-years-old in the late 1800s.

The author tells stories about Bach that are very interesting and also stories about Pablo Casals. There are many stories about contemporary cellists as well.

I was particularly taken with the story of cellist Matt Haimovitz. He had a “Bach to the Bars” tour in which he played the cello suites in bars, clubs and coffee houses. People would laugh, cry, clap and talk in the middle of songs, which is how public performances were back in Bach’s day in the 1700s.

Haimovitz is convinced that classical music won’t  be taken seriously among young people unless musicians continue to take it out of the hushed atmosphere of concert halls and into real world venues.

That concept is almost enough to make me take my cello out of the corner of my bedroom and learn how to play it (perhaps at Walmart? :-) ) except I’m too old to learn how to play it well enough, even for a venue like Walmart, and I’m not a performer by nature. But I hope other cellists will keep bringing Bach to the bars and Walmarts.

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