My Photo


Stats & Etc.

  • All written content (c) 2005-2021 Billy Mernit, all rights reserved.

« Scary Monster | Main | Clouds in My Coffee #11: Welcome to Planet Arnold »



Billy - I've encountered a similar problem at the last two concerts I've attended. (Violent Femmes and Beck, I was very impressed with the Femmes and Beck was incredible) At both concerts I seemed to end up near a group that was just there to talk to each other. Especially during songs that were not their favs, they saw nothing wrong with loud full blown conversations. The lack of consideration some people show for others just astonishes me sometimes. I know it's only rock and roll but I like it and I want to hear it without hearing about some stranger's pathetic life history. And I don't even want to get started on their behavior in the movie theater. I'm afraid that the behavior of the general public is slowly turning me into a hermit.
Keep up the great work!



Hi Bill,

living in Europe(Germany that is) I´m accompanied each morning in my car radio by a letter, written by Mozart and rendered by Klaus Maria Brandauer (remember James Bond - he played a baddy there once) Viennese accent and all. I guess, Mozart was some kind of rocker. I don´t like noise in an audience myself - but as I remember, in Mozart´s times a concert was like a Baseball game - people throwing orange peels through the auditorium etc. - so at least Wolfgang was used to stuff like that :)

Keep the good work!


That's incredible. Can you imagine if you were the guy with the cell phone? He probably wet himself!

Rose Gibbs

I dunno why you're surprised by the philistines, after all the movie industry caters to them. These are the same people who made "Jackass 2" the #1 movie the weekend it was released and have spend over 72 MILLION dollars on it since it's release (according to "boxofficemojo dot com"). Not that I'm saying the philistines should be that way...

I attribute it to lack of "home schooling". You know, that thing call "manners" which my parents insisted on instilling in us, but seems to be something completely neglected these days. You don't have to go to a concert for examples of this, hell, go to a restaurant in suburbia and watch the kids run amok while the parents are either indulging their ill mannered whelps (and their antics) or just plain absent... if not physically then certainly mentally.


Whoops... the above comment is mine... seems that when I cleared my cache, I wiped out cookies too!

Jill Morris

If you think your experience with the LA Phil and their auditorium is emblematic of a "philistine" audience, then check out what this person observed in the land of one of the greatest orchestras and concert halls in the world:


Craig: yes, "behavior of the general public" is turning me into a gremlin...

Welcome Kathrin! Great to hear from you in Germany -- orange peels, eh? Maybe things simply never do change...

Hucklecat: ... in which case, I hope he gave himself an electrical shock.

Writer Rose Girl Gibbs: Not surprised, just disgusted. Hope you find some new cookies and that they are delicious.

Welcome Jill and thanks for the link -- glad to know we're not alone in this ridiculousness...


What I don't understand is, how do people not know that their phone is still on? If they don't turn it off before the concert, do they just assume no one will call? I think it's worse than that. I think they believe that their calls are so important that the rules don't apply to them. They'll get their call, duck out on the first ring, so it won't _really_ bother anybody...

I always check my phone to make sure the sound is off before a movie, but I double check if I'm at a live performance. It's bad enough to ruin it for your fellow audience members, but to ruin the performer's incredibly disrespectful.

E.C. Henry


I don't condone poor audience behavior, BUT I think Andras Schiff should have been professional enough to endure the distractions and continue to entertain his audience. You can't control people.

At the recent Screenwriting Expo I sat in on a lecture Michael Lent was giving and I swear some guy in the front row blew his nose into his shirt not once but twice!Michael had to have to seen that, BUT he continued to impart his wisdom to us anyway.

The cell phone thing IS unforgivable -- especially at the event you were at.

Bottom line: people are people and some of those people are morons. If you aspire to entertain the masses you should have thick enough skin to deal with the morons.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


People have no manners and no sense of decency or courtesy anymore. Such disrespect, for both the artist and the other audience members.

The funny thing is, while I read your story, the first thing that came into my head was that if you put that exact series of events into a screenplay, you'd probably get a note back saying it was a bit too over the top.

Beth Ciotta

I cringed for Mr. Schiff while reading your post. I've experienced similar audience rudeness at concerts and Broadway plays. I always feel for the performers. I feel for me, too. The noise is distracting and annoying and sucks me out of the magical moment. I've almost given up on going to movie theaters. Never fails I sit in front or behind people who think they're in their living room.

I agree with previous posters. There's an overall disturbing lack of courtesy and respect these days. *sigh* On a positive note, how wonderful that, in the end, you were treated to a passionate performance. Mozart (and apparently Mr. Schiff) rocks.


All I can add is to this discussion is AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!


Oops. Please remove the word "is" after the word "add". I should really wait until my second cup of coffee before I post...but you get the idea.


A flower girl once threw up on me at a wedding. I was singing an aria in Italian as the bridal procession passed. She'd had too much ravioli for lunch.


okay, i got one for you

i studied music (clarinet) at a conservatory. went to a symphony concert one night. brahms i think, but it doesn't really matter. third movement is one of the greats -- a meditative soul-stirring expression of thought that ends very subdued -- the type of ending where you don't applaud for a couple seconds after the last reverb. so -- conductor leads the band in a finely-wrought execution of the last phrase -- fade, quieter, quieter, strings playing on edge of bow, finally...the end. the composer had issued his final consideration on the matter. the only part of the music left was the silence that completes it -- beep-beep!! beep-beep!! beep-beep!!

someone up in the expensive seats is reminded of some (i'm sure) cancelled event, or if not cancelled -- clearly forgotten.

conductor whirls in humiliation and rage, baton held high in one hand in a vaguely threatening gesture, the other hand empty, fingers outstretched -- held up to the heavens as if to ask 'why. why dear lord have you struck me down so'-- his face contorted with insult and pleading, staring at the spot in the audience where the direction-finding mechanism of his brain told him the offending appointment-conscious party must be sitting.

i remember it like it was yesterday. this particular conductor was born in indiana (or someplace like that) and lived in this country his whole life -- yet he spoke with an accent that was sort of what you would expect someone who grew up in france and learned english while they lived in england to sound like. it was such an obvious affectation -- everyone thought he was a dolt (with all due respect), and i was no exception. but, when i heard that horrible electronic beeping (it was very loud, clearly produced for someone who might need to be reminded of something while working on a construction site or some such noisy environment) my gut wrenched -- i could have screamed...names, insults, blunt profanities -- you get the picture.

at that moment my heart went out to this pompous self-important conductor -- this guy with the fakey 'i'm so smart i talk with a british/french accent even though i grew up in indiana, (or some such place). not only had he suffered as a professional conductor, he suffered as a fellow human being. could this beeping device not simply have been left at home? what was so important? what did this person need to know at that moment? was the device a new experimental doodad that was designed to inform the user whenever the nearest symphony orchestra stopped playing so that the user would know to applaud?

but, i guess i've over-emphasized my point -- the person with the alarm issuing device had simply forgot to turn it off. it was human error, an oversight, a goof. we all make them. (one wonders, though, why we can't seem to remember basic etiquette when attending a classical concert -- leave the electronic beeping devices at home). strip them from your wrists, belt buckles, dump them from your pockets, purses, secret compartments. leave all electronic communication/alarm devices at home so that we might enjoy some non-electronic (acoustic) communication.

if i had magic powers i would go back to that night and set that alarm for 5 minutes later. then poor indiana/england/france conductor could have been spared the pain of having his beautifully crafted musical statement butchered by construction site beeper, and...well, everything would be smooth and pretty.

but, there is a reason for everything, i suppose. a moment later the applause arose from the audience, the offending patron felt like a jackass, the conductor lowered his arms and walked off stage. (they probably got good and drunk at the orchestra party and joked about the beep-beeping [classical musicians have some of the best post parties -- it might not seem like it, but those guys par-tay. it's way fun, they have the best sense of humor]). still, one wonders what the mysterious purpose of this event may have been. what are we supposed to take from it? what events were set in motion? what happened as a result? oh, well. some things can't be understood, i suppose. sounds like a good set-up for short fiction. the 'greatest short story ever written'. that's it! i'm to write a short story based on this event that will become known as one of the greats and will be studied in universities for all time to come. thank you dear lord for making that beeper go off just at the right time and embarrassing that pompous conductor. oh, thank you! thank you!


Oh, MaryAn, I hate it when people throw up on me.

Ann Wesley Hardin

My mother took me to ballets and symphonies in NYC when I was barely more than a tot and I clearly remember her whispered instructions about when to clap, and when to cough.

Of course, none of that prepared me for the drunken acid-freak I stood next to at the Roger Waters concert this summer. Apparently, he thought I'd be more interested in HIS philosophy than anything a brilliant, seminal rock composer had to say.


I just tuned him out and nodded with Pink Floyd's primal beat. The acid freak seemed to think I was agreeing with him, and we all went home happy.


This is why I spend my days with six year olds. They have an excuse for having no attention span.

Write Procrastinator

For such events, there should always be two cough drops handed out per person. They could just add it to the ticket price.

As far as the cell phones?
Ushers with cattle prods.

Not stun guns...

cattle prods.

Initially, there will be some yelps and screams, but by the end of the concert season, everyone will be on their best behaviour.


There are, indeed, a few things worse than canes, coughs and cell phones -- recycled ravioli is one.


Melanie: Yes, I think it's the arrogance of the Bubble People (as in, I'm in my own bubble and the rest of you, who cares?)...

EC, There's a world of difference between the focused concentration required to play a Mozart sonata perfectly in a world-renowned, state of the art concert hall (where the best seats are nearly $100 apiece) and giving a lecture at the Expo; a line had been crossed here that shouldn't have been crossed, and I back Mr. Schiff's actions 101%.

Caroline: ... which is generally true of most real-life events v. screenwriting -- who'd ever believe it?

Beth: True, giving real meaning to the word "transcendent."

Binnie: Argh seconded...

MaryAn: Now THAT's cold...

Alan: Just like a writer. It's all about YOU, isn't it... ;-)

Ann: Acid freak may not have known he was speaking out loud (Wow, man, he was thinking, she can hear my thoughts!!!)...

Brooke: Another mystery solved.

WritePro, I like the way you think.

MaryAn: It's an experience that keeps repeating on you, doesn't it?


Don't offer to buy me an Italian dinner either, Billy.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Billy's Books

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2005