The New York Times sent James Oestreich to review a free Mozart Concert at Avery Fisher Hall a few weeks ago. How was the concert? Don't ask James Oestreich! He spent the bulk of his review complaining about the presence that some selfish jerk with an oxygen tank.
I hesitate to delve further into details of the performances, because I was thoroughly distracted throughout.
The man seated directly behind me was connected to a portable medical device, presumably an oxygen cart to aid his breathing, that emitted a steady ticking. Hard to describe, it was really more a faint, dull metallic clank in a relentless rhythm that seemed somehow resistant to all the many other rhythms emanating from the stage.
Oestreich goes on to spend the rest of the review musing on all the various ways that medical devices can ruin the tranquil quiet necessary to enjoy classical music. He also takes some time for some self-justification: "Perhaps the most ill-timed cough I ever heard came at one of the most exquisite moments in all of Schubert, at a luminous harmonic shift in the slow movement of his posthumous B flat Sonata. (When I lamented that intrusion, I was criticized by readers suggesting that I didn't know how bad it could be when you really had to cough during a concert. Oh, really? In a half-century of all-weather, all-health concertgoing?)"
OH REALLY? Take note, readers: criticize James Oestreich and he will get you back later in a story that is ostensibly a review of a Mozart concert. How was that concert, by the way? He never gets around to saying. He was to agitated by that rat bastard with the oxygen cart. The selfish oaf. The brute.
Anyhow the president of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Foundation sent a letter of complaint to the NYT, and the paper, to its credit, published a brief interview with him today. The takeaway is "James Oestreich is kind of an asshole," in case you don't feel like reading the whole thing.