The world ended a hundred years ago and somehow it's still ending.

I saw Ensemble HD, a classical music troupe, at the Happy Dog on December 5th, 2012. It might seem odd to review a musical performance that occurred nine months ago, but here I am, thinking about it.

Ensemble HD is members of the Cleveland Orchestra (and sometimes others), and they play classical music at the Happy Dog (and sometimes other places). On this particular night they played the music of World War I. It's worth noting that at the time of the war they didn't call it World War "1", but neither did they refer to it as simply such-and-such-a-war, either. For them, it was the war to end all wars. The music of the time reflected the cataclysmic outlook. Stravinsky wrote the Rites of Spring. Shit was fucked up. So the music that Ensemble HD played was atonal, random, and harsh. The composers and players strove to express the uncertainty of the age.

Most people hate that "modern" music. Rightly: it's not melodic and not euphonic. But that night, I felt the angst behind it. I put my head down in solidarity with my afflicted comrades of a century ago: I can feel the same today. The pace of change we deal with today is like a world war that never ends, it only accelerates.

And so it was that almost a year later, I was sitting in a bar hundreds of miles away and heard "Natural Beauty" by Neil Young. Now, Neil Young is a bozo, but he's a magnificent bozo. He plays guitar quietly and sings in a fragile, imprecise voice, and conveys emotions high and low that stubbly guys worldwide can cop to. He is a musical Kurt Vonnegut.

I had a bit of a moment. And I remembered World War I echoing down through the years to a hot dog bar on the west side of Cleveland. I felt sorry for all those poor bastards living through World War I thinking that was the end of everything, unable to imagine a future. All their strident fragility led to this moment. And to all others to come.