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nine3 With the umbrellas by Louis Vuitton in case it should rain
U P S I D E     d o w n s t a i r s    a cambridge comedy of manners
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"What's New"    Music and lyrics by Cass von Braun. Arranged by Robert J. Mooney. Vocal by Cass von Braun

Listen to the jazz treatment HERE
Listen to the original rhumba HERE


The singer is Kate Adams, the wandering wife of Academic Dean Don Adams.

In this song, Kate explains how she will return to her cush life as the wife of an important man, and experience is as something new.

A feminine conundrum precluding complete happiness -- born of a woman's nearly inescapable requirement that life for her may mean being "given away," sold, or giving herself away (some would say selling herself) as part of the drive and the bargain struck by biology and society. These circumstances may come into opposition to a soul's burning desire to express its own individuality and test its own mettle against some segment of the world, a theme that appears as leitmotif in many of my works. The characterization of Kate encompasses it here in "Upside Downstairs."

In the case of "What's New," Kate has arrived at the same solution as discovered by Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, 1207-1273), to wit:

"There is only one way to win him, this beloved of mine:

"Become his."
Thus we may observe that successful courtesans, (irrespective of gender), are the engineers and architects of their own passivity. This dynamic explains how a "steel magnolia" may underlie docility in a seemingly subservient personality -- an observable fact that, were I practicing journalism instead of literature, might occasion a rather predictable remark involving the popular concept, "irony.*

Thus Kate's former obsession with the question of who has chosen whom.

Now the heroine has vanquished and vindicated to her heart's content in all the contested fields. Therefore in victory even her frivolously circuitous methods must be excused. There was method in her madness, no doubt, and as a madcap in chief she has been, naturally, quite immune to the conscious awareness of any of it.

No doubt these are among the best virtues to be expected from one who has both suffered and commanded the eternal bands of ordered paradoxes that define the male-female encounter on this plane.

Thus Kate forgives all former tormenters as she plots her next move in growing what suddenly appears to be a completely new crop of admirers.

*LOLkidding!! I really am. NOT!!

In the course of seeking to discuss the use of "Louis Vuitton" in this piece, I corresponded with the company, and was told they do not approve any use of their name of imaging of their designs in works outside their own decision making process. Therefore I was prepared to change "Louis Vuitton" to something that might sound equally exclusive, "Julian Grey" perhaps. Then within the past couple of months I learned that a case brought by L.V. against someone using the name in the same way as I have done has been settled to the effect that anyone is song is allowed freely to make such a reference. I only hope I will be forgiven by the esteemed L.V. organization, which of course no longer has Louis Vuitton in its employ, as he deceased in the year 1892. Vive L.V. -- an estimable brand, the only one that truly suits the artistic purpose here (with the possible exception of Chanel under the design direction of Karl Lagerfeld). And so the reference remains.

NOTE: I admit possible hyperbole on this point, but it may be forgivable after hearing another broadcast journalist declare, "It was ironic that he would be shot dead in street violence just as he was beginning to turn his life around." But this is not at all what the gods regard as irony. Apparent contradictions in human character or interaction do not in themselves constitute irony. True irony is not made of such fluff. In fact, and IMO, almost any description of irony that appears in popular usage, despite how brilliantly intelligent it may allow the author/speaker to appear, is more than likely evidence of a mental short circuit. I've begun to expect the vast majority of cases that begin, "It is ironic," to be mere red flag alerts -- markers of the moment that brings skepticism, if not a precipitous change of the subject altogether.

In fact, I would like to discuss irony sometime -- even in the context of UPSIDE DOWNSTAIRS -- but I'm afraid no one knows what it means any more.

When you must have something that
Doesn't feel so old hat
And your wishes will usually all come true
You get what's new
So then you can admit
It's really more than just a trick, much more
Like something you have seen before

Anything that's old may become what's new
First you mine it, then you redefine it
And you never really take it,
Not like it takes you
So here's what's new

Pretty soon [instr. Pretty soon]
I'll be in quite a bed of roses once again
Lifted up across magical lands
On invisible, zephyrous hands
Even the shadow of that cornice is on my staff
How it could make you laugh
Always bending to take the stairs,
Steps out into the hall, conveniently disappears

Pretty soon
I'll be in quite a bed of roses once again
Still attached to that glorious man
Where my wishes are others's commands
And if the way we shine our light on this tableau
Be taken as low
We's still rushing to make the train
With the umbrellas by Louis Vuitton
In case it should rain

Anything that's old may become what's new
First you devise it
And then you constantly revise it
And it hardly ever mattered if you never took him
After he took you
No, And it really didn't matter if you never took him
After he took you

Pretty soon, pretty soon, pretty soon

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