I have heard great things about the Seattle Ring Cycle. Word is, it's that rare production that manages to be as beautiful as it is faithful. People are always saying that such a thing should exist, but like the Arabian phoenix, no one has actually seen it. Anybody reading this going to catch the cycle in Seattle? Anybody know if there's going to be a video or something? (Everybody's making videos nowadays!) Anyway, this a pretty exciting time for me to be getting to know Wagner, with all these Ring Cycles cropping up. Seattle! Next summer, L.A.! Then, the new Met production! The L.A. Ring, which I've mentioned here before (1, 2), is apparently drawing some controversy because some attention-hogging professional whiners in local government have proposed, "in a bewitchingly Oulipian move" (Guerrieri), that the Wagner Festival celebrating L.A.'s first-ever production of the Ring be dedicated instead to the works of other composers who were not as anti-Semitic. This is funny because EVERY SEASON OF THE L.A. OPERA is dedicated chiefly to the works of other composers (this is L.A.'s FIRST RING CYCLE, remember?)—increasingly, to the works of composers suppressed, ruined or killed by Nazi Germany. And, as would seem to be the hip trend in politics nowadays, the arguments of these fanatics are padded with nice fat lies. Like, the festival is a celebration of Wagner the MAN, not Wagner's MUSIC (in fact, there will be discussions of Wagner's anti-Semitism as part of the festival). And, putting on a Wagner festival will make L.A. a tourism destination—FOR NAZIS!!1! Because, apparently, there is nothing skinheads love more than to sit through hours and hours and hours of opera. Oh but wait. Via Slog, there's this genius— —who smiled for a photo (since deleted from his Twitpic) by Zach Carstensen of The Gathering Note, a Seattle blog closely covering the Ring and surrounding hullabaloo. (Cick to reveal homeboy's face, if you must.) Upon a moment's reflection, one realizes that this person is probably not an actual neo-Nazi. Nazis tend not to be big on pony-tails, and that swastika armband is missing a swastika. He must be protesting something? Because dressing up as a Nazi is a great way to make people think about your MESSAGE. He's objecting to Wagner's anti-Semitism, maybe. Or to Wagner's touchier detractors (see above). Or Obamacare. One of those, probably. (I wrote that yesterday. Checking the comments at Gathering Note today, apparently his armband read "HSS"; Hoosier State Skinheads maybe? Still seems... unlikely...) Anyway, the commenters at the above Slog link suggest that this may be one Richard Berthold, retired classical history prof., but I cannot confirm; if it is not, I apologize to Richard Berthold for the unwitting slander, as the person photographed above is a douchebag. If anybody went to the Seattle Rheingold the other night, did you see this guy? Did anybody get him to explain himself? Why didn't security throw his ass out? Or at least force him to change into a sweatsuit or something? Let me know.