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We're all one button away from schlimazel

These are the dulcet tones of Gustav Mahler's 9th Symphony.Dulcet, indeed.

These are the dulcet tones of Gustav Mahler's 9th Symphony.

Dulcet, indeed. Mahler's 9th Symphony is about a 90-minute piece of music, and it was being performed by the New York Philharmonic last night at Avery Fisher Hall here in New York. If you are not a big symphony buff but you've ever seen, say, a professional wrestling match, the New York Philharmonic playing Mahler's 9th Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall is just about the exact opposite thing of a pro wrestling match.

And the Philharmonic was closing in on the end of the symphony, when EVERYBODY heard this.

When I say "everybody," I mean everybody, including the conductor, a man named Alan Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert had conducted almost the entire hour-and-a-half long symphony, and he was less than pleased at the sound of the iPhone's three-second master-work known as "Marimba." So he stopped. Stopped conducting. Stopped the New York Philharmonic in front of a huge, otherwise silent audience.


...and asked whoever had the offending iPhone, "Are you finished?" Nobody stepped up. Tense silence ensued. Except for the august fans of the New York Philharmonic who reportedly screamed, "Thousand-dollar fine!" and, "Kick him out!"

"Fine," the conductor said, "We'll wait."

A classical music blogger at summarized the moment this way:

"In a way, it's great that that schlimazel's iPhone happened to go off at such a sweet spot in Mahler's Ninth on Tuesday. All of us ... got to exercise some righteous indignation, schadenfreude, and the adrenaline rush of watching a fight."

Ultimately, the poor fellow with the iPhone silenced it. It turns out that he had silenced his ringer, as requested of everyone in the hall, but he had left active an alarm which went off. The gentleman with his alarm set for the middle of the evening has been found, and he is reportedly horrified and contrite.

What makes this a Best New Thing in the World Today candidate is not that the crowd at the symphony screamed like they were watching Handsome Harley Race rake the eyes of Terry Funk for the NWA Championship, though that is pretty awesome. It is not that a classical music blogger was moved to include the word "schlimazel" to describe the offending iPhone owner. What qualifies this as a best new thing in the world is that none of us was that poor schlimazel. And if by dint of unhappy luck, you are the poor schlimazel, and you're reading this blog entry right now, there but for the silent-button on all of our phones go each of us!

Forgive the schlimazel!