Happy Birthday to Mask of the Flower Prince!

10177349_10152182904608348_7486898391944561885_nHappy Birthday to Mask of the Flower Prince! One year ago today, my blog went live… and it’s been a wild ride ever since.

In truth, my blog’s origins stretch back further. On November 28, 2012, the Star Tribune published an op-ed piece by the board chairs of the Minnesota Orchestra detailing their views of the lockout. I was irritated enough that the next day I posted an extensive deconstruction of it on my Facebook page.

I had no idea anyone would ever read it… I mostly wrote it just for my own peace of mind. Plus, such a lengthy rebuttal was way, way too long for Facebook. I fully expected that any attention it received would fade quickly, just like everything else on social media. But oddly enough, this post didn’t die away quietly. I watched in disbelief as my rant took on a life of its own, shared widely among people I didn’t know and had never met. Within a week my number of Facebook friends had nearly doubled. (I ultimately re-posted that piece here on by blog, if you’d care to read it.)

I followed up this commentary with many others, but given their size and scope they weren’t particularly suited for Facebook. And with a great deal of prodding from my wife and other friends, I decided to create this blog so that I could more readily share my thoughts with the outside world.

And the rest is history.

I’m proud of my blog’s success, and of being able in some small way to contribute to larger discussions about the value of art, and the business of running an arts organization. And of course, I’d like to think I had a hand in bringing the Minnesota Orchestra’s labor dispute to a close.

And so, I thought I’d take a moment to look back on my blog’s eventful first year and report on a few of the highlights—and a few quirky details.

Where the blog gets its name from: “The Flower Prince” is an English rendering of Xochipilli, the Aztecs’ god of music and the arts. He’s still a reasonably popular figure in Mexico today, and his visage is on the 100 Peso note. I thought long and hard about how to bridge my two great personal and professional passions—archaeology and music. Xochipilli was a perfect fit.

My very first post: Was this piece on how I first ran across Osmo Vänskä as a conductor, and how I drove eight hours to hear his first concert with the Minnesota Orchestra.

My most popular post: Hands down, that was my commentary on the full-page ad that the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) ran on Labor Day, 2013. To a degree this still baffles me, as I don’t know that it was that much better than any other post. But it sure struck a chord—it had about as many hits as my #2 and #3 posts combined. It also has the honor of being the most shared post that I’ve written.

My least popular post: For good or for bad, this dubious distinction goes to my commentary on the Tony Ross/Doug Kelly interview on the local news program, Almanac, in 2012. More people have read my copyright notice. Ouch.

Post I’m most proud of: This is hard, and I’m giving two answers. One was my review/commentary on Osmo’s “farewell” concert back in October 2013. That was a particular low point in the labor dispute, and it is still painful to read that post—even knowing that by and large things worked out in the end.

But I also am proud of a different post, for reasons that are entirely personal. When my blog first went live, I basically re-posted material that I had already written before, which helped me “bulk up” the site faster. But one of my first “original” posts—in fact, one that I was saving for the time when I had a real blog—focused on the cautionary tale of Howard Johnsons. This is a classic case of a huge company that tried to cut its way to prosperity… but ultimately ended up destroying itself. A very good piece, if I do say so myself.

Countries with the largest number of readers: Not surprisingly, most of my readers are here in the USA. The other top countries, in order, are: Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland, Germany, and Mexico. Curiously, up until around Christmas of 2013, Finland was the #3 country in terms of readers—surprising since the entire population of Finland is about half the size of London.

Countries I’m surprised to learn I have readers in: It comes as a pleasant surprise to learn that I have readers everywhere—even in places where I would never expect to have readers. Some of these countries include: Armenia, Cameroon, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mongolia, Oman, Rwanda… and new this week, Albania. But many of these hits are occasional, one-off visits to the site. I’m getting repeat traffic from unexpected places as well, such as: Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (clearly, I’m resonating in central Asia); Afghanistan and Iraq (same for war zones); Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania (shout out to sub-Saharan Africa); Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates; and Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. Welcome all, and thanks for reading!

Most unusual way for finding my site: WordPress lets you track search terms that lead people to your site. From this system, I’ve learned that most people type in some combination of my name or my blog’s name to find me. But here are some other, less expected search terms that have led people to my blog:

“how much was van munching company sold to Heineken”

“what kind of music would a sea nymph listen to?”

“gregory corso ulysses”

“ako urobiť masku princa”

There have also been a whole series of searches based on some variant of “weird ugly guy minnesota orchestra rants mask prince”—in fact, these phrases are used all the time, suggesting someone (or someones) are using them repeatedly. I guess that’s cathartic for someone?

My favorite, however, is some poor craftsperson who found my blog by typing in “how to make a mask out of flowers.” Surprise!

* * *

And so, happy birthday to Mask of the Flower Prince. Thank you for reading! And if you have any highlights of your own, please post them in the comments section—I’m curious to learn what (if anything) has resonated with readers from the past 12 months. I hope you continue to stop by over the upcoming year, too!

[Edit:  Thanks to Sifei Chang for providing a suitable birthday-themed graphic!]





2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Mask of the Flower Prince!

  1. Happy birthday and congratulations! I’m glad that I found this blog through Facebook and the MN Orchestra lockout. It often helped me to calm down. Your reasoned approach to your analyses has been a model for others, I’m sure, and it’s had an effect on me, too. So, thank you for writing, thank your wife for prodding you to start the blog, and thanks for being my friend on Facebook. Maybe someday we will meet in person! (smile)


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