Monday, August 25, 2008

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

The calendar tells us that summer will change into autumn in September, but here in New York we are being given all sorts of signs that summer has left the stage.

The weather is cool. I have the apartment windows open, but the fan is in the off position. Again, as in past years, I compliment myself on my continued reluctance to buy and install an air conditioner. Got past another summer!

There are so many other signs outside the borders of the apartment. (Let me say for the record that the awful Painting in the Lobby is there for the duration. I have had a little truth to power session with some folks who I took to have been responsible for the awful Painting's purchase and installation. I let them know that if I were a prospective tenant and saw It, I would no longer be interested in trying to move into this building.)

Now, let me move on to other seasonal signs.

New York is a city that offers much to those with millions to spend, but also offers much to those who have a bit of curiosity, or time, or patience.

Every summer, a number of concert series are offered free of charge in various venus across the City's five boroughs. I am very lucky to have quick walking access to two sites of much music, Central Park and Lincoln Center. My schedule at the shop has prevented me from sampling a much of these musical feasts as I would have preferred this summer. But still. The feast was there for many folks to enjoy.

This past weekend marked the final concerts Outdoor at Lincoln Center. Lincoln Center is our lovely westside cultural center, featuring an opera house, and two other magnificent concert halls, a theatre and the Julliard School. But in the summer, the plaza surrounding these buildings host a wonderful out of doors, free, series of concerts. This summer, the plaza has been under renovation (just like my apartment building) and so the range of the concerts was lessened. Shrunk.

However, many show did go on. Yesterday was the annual celebration of the Roots of American Music Festival. The aged legend Pete Seeger performed. Early yesterday afternoon, I walked over and took a seat on a folding chair in a somewhat shaded spot to watch a marvelous collection of aged blues performers sing wise old songs in a concert labeled Music Makers Blues Review. If you go to www.musicmakers.org you will see more about an organization that is trying to not let the living sources of great blues music go hungry.

The music was wonderful.

Next on the schedule was the crazy punk/rockabilly/all sorts of stuff band The Knitters, lead by John Doe and Exene Cevernka (formerly married and formerly of the band X.) Again, fabulous music. They take old tunes, tunes they have written, twist them around and blast them right out at you.

Then, since the first two concerts ran long, and it was getting on to my supper time, and I do need to have supper, I left LC to go home to have supper. And then walked back downtown again (about a 10 minute walk) in time to hear the last few songs by the next act, Charlie Hayden and Friends. Country music, traditions mixed with jazz.

By the time that set concluded the sky was deep blue, and a star had appeared overhead. Also overhead we could see, but thank goodness, not hear, the recurrent passovers by planes and copters.

I was so lucky that a kind young man let me know that the seat next to him was available ... tenth row from the stage. The stage hand roadies rushed about trying to reset the equipment for the grand finale.

As I looked around me, I marveled at the variety of folks in the audience, all colors, ages, sizes, some having brought along their dogs, unwilling spouses, backpacks, zimmer frames, opera glasses, cups of beer, cell phones, tattoos (lots of those,) fetching little straw fedoras, picnic suppers, trophy wives, children ... toddlers and older, too. It was just such a rich mix, the sort of gathering that always makes me very glad to endure what I do in order to live here.

Okay, so finally all the twiddling with the amps, and lights, and guitar tuning was perfected.
And...we got to hear a fantastically energetic and affectionate New York neighbor of ours, Patti Smith just sing all those wild and crazy and wise tunes of hers. And her band still has Lenny Kaye on guitar. And now even has added her son Jackson Smith. We had a love fest ... audience and performer. Seated near me was a very enthusiastic sari-wearing Indian lady who knew all the tunes and could dance to them. She continued to offer translations to her husband.

The music went on until at ultimate encore time, Patti said that there were only 4 minutes left (union electricians, etc.) and so ... she and the band would just deliver the most that they could manage in four minutes. And they did.

What a lovely way to close out a summer season. Interestingly, both Patti and the Knitters repeatedly urged the audience to remember to vote, and to get our friends and family to vote.

As I write this tonight, I have the television on in the next room, with coverage of opening night of the Democrat Party's convention. Not long from now our country will again been going to the polls. I have voted so many times in my life, but still get a little kick of enthusiasm from singing along with Patti ... people got the power.

Pleasant dreams to you all.

20 comments:

  1. Ah - the first shall be West...or the West shall be first....my only excuse for being so corny is the hour and my lack of supper.
    Great post, Frances....I was with you every step of the way and for every note of the music. Imagine living a 10 minute walk from all that! Out here the only music comes from the next place down the road when the young men renting the place have a party and blast the night sky.
    Good for you for having a word with the people responsible for the vile art in the lobby. Power to the people (tenants!)

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  2. Hi Frances, was thinking about you the other day whilst walking on our western shore and my sons pointed out that the next piece of land was America!
    Glad to hear you have had a word about the vile painting.

    How wonderful to be so close to so much great music. Here on the island we have many music festivals, mostly traditional music and pipes etc. and some of the younger ones like to give it a more comtemporary twist, which makes it interesting, if nothing else!

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  3. Yes, we're seeing the signs of autmn here also, leaves are beginning to turn on some trees and there is a distinct dampness in the mornings and nights are drawing in......... I don't like it, feels like we really haven' had a summer here this year, been so wet.

    I used to love Patti Smith, didn't know she was still out there singing. Great!

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  4. Autumn is definitely on the way here too Frances which I don't mind at all. Hopefully some beautiful autumnal sunshine will appear and make it a long, late summer- well, I live in hope xx

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  5. sounds like you had a great time with some great music. Music here is likeliest to be choral singing which I love but is not quite the same as Patti smith!

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  6. I really enjoyed that Frances , lovely descriptions...nothing like that here unless you count the annual Eisteddfodd in the village at the bottom of the hill...we can hear most of that up here, although last year the farmer did let out a field for a music festival ...our hens stopped laying for five months so I dont think it was very good.

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  7. I hope they take note of your comments about the lobby painting (perhaps you ought to send them a link to the comments on your post about it). And great to be able to enjoy such fabulous music only a few minutes from home.

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  8. You have such a wonderful cultural life Frances, thanks for sharing.
    It is hardly like summer here, cool, grey and drizzly again.

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  9. Frances, the time I have spent in New York is really so fleeting that it could be counted in hours, but you evoke those memories for me so well.
    Gracious, is Pete Seeger still alive; and performing? I don't suppose he is much older than Leonard Cohen but he is someone I associate with my youth, when all was beauty and hope and the sun shone everyday and we all wore flowers in our hair. Take care Fenniexx

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  10. Pleasant dreams to you too, Frances, and thanks for the compliment on my blog - proof, if ever any more were needed, that the camera always lies. Your cultural life sounds fabulous - and I admire you for getting stuck in. Hereabouts we have a world famous literary festival, as well as highly respectable music and science festivals, and yet I hardly go to anything. How sad is that!

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  11. How I love to share your world with you, Frances, and this was a highlight! (although thinking I might not want to share in the Lobby art...)

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  12. Well, short of being there you post was the next best thing, Frances. What a truly wonderful experience... I don't suppose Patti will be performing at any open spaces near me soon but I live in hope!

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  13. i,ve only just found your blog thanks to pipany. Having read through your last few posts I just love the way you write and describe things. I also whole heartedly agree about the monstrosity in your foyer.
    lisa x

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  14. How fortunate to be so close to such wonderful music.

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  15. Glad you enjoyed the concert - sounds wonderful.
    Bad news in the AWFUL PAINTING front!
    I will pop in to see you before I'm off to England on the 16th.

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  16. Oh Frances, this made me SO nostalgic for city living. not that I could ever go back but I just love that heady mix of races and ages and types (plus dogs) that you only get in a city. As I already told you I saw Patti Smith here in the Uk back in the late 70s and she was fabulous. Would really love to see her again. BIG nostalgia thing going on here.....jxxx

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  17. Hello

    I decided that although I enjoy the blogs I already read, it's time to look out there and see what I'm missing.

    So I'm on a blog hop - beginning with Garden Hopping and landing here via Exmoor Jane.

    I think it may have been a mistake. Already I'm envying other people's lives.

    Lucy Corrander
    PICTURES JUST PICTURES

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  18. I'm with PS here! 10 mins away from all that! We do have Buxton Opera House http://www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/gallery/ 20 mins away but if I want to hear the Halle (which I do!) it an hour to Manchester with a good wind.

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