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.