The rain started in light spurts when I got off the subway Tuesday night. Fast-gathering clouds leaned down on an glassy towers and old concrete masses alike with bullying persistence. People glanced up nervously at the sky as they scurried along the sidewalks like nervous beetles. I’d just turned on Peter Gabriel’s beautiful cover of Elbow’s “Mirrorball” on my iPod and was wondering if anyone could hear the magnificent genius that was ringing, bell-like, in my ears. The track is taken from his gorgeously poetic album of covers, Scratch My Back, released in February through Virgin Music. The album contains a myriad of thoughtful, sometimes surprising cover versions, including Lou Reed’s sigh-worthy “The Power Of The Heart” (his proposal to now-wife Laurie Anderson), Paul Simon’s “Boy In The Bubble”, as well as David Bowie’s much-loved “Heroes”. The album is fast becoming a favorite on my iPod. It’s a million miles away from the noisy, posturing, abrasive world of modern pop. It’s not exactly get-up-and-boogie music, but rather, sit-down-and-shut-up music -and I like that. I wish more of that genre existed.
Friday night I attended Monodramas at the New York City Opera. Then I had a great meal, met some great people, and walked through a curiously-quiet Times Square. Saturday I went to the legendary Strand Books, and later explored the Lower East Side with a local friend. Today I heard another friend sing at a favorite spot on the Upper West Side, and on the way there, chatted about the wonders of Bukowski with a fellow commuter.
Together these things seem unremarkable, but… trying to put them into some kind of order, and sense, parsing out their colors, textures, sounds, meanings, the small spaces of light between the blocks of firm monolithical EVENTS… is hard. Such efforts demand a certain commitment of time and energy and availability of mind and spirit and fingers, to sit, think, contemplate, and type. Time isn’t always on my side.
New York is swallowing me up, and I’m enjoying being in the throes of its guts, thrown this way and that, against hardship, wellship, friendship and relationship. I want to sit down and try to make sense of all this, slowly, carefully, and against the grain of everything New York demands. I love the fast rhythm, but I like the slow numbers too, and I have to mind the splinters and dirt while I’m at it. Never mind the glam, here’s bare feet, dry hands, red eyes and low voice. Add a glass of red, Sinatra on the stereo, and a room with a view -or at least access to a great, busy street – and I’ll truly feel I have arrived. Until then, I’m on input mode.