Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New York magic

Avo, master of signage frequently cited on this blog, hand-lettering his own "business for sale" sign.  My wife pointed out how he turned the E in lease into the F in for. Good luck, Avo!

Kreutzer Quartet, Gloria Coates: String Quartet No. 9
Stephen Elliott, The Adderall Diaries (iPhone version)
Cleveland Orchestra, Mahler: Symphony No. 7: "Song of the Night"

I can never spell "Cleveland" without looking it up. When I first got into classical music, sophomore year of college, I listen to a hell of a lot of Mahler. His music is so huge; it's like entering a giant old building that's outlived its use and marveling at all the detail found therein, all those little hand-painted signed and details on forgotten stairwells, painstaking, hand-wrought detail that will never be put to use again nor will it ever be replaced with something remotely as grand. I thought whole spiel up while reading Scouting NY's exploration of the James A. Farley Post Office at 33rd Street & 8th Ave, NYC. Scouting NY is a dream of a blog, especially for those like me who dream about NYC without ever going there.

Inside the post office, via Scouting NY.

I've been to New York once for a week, about 15 years ago with an aggressive itinerary: saw Anthony Braxton solo at the Knitting Factory, sat through a 6-hour Stan Brakhage film with, I believe, the filmmaker in attendance in the back, saw the Beat show at the Whitney, Frank Stella at Leo Castelli in the last gasps of SoHo, the Mondrian show at MoMA, the Joel Peter Witkin perversities and Claes Oldenberg melted drumkits and things on the Guggenheim spinal ramp, thrilling, filthy Bruce Conner sculptures at a small gallery and even considered buying a tiny, lovely Yoko Ono print on that fresh credit card in my wallet. I should have done it; that $1500 was soon enough squandered on things not worth remembering. I ate matzoh ball soup in a deli, bought a copy of Patterson at the Strand and read it on the subway and a girl at the Knitting factory bar chatted me up about Robert Smithson from seeing it poke purposely out of my jacket pocket. I watched the naked channel they had on cable back then. Went to the top of the Empire State but somehow never saw the Statue of Liberty.

I almost went to a secret show by the Beastie Boys (one of my friends worked for MTV and had the hookup) but my other friend and I watched the end of Melrose Place while eating bodega salad bar takeout and were late getting to Coney Island High. MTV friend stood outside pissed and we went to some other bar where their wallets got stolen by a kid that led us there. I took off after the dude, totally lit up and yet dimly aware that I would never catch him in that labyrinth of a city or if I did, he and a gaggle of fellow junkies would kick my ass and take my wallet and a bum walked up looking for a cigarette just as some early snow flurries started to fall. It was New York magic. The next morning, I dragged my backpack bereft of a Yoko Ono drawing on my last subway ride back to Penn Station and took the Amtrak home.

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