Lately when I ascend from the 7 I hear rhythmic, pulsing beats from African drums. Reverberating through the tunnel leading to 40th St, with its so tired etc. text pieces, its a good mood lifter and the beat sets an encouraging, steady pace for commuters steps. The performance is comparable to other good subway regulars. Namely, the group that enthusiastically plays plastic drums at Union Square, a bit of a rarity.
Just as I’m literally experiencing urban-jungle, the preformance is replaced by the haphazard sounds of a keyboard, by a guy whose prosthetic leg leans against the wall. A little better than the usual keyboard fare: the guy who just slaps any key confessing through song that he has no clue how to sing; and the guys who just play and sing badly. The type of performer sometimes employed by Chinese restaurants, where you eventually learn that you’ve made a mistake in thinking that there’s a karaoke machine somewhere. Thankfully, in NY, I only encounter these guys in the subway and haven’t had to pay for the infliction.
I’ve also been leaving the studio at more reasonable times and see the illuminated 5 quietly jostle alongside the 6. People are doing the same things or stand by the doors, staring out blankly. It’s like watching or being in a theatre set. Everywhere is a performance space.
The street is another. You hear the funniest, sometimes quite private thoughts un-edited and verbalised. Damian and I were giggling and trying to comprehend two nerdy types, basically saying ‘so, its agreed, were going to Australia to pick up chicks’; And fully burst out laughing when a woman, perhaps inebriated, loudly projected ‘Ahhh, my stilettos are caught in my too long jeans , both actually’.
It’s an obvious thing to dwell on about NY. I remember the last time I was here (2000), encountering comical outbursts and confrontations on the street, but I’d almost forgotten the lived experience of all these things that just happen around you.
I only have a couple of weeks left now. I’ve been scheduling my last appointments and plotting my last gallery run. I’m going to miss the immediacy, but I’m also looking forward to returning home. Afterall, home is where the beach is.