Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"What a great neighborhood!"

Last night at the new glass-enclosed Apple Store located on Broadway and 67th, about two blocks from our apartment, a world class pianist gave a 50 minute concert for free. According to the New York Times reviewer, it was an outstanding performance. As everyone was milling out, he heard one very satisfied audience member exclaim, "What a great neighborhood!" And I am here to tell you that I wholeheartedly agree. Although I did not have the good fortune to hear this concert, I did have a series of experiences on the same day that reminded me what exquisite judgment this exclaiming lady has.

First of all, I stayed home from work yesterday to do some grocery shopping and some laundry, and to catch up on a backlog of tasks I needed to complete. At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I put my tasks behind me and wandered out into the crisp, darkening cold. First I went to the New York City Performing Arts Library, which is exactly one block from our home and one of the five major research libraries that make up the New York Library system. It is a great library and has many CDs and DVDs that patrons can borrow, though they are limited to only 10 at a time. Tsk, tsk. As I explored the place for the first time in months, I stumbled on a really magnificent exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center. You see, the Performing Arts Library has long been a part of Lincoln Center and one of its exits actually spills out into the great plaza that faces the large windows of the Metropolitan Opera. At any rate, in this surprisingly ambitious exhibit you can find some recognition of the many great productions and people that first won acclaim at Lincoln Center. Leonard Bernstein is there, Balanchine is there, Beverly Sills is there, Wynton Marsalis is there, Jerome Robbins is there, and the list goes on and on. There are wonderful video tapes, beautiful pictures, gorgeous costumes, and incredible posters commemorating this series or that production.

When I finally left the library, I found myself in front of a new reflecting pool that surrounds these monumental sculptures that I think are Henry Moores. In was so beautiful in the soft evening light that I could feel myself go breathless for just a moment. The pool is the kind that always seems to be about to overflow but never does and it just seemed like the perfect counterbalance to the imposing Moore sculptures.

Finally, I strolled over to my favorite New York bookstore just across the way - at 66th and Broadway - and climbed the escalator to their great performance space only to find this terrific jazz quintet in mid-improvisation of "Sophisticated Lady." There was a large crowd, and, as I listened, I couldn't help thinking how fortunate I was to be so effortlessly a part of all this. It is, indeed, a really great neighborhood!

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