Sunday, March 18, 2012

City Sojourn

Grand Central Station at night

Subway views

Cheek by jowl in Chelsea

Homeward bound

Listening List

For a Spotify playlist, click on City Sojourn.


George Gershwin (b. Brooklyn, 1898; d. 1937)

Rhapsody in Blue, Part 1 and Part 2Leonard Bernstein, pianist and conductor

Prelude No. 2 (piano roll, played by Gershwin)

Aaron Copland (b. Brooklyn, 1900; d. 1990)

Steve Reich (b. New York City, 1936)

George Tsontakis (b. Queens, 1951)

John Zorn (b. New York City, 1953)

Femina Track One (thanks to Mark Kerstetter for the recommendation)

Live with Naked City and Eye (Warning:  Not for the faint of ear, but on those days when you want to scream, Eye's your man.)

Judd Greenstein (b. Greenwich Village, 1979(?))

These are the Sons of Israel, from The Yehudim


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Susan:
What a thrilling musical selection for this most cosmopolitan and vibrant of cities. We have never been to New York but we do so want to visit. The energy is evident in these excerpts, the Gershwin being particularly evocative for us of the city and its moods.

We hope that you are having a wonderful time.

Steve Schwartzman said...

We're used to saying Grand Central Station as a name, but the term started out as a description and at best a semi-name. That's clear from the fact that for decades people used to say the Grand Central Station. I've heard it in movies from the 40s and here's a passage from a 1904 railroad guidebook: "Come from round house with the fire in the engine in such condition that a heavy dense smoke will not be emitted while at the Grand Central Station. The baring of fires in and around the station is strictly prohibited... Avoid creating smoke at the Grand Central Station or on the Harlem Line."

Mark Kerstetter said...

I did not expect to see John Zorn music recommended here, but you've made me feel right at home. 'Kole Nidre' is beautiful and I enjoyed the hell out of the Naked City video. The uninitiated may not realize how orchestrated those kaleidoscopic shards of musical energy are. I totally recognized 'Blood Duster', which is on a cd I have.

I'm going to enjoy listening to your Spotify playlist while I work (already know I'm going to love Copland's 'Quiet City').

Was feeling very worn out today; your post perked me up, and love the photos too.

P.S. still haven't listened to the interview you recommended on twitter, but I'll get to it. Thanks Susan!

Suze said...

Was listening to, 'Ghost Variations,' and then forgot to open the link in a new tab to comment -- piano was abruptly cut off. Looks like I will be commenting piecemeal on this post since there is a lot to listen to, here, and I'd like very much to at least sample every piece.

I love the caption, 'Cheek by jowl in Chelsea' -- itself a snippet of song.

Are these all your original photographs, Sue?

Suze said...

All right, just made it through, 'The Sons of Israel,' and I had varying reactions throughout the course of the song.

The most prominent response was the image of the sons of Israel as gold stars on a navy expanse presenting themselves in sequential tandem, moving forward to bow and then receding in pairs with the exception of one -- a smaller star. (In my mind's eye, there were nine.)

Suze said...

Reich's Mallet Quartet was a joy and what I'm about to say next is arguably one of the best experiences I've had on your blog, so far.

I was intimidated by your words, '(Warning: Not for the faint of ear, but on those days when you want to scream, Eye's your man.)'

I just listened to, 'Kol Nidre,' thinking I was listening to what went with the words of warning for Zorn & Naked City With Eye and I loved it and thought, 'Wow! My ears can 'stomach' more than I thought they could!'

Now, I have to actually listed to the right song w/caption and see how I do ...

Suze said...

Got through a minute, two seconds of Zorn and Eye ... reminded me of Jobs' scream therapy scene in, 'Pirates of Silicon Valley,' only with slightly less grace.

I have to say, though, that I love that a woman of your distinction is well-rounded enough to post such a menagerie!

Rubye Jack said...

I love the photo of the guy nodding out next to the ladder, and the subway photos. Life in the City!
And now on to some new music. Thanks Susan!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. amazing photos of life at GCS .. and your music extracts .. sometime, somehow I must come back to listen .. City Sojourn sounds a grand tour of the best sort ..

Thanks so much - cheers Hilary

Britta said...

Dear Susan,
I love your pictures (and the music, but of course I will talk about the pictures). They are gripping - touching and yet far away. How do you do them? The reader in a subway - do you ask him? I can imagine how you do the other motifs from vivid life - but he seems near enough to have felt being photographed? Really interesting, thank you for giving a deeper view into the life of the city.

Herringbone said...

Hi. What a wonderfully crafted post. The more I got into it, the more vivid it became. Edward Abbey(Desert Solitaire, The Monkey Wrench Gang) was a eccentric wilderness advocate, but he was intrigued by the city. By the landscape you display, I can see why. A stunning micro/macrocosm of our American urban scene.
Your musical selections totally captured this for me. A rich, diverse mixture.I like how you introduced it almost chronologically. It was like it was unfolding over time.
I can't believe how much Gershwin achieved in his short life. Isn't it just typical that innovators be dubbed "banal and tiresome"
Thank you for this extraordinary post.

Jayne said...

Kol Nidre: Oh wow. Wow.

Fantastic melange of photography, words and music, Susan. I particularly love the last photo, Homeward bound, with the black and bold yellow pipes turning every which way, and the blur of activity with the grey wall (and the pipes and color!) as its background. It is such a simple picture, yet complicated, and encapsulates, I think, the uniqueness of the city.

I'm going to be back again, and again, to take in even more of the music. :)

Andrew said...

A wonderful post... your images are fantastic to see...

Friko said...

I find it hard to believe that this is Grand Central Station at night. Living deep in the countryside I am used to dark nights, lit only by the stars and, perhaps, by a torch carried just in case of emergencies.

I wish I could have both, the bright lights of the city and the darkness of the countryside.

What a fun lot of music you have presented here; is there no end to your inventiveness?

I came and read this post days ago, I'm not sure why I didn't comment at the time. Rest assured, even if I don't comment instantly, I always come to read, allowing for the time difference, as soon as I see that you have posted.

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

Wonderful collection of sights and sounds!

shoreacres said...

One of the beauties of your posts is that, even when one part is "less accessible", there's much left to enjoy. I confess it - I managed 1:05 of Eye and his friends before I hit pause. I don't anticipate going back to plumb the shallows of that any time soon. I know - that's being closed-minded and judgemental. So be it. ;)

The small mystery I wish I could solve is the collection of broken-hearted bunnies posted on the Chelsea wall. That's such a rich collage - I couldn't help but note the irony of the sign saying "Death is Free". Indeed, it is.
Still, the best part of that photo is the young man at the left. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know what he's seeing or hearing?

I'd like to think it's the Gershwin, or Copeland's Quiet City. Both are wonderful listening, and evocative of NY as I experienced it. And the Greenstein is wonderful.

Steve's comment reminded me of another on-going curiosity. Why is it that some say "she's in the hospital" while others say "in hospital"? It's gone onto the "to be explored" list!

Susan Scheid said...

Jane and Lance: It was fun putting together the musical selections for this post. Overwhelming until I came upon the idea of featuring only composers who were born in New York City. Gershwin, of course, had to be on the list!

Steve: I love the bit of word history you’ve noted. Not something I knew, though now that you write it, I know I have seen/heard “the Grand Central Station” along the way. And where did you get hold of that 1904 guidebook? Terrific quote.

Mark: Well, of course I had to include John Zorn! The tough part, as I’m not so familiar with his work, was what to pick out of that enormous range. In Kol Nidre and the Naked City video, his range is most certainly on display. With your comment in mind, I did make it all the way through Naked City after a few tries. It was fascinating to watch how Zorn cued Eye, then followed with his sax. There is indeed a method to the madness there. As for Femina, I hadn’t spotted that piece on my own, and I’m really pleased to be introduced to it. Thank you for that and for the other pieces you’ve since noted to me, which I also look forward to exploring.

Suze: You are, as I’ve written before, quite the intrepid explorer! I love your imagery for the Greenstein piece. Interesting to think of in relation to the live performance that I saw—the feel was actually similar—everyone wore white, and I think perhaps gold belts or trim, though I no longer recall for sure. So pleased you enjoyed Reich’s Mallet Quartet—that piece was new to me and fun to discover. Very funny what you write about reading the words of warning while listening to Kol Nidre—it is the polar opposite of Naked City, right? (Yes, the photos are all mine, such as they are. That’s true for the blog as a whole, if photos aren’t otherwise credited, that is.)

Rubye Jack: I was particularly pleased to spot the fellow napping in the car repair place (or whatever it was). Made quite a contrast to the posh art galleries all around the shop.

Hilary: So glad you enjoyed the photographs—it was fun to snap them and see what I could come up with for a little photographic tour.

Britta: I am always a little wary of taking pictures of people up close, so I don’t do much of that. In this case, I had my iPhone on hand, and the images I was seeing were just too tempting to pass on. (He, for example, was absorbed in a hefty tome about the history of economics.) So many folks have iPhones out on the subway, I think a quick photograph, as these were, can escape unnoticed, though I wouldn’t want to put that to too much of a test!

Susan Scheid said...

Herringbone: A big city may be its own sort of eccentric wilderness, what do you think? I’m intrigued by your man Abbey (another alarming gap in my own education that’s gone on the list to be filled!)—I wonder what it particularly was about a city that captured his clearly individual imagination. While I was out walking, I had no idea how the snaps I took would pan out—it was fun to do an armchair tour of them after and pick out a few. And, as for the music, I love your comment that “it was unfolding over time.” I had the same experience as I was putting it together. As for Gershwin—yes, remarkable he wrote so much, and music that has lasted, in his short time on earth.

Jayne: I’m so pleased you liked that homeward bound photograph—those pipes did seem to me to be particularly photogenic.

Andrew: So glad you enjoyed. I love your walk photographs, not to mention the videos of nature’s sights and sounds, so I’m delighted if I can offer something you might enjoy in return.

Friko: It is shocking to come into the city and be reminded how much light there is at all hours. We had to get blackout shades for the windows to keep out the light at night (otherwise it’s a bit like sleeping in Grand Central Station). I do cherish our communication across the blogosphere—I feel quite the same about visiting over your way, as I hope you know.

Elizabeth: Welcome, and thanks for commenting. I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance and look forward to more of those delicious cartoons of yours.

shoreacres: I’m glad you highlighted that street scene photograph. It really doesn’t look like much until it’s enlarged, does it? Brave of you to try out Eye at all—as you can see, you’re not alone in deciding it’s not for you. I’m enormously pleased that you liked the Greenstein. I was thrilled to find that piece on the web, which I’d heard live and have despaired of ever hearing again.

Suze said...

Wonderful, wonderful images, Sue. Well done.

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