Shot in the City

I’m not a city girl… I am a sit-at-the-edge-of-a-river girl… a shut up be quiet please so I can hear myself think girl… and yet every Saturday, dear hubby wants to venture into Manhattan to attend Practical Philosophy. I love – love – love the class… but by the time we get to the doors of the school… it feels somewhat like the oxymoronic notion of jumbo shrimp.

Every sense gets dauntingly tested – starting with the plethora of smells… The scent of food from storefronts and vendors, fumes from roadway grates and mufflers of taxis, busses and every other known vehicle, smoke from cigarettes and cigars… all heavily hang in the air.

Then there is the visual and auditory input. The barrage of cars, trucks, taxis… horns… blasting radios… brakes screeching… engines revving as they lurch from their standstills… We even witnessed a guy jumping out of his vehicle to threaten and fight with the taxi driver that ventured TOO close. {Yup, that happened.} The following Saturday a kid on his long board zoomed between vehicles, so precariously crowded together, that with a resounding thud, he folded over our passenger mirror… a bit of a jolt to the senses no matter how calm one hopes to be… and to distract attention from that – the loud speaker of the Guide on a double decker tour bus shouting information to his patrons….

To me, a city commute is a jarring excursion – one I try to embrace and present to my senses as ‘adventure.’  The new, adult version of Red light/Green light if you will… with arrays of yellow dispersed – and every other fluorescent blitz imaginable – all geared towards gaining your attention over the next… Outright exhaustive attempts to mind numbing proportions. Oh my?!

Stop. Go.

STOP!  Go, GO, GO!!

Jam on the brakes.

Tussle to and fro… lane to oh-I-think-I-can-gain-an-extra-foot-here lane… testing the last sense, my physical capabilities. Can I endure the roller coaster ride Frank is navigating us through?  My ex-cab driver husband was risking his life {with me – cause I was about to inflict physical harm to his lets-have-fun-in-the-city-adrenalin-junkie butt…}

And, for the riverside girl within, a new challenge… Today we brought cameras. Central Park our destination.

After class, we walked to the park. Past street vendors – and artist stands {all trying to sweet talk you into their creations} and gardens glowing in orange. The cobble stone sidewalk lead us into a canopy lane… canopied with mammoth trees and giant bushes all around. The sounds of the streets amazingly muffled within those towering layers of foliage… The traffic commute terrors began tuning out of my mind… to be replaced by another melody – that of a live rendition of ‘Take Five’ playing off in the distance. {A song that always reminds me of my Dad, bopping his head while whittling away in his workshop.}  We followed the path – past ornamental statues, fountains, a pond, park benches, and still grassy knolls, bringing us to a seat directly in front of the band!  Just four guys:  A jazzy looking black man on the sax – a cool, short Asian guy on the trumpet – a preppy {neck scarf and all} beard toting blond gent on the upright base and a – I swear I think he was blind {either that or he just had one glass eye that functioned on its own} guy on the drums. And they were perfect!

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Their stage backdrop consisted of those mammoth trees, decorated with what was left of clinging autumn leaves, and the perfect timing of those that could no longer hold on… gently they rained down their colorful teeter-totter trails, as flocks of pigeons – seemingly on cue – flew across the bluest of skies. Of course, lets us not leave out the model sailboats – on their last jaunt for the season. Boat owners were down to hours, as the pond was being readied to be drained. But, no worries, we got to enjoy it for these glorious closing moments. Eye candy for sure! 

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Great Shot Frank!

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We headed back to the car, ready to make our way home… but Frank had further plans. Once again, we were in the midst of traffic terrors. Do I need to repeat myself?  TRAFFIC TERRORS people…

“I’m going to pull up and drop you off…” He says with a straight face?!  “You’re what?!”  {So matter-of-factly… as IF I would venture into this cement jungle on my own… ?!}

“Are you serious?He was...

Washington Square.

{You can stop laughing… yes, yes sensory soup…}

First up – the puppet people. DSC_4637 DSC_4638

Then the rambling soapbox man, without a ‘box’ – yelling his tunes to a rowdy guitar...

{I thought I took a photo of him… but can’t find it.  You’ll have to use your imagination – just picture a grungy looking guy preaching to every passerby within range.}

Then a group of misplaced hippies.  The 60’s ~ time warped into 2013…  A makeshift group, all armed with guitars, strumming in unison, singing melodies ‘together’ {Not really.  They were just letting it rip… quite literally.} {Still entertaining ;)}

DSC_4639The lone man perched on a suitcase was awesome.  A one man band… one foot for the drum beat, one for the tambourine, and all fingers – equipped with shiny metal plectrums – plucking away at his banjo strings. It was eye candy and ear candy… His soulful New Orleans drawl made me want to head South… or at least find some actual Cajun shrimp to eat… his voice still happily haunts my head. {…and sorry about the video quality – I used my cell phone.  At least it serves as a musical indication.}

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Click on the image to see VIDEO

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The pillars echoed perfectly.

Whatever money I had, was gone.  Every tin cup, every opened backpack or musical case, waiting for offerings had a piece of me… 

I had nothing left in terms of energy either.  {Shock of all shocks – Even Frank was ready to go home.} We turned to head to the car… when Charlee was drawn by a curious cry… a call to all within earshot, that more than persuaded curiosity… I caught up to her, Frank hobbled {on his now exhausted bad knee} not far behind. 

In the center of the Square a drummer – fully equipped with cymbals, snares, and all the accompanying drums – played a seriously funky beat!  He paused long enough for his partner to call out another crowd luring cry… then trilled another impressive rat-a-tat-tat on the drum…

This act turned out to be the end-all for our day. Tic and Tac. Hard to forget these guys, regardless of the catchy ‘stage’ names. 

What stood out most, was their genuine smiles. They beamed!  You know the smile… the one where your eyes smile along with your mouth… the one where your whole face lights up. They were infectious. Engaging. Entertaining. Pointed. 

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Starting the show was the ‘gymnast guy’ – who gave my heart a start as he flipped not once – but MANY times without mats to cushion any wayward falls (the mother in me was screaming ‘no blood, please no blood!’) He flipped anyway…

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Spinning on his head… on cement… (wondering if he has a bald spot?)

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He spent more time in the air (upside-down) than he did on the ground!

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and yet he always landed on his feet!

As ‘crass’ as they tried to portray themselves – they didn’t fool me… I saw them whisper a thank you in the young girls ear that ‘offered’ to help with their skit {she was dragged out of the spectator seats – right out of her boyfriend’s arms} I took note when they used their own jacket to cover an audience volunteers derrière {She was caught off guard with the skit, and Tic/Tac did not allow her fashionable – short – dress to over-expose her – Kudos to you Tic/Tac!}  I watched them have unbelievable patience with the techie Asian guy. {Who barely spoke English – and would not stop texting throughout the entire skit?!!} {Okay?! Seriously? I wanted to run up and grab the phone from him myself! He was concerning me in regards to safety!}

So there I was, my big ol’ freckle-faced-river-lovin-butt propped up against the cement pillar… comfy… recently high-fived by smiling Tic or Tac for being the ‘brave white woman who ventured closer to the black men action.’ {I found this to be pretty funny commentary… these poor guys tried for several minutes to get people to move closer. Everyone shied away?!  Clearly frustrating the attempts for the show they hoped to put forth.  My luck… I got a great front-n-center seat!}

FYI – I’m not used to being the center of attention… mostly I like sitting on the other side of a keyboard... but they made me laugh… really laugh, {making a spectacle of myself – 🙂 } and I haven’t done that in a while.  Realized that as my ribs started to ache from the belly giggles…  Much obliged!

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uh… yup… there he is on the right… still texting… while Tic/Tac performs a human helicopter

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Believe it or not – he even texted from this bent position! They actually had to ask him to hold off for a moment… oye.

6 comments on “Shot in the City

  1. Susan Rothenbucher

    MARVELOUS! Entertaining, insightful, engaging, intimate and beautiful portrait of an afternoon in the park. The pictures are great and the prose…. am I allowed to call it prose?…. beautifully written. I hope you will share it with the group. Can you put the link on the group e-mail?

    What I experience occasionally in certain crowded situations, especially large parties, is a sense of overwhelming isolation – separation and a feeling of loneliness. I have to work sometimes to make those conscious connections that you describe in this piece. That sense of connection experienced- even by the reader once removed- when we see the photo of the tic-tac guy’s smile or read your description of the backdrop for the Jazz group. That connection takes us to the UNITY in the diversity and we are no longer adrift in a sea of separation and all that comes with it.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Have a Wonderful Holiday,

    Susan

    1. Nancy

      It really turned out to be an awesome day! …feel free to call it what you will. Prose works. 😉 I want to try one more attempt to add the video footage for the singers. (I am learning as I go with this blogging ‘thing’) I’ll re-forward once I do so you can see the awesomeness of these people! (so talented!) …and I can send it to the group as well. For me, the crowds or external input is the overwhelm. My senses seem to only be able to take so much… and then they short circuit… If I am lucky they just shut down. {which is when I get super quiet – still – become the engrossed observer} If not… they become frantic and raw {which is when I feel cornered and need to somehow get to a quiet space to – hopefully – ‘reset’} I wouldn’t change a thing. 😉 Life is chock full… a menagerie of moments… XO

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    1. Nancy

      Thanks! And THANKS again for the laughter!! 🙂

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