Category Archives: new york

Overheard in Brooklyn, junior scientist edition.

On Union Street in sudden warm weather. A girl of about five, pushing her scooter along, her father walking beside her. Insistently: “The SUN doesn’t move. The EARTH moves.” Geez, Dad.


Canzonet for two voices at the cheese counter



Overheard counterpoint at Zabar’s cheese department:

“Taleggio, taleggio, taleggio”

“Manchego, manchego, manchego”

(Not entirely overheard, though quite true. I sang S1 in this duet.)



My friend Z and I had our annual July 4 American movie date. There was nothing with car chases that we had any interest in seeing, so we went to the last theater in town (the Loews on 11th and 2nd) that was still showing The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s a Wes Anderson quirkfest, delicious to look at and neatly cast, but despite all the activity and admirable moral (be nice to people and they’ll invite you along on their jailbreak) it ended up feeling longer than its hour and a half length. I’m glad I saw it, don’t get me wrong.

Wes Anderson’s apartment is not far away, something Z knew because he’d been there once on architectural business. It’s a totally bland and rather shabby six-story building on 14th St east of First Avenue that Allen Ginsburg once lived in, and Anderson’s apt. used to be owned by the painter Larry Rivers. Oh, here‘s more about it that Z sent me later.  The building runs through the block from 14th to 13th Sts., so it’s long and narrow, and Anderson has the only full-length apartment, 200 feet long and maybe 25 feet wide. Z also said that a freight elevator was installed years ago; it had to be big enough for Rivers’ paintings, so it’s super-long but very narrow. Anyway, we went and marveled at its ordinariness, and then had a beer in a bar on 6th Street next to one of the nicest of the many community gardens around there, and after that I got on the F train and managed to get back in time to see ten or fifteen minutes of the big fireworks display from what turned out to be a great viewing location around the corner from my place.

I congratulated myself that I was not among the crowds trying to get out of the neighborhood (or the people with poor taste in loud music playing down the block) and settled down with the cat.

“He didn’t stay, he didn’t give a name,” said Vickie Karp, a parks spokeswoman. “He just said, ‘Here’s an owl.’”

Owl Jolson.


“Music in the Light of September 11” — Thurs., Sept. 8

The Renaissance Street Singers have been invited to participate, with four other Music Under New York groups, in a performance commemorating the September 11 attacks. The set runs from 4 to 9 at the Fifteenth Street Meetinghouse,* 15 Rutherford Place, in Manhattan, and is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and other organizations. I believe we’ll be on around 6:00. The other performers are: Gillen & Turk, Wendy Sayvetz, Baby Soda (a fun young fogeys band), and the Pura Gusto Ensemble.

The repertory for our set will be:

Lassus, Tristis est anima mea
(as grave as this is, it has a fairly broad musician’s joke: listen for “Vos fugam capietis”)
Finck, Gloria from the mass In summis
Guerrero, Clamabat autem mulier Chananaea
Josquin des Pres, Laudate, pueri, Dominum
Requiem aeternam round

*Shapenote friends, this is where the last two New York City All-Day Singings was held.



My Renaissance music chorus sang up at Ft Tryon Park on Sunday; it was the day of the annual medieval festival, so we got some overspill audience including a few princesses. John explained that we were singing “the music of the future.” The festival is kind of funny. There’s music and dancing, and some jousting and swordfighting, I think done by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, but there’s not exactly a big premium placed on historical accuracy. It’s an opportunity to dress up in velvet and funny hats, or to stroll around watching others so dressed, while eating Ye Olde Barbecue and possibly getting Ye Olde Face painted. When I was a kid and needed a medieval costume, you know I researched it and tried to find fabric in murrey color, and it was sadly lacking in lacing and bust-bulge. (Mom sewed it.) It was a beautiful afternoon, though.

NYCADS 2010 Food Tally update 9/17

In the home stretch.

This post is going to be of rather specialized interest. If you are thinking of bringing food for the New York City All-Day Singing at the Fifteenth Street Meeting House on Saturday, September 18, 2010, look here for the current list of what we are expecting. You can post a comment or email me (address on About page) to ask a question or make an offering. Also, let me know if you will be willing to help set up (means arriving before 10) or to clean up. Thanks in advance to everyone.

This post is meant to give everyone an idea of what is still missing as the time comes closer, but know that whatever you want to bring will be gratefully received and eagerly devoured. Home-made dishes are always special, but this is New York: takeout is more than acceptable. Let’s show our visitors the range of local inspirations.


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in Bryant Park. It’s like the United Nations of obscure ball games. The dreadlocked West Indian guy, the African guy (“Hey, Africa!” the West Indian guy calls), the two middle-aged white guys and the younger, paunchy white guy with a really strange way of hurling the ball and holding his cig with the other hand, the South Asian-looking guy. No females, though. And I don’t understand it at all. The tiny red ball, the clanking metal balls (how do they remember which was whose?), one guy gets four throws and the next just one. Clank! A high shot and the balls go jumping. They all laugh.

The smell of boxwood; vacation in town.

Music events coming up and Open House New York

The holiday weekend looks to be kind of quiet for early music. (Go to Open House New York events instead.) I’ll be at shapenote in Brooklyn on Sunday (2:00 at St. Paul’s Church, Carroll Gardens). Next week, however, the Streetsingers’ subset is performing at Grand Army Plaza on Saturday 10/17 at noon (weather permitting — we’ve already been rescheduled once because of threatened rain), and the whole group on Sunday 10/18 somewhere. And Sunday afternoon (10/18) is the Blue Heron concert at St. Ignatius of Antioch. More on that soon, but it’s going to be great.

Drawn [in] by New York

I had the privilege of joining a curator’s tour of Drawn By New York, an exhibition at the too-little-visited New-York Historical Society. (Even if there were no other reason to love it, there’s that 1804 hyphen.)

The curator, Roberta Olson, took the 8500 objects in the Historical Society’s collection of drawings and watercolors and pulled out about 150 with which to tell a clutch of different stories. One story is about birds: one of the Society’s great treasures, maybe comparable to the Thomas Cole “Course of Empire” paintings (no, actually, I’ll say it, more beautiful and more representative of the myth of America), is its collection of watercolors by John James Audubon, including all the final drawings for The Birds of America. Roberta practially persuaded us that the plate of the Carolina Parakeet anticipates futurism in its active spiral of bright, noisy birds. But there are also a set of ravishing birds that she’s identified as dating to the 16th century (!). The Society’s collections also can tell stories about the American landscape, the American peoples (including remarkable portraits by Saint-Memin of Osage Indian leaders), American habits, and of course the city of New York. There’s reflection on the making of art, from a school-piece calligraphic drawing of a horse by a Pennsylvania teenager to a group of sketches of the young John Singer Sargent goofing around the studio by his Paris roommate, James Carroll Beckwith. Eccentric masterworks include a thirteen-figure silhouette party.

The show is up till January 7 and it’s really worth a visit. While you’re there you can also look at their great collection of Hudson River School landscapes.