I’ll Take Manhattan*

10 Apr

Metropolis is brimming over with sights and sounds.  Flashing lights, street musicians and traffic meld together to form something close to a hum.  The density of the island means often there is no rhyme or reason to architectural placement.  Soaring glass office towers loom over the Art Deco Radio City Music Hall.  New condominium buildings cast a shadow over original mercantile buildings in the seaport.

The diversity of talent, interest and priorities in the city lead to incongruous surprises at every turn.  Sitting (or more aptly, “wedged”) on a seat in a subway car, feet often need to be lifted to accommodate rolling bottles or discarded lunches. One is surrounded by people at their very worst (which is to be expected in a can in a tunnel from which one can escape every 2 1/2 minutes.) Amidst all this, there is sometimes a poem (versus an advertisement urging one to sue someone else) on the wall.  Often the stations themselves are festooned with mini-mosaics.  On a bad day these reminders of our artistic potential only makes things more confusing (we are a species that can create, and evidently appreciate, such beauty, but we can’t move out of the doorway or help someone with a stroller?)

But it is actually these very incongruities which make for an interesting environment and lead to lovely surprises.  The most magical places in our fair city are practically silent.  This is the ideal time of year to discover a new spot.  Quiet blocks, uptown and down, are lined with brownstones and trees are heavy with flowering blooms.  If you look closely (or have the right app) you can discover who lived in the spot you are standing.  Being amidst beauty or charm is always a boost, but standing on history is flat out encouraging.

As we strive to keep up in life (whatever that means to you) it is inspiring and a bit soothing, to consider those who came before.  So much of what we find challenging or distracting is simply old news. It can feel overwhelming to trod ground that is only new to you, but it makes it a bit easier when you consider all that came before.  Whether wide open space, or concrete canyons, there are endless spots to lose oneself and find something inspiring if even for just a moment.

*Rogers and Hart (1925)

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Cultural Critique


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