The life of New York City streets is unique, both above and below ground.
Not to say that life is always fun or pleasant. I think of those who stop atop subway stairs to check their phones, or walk three across on the sidewalk, or don't know enough to step to the right.
Always, always step to the right.
But the life of NYC streets is vibrant. And it is ours. For now. So let's cultivate that life. Like a garden. Get our heads out of our phones and pull those earbuds out. Notice what's going on around us. Take even a few seconds to be present and let it soak in.
I write this to remind myself. A while back - in my rush to get from here to there - I blew past the Afrikumba Utibé Drummers performing in Union Square Station. Then I had an internal fight about practicing what I preach. I returned. And for a few minutes, I focused on the cool music mixed with the hubbub of the subway and of humans racing to get from here to there. I attended to the life of street I was on. I relaxed. I remembered who I am.
I am part of the City. And the City is part of me. Not simply a backdrop, the City is both the material and the context out of which my life is made. I count myself blessed.
This is what I know: I will never reach the life I'm rushing toward if I can't acknowledge the life I'm presently in. Time to chill.
Enjoy below the Afrikumba Utibé Drummers and a bit of what I witnessed by taking a time-out. And the next time you're thanking the MTA for the train that never comes? Look up at the life around you.
You'll know Ms. Le Loka as the original Rafiki in Broadway's the Lion King - for which she was nominated for a Tony - and the voice behind 'Circle of Life.' Not only an extraordinary singer, she is also a full-service entertainer: vibrant, engaging, humorous. She's backed up by equally talented singers and musicians. When you get a chance, you must see this show. You'll not be disappointed.
A little video to help you ease back into work after the long weekend. Sean McCaul, vibraphonist, bringing peaceful vibes to the stress of the F train.
Lifting you out of a New York City funk
I’ve been in a bit of a funk. The state of the country. The state of New York City. Working for others at too many hours for too little money. Can you dig? I lost sight of what is meaningful to me, in life and work. So I’m making changes where I can. One of those changes is simple. I’m refocusing my energy on what I love: the City. I’m attending to the stuff I overlook when I’m running around from here to there. The stuff I don’t engage with when I’m inside at this computer working for others.
The stuff? The artful, ingenious, and often unpredictable ways we humans and the city interact, negotiate, make ourselves heard, create value, carve out a little space and comfort, and in so doing impact one another in public space. I call this an Aesthetics of the City.
So here’s an example. The Blue Funk Orchestra. I caught them at West 4th Street Station a while back. Watching and listening to them, my funk lifted a little bit. Enough to help me move forward into the rest of my day with renewed vigor. I think they’ll lift your spirits, too. The Smurf hat alone is worth the watch.
Joe Conzo Jr. and Francisco Molina Reyes II Photo Exhibit:
Opening reception: Thursday, July 28 7:30 - 9pm
Bronx Music Heritage Center
BMHC Lab 1303 Louis Nine Blvd., Bronx, NY
Free and open to the public!!
Exhibit on view July 28 - September 28
Thursdays 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Fridays 1:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Saturdays 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Gentrification does not take a break during the holiday season. It uses it to forward its work.
Quaint, old-timey star-snowflake combos adorn the intersections between 36th and 42nd streets in Hell's Kitchen for the holiday season. Let's call them stars. Walk the Avenue at night, which you wouldn't have done a handful of years ago, and admire them. They're simple, but nice.
But they aren't old-timey at all. This is the first year the stars were hung. And they may not be very nice.
May 8th, City Lore hosts a panel of artists and arts administrators who discuss the fates of public and street art in NYC, where the cultural landscape is increasingly policed and new development prized over depth, continuity, and community.
The panel will be a good one. Go.
Thursday May 8th 7pm
Admission: $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Buy Tickets here
More Info from City Lore:
The conversation in this program will discuss street art (independent) and public art (sponsored) that decorate marginalized communities in neighborhoods such as the South Bronx, El Barrio, the Lower East Side and parts of Queens and Brooklyn, and their place in the art world. In these neighborhoods many works of public art, though government-funded, have deep roots in the community and challenge dominant discourses concerning art. Part of the allure of street art is the ephemeral state it exists in and its insecure status, which evokes a sense of mystique and rebellion that challenges the establishments of art and society. Both forms face obstacles either through the loss of funding or by the threat of erasure from this city’s memory with the quick stroke of a brush, white-washed to oblivion.
Featuring Bill Aguado, former director of the Bronx Council on the Arts and a founder of the Longwood Arts Space; John Ahearn, artist; Maria Dominguez, artist; Erotica67 of the Fly ID crew; and London Kaye, yarn bomber. Moderated by City Lore Folklorist Elena Martínez.
Where: The City Lore Gallery, 56 E 1st St. New York, NY 10003
How to get there: Take the F train to 2nd Ave or 6 train to Bleecker St.
For more information: 212-529-1955 x13 or email@example.com
E. B. Gallardo
is a documentary photographer and anthropologist based in New York City.