Thursday, April 23, 2015


APRI. 18, 2015
The Saturday morning sun was making it difficult to get through the paperwork I had to complete before I could wrap up the week's work and enjoy at least part of the weekend. If you have cable in New York City when you turn your TV on it opens up on Channel One, a channel dedicated to local news and events. As I was typing a final client order out of the corner of my eye I caught the image of a gang of race horses and their riders decked out in Renaissance outfits fighting to make it around the hard angle of a temporary track.  Two of the horses smashed into the wall dumping their riders onto the hard packed sand brought in for the running of the Palio in Siena. The Tribeca Film Festival had opened Thursday night. Periodically on Channel One a reviewer would wind up introducing one of the films selected for the festival. This one had the one word title, Palio. Since spending several summer vacations at the Fattoria Armena, twenty minutes south of Siena seeing a documentary about the event started climbing my what-to-do-on-a-Saturday-night list.
I'd never gone to the Tribeca Film Festival event before so my education began with a quick entry onto What I immediately became aware of was you need to buy tickets well in advance.
They do offer a standby option that they call, "Rush". I'm not sure I understand the term but what you do is go to the theater approximately forty-five minutes before the movie is to start and you stand in a line in hopes that there will be some extra seating and they'll allow you in for the eighteen dollar single ticket admittance.
This is how I started my Saturday night and this is why it had to start at four-thirty. I felt a little like I was going for a senior citizen early-bird evening at Denny's but if I wanted to catch the six o'clock showing I needed to start out well before the sun had begun to descend. Showering and shaving had taken place earlier in the day. I hopped into a New York age appropriate outfit, lightly starched striped shirt, jeans, no socks, vest, Euro scarf and an over shirt tied rakishly around my waist. I'd grabbed my phone, an unfinished crossword puzzle and a pencil and off I went to catch the "C" train that would stop at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-third Street. I'd been feeling lucky for the last few days. As I leapt off the last step leading onto the downtown platform the train doors were just about to close. With the agility of someone much younger than myself I zipped sideways and onto the train without getting any of those black rubber skid marks on my vest or rakish shirt. I also got a seat. Not bad.
When I got off the train I was almost fifteen minutes ahead of my forty-five minute advance time for the "Rush" line. Still I was number ten in line. The woman ahead of me had stepped out of line to schmooze with the line keeper and had apparently done a knock-up job of it. He came over to her and told her to remember she was number nine. He then turned to me and out of necessity or nicety told me I was number ten. With nothing much to do but wait to see if we'd make it in, Jane and I started a conversation. She had picked the film because of a love of horses (I think that at the end of the film she might have been disappointed). I told her about our love of Siena. She told me about all the films she'd seen. I tried to come up with something better than Dumb and Dumber Too. I told her I commuted between New York and Madison. She told me she was born in Neenah and grew up in Milwaukee; small world. Then they started letting us in. Person one, two...nine, ten and that was it. I told you I was feeling lucky. The film was worth the risk of being left only a "Rush" hopeful and having to settle for a regular ticket to Fast and Furious Seven. The film contained more real corruption, daring and danger than FFS could manufacture with all its special effects and skinny plot lines. Now let's see if the film gets picked up and finds a distributor and then makes it to a screen near you.
I walked out on a high into the eight o'clock dusk of the first really warm day of spring. The streets of Chelsea were crawling with New Yorkers hungry for a long awaited evening with the potential of dining al fresco in blouses without sleeves and polo shirts sporting logos by Izod and Ralph Lauren.
Dining alone in the city buzzing with potential is mostly a spectator sport. I wandered through the village trying to find a restaurant with a table that wouldn't make me feel guilty depriving some couple the opportunity for wine, fresh oysters and romance. I decided it was enough to inhale the aromas of the adventures of others. I'd go home and grab a take-out burger  at Jackson Hole around the corner from the apartment.
I was a block away from the IRT station and the No.1 train that would get me back up to the Upper Westside. As I was descending the steps into the bowels of the Fourteenth Street Station came a voice so rich you could not ignore it. Sitting on a bench next to a shopping cart filled with his possessions was a man singing the pants off of classic MoTown tunes. As he sang he leaned into every note and let it slip out of the side of his mouth. His name is Geechee Dan. I slipped him the five dollars for his CD. I missed two trains while he talked about New Orleans, Jazz and the Blues, and then he sang some more. How can you not love a city where this kind of talent sits on a subway bench for your enjoyment? How can you not feel regret for a city where this kind of talent sits on a subway bench living out of a grocery cart filled with his sole possessions.


"Cupid", Lyrics by Sam Cooke
Geechee Dan, singer
14th Street IRT station, April 18, 2015

1 comment:

  1. When I was in jr high our teacher read us a story about a horse in this race. A chapter before lunch. So I recognized the name all these years later!