Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some Big Apple Moments

At the beginning of the many years I worked in Manhattan (or went to school there) it took me a little effort to get in synch with the anarchy of the rhythm of events. Everything has always happening, nothing was happening too. There was no telling.

The first time I went into the city alone with my friends, it was right about the time the Fugs were starting to hit it "big" in the area. Now Tuli Kupferberg is ill, I hear. I am sorry. At the same time Manhattan was at the height of its influence on the hyper-normal American music scene. Brill Building Jingle-Pop ruled the airwaves, though the British Invasion was cutting great swatches into their piece of the action.

Anyway we were tooling around the streets, not exactly knowing what we were after, when we came upon a fellow with a wild look in his eyes. He was gesticulating animatedly at a garbage truck and saying "I understand this machine. . . " Being naive kids we just started laughing at him. He didn't like it. He ran across the street to us and shouted, "Have you ever heard of HELL???" We had. "Well you *&@$s are IN it."

He was right about hell and the garbage truck. But we didn't really get it.

I used to thumb through the Manhattan Yellow Pages when I had a spare moment where I worked. It was a thick bugger. I am sure it still is, even though i phones and the net have made it less indispensable. I remember under "Auto Towing Services" there was a group of listings that started with the A's. There was A1 Auto Towing, AAAA1 Auto Towing and, not to be outdone, there was something like an AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA1 Auto Towing company listed. That's NYC for you. Everybody is scrambling to get on top, one way or another.

When I was about to graduate from New York University I went out to the University of Chicago to see about their graduate program. I met with the professor who was to become my main mentor. We were talking and I asked about other professors in the department who might be good to study with as well. She hesitated. Then I asked, "well, who do you speak to?" "That's very New York," she replied.

I didn't think it was at the time. In retrospect, she was right. It was.

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