Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Sound of Music at the Laundramat

The 24-hour Laundromat on Ralph and Fulton was alive tonight with sound of music, literally. As it played on two television screens, people began humming little bits and pieces. First two men began humming and then singing "Favorite Things." as the film opened with that wonderful overture. I tried not to pay attention but began laughing when one of the singing men admitted to the other, "I can't help it, and we did this play when I was in high school. It sticks in your brain." They wished each other happy holiday and parted. I threw my clothes in a washer and tried to mind my business. The remaining singer continued folding and singing "Favorite Things." As I turned to put clothes in a second machine our eyes met and my sheepish grin was so obvious, that he said, " Are you laughing at me too? I see you," He said smiling. "Who can help it, " I said looking at Julie Andrews spinning on the mountain side as she sang, "The Hills Are Alive.” “It’s on every year." I said.

The singing spread faster than a spilled bottle of detergent. A little girl glued to the scene of Liesl and Rolf singing, "You are sixteen going on seventeen," went one better by imitating all the dance steps. She was pretty good. Another customer sat folding clothes singing with abandon, not caring if anyone heard her singing, "So Long Farewell." I swear I heard someone hit that high note at the end.

By the time the cast was singing "Do-Re-Mi", I couldn't help myself from joining the woman folding clothes beside me, for "Re, a drop of golden sun."

I know that no one's thought of it yet, but if this was planned right, "The Sound Of Music" Laundromat sing-a-long could really take off. The notice could read " Celebrate Edelweiss in Bed-Sty!" What d'ya think? It could happen. We could take the "Sound of Music" sing-a-long thing to a whole new level. It could become an annual event. Who's game?

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Earth Tilts 23.5

My son’s school celebrated the Winter Solstice last night. It was a welcome shaking of my spirit from the doldrums. Perhaps doldrums is too tame. I was feeling quit evil. Perhaps it’s teaching in a classroom for 6 and 1/2 hours a day with no windows. I was feeling so out of balance that I was tempted to kick the dangling shoe off the foot of a pain in the ass subway rider who annoyed me out of my seat. I stood waiting for my stop and contemplated how to snatch the shoe and toss it out the subway door when I reached my stop.

Forget your “Silent Night” and “Here comes Santa Claus.” That’s for amateurs. This is New York. I’m not talking a bunch of props and kids moving and singing like clones. This was original music and lyrics created by the music teacher DeVeor Rainey. Songs like “I’m Not Afraid” and “The Winter Blues” told of the distinct darkness of the winter, and the feelings that come along with it. These songs didn’t leave you mournful; they filled all of you with great possibilities.

Kids between the ages of 5 to 17 performed in an orchestra of violins, a percussion orchestra wearing t-shirts that read “Sparkling Rhythms” singing and dancing with such abandon that it was like a modern day Free to Be You and Me.

Some of the most cleaver moments of the show were the great transitions between performances. We chanted “The earth tilts 23.5!” Even my fourteen-year-old daughter was impressed that such a fact had been incorporated into a chant and that 5 and 6 year-olds knew it. “Look, their using real instruments” she said, as the kids played an assortment of xylophones to Djembe drums to bells and rain sticks.

The finale included another song created by the music director, (who had the best dance moves and conducting gestures I’d seen). It was a mix of drum and bugle corps, carnival calypso and New Orleans Funeral Parade.

About twenty kids danced carnival style to a call: "Me hands start a clapping” and the response: "Must be the music.” Before we knew it the audience was up and dancing. Parents and teachers were invited up to repeat the dance steps of the children and lead a conga line around the auditorium.

This is what a holiday is about. It’s someone singing a song and playing a drum, and the rest of us joining in.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Oceanhill Art Sanctuary is Open!

So the gallery is finally open. Thanks everybody for putting Ocean Hill on the map!