Tuesday, June 29, 2010

bad music and great writing in this corner of the 'hood

I should have expected it.  Once I recommended WSP's musical medleys, I was bound to encounter the worst specimen of harmony and propaganda imaginable.  Appreciative of afternoons with virtuoso pianists, I headed into WSP last Thursday only to be reminded of one unalterable park fact – its public.

Which means they don't give background checks to all park-goers.  There's no test you have to pass.  Your obnoxious laugh intermixed with wheezing may be detrimental to society but no one will lock you out.  That's right.  Annoying people are allowed into WSP.

Case in point:

The picture doesn't show the whole band because none of them could play on cue and their attention spans and commitment to the act was low enough that random members would wander off mid-chord.  

Intermixed in their musical style was hippie, hillbilly, screaming rage, denim, tattoos, facial hair, cool hats, and possibly groupies (although they could have just been uncommitted band members).

I must admit that I know nothing about them.  I made no attempt to ask questions.  I just walked away.

Choosing a bench on the opposite side of the fountain, I tried to ignore their horrendous cacophony and their anti-government, anti-church, anti-music, anti-everything lyrics which often featured various terms and descriptions of actual human excrement.  

But the distance didn't work.  Perhaps realizing the lack of funds coming their way, they chose the full on screaming tactic.  

I don't care what establishment you oppose, I'm not listening to your reasons when you're screaming off-key.  

I retreated to the West pathway.  Here, with their performance adequately muffled, I joined other escapees for a quiet park afternoon.

Tom Beller and Hal Sirowitz
And I suppose I must thank those musicians for exiling me to the far West of the park where I later encountered a wonderful public reading.  "Mr. B's Reading Series" was put on by Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, a literary website that highlights and publishes pieces of creative nonfiction concerning life in New York City.

This reading honored the site's 10th anniversary.  Readers included Thomas Beller, Abigail Frankfurt, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Hal Sirowitz, and others.

The readings were both light and deep, funny and profound.  The audience broke out laughing on numerous occasions.  I'll never again see a man on the subway without thinking of Frankfurt's  assessments of their spread.  And Duane Reed takes on a whole new atmosphere in light of Sayrafiezadeh's war.

Mr. Beller's Neighborhood has published selections in two books, both available on Amazon: Lost and Found: Stories from New York, published in 2009, and Before and After: Stories from New York, published in 2002.  

Thanks to Mr. Beller's reading series, WSP offered a quality alternative to the would-be-musicians by the fountain that day.  And no, a public park doesn't keep out the annoying, but its open paths also host the enriching.

So just remember – music isn't always fun and literature isn't always boring.  

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