Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderland in NYC

I'm so glad to finally have a few minutes to write here again. These last few weeks, I wasn't even able to keep on top of everything for The Beggar's Opera workshop as I'd have liked to, let alone do any blogging. Regarding the workshop, I thought the performances were incredibly useful and successful in that I know a lot of things that have to be worked out before I can get back to the piece. My collaborator, Myrel, and I are going to try to keep working on the visuals, in particular, over the next few months because we got to spend the least time on those in this iteration. I'll keep you all updated on our progress there.

It's snowing today in NYC; they're predicting up to 6 inches, the last I heard. When I was growing up in Texas, we very rarely had snow; I can only remember a half dozen or so times (and maybe not even that many) in the 20-odd years I lived there. More often, we'd have ice storms, which are worse because the roads aren't drivable (so you can't go anywhere) and you can't play in it (all of our attempts to have ice ball fights wound up disastrously). So when I moved here in 1987, I was really looking forward to the kinds of New York City winters I'd grown up seeing in movies like The Lemon Drop Kid and Miracle on 34th Street. I pictured people merrily bustling through the streets, children building snowmen beside the curbs and the city growing more and more beautiful as its minor flaws are slowly masked by a layer of pure whiteness.

In reality, very little of that happens.

It is definitely beautiful to look at... in the parks. Three years ago when Christo and Jean-Claude's The Gates was installed in Central Park, the day Catherine and I went to see it with our friends, Renee and Stefan, it had snowed the day before and it was a fantastic way to see the piece: the contrast of the orange gates, the dark bare trees and the white snow was unforgettable. And, of course, that's where the children go to play—to the urban equivalent of a backyard. On snow days, the Parks Commissioner is always on NY1 in the morning, urging all of the kids to come on out to the parks for sledding, snowman building and hot chocolate.

New Yorkers are not, by and large, merry about the snow: we have to dodge cars in it, dodge dog poop and urine in it, dodge each other in it. It's pretty safe to say we all like to look at it but preferably from the comfort of our homes or from the comfort of a warm, dry neighborhood bar (most things, in my opinion, are best observed from a neighborhood bar: Lily Coogan's around the corner from our house, has stools in front of a big picture window that looks out on Second Avenue for exactly that purpose). Within minutes of landing, the snow starts to turn gray-brown from the grime (and the city is much, much cleaner today than it was in the 19th century; I shudder to think how snow must have looked back then). Also, snow must be cleared from the sidewalks within 4 hours of the cessation of snowfall, which means that there are then huge piles of dirty snow along the curb (which it seems some dog owners believe is a free zone in terms of the pooper-scooper laws—at least, it is invariably used that way). Add to that the gray-brown mountains left behind at every corner after the snow plows have gone through and you can easily understand why very few people are strolling along singing "Silver Bells" with their beloved on their arm.

That said, I still like New York when it snows. For a little while, at least. From the comfort of my office, I can look across the street at the empty building that I think would make a great arts center (if I had $6 million to purchase it and another $3 million to renovate it), watch the white drifts growing larger on the ledges and imagine looking out at this building from my office there on the 4th floor (or from my 5th floor apartment above that office, if I'm going to daydream). I can watch the kids playing in the park. I can go see my friend Nicky Paraiso's 10pm show at LaMaMa tonight and know that when I come out, the City will have that muffled rumble that always happens at night when it's blanketed in white—never quiet, of course, but so much less loud than usual.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I love how quiet it gets, too! Yay pee pee snow!