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City of Blinding Lights (and Rain)

Posted in Music, NYC on October 12th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: First, I can report that my friend Noella is ok, but had a series of unfortunate events, including horrendous traffic problems and an illness, which prevented her from making it to the show. I heard from her today, so all is well, although she needs some serious downtime.

Today, NYC is experiencing its second torrential downpour since Friday. Yesterday was a glorious NYC day for me, however. Around 1130 hrs, my North Carolinian friend from Baltimore, Mary White, arrived on the bus to hang out with me for the day. With the rain having subsided, we took full advantage and walked all over. After shopping for a New York Yankees souvenir for her friend (in the dumps with strep throat and the Yankees’ 2005 demise), we went to Greenwich Village and had a coffee, where we caught up on our lives, and compared notes about everything from spirituality to teddy bears. I showed her the Strand, and afterwards we headed back to The Leo House, where we rested briefly before heading to Rockefeller Center, trying to find the Build-A-Bear Workshop. Eventually we found it, and Mary chose a bear, bought a Yankees uniform, and built her bear. This involves choosing a bear, giving it to an employee who works a machine that stuffs it with fluffy things (feathers, I assumed). She then had to choose a little cloth heart, which Mary had to kiss on both sides, and make a wish, and other stuff, and then heart was put into the bear, and it was sown up.

Next, the bear had to be given a name, birthdate, etc., so I suggested Derek, given that Mr Jeter is Captain of the Yankees. After completing the online form, Mary paid for the bear and outfit, was given the Official Birth Certificate, and then we went to the “dressing room”, a little shelf near the back of the store, to dress the bear. As we fussed with Derek to get his baseball uniform on, Mary remarked that it was if we were putting clothes on our baby, so we played the fussing parents, ensuring the little Derek was dressed properly before putting him in his carrying box! 🙂

Then it was off to see U2. We arrived around 7:15, and by 8:00, MSG was about 25% full. At 8:05, Keane took the stage, and rocked the Gardens for about 40 minutes. Keane is an interesting combination: keyboards, vocals, and percussion only. The lead singer, Tom Chaplin, has an amazing, powerful, and unique voice, and fits together with Tim Rice-Oxley’s somewhat minimalist keyboard style quite well.

Pumped up, and with the stadium approaching capacity as people flowed in during Keane’s set, U2 took the stage around 9:30. Immediately everyone rose, and stayed standing for the majority of the set. The band was on one end of a large oval, which allowed band members, mostly Bono of course, to wander about during the show. A waterfall of lights came down from behind the band, and the colours were amazing and brilliant. Mary and I were sitting behind the band, with a north-by-north-east view of the stage. But the lights did not detract from the visibility, allowing those sitting behind to still see the band through the curtain. The lights were retracted during the show a few times, re-appearing at programmed times, awash with different displays of colours, with one offering of flags of different countries, following a song in which Bono appealed for an end to poverty.

What can I say? The show was incredible. My God, does this band rock out and give it everything. It took me 25 years to finally see them, but it was worth the wait. When the lights would go up in the arena from time to time, we would see 20,000 fans standing, jumping, singing and rejoicing. One guy standing next to Mary and I didn’t stop jumping for the entire show, except during the slower tunes. Say what you will about Bono, but the man works the crowd into a frenzy, one filled with joy and expectation of better things to come. On most songs, the audience turned into the largest choir I’d even seen. Near the end, Bono asked us to open our cells phones, and the arena lights went down. He said we would turn the Gardens into a mini-galaxy, and that was exactly how it looked. “Talk about a 21st century moment,” Bono noted, before beginning another tune.

I could say more, but I’ll leave it at that. Unfortunately, Mary had to catch a 2330 hrs bus back to Baltimore, and I wanted to ensure she made it safely to the Port Authority station, so we left during the last song, and missed the encore. But no worries – it was an incredible, rewarding show, and I saw it with a dear friend, which was the perfect ending to the perfect day. Here’s the set list:

  1. City of Blinding Lights
  2. Vertigo
  3. Elevation
  4. Out Of Control (first single from 1980)
  5. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  6. Beautiful Day
  7. Miracle Drug
  8. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  9. Love and Peace or Else
  10. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  11. Bullets The Blue Sky
  12. Miss Sarajevo
  13. Pride (In The Name of Love)
  14. Where The Streets Have No Name
  15. One

The encore followed, of course, but I don’t know which songs we missed. No matter, there will be another time to see them someday.

Strange Times in NYC

Posted in NYC on October 10th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: I am sitting in Starbucks on 23rd St and 8th Ave in NYC, trying to sort through the evening. Among other things and in unrelated events, I missed the Les Paul show, and my digital camera was stolen.

Earlier in the day, I saw the movie Junebug and bought a few copies of Earth Mother, the amazing new book by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by the Dillons.

A few weeks back, I ordered two tickets to see Les Paul and his trio at the Iridium Jazz Club. A friend was to meet me around 7:30, 30 minutes before the show began. She called about an hour earlier, saying she was about to leave, and would call me when she made it to midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately, she didn’t show, and as of this writing, I’m still not sure what happened to her, so I’m a bit worried. I sold my tickets to an older couple from the UK, who were really hoping to see Les Paul.

Unable to reach her, I wandered around the Broadway and Times Square districts for a while, walked down 42nd Street to the Port Authority Bus Station, then hopped an E train back to 23rd Street. Once on the train, an announcement was made that it wouldn’t stop at 23rd Street because of emergency track maintenance, so I had to get off at 34th and catch a C train the rest of the way. But while waiting there, an NYC Transit official was yelling at everyone to go under the track to the other side of the subway station, because the E and C trains weren’t running on the track where they normally do, but instead were running on the express track.

So I got up with everyone else, went to the other side, got the next C train; while sitting on it, I realized I left my knapsack on the bench on which I has been sitting while waiting for the C train ; I panicked, and when I got to 23rd, I asked the station attendant if he could call back to the 34th Station for me, and I hopped a train back to 34th.

When I got there, an old African-American lady saw me and yelled at me; she said she found my knapsack, and turned it in to one of the workers; I found the subway worker, and he had the knapsack; unfortunately, someone had rifled it, and took my maps, umbrella, and *sigh*, my digital camera.

A lapse in judgement on my part. So tonight, I am feeling somewhat deflated on a number of fronts. At least it didn’t rain today.

Black Sheets of (NY) Rain

Posted in NYC on October 8th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

Today it has been raining non-stop, Manhattan is soaked, and the humidity is high. I could hardly sleep last night, if at all. At noon, I met my friends from New Haven CT, Susan and David, at Grand Central Station. We went here for some food; I had oyster stew, which was more like oyster soup. I “slurped” down three oysters in the shell. Next we road the subway uptown, and walked a few blocks in the rain to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw this exhibit, called Prague, The Crown of Bohemia, 1347-1437. Afterwards we took the subway back downtown, and had coffees at this hip place. It was very hot and humid there, and we stood for about 15 trying minutes waiting for a table. We walked about in the rain next, eventually ending up here for something to eat; the place is a few blocks away from NYU, and was filled with groups of preppy-dressed university students, most of them future YITs, no doubt.

When finished, we rushed back on a subway to Grand Central Station, then hopped the subway shuttle to Times Square, and walked fast to AMC Empire Cimema 25 to see Good Night, and Good Luck. This is one of the best films of the year, and is directed and co-written by George Clooney. The movie is in b&w, and takes place in the early 1950s. Based on true events, the subject matter is Edward R Murrow, the ground-breaking television show he created in the early 1950s with Fred Friendly, called See It Now, and their efforts to expose the inadequacies and lies of Joseph McCarthy and his hearings. The movie’s time period is during the height of McCarthyism, as Murrow learns of the dismissal from the US Air Force of Milo Radulovich. Murrow reports on Radulovich’s dismissal, and the fallout from the broadcast leads to a dramatic confrontation with McCarthy. The realistic feel of the film is enhanced by its black and white cinematography, attention to detail, and the use of real footage from the time period. It’s a powerful movie, with themes that resonate today. Highly recommended, see it when it comes to your town.

Note to self: when you purchase a $24 Metro card for unlimited seven-day riding on the NYC subway, don’t use it once, and then drop it on the subway tracks.

Chelsea Evening

Posted in NYC, Travel on October 7th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Greetings from a Starbucks café in NYC, where it is drizziling and about 22C, actually kind of pleasant. The flight in was uneventful, and for the first time, I ate no airline junk munchies, and drank only ice water on the two flights (Edmonton-Toronto-La Guardia). I haven’t been here since June of 2003, when Geoff and I attended SLA, but it feels like I was here last week. I’m staying at The Leo House for (at least) the seventh time, and they recognized me when I came through the door. In the immediate neighbourhood, I have noticed a few new shops and restaurants and such, which is good, and G will be pleased to know that the Krispy Kreme is still close by! 🙂 Not that I need another doughnut.

So that said, I’m off to find some fresh fruit and bottled water…

Rush Hour on the Information Superhighway

Posted in NYC on May 24th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: To feed my personal NYC obsession, I subscribe to Time Out New York. Although it arrives in my mailbox anywhere from 3-5 weeks after publication, I look forward to each issue. While its content keeps me up-to-date on All Things Pop Culture and All Things NYC, there are always well-written articles that pique my interest and result in further investigation on my part. In many cases, the articles are not necessarily NYC-centric either.

A recent example is the article, “Rush Hour on the Information Superhighway“, by Clive Thompson, which appeared in Issue No. 445 April 815, 2004.

A funny thing happened on the road to utopia. The Information Age promised greater efficiency, allowing us to explore new worlds online and enjoy more free time. Instead, we’re working longer hours and feeling more stressed as we drown in a tsunami of e-mail, blogs and Google searches. And nowhere is this pressure to stay connected more prevalent than in mediacentric New York.

Thompson succinctly addresses information bombardment and overload, focusing on four aspects: e-mail and spam, Google and googling, blogs, and TiVo (which, btw, isn’t available in Canada yet). As librarians and information specialists, we are bombarded with information from many sides every day. How do we deal with it? Often, we don’t – some, if not all of it flows over us like water off the back of a duck. We process a little of it. But being librarians, when we search for information we should know where and when to stop, and Thompson very correctly nails this in his discussion of searching:

That’s another conundrum of our age: New technologies seem only to amp up our desire for more. Consider Google. It is by all accounts an informational godsend. But since it offers hundreds of hits for even the most quixotic query, many people have no idea when to stop parsing the endless results, says Joseph Janes, chair of library and information science at the University of Washington’s Information School, who teaches a graduate seminar on the site and its impact on the culture. “It can make your life simpler, but it can also lead you down the path to perdition,” Janes adds. “You find things that point to things that point to things that point to things, and you wake up two hours later. Or maybe you’re looking for something that simply can’t be found on Google, and it takes you 45 minutes to figure that out.” Janes was trained as a librarian, and he says one thing librarians learn is when to stop: “We know when to declare victoryor to go home if the information just isn’t there.”

Consider that: knowing when to stop. It’s one of the many characteristics that define us as information and library professionals, and I think we should be proud of it.

BTW, the Time Out New York publishers and editors have quietly set a high standard for open access. They have uploaded the contents, except for listings of current events, of every issue since the magazine began publishing in 1995. New issues are archived online one month after publication. Issues can be browsed by date, and a search function is provided that allows keyword searching with the ability to restrict by section of the journal. As a good friend would say, totally brilliant. (NOTE: A slight variation of this post appears on Blogcritics.)

World Trade Center Rebuild

Posted in Film, NYC on December 20th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: A revised model of the Freedom Tower, to be built at the WTC site in Lower Manhattan, was unveiled yesterday. The tower will be 70 stories tall, have an angular shape, and a 276-foot spire, bringing the height to 1,776 feet, the same number as the year of American independence. Add the broadcast tower to the the spire, and the total height will be above 2000 feet. It will be the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and have turbines at the top of the main structure, to harvest wind energy to provide 20% of the buildings energy. The building will be constructed with additional safety features absent from the WTC: “The tower is to have a concrete core and be encased in a steel cable netting that will brace the building.” The building is scheduled for completion in 2008. A 360-degree view is here (requires Real Player.) Details of the finalists for the design of the WTC Memorial Site can be seen here.

:: I saw Lord of the Rings The Return of the King yesterday, and it is indeed the movie event of the year. I hope the Academy recognizes Peter Jackson’s stunning achievement, and awards him the Best Director Oscar he so deserves, along with Best Picture of 2003.