Did my “How New Yorkers Ride Bikes” event at Town Hall last night. It worked. The thirteen “acts” ranged from serious, to musical, to gag-like. Lots of thanks due to Rhonda Sherman at The New Yorker who made it happen, and to Gregory Mosher who directed the evening. He kept the proceedings flowing smoothly and kept on top of the cues and the lighting and the running order. Half of the block of 43rd St. was closed off to allow for the valet bike parking that Transportation Alternatives organized. Valet bike parking!
We brought in the Young at Heart Chorus — a seniors’ group whose members are all over 72 years of age — to sing Queen’s “Bicycle Race.” As a finale, they did a couple of Talking Heads bits and I joined them for the encore to sing a new song of mine. During the soundcheck, I got all choked up listening to them sing the opening choral bit from “Road To Nowhere.” I got choked up at other bits too — Jan Gehl, the urban planner who helped make Copenhagen and some other cites around the world more livable, gave me a heady emotional feeling of optimism and hope as he ran through his presentation in the tech check.
Eddie Gonzales and the Classic Riders came on stage with their customized Schwinns, playing their amazing array of modified horns to a Hector Lavoe tune. Well, there were a lot of acts: some serious city agency folks, some films, some literary bits, and some lock breaking.
Read more about the event at Streetfilms.org.
As the Y@H Chorus was already in NYC, the Paris Bar at the Grammercy Arts Club booked them for an afternoon show the following day, before they flew off to perform some shows in Ireland. (They’ve been popular in Europe for a while.) There they did a longer set, which was deeply moving, sometimes hilarious, and always wonderful. With them, every lyric takes on new meaning: Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia” (of course), The Flaming Lips’ “All We Have Is Now,” Coldplay’s “Fix You” — well, you can imagine. They ended with a version of “Forever Young” with their fists in the air. The hipsters at the Paris Bar were completely won over, I think.
Photo by Mark Tusk