Music and the Concrete Jungle

Sunset seen from my bedroom window.

Last Thursday I got to see Philip Glass’ free performance at the SoHo Apple Store. It was amazing and I really never thought I would have the chance to see him perform. Even if his name isn’t familiar, you’ve probably heard the American composer’s beautifully minimal scores for films like Kundun, Candyman, and The Hours. I’ve long used his repetition-based compositions as writing accompaniment. I got to the Apple Store about an hour before the performance, got a white wristband, and in an hour was led up to a small performance area. I had to stand, but had a good view of the stage. First, Glass played two of his pieces, Etude No. 1 and Metamorphosis No. 2, on the piano. Rarely is a room in New York so quiet, and it made me realize how much ambient noise is always coming in off the streets. Then he was joined by cellist Wendy Sutter, with whom he played three songs. After their duet, Glass left the stage and violinist Tim Fain played some crazy fast notes on a version of one of Glass’ Einstein on the Beach songs. After, the Glass Chamber Players, a group of six string musicians, played several arrangements. The best part of the concert, for me at least, was the last song where Philip Glass was joined onstage by Ira Glass, whose voice is as familiar as my best friends’ due to listening for years to This American Life, although I’d never seen him in person before. Apparently, Ira Glass is Philip Glass’ cousin. Ira Glass read an Allen Ginsberg poem that Philip Glass used to perform with Ginsberg, called “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” in which Ginsberg declares the end of the Vietnam War. It was an amazing and astounding performance.

Poor beheaded dinosaur in Astoria.

Friday night, I went to the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg with my roommate to see Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers. I hadn’t heard their music before, but it turned out to be a really good show. I didn’t understand a word of the lyrics howled by Shilpa Ray while she attacked her harmonium, and still got the heartbreaking cynicism of her music. I guess I would compare her music to the psychobilly Horrorpops, but much less cute, with something of Wanda Jackson’s voice.

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread from Baked.

I met up with Elizabeth and Eszter in Red Hook, Brooklyn on Saturday for some IKEA shopping. I got there a little early to explore and found the hip little bakery Baked. I had coffee and a delicious piece of chocolate chip pumpkin bread.

Erie Basin Park in Red Hook.

Red Hook is kind of an odd place. It doesn’t have any subway stops, so you either have to take the bus or a ferry. Although artists, IKEA, and the Fairway Market have recently moved in, it’s still pretty industrial and I wouldn’t want to wander around there alone at night (Al Capone got his start in Red Hook, after all). Being daytime, I wandered around the new Erie Basin Park that was built around IKEA and attempts to be educational about shipping practices while offering modern designs. I liked these wavy benches, which I guess you are supposed to lay down on during warm weather.

Inside an abandoned trolley car in Red Hook.

After meeting my friends, we went to the Fairway and indulged in free samples of raw milk cheese, green tea ice cream, and olive oil from Nyons (from the Drôme department where I lived in France). Behind Fairway, which is housed in an old coffee warehouse, is a train of abandoned trolley cars that were intended to go from Red Hook to Brooklyn Heights. That would have been convenient, but I guess the city of New York decided to cancel the project for some reason.

Statue of Liberty seen from Red Hook.

There are also pretty views of the Statue of Liberty from Red Hook, that I’m sure could make the rent a bit higher if those trolleys were going. Anyway, we explored IKEA and I bought some cheap glasses (six for $1.99!!) for my apartment. Later that day, we went to a bar in the East Village that gives you a free pizza with each drink you buy. The pizza wasn’t great, but getting a beer and dinner for $5 is not bad at all.

Athena at Athens Square Park in Astoria, Queens.

Today I took the R train all the way up to Astoria, Queens to visit Eszter’s neighborhood. We checked out the European products at the grocery stores and had lunch at a Czech restaurant. I was surprised at how many bustling stores there were in Astoria and the diversity of food options. I believe that was my first encounter with Czech food, and the potato and cheese and then fruit dumplings were delicious. I also traded my old books for some of her old clothes, so now I have some new things to wear with the bonus of clearing out my bookshelf.

I recently joined Goodreads and I’m not quite sure what to do with it. If any friends are on it, add me!

2 thoughts on “Music and the Concrete Jungle

  1. Cecilia says:

    You did what I failed to do; what did you think of the decor of the Baked bakery? Did you try any other items?

  2. Allie says:

    I don’t really remember the decor, but the bread was great. I got a coffee, too, that was pretty good.

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