Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thoughts of New York City during deer season...

By Jim Heffernan
It’s firearms deer hunting season in Minnesota and my thoughts are drifting to…New York City. Not a lot of deer hunting in the Big Apple.

Dear me, I do not deer hunt. I prefer not to kill mammals with big brown eyes. I don’t judge those who do – my own father hunted deer – it’s just that I don’t.

Carnegie Hall, NYC
So my thoughts are apt to drift off to New York City, not just during deer season but quite often, actually. It’s been almost a year since my last visit to NYC, and I wouldn’t mind going back already. Then there are the daily reminders in the New York Times, which I read.

Great paper, containing occasional brilliance. Like the other day in the middle of a long obituary for a 101-year-old woman, a well-known portrait photographer I’d never heard of, who until recently resided in Carnegie Hall. Until they evicted all of the residents of the towers above the famous concert hall three years ago, I didn’t know anyone lived there at all.

Turns out my favorite pianist, Don Shirley, was a resident. Shirley combined a classical sound with jazz in a way no other pianist I’m aware of ever has. He died earlier this year in relative obscurity, although The Times included a nice obit on him.

Shirley had been interviewed when the operators of Carnegie Hall decided to eliminate the residential apartments and use the space for studios. That eviction also involved the portrait photographer, whose name was Editta Sherman, who fought it but lost, sort of. They ended up giving her a nice apartment with a view of Central Park –  rent free.

Isaac Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall
In her obituary, the Times writer, Robert D. McFadden, included a paragraph describing what it would have been like to actually live above Carnegie Hall, one of the world’s premier concert halls. He wrote:

“The building was alive with the anvil chorus of New York: a cacophony of orchestral horns, midnight string quartets, the tap and shuffle of dancers and a serenade of shouting actors, shrieking sopranos, pounding typewriters and street traffic drifting up with the nightly concerts from Carnegie Hall.” 

Music to my ears.

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