Friday, May 28, 2010

From Times Square to Fresh Air

One of the unintended consequences of taking up the horn again is that I'm now forced to navigate Times Square—the Disney World of the Northeast. It is with very good reason (*hint*) that my New Horn Teacher houses his lessons on 46th Street at Michiko Studios, still it's a strange place to be for someone who lives in NYC. Like the various Civil War museums and battlefields in my hometown, Times Square is only for tourists.

And, by the way, one of the things tourists don't know how to do correctly is walk. In NYC you are your car, your purse/messenger bag is your trunk, and the sidewalk is the freeway. Get it straight and get on your way. It's like people have never had anybody behind them before! Or they've never had to rely on their own bodies to get them where they're going. (More likely in this country.) Therefore Times Square is a pedestrian traffic dis-as-ter.

To a New Yorker (even a transplant like myself), it's as if we drove to suburbia and stopped our Ford Explorer smack in the middle of the mall intersection to ask our kids whether they'd like TGI Fridays or Olive Garden for dinner. Or maybe instead of stopping the SUV, we'd just weave around the road and idle in fits and starts. (Why? Why? Why? Don't these people know I have to get to my horn lesson???) Nah, they're on vacation.

Still, I've only commuted twice now with my horn and it's, shockingly, a total hit. The subway don't-smile-at-strangers-rule has been broken several times, and for that I feel a bit exposed. Especially in regards to the dude yesterday who grinned at me from Atlantic Ave/Pacific Street all the way to Union Square, in hopes of making eye contact. No dice, buddy. I'm neither mentally ill nor selling anything, so let's keep it clean. Less creepy was the elevator interaction with the young Chinese woman who knew enough English to say "That French horn? OSSUM!" with a thoroughly American thumbs up. Numerous people on the street have blurted the name of my instrument to people they're walking with, or even me. This includes the totally datable fellow standing outside The Irish Pub who interrupted his conversation to point at my case and shout "FRENCH HORN!" then congratulated himself for properly identifying it by pointing both thumbs proudly at his chest and shouting "BAM!!"

Guess some dudes find French hornists pretty hot, Alaska. Get the t-shirt or watch out.

On the inside of the industry, however, I feel totally self-conscious. Because my lesson immediately followed yesterday's ASCAP Young Composer Awards ceremony (congrats, guys and gals!), I had to bring my horn to the Times Center. I all but stuffed it up my shirt to conceal it for fear that industry contacts would point and shout "Imposter! Imposter! You're no performer, you're a publicist!" I dropped that baby at coat check so fast, I didn't even have time to hit the ladies room before the 2-hour show.

But today brings a different adventure for the horn. I am heading to a Wild, Wonderful state to stay the long weekend at my parents' recent home—Windy Hill Farm. There I'll celebrate my niece's graduation from high school, splash in the "crick" with the dogs, practice some slurs and long tones, and reunite with the side of the family from which my Native American (Monacan) and Dutch (or is it German? We'll never know) ancestry comes.

For now, good-bye city life! You can have my walkin' shoes while I'm gone.



  1. Ahhhh love this post.

    True, all true.

    Have fun down south! Get you some extra sweet tea!

  2. Yes, you captured the Times Square experience perfectly! I worked there for a few years. We're talking 5+ days a week. On the upside, it's always bright as noon there, perfect when you get out of work at 1 a.m....

    So cool that the French horn is breaking barriers and giving you a bit of the small town experience. ;)

  3. I checked out the link for the t-shirt. Notably, they don't show the guy's face who is wearing the t-shirt. I think Alex is safe. :)