Monday, June 6, 2011

A long day. A crazy day. A good day. One last pigeon. And opera singers.

A day with no time to catch your breath. Too much happening at the same time.  When I get to the church, Larry the electrician is working in the basement bathroom. Luis and his crew if volunteers are waiting, ready to go in and finish the bathrooms, they’ve already removed the mold. Piano Dan has the guts of the piano out and is hard at work, gently shaving hammers.  Danielle is concerned about the one last renegade pigeon.
RL had said that even though he wasn’t a Christian, he knew that a live bird in a church was a sign of good luck. Unless it’s the dove of the holy spirit, I’m not so sure I agree. I do remember our last several weeks here before moving out, a white pigeon roosted in the sanctuary. everybody though t it was a sign. Nobody knew of what.

So the Bob and Danielle pigeon removal team is called into action one last time. We’ve got the bird upstairs in Mc Alpin Hall. He’s perched in the open window of the overlooking office. The goal is to get him into the other overlooking office at the opposite end of the hall. And then out. Danielle and I go up to that office, to open the windows. As Danielle opens one, I hear her gasp. We watch as an air conditioner seems to  fall in silent slow  motion to the patio below ending with a loud  crash and a hiss of escaping freon. No harm, no foul. I manage to get an old pivot window open. We’re ready.
What ensues is the stuff of Charlie Chaplin, or worse, Three Stooges films. Danielle waiting above, me shooing the pigeon with a broom, and then when he’s perched out of reach, heaving soccer balls at him. Until he finally flies into the upper office and Danielle pulls the window shut.  And I race up to join her. 
The bird is doing that bird brain thing again, repeatedly flying into a closed glass window  with a clear escape route through the very next window. Danielle  is ready to leave him and lock the door. I say to try one more time. She’s got a large flat board, me a long stick. Together we’re  able to bat and maneuver the bird out the window. We quickly pull them shut. Another small victory.
We’ve got to have every hour planned just to get through the day. Returning from parking my call, Danielle calls to say that Bella has arrived to do follow up interviews for her work on the script for the gala. Hmm. Forgot about that. While Bella is interviewing me, Leila arrives with her version of a concert poster. Bright, alive, filled with color and photos.
Emiko has arrived. Performers are arriving for the concert run through. The piano is still like a body opened for surgery. The bathrooms are still being worked on. A representative from an energy company with a way to to save us money, you just need to... walks in and won’t leave. I’ve got to go to Gale Brewer’s office to meet with Kate Wood of Landmarks West! When I return, he’s still there.  
I’ve go to go home and change for the evening. Danielle has a look on her face like no mas, like things can’t go on like this. She’s right. 
It brings back memories. All the women in fancy gowns, the men in tuxes, warming u their voices. Ten years of Comfort Ye’s, Lauren her friends from the City Opera and the Met singing on behalf of the homeless. Lauren and I working into the wee hours  the night before, getting ready. The magic of the night itself. These singers bring that back.
The former Ambassador of Japan, Matoatsu Sakurai, is here. We are introduced and he speaks.Then I speak, welcoming all, telling our story. How tonight is another step on the way back. Two new bathrooms to celebrate. How this night is what we are, people of many races, cultures and languages, different musical and artistic traditions, arts and culture, all working out of compassion for healing. This is who we intend to be. Its the largest crowwd we’ve had since, well, the last Comfort Ye in 2006.
My neighbor and friend Ric Opens ten show. He also helps accompany Chizuru, the young dancer. There’s the famous pop composer, George Fischoff ,(Lazy Day, 98.6). Neo soul singer Tomoko who draws shout outs. A new musical by John T. Prestiani. Teresa Mai, Miss Vietnam Los Angeles. A Noh dancer. And an all star cast of up and coming young Asian and Latin opera stars singing,as Emiko says it, the best opera highlights, all capped off by 86 year old Met Diva, Lucine Amara, who can still bring down the house.  
During the performance I am back and froth form my own memories to enjoying the night to my intense stomach churning anxiety about our own concert series. We are so close to succeeding, y making the dream happen--it is happening---and at the same time close enough to the abyss to feel the wind and the downward pull of gravity. 
Ted and Asya have never ben to an event of this kind here before. The beauty, the sound, the intimacy blows them away. they are very happy. I’m very happy, another of those night I thought would never come again. 
The reception in the balcony with plenty of Japanese food and wine goes on past 11:30 PM.  realize that we’ve got no clean up strategy. It’s me, Emiko and her friends. An hour later, I’m finally heading home.  A long day. A crazy day. A good day.

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