Friday, May 23, 2014

Easter 31: Music. Piano. Conversations


Nan comes in for her weekly review of bills to pay and just to visit.

A musician walks in looking for the ETHEL rehearsal and the sound of their music quickly reveals their location. They’ve been working on some intense and seriously heavy music this week.

When ETHEL has finished for the day, Karen’s very personal songs and music takes their place in the sanctuary. She gets coffee for the both of us.

A man named Angelo has recently found a job and needs metrocard to get back to Queens. I’ve got just enough to make that happen.

A man from the neighborhood comes in and asks if he can play the piano awhile and I’m happy to oblige.

I take time and talk with my son Micah and Nina in Berlin. Still amazing to see them right there in front of me. We're talking about the devastation in  the Balkans, virtually ignored in the western press. Whole villages destroyed. fear of the potential public health disaster waiting to happen on the heat with rotting carcasses, mosquitos, toxic mud. Nina points out that for the first time since the wars in the wake of the break up of Yugoslavia, there's a sense of cross-border, cross-ethnic pan-balkan solidarity. tennis star Djokovich donates his entire Italian Open winnings. And posts on his website, Long live all the formerYugoslav republics. Serbian soccer hooligans jump on buses to go help their Croatian brothers and sisters. I'll be talking to Beppe about this. I will be helping Milica with her benefit a week from now. 

I’m getting ready to meet Esther R and Katie R to talk about a future performance together at Open Mic. I step outside and there is Rudy. Now bearded. Gives him a look of wisdom. Today, as he often does, he talks about communication. How these days he experiences it as disjointed and alienating. No one has normal  phone conversations anymore. It’s all texting and e-mail. I remember the peak days of what the community knew as  Rudy’s gym , sometimes to our Session's consternation, before we closed. The generation of Upper Westside kids who experienced his zenmaster-like gymnastics instruction, especially on the trampoline. His annual gymnastics concerts with members of Big Apple Circus and Cirque de Soleil, who worked out regularly after hours in our gym,  with their acrobatics, anti-balance work, aerial arts and even fire. Our separation over the landmarks struggle. And our mutual connection to Jack. The writing group and after. With his bald head and beard, he’s beginning to resemble Jack. If I had more time, I’d invite him in. I’m glad his work continues at another church in what we used to call Hell’s Kitchen. He’ll always be a part of the spirit of this place.

And finally as I’m leaving, RL is arriving. He’s got a message for me to deliver to Katie.

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