Monday, January 3, 2011

The beauty of the blizzard in New York City

                The beauty of New York City’s big blizzard night will go unreported.  Lots of stories about the chaos and the garbage.  Very little about the beauty.  Here is the real story. (which was published here last year.)         

click to enlarge, this is a color photo
            It was in that quiet valley between Christmas and New Years when not much is going on, even in New York City.  We were having dinner in a little storefront Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.  It was snowing when we walked in.  There was a bright flash of light as we sat down and a big boom a couple of seconds later. 
        From our comfortable seats inside Positano we had a fine sonic view of a snow thunderstorm.  The big plate glass window shook, and  bright blue white and green flashes of light lit up the restaurant like the fourth of July. 

          It was our neighborhood restaurant and we took our time.  A nice Tuscan wine, sambucca with our coffee.  They served the sambucca in little narrow glasses, put a couple of coffee beans on top and lit it to give a coffee kick to the silky licorice taste of sambucca.  Another one, waiter, if you would be so kind.

        When we walked out the world was brand new. Everything was white and crystalline.  Igloos in the middle of 6th Avenue grew where cars had been abandoned.  Nothing had a sharp edge.  The snow was still falling heavily.

             A police car, red light flashing, siren strangely muffled by the snow, turned off Houston street to head up 6th avenue and slid in slow motion, sliding sideways, spinning its rear wheels.  The helpless shark, slowed and stopped.  Stuck.  Nothing on 6th avenue was moving.  Nothing could.

           Normally there’s a wall of noise in New York City, a combination of trucks, buses, cars, the subway underneath and the planes overhead.  Now it was strangely and wonderfully quiet.  Nothing moving except us, crunching through the heavy snow.

            It was quiet but far from silent.  New York is a city of music especially on Saturday night.  Music was coming from bars with a piano player up front, or a combo on a small stage at the back.  It was coming from jam sessions, from a trumpeter practicing in a loft overhead.  We followed our ears into a basement bar where a big brassy happy sound lured us in.  On stage, in the back there were six guys; three had trumpets, two had trombones and one was holding his own as the lone saxophone. The music made us so glad to be alive.  We went back outside after the set, and followed the music, going from a string quartet to a jazzy piano. 

            The blizzard gave the city the night off, and  the musicians took over. 


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