Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Man with a Horn

Yesterday, I posted about the dearth of street theater at Astor Place. Last night, I stood happily corrected.

Crossing the glassy blue glow of the Chase bank, I heard the sound of a trumpet blasting, bleating, echoing like it was banging around inside a tin can. I didn't see any trumpeter until I looked into the darkened windows of the city bus parked in the shadows of the old Cooper Union building.

Between his shifts, the lone bus driver in silhouette paced up and down the aisle, trumpet in hand, brass catching streetlight.

No passengers troubled him in the empty bus.

No traffic shoved him.

No stop lights stopped him.

Whether he was practicing or just blowing off steam, I don't know. I don't know his name or anything more about him. He played only for himself. But his playing attracted a group of passersby who stopped to listen, and snap his picture, too--also pleasantly surprised, I assumed, to find New York suddenly New York again.

We felt--I felt--strangely redeemed.

And when the time came for his shift to begin, the driver turned on the engine and the lights, then took one last stroll--down and back once more, transforming a city bus into his own Carnegie Hall, blasting John Williams' theme from Superman.

On the advertisement beneath him, the headline read, "You never know who's going to save your life."


EV Grieve said...

Beautiful. A classic moment.

Mykola Dementiuk said...

Excellent! That's the way New York used to be A truly great piece of observation.


Melanie said...

Great one--

Anonymous said...

Beautiful - and yes, something of a life-saver.

Bowery Boogie said...

The other day I saw a man playing a trumpet in his car on Stanton Street. I caught the tail end and didn't have a chance to snap a picture. But you could hear the blasts echoing through the streets.

esquared™ said...

If only we could read his mind,

Don't know who he is

Just a friend from another star

Here we are, like a kid at the school

Will he look at us, quivering,

Like a little girl, shivering,

He can see right through us.

Can he read our mind?

Jeremiah Moss said...

nice. i had that soundtrack on vinyl when i was 12(?).

this scene on the bus was great. i'm grateful to that guy for inadvertently creating such an epiphanic moment.

(tani) said...

This is one of my favorite NYC occurrences! Wish I was there.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Ha, cool - a real NY moment!

Anonymous said...

911 happened, Bloomberg happened, The new license plates happened, The smoking ban happened, The hipsters happened, the suburban mall happened.

Before all that, it was still good old New York City.

I have no idea what it is today.

SP said...

What a great happening! Only in NYC...

JakeGould said...

Wow, very similar to what I saw a few weeks ago in Brooklyn. An Access-A-Ride driver on break, in his van playing his electric guitar. It was awesome!

Anonymous said...

Something 25 years ago walking along 3rd ave between SMP & 9th St ex-husb and I heard a soprano trumpet. Ex-husband (a musician) said: sounds like Don Cherry. As we turned the corner - where the SM Bookshop is now - Don Cherry was strolling down the street, playing a soprano trumpet. NY magic.