Sunday, June 15, 2008

Live from New York

On Thursday night, my book group met in Soho for dinner*, with gelato at Ciao Bella afterward. It was a beautiful night, and I got the gelato in a cone, so I decided to walk partway home -- at least across the Brooklyn Bridge, which is probably my very favorite walk on Earth. I strolled through Little Italy, Chinatown, and the arches of our beautiful Municipal Building**, then began the long, lovely walk across the bridge itself. About halfway across, I noticed some bright red, white, and blue lights down on Fulton Ferry Landing***, set up around a metal stage, and as I didn't have anywhere to be particularly, I decided to check it out.

First I came across this:

(Image from here.) It's the Telectroscope, which allowed me to see two very nice security guards at the London Bridge at 2 a.m., and we gave each other a transatlantic wave. Then I continued on towards the red, white, and blue stage, which stood behind a large, open gate, with a thin guy in a black t-shirt standing guard.

"Hey, would you like to be in the audience for the Macy's Fourth of July Spectacular starring Kenny Chesney?" he said.

I'm not a big country music fan, but this opportunity clearly was too absurd and/or awesome to pass up, so I said yes, he issued me a little American flag, and I went to stand by the stage. It was decorated with bright red, white, and blue stars bearing the Macy's logo, so I figured they were pre-taping a concert segment to precede the fireworks on the Fourth. (Which makes sense -- the Landing must be mobbed on the Fourth, as it has a prime view of those same Macy's fireworks.) My fellow audience members seemed to be half tourists, half extremely bemused New Yorkers. The three twentysomething Brooklynites behind me talked loudly about how they were only hanging out here until 9:30, and if something hadn't happened by then, they were going to leave and go to the bar because they were missing the Lakers game for some country singer and that was just not cool. A guy from Texas to my left pointed out the Watchtower building to his companion and told her it was owned by the Christian Scientists. (I kept my mouth shut.) Various women in cowboy hats waved their "I Love You Kenny!!" signs hopefully and started "Ken-NEE, Ken-NEE" chants to encourage him to appear.

And right about 9:30, he did, along with his excellent backing band. They taped a performance of his song "Never Wanted Nothing More" three times; I had never heard it before, but in listening to the lyrics, I was amused to note they mentioned his truck, his woman, and the Lord, thus scoring a perfect country-music hat trick. And Mr. Chesney seems like a very nice guy, albeit deaf to all the women screaming "I Love You Kenny!" -- I guess if you hear that from perfect strangers every single day, the words could lose meaning pretty easily, which seems a shame. If you watch the Spectacular on the 4th, I'm standing in the audience off to Kenny's right, enthusiastically waving my little American flag and, by the third go-round, singing along. God bless America, and God bless New York for providing such goofy-cool experiences.

* My terrific book group has been together since 2001, with a variable membership but always the same format: We read a current children's or YA novel and gather at a restaurant appropriate to the setting, theme, or subject of the book. Some of the books we've read this year include
The Luxe (Dove Bar, West Village); The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Bubby's, TriBeCa); and most recently The Hunger Games (Bread, Soho).
** Seriously, if you're going to get married at City Hall, don't you want your City Hall to look like this?
*** Also one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places in New York for its incredible view of the Bridge and the lower Manhattan skyline: See here for the view, and don't forget to visit the Brooklyn Bridge Ice Cream Factory (the white building in the background when you look back at Brooklyn).


  1. That tetroscope thing looks AMAZING!! I am so jealous...wish I could see it . London is my favorite city in the world, and NY is my second have them connected like that would be awesome.

  2. You are so livin the dream -- what an amazing life you have! You should star in your own book/show/movie! Loved this.
    -- vicariously yours,

  3. My cat is so jealous! Kenny Chesney is his favorite.

  4. I love all your New York posts..I really wish you could write atleast one of them a month, you know, like you have Happinesses for the week? I live vicariously (like a LOT of others, I'm sure) through your posts..they make me so happy!

    The telectroscope is such a WONDERFUL idea..I mean, you could get married in front of it, here in NY, and all your friends in London could "attend" the wedding by looking through the other end!

    Thank you so much for this writing this..made my day, it did.

  5. That Telectroscope is MIND-BLOWING.

    And now I want to form a book group of my own. :o) Hahaha!

  6. I always knew New York was magical.

  7. almost makes me homesick for Manhattan. GIve my regards to Broadway...