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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Makes Me Stronger

Generally speaking, steps are a means to an end, not an end in itself. But this is New York City, where the minutiae of life are often elevated to iconic status. New York is the most densely populated city in the United States, and Manhattan, being an island, is a place where every square inch is examined, coveted, utilized and maximized. So when you have a place as important as the Metropolitan Museum of Art that occupies so much space, you know it will loom much larger than life in every way. 
The Met is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere with over 5 million visitors per year - that's a lot of foot traffic. Add to the formula one of the best locations in the city (Fifth Avenue and Central Park) with an enormous set of steps and what you get is the stoop of all stoops - the ideal perch or porch for relaxing and/or the watching of people and performers. The steps are legendary and a sunny Sunday afternoon here is a classic way for a New Yorker or visitor to pass some very enjoyable time.
For the performing artist, the streets are an ideal venue to hone his or her skills. Many well known entertainers have worked the streets and these steps early in their career. The streets, subways and parks are ready for immediate work - no agents or bookings required. Of course it is rough and tumble battling the competition, weather, ambient noise, hecklers, property owners, neighborhood residents and law enforcement. Those who can weather these elements become much stronger performers - they have learned to earn and hold spectators against adverse conditions - no captive audience here.
I once introduced a much younger coworker to a variety of country music including some very old recordings of Roy Acuff from the 1930s. This coworker was a very open minded and tolerant musician, but I feared this genre, particularly Acuff, might be trying his patience, so I asked him if listening to this music was too irritating. He responded with a smile: "Don't worry, it just makes me stronger." So it is with the steps of the Met - for museum patrons or stoop sitters, it can be a stairway to heaven; for performers it is a place that just makes them stronger :)

1 comment:

Michelle Johnson said...

Definitely plenty of steps. Best of luck to all performers who brave all elements. Your picture is great, very clear. Have a nice day.