Wow! What an incredible day we all had! Saturday, Sept. 11th, and it was glorious!! Not a cloud in the sky all day long, and about 78 degrees. So many wonderful people joined us, and we had over 50 performers scattered throughout the city all day, making art and beauty and joy and spectacle as well as lovely, intimate moments everywhere…here are some pics to give you an idea of the spectrum of all we witnessed — we’ll post more on the website and here over the course of the next month.
We started at 10am up at the Heather Garden at Ft. Tryon Park — look at that blue, blue sky!!
We’re stretching here, on the Linden Terrace, preparing for a whole lotta walking.
Here’s Daniel Alexander Jones singing for us, an invocation of sorts, it was a beautiful blessing to send us on our way.
Oh, and that’s Red, the dog, with him.
Balkan singing at the Little Red Lighthouse, underneath the George Washington Bridge. This is the group Lila, brought to us by Secret City member Rima Fand, standing far right. Thanks, Lila for making the trek to the lighthouse!!
Our own Jeremy Bass plays Spanish guitar music for us at the plaza of the Hispanic Society, one of my favorite spots in the city — amazing sculpture and architecture, and amazing music here to set it all off.
Here we are, quietly traipsing through Trinity Cemetery, a beautiful spot on a late summer day.
We arrive at the Riverside Valley Community Garden at 138th St and 12th Avenue, here I am with Jenny Venitez, the amazing spirit behind this 25 year old garden. She welcomed our whole group into the garden, where folks were harvesting and clearing beds and pruning…Jenny’s a local hero!
Here’s bit of the harvest from the garden…in New York City, folks!!
Oh, and we ate Pamela Gregory’s granola bars at the community garden, too, on our snack break. Thanks for coming all the way from Napa, Pam, to share your amazing baked goods with us — people were thrilled about them. Below is one of my favorite sites in the city — the extension of Riverside Drive over 12th Avenue, right above Fairway Market. We’re about to approach Grant’s Tomb, where Gabriella Barnstone performed for us inside the TOMB!!
Here’s the white peacock that lives in the garden next to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where we took our lunch break.
After lunch, we strolled into Riverside Park. Here’s the group walking down the steps from the Fireman’s Memorial on Riverside Drive.
Jenny Monson and Jennifer Miller dancing for us in the grass of the Riverside Park promenade. Love those body suits! Love those shapes! Love those women!!
After we left Riverside Park, we met up with the Treat’s Truck, Kim Ima’s amazing traveling bakery. Lots of cookies were consumed. Here we are in Central Park, making our way to Strawberry Fields, where David Cobb Craig gave us a tour with information about John Lennon, Yoko Ono and The Dakota. He led us under the Riftstone Arch, a beautiful mortar-free arch near Strawberry Fields, where Leah Coloff played Strawberry Fields for us on cello. Magical.
Mid Town, Mid Afternoon. We left Central Park and courageously made our way into Times Square — what at thrill to walk through the busiest intersections in the city with a huge crowd of art lovers — here are Caitlin and Nikki, lovely friends of The Secret City who had a huge part in making the walk happen and succeed. Thanks, you guys!!
We left Times Square, made our way to the main post office where an amazing dance unfolded on the steps outside, choreographed by Rebecca Leigh Silverman. It was another beautiful, surprising moment in an unlikely spot. After that we walked over to the river, and took our ease on the grass above the Chelsea Piers, then onto the Highline at sunset. Amazing walk. This lead us to the village by nightfall. Here we are in Washington Square Park, listening to the Blue Bottle Collection — Daniel Zaitchik’s wonderful band. They performed two songs for us — soulful, lovely, and rich. And they can SING!! Dammit.
After this we took our dinner break, and folks went into the night to find nourishment. After dinner, we gathered back under the Washington Square Arch and continued south, making our first stop at the Skirball Center where we watched Ira Sach’s beautiful short film, Last Address — an elegy to New York artists who died of AIDS. Ira’s sister Lynne set up an memorial in the windows outside the center and we looked at them as we made our way out and downtown.
Our merry band strolled the streets of SoHo, and into Tribeca…along the way we could see the lights from the 9/11 memorial in the night sky. We made our way to Greenwich Avenue and came upon the Harrison restaurant, where Chef Amanda Freitag presented us with treats for the weary walkers — red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!!
We gathered on the sidewalk to eat our cupcakes, and Christian Frederickson played the viola for us — it was a beautiful moment of stillness, pleasure, listening…lots of strangers gathered around us for this one — Bach was calling to them through Christian’s playing.
We left the Harrison and went southwest to the river — the lights of New Jersey off in the distance. We came upon the Irish Hunger Memorial, an incredible piece of public art in downtown Manhattan — very few people know it. We walked around it, and came upon Rachel Coloff who was singing old Irish songs for us. She also shared some of the history of the Great Famine, and the history of the Irish. Incredible to witness in front of the hillside of the memorial.
We moved on to the site of the World Trade Center, gathering at the corner of Church and Vesey Streets. We were about 60 people strong at this point, and we figured out how to get enough ipods and headsets to listen to the original composition that Ryan Rumery made for the site, and for that moment. We all stood and listened to that music together — and it was a great way to be still and present for that space, and what happened there, and what is happening there.
Not far from Ground Zero, we strolled through City Hall park and the Croton Fountain, and then we came upon two musicians in the night — a fiddle and an accordion…they led us to the plaza east of City Hall, across from the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Here we were met by the one and only, Butt Kapinsky.
The great noir clown Butt cajoled us, entertained us, humoured us, discouraged us, inspired us and enlightened us … and was the perfect segue to our entrance onto the Brooklyn Bridge — just in time for our midnight arrival. We were chugging our way to make it in time.
And we did. And there was a band waiting for us, The Golden Angel Waltz Ball Orchestra — and they played waltzes for us on the Brooklyn Bridge. And we DANCED!! Swirling in the warm night air, the lights of the beautiful city all around, bridges and rivers and people and clowns and dancers and singers and musicians and walkers and friends and strangers and irritated bicyclists trying to get past us on the bridge, and lights and wonder and sights and memories… it was an extraordinary day.
If you were with us, thank you for coming. It was amazing to share the day with you. If you missed it, get ready for next year. If you helped out, how can I thank you enough? If you performed, your generosity, talent and artistry is astounding to me.
And if you’re stumbling on this with absolutely no idea of what this is or who we are — go the thesecretcity.org
Regardless, I wish you well.