I stepped out onto First Avenue, and found it was drizzling. I didn't have an
umbrella with me, but upon reaching the entrance to the subway
, I stopped and
stood under a tree to smoke a cigarette and gather my wits (organizing my
for the rest of the day) -- there's No Smoking
in the subway,
so I might as well smoke one now. I gave cigarettes
to a couple of
passers-by. They'd asked first.
I went underground to catch the L train. I got on, and the doors didn't close;
we were all aboard, but going nowhere. Then a woman's voice on the PA:
Your attention, please... This train... is not going where you expected it to
...interrupted immediately by a real
conductor, asking the police
nab the woman and issue her a summons. Apparently, she'd been trolling
few minutes prior to my boarding the train; I'm sorry I missed it. We stood for
a few more minutes, as, presumably, the cops either caught her or gave up the
search. We heard no more from her.
While waiting for the 5 train, headed for my aunt's house in the Bronx, there
was a steel drums player, playing Glenn Miller's "In the Mood". Not a good
idea -- the guy playing "Imagine" on a saw made a lot more sense. I tuned it
out, and tried to remember the main melody from the passage of music I heard
in the excellent Harold and Maude, having seen it for the first time
yesterday. It was one of those pieces of "classical music" that gets played
often, and I normally tune it out, associating it with the old "K-Tel for
classy dudes" commercials for a mail-order 100 Greatest Classics LP
John Williams did those commercials, not the Star Wars
guy, but the British actor whose main US claim to fame was briefly replacing
Sebastian Cabot as the valet Mr. French on the sitcom Family
Affair. The unemployed Mr. Williams did a fine turn extolling the virtues
of this great boxed set, as snippets of every too-familiar classical melody
played in the background and the list of titles scrolled up the TV screen. His
Etonian voice made it clear that if we wanted to be classy dudes, we had
to order this set. Only $9.99, plus shipping and handling.
But I digress.
This passage that I heard in the movie, something I'd normally tune out, was
one of those "100 Greatest Melodies" that played in the old commercial, but
instead of tuning it out this time, I actually listened, and enjoyed it; it
rocked, with it's own inner logic, and sounded far from the moldy, prissy
artifact, that I (when young) thought it was. (I'm referring to a passage from
Tchaikovsky's first Piano Concerto; mad props to Google and IMDB, for I
was stumped). Even after becoming a listener to "classical music" in college
(it was required), I gravitated towards living composers like George Crumb
and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and thought ill of "that old stuff"; my
composition professor was into Sibelius (more modern than Vivaldi, but far less radical than Crumb and Stockhausen), and I looked down on him for that.
For that, plus the fact that he was about Five Foot One.
I reached my Bronx stop, and headed out to the street. The drizzle had turned
to rain. When I got near my aunt's house, I had one last street to cross,
before walking half a block to the front door. A Good Humor truck sped by --
the rain was keeping the customers indoors, perhaps.
The nurse says it's time for my nap.