Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

NY Giants in the Canyon of Heroes: You call that a ticker tape parade???

Football is not exactly my thing, whether it’s soccer or American style, but like any New Yorker, I was glad that the local team won the Super Bowl. When I heard that the mayor was giving the team a ticker tape parade up Broadway on Tuesday morning I decided to go and check it out. I had only been to one for the Mets in the 1980s, and it was a big thrill. I had always loved the photos of the old ticker tape parades of the past, when the ticker tape flowed down from the 1920s skyscrapers in blizzards of joy. This one I attended was a good simulacrum as workers, in that less security conscious age, dumped the contents of the office paper shredders out the windows. It turned out to be a dying art form, though. In recent years, the city has imbedded metal strips into the sidewalk of lower Broadway, “The Canyon of Heroes” commemorating each of those historic parades, and the list is truly impressive, from Brazilian presidents, to French and British war heroes to aviators, including Wrong Way Corrigan. Would Mayor Bloomberg really be adding to that venerable list of honorees with a ticker tape parade in this age when ticker tape itself is only a distant memory? I had to see what would happen.

Well, unfortunately, not very much. I couldn’t get onto Broadway in the crush of people so I had to content myself with a vantage point on the curb at Battery Park. But it didn’t seem to make any difference. Of the several sponsored floats that passed by carrying corporate suits on cell phones and anonymous family members in various stage of desultory interest, a few team members were recognizable to the crowd (if not to me). Some enthusiastic fans threw whole toilet paper rolls at them, letting the TP unfurl in the air in a lurid imitation of ticker tape. It was faintly amusing when one of the suits would cringe instinctively as a fat roll of white toilet paper came crashing

The evidence. Pathetic.

through the air at him, and his attempts to throw it back into the crowd could be interpreted in several ways. Then when the floats turned the corner at the edge of the park and rolled slowly up Broadway for the real parade, they did so under an intermittent shower of … letter sized copy paper. Copy paper being a bit more expensive than old dustbin destined ticker tape, there was not very much of it, and it floated aimlessly around in the air.

So this is what a ticker tape parade is reduced to in 2012. It doesn’t seem worth the effort and definitely does not seem worthy of the name, much less of an added strip to memorialize it in the sidewalk.

There is talk of a ticker tape parade to honor the military men and women who have served in Iraq. This is a wonderful idea, as yet to be approved by the mayor (who is resisting). If this does come to pass, it HAS GOT TO BE done better than this. It would be an insult to “honor” these Iraqi War Veterans, who have risked life and limb for us, by subjecting them to a shower of toilet paper and the contents of the office paper jam. Let’s have that parade, but let’s do it right!

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February 8, 2012 Posted by | daily life | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Martí, Bolivar, Duarte and Rivera perch in a Ponce Park

There is a wonderfully tranquil corner of Ponce, Puerto Rico where a group of small parks meet the Portuguese River. Here each park has a theme, and I sat in the one dedicated to the thinkers and statesmen that are national heroes of independence in the Spanish speaking Caribbean. Busts of the four famous men of this region gaze across a patch of green at each other: Simón Bolivar of Venezuela, José Martí of Cuba, Juan Pablo Duarte of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico’s own Luis Muñoz Rivera. They are modest scupltures that perch just barely above eye level and they seem at home among the foliage and the occasional visitor that chooses to commune with them here. Beyond this park is the Bridge of Lions and a road that leads traffic into the old city, but the park itself is leafy and quiet and perfect for meditation or photography, or drawing.

Drawing is what I do when I forget my camera, or as on the day I visited this park, forget to charge my battery. Instead of imagining how every vista would look in pixels on a screen, I was forced to draw the scenes that I liked, and thus experience them in an intimate way. It is a lesson I reluctantly learn over and over again. With cameras we hunker down behind the lens, seeing everything from a technician’s point of view and thus cutting ouselves off from the very experience we are trying to capture. When we draw, in contrast, we are forced to look carefully, at every detail, to really see. It was a bit tedious and it took up an entire morning, but it felt like a real accomplishment and now, with a little help from photoshop, I have some nice souvenirs, too.

Juan Pablo Duarte

José Martí

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Puente de Leones crosses the Río Portugués at this point. This city is named in honor of Ponce de León, who as an explorer in the service of the Spanish crown became Puerto Rico’s first governor. Like the city of Léon in Spain, the city of Ponce has the lion as its symbol. A lion stands atop the two columns at the city end of the bridge, the Wise Lion, symbolizing the city’s heritage, and the Young Lion (seen in this drawing) symbolizing the city’s future.

February 6, 2012 Posted by | daily life | , , , , | 2 Comments

Respighi Lives in the Chamber Orchestra of New York

It feels great to get a new appreciation for a composer’s music and to hear it in new ways. To hear rediscovered pieces by a long gone composer is an even greater thrill. I experienced both in hearing the Chamber Orchestra of New York, under the direction of Salvatore Di Vittorio in recital at the Rockefeller University.

Ottorino Respighi

Di Vittorio, a composer in his own right, has a great dedication to the music of Resphigi. In recent years, he has been invited by Respighi’s heirs and curator “to edit, orchestrate and complete several early Respighi works in their first printed, critical editions under the Ottorino Respighi Publications series with publisher Panastudio in Italy.” (according to the program notes to February 3, 2012 recital).

On this occasion the Chamber Orchestra played two works which have been edited by Di Vittorio, Serenate, for small orchestra (in its U.S. premiere) and Aria for Strings. Both pieces were a revelation and a departure from our standard perception of Respighi’s music. As Di Vittorio remarked before the music began, the Serenate is more playful and more simply orchestrated than the larger and better known Respighi works. Then after a concertino by R. Strauss and the chamber version of Copland’s Appalachain Spring, the recital ended with the beautiful and soft Aria for Strings. The two Respighi pieces sat comfortably at the beginning and end of the performance, – with their transparent sonorities and calming structures, they cleansed the aural palate, so to speak. Assuming that they are among the “early” works cited in the program, they show how Respighi was able to use the traditions that he inherited as a starting point for his later, perhaps more innovative works. But this conformity to earlier norms does not in any way diminish the beauty and value of these pieces. From our perspective in the 21st Century, it is no longer relevant whether a piece was at the forefront of new forms when it was written a century ago, – what matters to us now is the worth of the music itself. And in this, the two pieces hold up beautifully.

As part of their ongoing efforts to bring the Respighi oeuvre to light, Salvatore Di Vittorio, Chamber Orchestra of New York and Panastudios have collaborated on several recordings of these works. The Aria for Strings is featured on a Naxos recording that was released in June, 2011, and the

Respighi in 1903

Serenate for Small Orchestra will be on a disc to be released later in 2012. The 2011 recording, which features the Violin Concerto in A major, also contains the Suite for Strings, which like the Aria for Strings is a warmly neo-Baroque piece that proves that these classical forms are still very viable and alive. Also on this disc is the Rossiniana, a suite full of arietta melodies, percolating flutes and Italian folk dance rhythms that pay homage to that great composer and delight the listener.

For more information, look at Di Vittorio’s website

or the website for Chamber Orchestra of New York, “Ottorino Respighi”

February 4, 2012 Posted by | concerts, music | , , , , | Leave a comment