September 11, 2005

Today millions of Americans remembered the events in New York City on this date four years ago. Some spent time in prayer, some in mourning, and some glued to their TV sets to watch the cable news specials and listen to all the talking heads. Pundits on the right used the day to remind us that their leaders and their ideology have made America safer and stronger today, while pundits on the left used it to remind us that we're not safer, but in fact weaker and more vulnerable than ever due to those same leaders and ideology. But some others stayed out of the day's activities entirely, and most of them were the New Yorkers themselves, those who lived through the ordeal. They're the ones least interested in all the fuss being made, and are happy to spend the day simply living as New Yorkers.

That's what I like about this place. The people here don't look back. They may grow eyes in the backs of their heads, but there's no looking back, always ahead. Their lives are simple. In a city as huge and complex as this, life must be kept simple because there's no room for complexity. People here generally know just what they need to live and the rest is overkill. So when in Rome, I love to do as the Romans do, even if it's as mundane as picking up a corned beef sandwich at one of a thousand delis and sitting on a neighborhood brownstone stoop to eat it. There's a feeling associated with that which cannot be had elsewhere.

I can find anything I'm looking for, even if I'm not looking for it. Whether it's an old 45 single that's out of print, or a rare box of cornflakes, or pasatelli on a restaurant menu, it's here, most likely in a tiny place with a tiny sign that you could miss if you blinked. Gradually I learn about the foods, speech and activities that are indigenous to this area and I dive in (I learned that from sister Trish, who travels a lot). One thing's for sure, this is the "est" city. Whatever anything is, New York has it in its est-est form. You want big, it's got the biggest. Tasty? It's got the tastiest. Cool? It's got the coolest, and if you want the cheesiest, you'll find that as well.

Cheesy cabaret theatre is a big New York tradition, and it's no more present than in the midtown theatre district. I went to one such cabaret on 46th st, where a guy named Tom is well known for his dead-on impersonation of a middle-aged Judy Garland, and embodies her nightly. I had to give it up for him, the dude looked and sounded exactly like her and boy, did he have his shtick down to a science. He/she is also a gracious host, having our own Will take the stage for a couple of songs while I backed him on guitar. Short and sweet. A peck on the cheek from Judyman and we were outa there, hightailing it back to the bus.

As I mentioned previously, the sixteen-show marathon has been taxing a few voices in the thick of it. I went on for Chad during Saturday's matinee and Nicole filled Julia's shoes this afternoon. She's become the first of the swing team to go on for more than one person. We're all proud, and wondering which one of us will be next.