It was 36*C and humid on the night Philip Glass was scheduled to perform in the River to River Festival in Battery Park on the lower west side. I was in a quandary as to whether to brave the sweltering journey downtown, or risk missing a great musical opportunity. But the fridge was already full, as was my quota of water thrown around the balcony, so the best other option was to jump on the bike and pedal up a breeze. That we did and the rewards were cool and entertaining.
From east midtown the easiest route to Battery Park is to cross to the west side and ride down the cycle path. That particular path has become a major artery for skinny wheels and wide soles, and runs all the way along the west side from the Statue of Liberty to Harlem. It was a lifeline – as soon as we crossed onto the path we felt the cool of the green parklands that run between the highway and the Hudson. What a spectacular night! A cool breeze came off the river and just as the pink and orange sunset sent reflections back from the New Jersey shoreline, the Ensemble took to the stage.
Philip Glass has been playing with his ensemble for about 44 years. He has also written operas, symphonies, collaborated with artists like Paul Simon and Yo-Yo Ma, and written soundtracks for many movies including one of my favorites, The Truman Show. So he has had an extraordinary career, and the colorful mixture of people in the audience reflected the eclectic and experimental niche of his band. For me the repetitive scores and synthesized keyboards of the playlist were best enjoyed at a minimum, so when technical trouble created a pause in proceedings, Sean and I gathered our water bottles and rode on.
Even though it had been Philip Glass who had motivated us to move on such a hot night, it was the ambiance of the evening that kept us out. Riding back along the river, the parks were busy with people out to enjoy the cool. Willy Wonker and the Chocolate factory played to a joyful crowd on the end of one pier, while the trapeze school on top of Pier 40 was in full swing. They shared the space with a number of soccer games that hovered magically above the skyline. Freedom Tower rose up in the distance from what to many would be a sport heaven. Years ago we shot a fashion story with the trapeze school, with models managing to strike a graceful pose in 6 inch heels dangling above the safety net. It was a lot of fun, and as Nik Wallenda would surely agree, ‘forget fear, worry about the addiction….’