In New York, there is always something interesting to the eye.
Ambling through Washington Square, what do I spy?
–On a Saturday in early June, a man playing classical music on a baby grand piano in the middle of the walkway:
“How did he get it here?” I ask an old woman sitting on a bench. “He trucks it in,” she says. “But that must cost a fortune,” say I. “He probably has a special deal with the company,” says she, “he’s here every Sunday.” But this is Saturday, I don’t say.
Meanwhile, jazz combos are playing at the four corners of the Square’s center. On the plaza near the arch, the feet of a shirtless man are dancing while his fists punch the air. I watch, wondering whether he is a mad man, but decide he is a boxer doing his work out in the fresh summer air.
— On Wednesday–same square–I sit on a bench, eating my lunch. Across the square’s plaza, by the central fountain, one man stands with a video camera at the ready, another with a boom box at his feet and a large sign in his hands reading: Dance to This Song. (The song’s refrain, to an upbeat tune, goes: I’ve got it, you’ve got it too, we’ve got the USA blues…) As they pass, people respond. Some, hesitant and self-conscious, just walk to the beat. Others more extrovert, do a twirl before moving on; three pretty girls dance around for a few minutes, mugging for the camera. And one fellow gives a full performance, for which we all clap.
Washington Square is near New York University and the New School for Social Research, both of which have departments related to the performing arts. Maybe that’s why people are less inhibited here. But, I just don’t think you’d see this creative spontaneity in D.C., even near the universities, not even in DuPont Circle. I think we’re too buttoned up, too concerned whether people will think us silly. But I’d be happy to be proven wrong–if you’ve got a different perspective, write a comment. Let me know where, here in D.C., one can find that playful sense of freedom. Anybody out there?
More adventures tomorrow.