Magic and Wonder

September 11, 2011

On Thursday and Friday the News reported on the credible threat of terrorist strikes on the ten year anniversary of 9/11. Clearly a group of extremists wished to set the tone for this weekend to fear rather than healing. While loved ones warned us to avoid Manhattan this weekend we decided to go through with our plans to participate in a fourteen hour walk from the top of Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Wonderwalk was organized by local artists and featured over a dozen performers stationed along the walk. Nothing could have been a better antidote to the agitation and depression I felt after watching a 9/11 documentary Friday night than this celebration of vitality and talent in NYC. In defiance to those who wish to destroy we celebrate those who create.

I took a few videos of the performances but unfortunately the sound and image quality is terrible. A better showing is found on youtube. One of the musicians, Jonny Rodgers, creates a soundscape of aching beauty through a layering of music from wine glasses, guitar and his voice. I could not find online the first song he performed, but this recording captures its essence.

Through the exertion of a very long walk, one sheds usual daily thoughts and worries along with water and calories and perhaps gets to some sort of essential core in that exhaustion. And some of the magic of the Wonderwalk is that while you cut away the accumulated detritus of daily life you nourish yourself with the artists’ performances and with the edification of seeing a wide range of neighborhoods of differing cultures. Walking together as a group we inevitably chat and swap stories and bond. Many of the performers joined the walk as well, which helps erase that boundary between artist and audience. Arriving at FAB cafe in the East 4th Street Arts district, we were treated to a local great, Sxip Shirey, who played his Sxipenspiel, a unique instrument of bells. I managed to find a clip with the Sxipenspiel on Youtube:

The Wonderwalk varied from a starting group of about 65 people up to a maximum of 86 people and a core group of about thirty made the entire 19 mile trek. We paused at parks and squares in the shade of trees for several musical performances, interpretive dance, spoken word, experimental music, delicious zucchini bread, dancing to 78’s played on a hand cranked Victor 2, a moon-bathed sing-along w/ ukulele and finally a dance party on the Brooklyn Bridge with tap dancers and a jazz-era marching band. Here’s my snippet of the finale:

Making and doing are what make life worth living.

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