Results tagged “hurricane sandy” from ARTicles

Forget reading matter. Forget cultural reporting. The only thing happening in my world at the moment is Superstorm (formerly Hurricane) Sandy, so that is what I'm afraid you are going to hear about.

Things were going fine until last night, though I was getting slightly claustrophic:  my husband and I had been holed up in a 450-square-foot Greenwich Village apartment since early afternoon on Sunday. Our Brooklyn-based dinner date for Sunday night canceled, since the subways were to stop running at 7 p.m. in preparation for the disaster, so even though some neighborhood restaurants were still open at that point, we just stayed home, cooked pasta, watched a DVD -- all very quiet.

There was rain on Monday morning but not much.  We ventured out in slickers and hats (too windy for umbrellas) to see what the Hudson River looked like at about eleven a.m.  I had never seen the river so high. It was even beginning to spill over the embankment onto the path we normally walk on, in a mini-flood of little puddles -- nothing scary yet, but we didn't stay out there long.  

After a relatively quiet afternoon, the rain started to build and the wind got very strong just before dark.  I began to see lightning flashes in the sky; the tall tree across the street was seriously bending in the wind, and we learned via the internet that a huge crane uptown had broken and was dangling from its very tall (and as yet uncompleted) luxury building.  And then, at about 8:30 on Monday night, the power suddenly went out -- not just in our apartment, and not just in our part of the Village, but all over lower Manhattan.  Apparently an East Village substation exploded (though there are other causes given too). Tucked up in bed for warmth, I read a novel for about an hour on my iPad, but then decided to conserve its charge; ditto for the iPhone, through which I picked up my email this morning.  We have gas, so were able to make breakfast with coffee, but we have no light, no electricity, no internet. You'd be surprised (I am surprised) at how rapidly life deteriorates without these things.  Plus I can't take a shower because a) we have no hot water and b) my husband, with excellent disaster-preparedness instincts, has filled the entire tub with water, which we may well need before this is over.  At least we still have running water at the moment, and we also have food: we topped up our supplies this morning from the corner deli (the only thing open for miles around), where the owner was selling food for cash, having parked his car facing into the deli so as to illuminate the darkened store with his headlights.
My son, who is out in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, reports that they have full power there, but everything in Manhattan below 14th Street and most of what I passed through between 14th and 42nd was out.  I shared a cab going uptown with a woman who was fleeing her Union Square area apartment for a hotel on East 52nd -- she not only had no power, but no water either. My Hunter College office, from which I am writing this, has full power and light, but it is a pain to get up here, with no subways or buses running and very few cabs available -- and I only talked my way in on an emergency basis (need to recharge devices, call family members, etc.), since the building is presently being used as a shelter for the evacuated.  Still, I am going to try to get here at least once a day for a few hours, to savor the benefits of civilization. We have no idea how long it will be before things return to normal.  For tonight, at any rate, everything remains closed, and Con Ed is saying it could be days --possibly even a week -- before all the power comes back on in New York.
October 30, 2012 8:17 AM |
Battened down, like the rest of the city, in the face of Hurricane Sandy, I am forced to rely on my memories of that earlier era--the weekend--when I could just stroll out to exciting events. By tomorrow I will be reduced to reporting on my reading matter (I could tell you about the rain and the winds, but you are better off watching your TV or your laptop for that). But for now, here is a nostalgic continuation of the kind of cultural reporting that was possible in pre-Sandy New York: 

On Friday night I went to the excellent music club Le Poisson Rouge, which showcases classical, jazz, rock, and indie-new-music in an informal nightclub-like environment. The program consisted of Thomas Adès and some singers from the Metropolitan Opera putting on a few songs.  Two of the pieces were excerpted from Adès's opera, The Tempest, which recently opened at the Met; the others were all settings of Shakespeare verse (plus one instrumental passage) by Henry Purcell, Igor Stravinsky, Michael Tippett, and Charles Ives. 

In what I have now come to see as an eerie forecast of the tempest that was about to engulf us, we got to hear five different versions of Shakespeare's "Full fathom five" in the course of the evening. Each of the composers had chosen to do it in his own particular style, and all five versions were pretty amazing. Had I been Adès, I would not have put my own work directly after Purcell, but Adès--who accompanied almost every song on the piano--is not known for his excessive modesty or his fear of comparisons. And though I liked his setting least of the five, I thought it staunchly held up its end, which is pretty remarkable in this company.  The main problem with the Adès version is that Meredith Oakes, his librettist, has tampered with the Shakespeare verse to make it simpler:  this is just plain dumb, especially with a well-known and already song-worthy passage like "Full fathom five," and none of the other composers was silly enough to try it.

You might think it would be boring to hear the same words sung over and over, but actually that was a big part of the fascination, because the process trained our ears: we were able to listen for how each composer would wreak changes on the phrases "suffer a and strange," or suggest tolling bells behind the repeated words "ding-dong." Most exciting of all was the chance to hear and see professional opera-singers from this close up, where they actually had to restrain their voices to keep from blasting us out of our stage-hugging seats. I especially loved the baritone Simon Keenlyside and the countertenor Iestyn Davies, but all the performers were superb, and it made me look forward (though with some trepidation about the libretto) to seeing the whole opera next month.
October 29, 2012 5:39 AM |


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