Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summertime in the City

"Young boys playing stick ball in the street, fire hydrants help to beat the heat, old man feeding pigeons in the square, night time finds young lovers walking there, cause it's summer, summertime is here, yes it's summer, my time of year." Summer War
(c)BetmanCorbis 1984
I didn't' really know what summer was until I moved to New York City. Summer to me was always like a Richard Marx song - like Endless Summer Nights - smooth, cool, and kind of enjoyable. The middle of the day might have been hot, but there were always cool breezes at night and chilly mornings that deceived you into thinking fall was around the corner.
Summer in New York City is like taking Black 47, Simon and Garfunkel, Gogol Bordello and Tito Puente, tossing it all up in the air and letting it hit you at once.
New York City heat is like nothing else. New York City heat comes from everywhere: the pavement, the subway, the buildings, the people, even the squirrels. I always think of Washington Square Park and the West 4th Street Station when I think of summer. It's probably because I spent those summers across from the NYU Library in the park, reading assignments for my classes on East 10th Street, eating pizza from John's and listening to Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Ramones and Jamiroquai, praying they would fix the fountain once and for all. The men playing chess in the corner across from the pot smokers never seemed to move from their tables. The grimy, green, dirty white and rust colors of the West 4th Street Station (aka, my portal to home on John Street) no matter what time of year, a cauldron of smells, sounds, heat and people.
At night, when it seemed to get hotter, even though that doesn't seem possible, the saxophone player that I thought was only a TV stereotype would appear, playing Stevie Wonder or John Coltrane. They always managed to find the perfect spot, their notes echoing off a wall and lasting forever in the thick air that also carried some smells I never imagined could exist.
I began to understand the song Summer by War. The rhythm of the song is slow, but not languid slow. Sexy slow.  Summer in the City has rhythm, it has style and it has attitude. Think about all of those summer scenes in music videos shot in NYC: You Belong to the City - Glenn Frey; What's Love Got to Do With It - Tina Turner; Cruel Summer - Bananarama; So Real - Jeff Buckley... it is really like that.
People sit on their stoops, they open fire hydrants to cool off, they wear short shorts and walk in front of fire houses (hey, I married him, so it's ok).
Cause it's summer! I love it. I love New York City.

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