Martin Luther King Jr... What a guy eh? Inspiration to a nation... Key mover and shaker in the civil rights movement and most importantly, because of his influence and social importance, I get to spend today chillaxing all up in your grill instead of being at work.
KIDDING. Kind of.
No seriously, as much as having a bank holiday at a point in the year when everything normally feels a bit DEpressing has cheered me up no end, it has also made me think about why Dr King is being celebrated in this way. It is because we have to remember that we are all more alike than we are different. His dream was the dream that we all have, of all men being equal. And it's fantastic the impact of his speech and the civil rights movement, which has built what America has become today. One of the things I love about America and especially New York, coming from Britain where there is a lot of noise about immigration and the problems it brings for our country, and also the problems with people not feeling that they can be proud to be British; I love the American way, and that to me is the fact that Americans are proud to be who they are: American, but also celebrate wholeheartedly where they came from, as this country was built on immigration. And everyone's backgrounds seem to be recognized as being different, and respected as such, without losing sight of the fact that they are all united in this United States.
So I have learned and been rewarded. Who says positive reinforcement doesn't work!?
Ok, in other less political news, this weekend I have been a busAY bee..
I went to see Cloverfield at the cinema. I don't want to spoil it for those that can't see it yet in England, but for me, being a huge horror/thriller/general movie fan, I found it amazing. For the following reasons:
1) It's set in New York
2) Think a spectacular mix of Blair Witch Project/Godzilla (in a good way, I know, oxymoron right? But bear with me)/and 9/11
3) The reason I said 9/11 is this so realistic. Like seriously, I know, it's a monster film, and with monster films, you suspend disbelief in order for it to work, its like that would never happen, but ok let's get past that. But I swear, if a monster was to actually rampage New York, this is exactly what would happen. EXACTLY.
4) It's PG-13 rated over here, and I don't know what it is in the UK, but that here, means that kids can go and see it with their parents. The showing I went to see, there were actual small children in there with their parents. Well all I can say is it is the most horrific film I have ever seen with children in the audience. I have no idea how it got that rating. Well I do, because you don't actually see anything but that's not to say that it's not scary. Things are implied or portrayed in such a way that it's not shown on camera, kind of a la the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Very cleverly done, presumably to get the rating that they did. But please for the love of all that is sacred, don't take kids to see it, even if you legally can. They will be scarred for life. You have been warned.
There are many other things I would love to talk about but I can't without spoiling it for everyone, so just see it, yes? It was all round brilliant stuff.
I also went to see a choral concert at Carnegie Hall with my friend Blair. Carnegie Hall is amazing, the acoustics are awesome. And it has all this gold leaf and detailing that just added to the prestigiousness (it's a word OK!) of the evening.
Unfortunately, they did decide to stick the worlds most boring Haydn symphony (hard choice, as none of them are particularly inspiring) at the end of the programme which resulted in many many frustrated sighs and rolling of eyes and general groaning from Blair. Who was already feeling a bit poorly, so I am very grateful that he came with me. I will say that the first choir did one piece at the beginning which I thought was really entertaining, it was called 'Cloudburst', and I can't remember the composer, but the way the parts were written for this huge choir involved a lot of dissonance (my fave), and interesting devices like everyone whispering and clicking their fingers and clapping at random times, it really did sound like it was a big dark cloud forming together and then starting the pitter patter of a rain shower. I loved it. It did exactly what it said on the tin. Blair was less excited, but we agreed to disagree.
I have also spent this weekend doing a little exploring of lower Manhattan. I went for brunch in the Wall Street area and did a little blog research while I was at it.
It's definitely the place in New York that most reminds me of London. It's off the grid system completely by the time you get that far south, so all the streets meet in a very organic way, the buildings are older and it is completely reminiscent of the City of London area.
This is the corner of Wall and Broad Streets. No intersection has been of greater importance to New York City in its history. The New York Stock Exchange, from 1817 when it was founded, right up to today (well not exactly today as it is a bank holiday so it is closed, but you get the idea) is the financial epicenter, which can cause tremors that are felt around the world. It was a weird feeling to be there, particularly at a time when the US is on the verge of, if not, even as we speak, entering a recession. To think of that day, Tuesday October 1929 when the stock market crashed, and the panic that ensued in these very streets - according to popular myth, traders even threw themselves from the windows in surrounding buildings. To be there, on a deathly cold, but gorgeously sunny and beautiful Sunday, the area seemed almost tranquil. The calm before the storm?
This is Trinity Church, at the head of Wall Street: an amazingly hauntingly gothic treasure nestled in amongst the tall buildings of financial importance. It is one of the nation's oldest Anglican churches, and believe it or not, was once the tallest thing in the city! Darkly breathtaking.
And finally, this is Federal Hall National Monument, the place where, in 1789 George Washington himself was sworn in as the USA's first president. This was another day when these streets were rammed with people, but not in panic; in celebration. Here they all stood and cheered in excitement as the Chancellor of the State of New York announced on these steps in a booming voice: "Long live George Washington, President of the United States".
An area seeping with history, festooned in inspiration. New York was born here, and how far it has come.