playing it foward

Last Saturday I was on my way out the door for a yoga class. My dad and his running buddy were in the driveway stretching post-Saturday morning run. I looking around for Nebula, my bike, when Ryan asked if I wanted to go to the Yankees game at 1; he had tickets and didn’t want them to go to waste. I opted out of yoga and graciously accepted the offer. The weather was ideal for a baseball game and the seats brought me the closest I had ever sat to the field! They had a pretty brutal loss, though there were a handful (or should I say mit-ful, ha!) of crowed riling plays. I briefly engaged with some friendly folks and indulged in my first legal beer at Yankee Stadium (not to suggest that I have had an illegal beer there). But this story isn’t about me or the Yankees or the beer. This story is about a man and his recorder. If you’ve yet to experience Yankee Stadium I’ll give you a brief illustration. When you arrive from the Harlem 125th Street station a row of Metro North employees stand together, eager to punch your ticket and grant you entrance to 161th Street. A right turn leads you down a hallway wide enough to squeeze two school buses side by side. You have three choices: observe any ongoing out the window to your left, watch the foot traffic ahead of you to avoid collision, or admire the mystic mosaic mural to your right. Walking toward the stadium the crescent moon rises in the deep blue starry night. Walking away from the stadium (the mural now to your left) the crescent moon is falling as the blood orange sun peaks enters the bottom right corner of the dedicated space. By the end of the hall the newly renovated exterior of the stadium is clear in sight. A left down the stairs and out onto the tile walkway leading to the entrance. No need to hum to yourself as you frolic down the stairs for in the near distance is a lanky man in his late 60s playing the theme song to The Addams Family on a recorder similar to the one I learned to play in 1st grade (shout out the elementary school music class). If you missed that part of childhood (thank god for YouTube) I invite you to stop reading and go watch an episode. Or five. And if you never played a recorder go get yourself one of those as well.

Back on the path after the game I heard a soft familiar sound. Still playing The Addams Family theme song was the recorder man. Maybe I was just craving an opportunity to be impressed after the disappointing game, but I will confidently assume that he kept his jam going throughout the innings. Determination? Dedication? Discipline? The three D’s. How about hmmm, genuine enjoyment? A delicate passion for simple, modest entertainment.

Returning home in the early evening I had few anecdotes besides the semi-personal interactions I had with the recorder man (he complimented my hat —booyah). So when my family asked how the game was I thought to lift the damper of a loss with the recorder man story. My dad smiled his knowingly smile waiting until I finished my story to say, “That man has been playing The Addams Family for every Yankee game I’ve been to.” My dad has been to a lot of Yankee games and it’s not a coincidence that the recorder man plays only when Dad and I go. Again, I will confidently (and accurately) assume the recorder man is A Yankee Stadium legend. But who besides Dad, myself, our fellow returning fans, and you reading knows about this truly mysterious man. I, and you, can feel the affect he has had on me, but does he resonate with others? In a city where we encounter busking (street performing) everyday, who and what do these entertainers, crowd pleasers (or displeasers, whoops!), and in the end strangers become to us?

While we ponder this question (and I plan a trip back to Harlem to discover more about our recorder man) check out this INSANE beat boxer from Memorial Day in Union Square!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR-Bor5xygo&feature=youtu.be

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