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Monday, October 05, 2009

A Story from Times Square

It was a time when street cars were crossing Times Square in all possible directions. I found once this poster and I was wondering what year was the image. If you look at the theater on the right, it was presenting Hell's Angels, the movie made by Howard Hughes in 1930. So the image was taken that year.

Multi-millionaire businessman, film producer, film director, and aviator, Howard Hughes could well define the frenetic spirit of Times Square. I had seen the place at TV many times, but only when I was there for the first time I realized that no movie, no video, could give you the real picture. You have to be there, to look simultaneously in all directions, to get the panorama of the whole, it's the only way.

It was a period when I was passing by each day, looking for a job. I started to hate the place, it was overwhelming for me. And after I succeeded to find work, the first thing I did was to come here, and to look with pride everywhere, at the walls, at the advertisements, at the signs. Times Square was now my place, my dear place.

But this was long time ago. I was the other day again in Times Square, together with one of my sisters. We entered a musical bookshop that looked fabulous, with old gramophone records and small microsillons, with musical instruments and musical notes.

An old gentleman, extremely distinguished, approached us. He was tall, white haired, with an aquiline nose, wearing a long overcoat. He looked very aristocratic. His look was fantastic: he had the eyes of a great dreamer, a man who would be not scared to be original. By all means, he couldn't be a new-yorker. Everything in him indicated an aristocrat from the South. He was an African-American: the black aristocracy of the South.

The gentleman asked us about one the songs from South Pacific: that musical born in 1949, with a very long life of tours, movie and TV versions, rejuvenated again on Broadway, in 2008.

My sister's look got instantly enthusiastic and she started to hum the song. Is that one? Yes, said the old gentleman, yes. We'll look for it, says my sister, maybe we'll find the notes.

We started to look for the thing, only it was like needle in a haystack. After ten minutes we gave up. Now the gentleman was talking with one of the shop assistants; a person of about the same age, with very competent answers. He went to one of the shelves and took the notes of the song. The old aristocrat was the king of dreamers, the other one was the king of his business. Together they were making a whole Universe.

(New York, New York)


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