Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Heights of folly: In which I treck northward to YU’s uptown campus for a concert

It’s all Fudge’s fault. :)

There I was, calmly minding my own business and listening to Fudge on her Thursday radio show, “Isle of Manhattan,” on WYUR, when she happened to mention that she was having trouble finding a place to do her aerobic dance exercises.

Did she say, “dance?!”

Holy Moses, here I had videos of three dances that I’d choreographed to her father’s music, and she’d never even seen them!

So I e-mailed her to ask whether she’d like me to hand over a DVD over pizza, or whether she was too booked between radio-host bookings and hitting the books and would rather wait to see the DVD that I’d sent to her family.

We agreed to meet last Wednesday night. But the very next day, she asked whether we could meet the night before, instead, because she’d promised her father that she’d go see the Aaron Razel concert on Wednesday.

“Whoa--where's there an Aaron Razel concert this Wednesday?!!!”

A careful perusal of Gili Houpt’s Friday, March 17, 2006 “NYCJewishMusic” e-mail (to subscribe, go here) led me to the following:

> Wed, March 29 at 8PM free concert to kick off the Yeshiva> University Arts Festival, featuring Aaron Razel with Nochie Krohn and> band, and Jeremy Gaisin with Midnite Remedy (in Hebrew Tikkin> Chatzos) band. At Lamport Auditorium in Washington Heights:> Amsterdam Ave btwn 186 & 187 St. Info: email> or see

(He forgot to mention C. Lanzbom and Noah Solomon in his e-mail!)

And so it came to pass that, the evening after Fudge and I had regaled one another other with tales of shidduch shuttles and the search for the perfect head-covering, I headed off to the 8th Avenue subway line (after a brief stop at Duane Reade to pick up earplugs, just in case) for the long ride uptown to Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, a trip of over 150 blocks from my office. As I’d told Fudge, she had the last laugh—in over 30 years living in New York City, I’d never gone there before.

I got off at 181st Street, and made a huge mistake—remembering that Washington Heights didn’t get that name for no reason, I took the elevator to the street. Walking uptown/north on Ft. Washington Avenue, I knew that I’d have to turn right to go east to Amsterdam Avenue, and kept looking for the first available crosstown (west-east) street. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that Washington Heights and the Bronx are famous for pedestrian stairs leading from a street on one level to a street on another. Apparently, instead of taking the elevator, I should have taken that ramp leading to Overlook Terrace : When I got to 187th Street and turned right, I was stunned to find myself staring at a series of flights of stairs that was easily equal in height to a building four-six stories high. Overlook Terrace is so much farther downhill than Ft. Washington Avenue that maybe it should be called Overlooked Terrace. Cursing my lack of foresight, I took a deep breath, grabbed the handle of my backpack (putting it on, backpack-style, turns out to be more trouble than it’s worth, 99% of the time) and started the long descent, having solemnly promised myself that I would not count the number of flights of stairs.

It gets worse, folks. Two blocks later, I had to drag the wheeled backpack right back up yet another steep hill.

The neighborhood was actually much nicer than I'd expected—I’ve since been told that it’s becoming gentrified—with three-or-four-story houses and six-story apartment buildings, most well-maintained. No one was hanging out on the street holding a beer can—or worse—and no one was walking the street looking for a pick-up. But, as I approached St. Nicholas Avenue, I heard a group of men shouting. Boy, did I feel stupid when I realized that, rather than arriving just in time to witness a mugging, I’d caught a bunch of guys in the middle of a touch-football game.

After all that schlepping, I finally arrived at the concert, and took a seat in my favorite spot, the last row, the better to get up and dance at the back of the room. Aaron Razel was as good as Mark/PT had said he was. He had us dancing in the aisles (males and females separately, of course). I caught him on the way out the door, and told him, “Thank you! Mark Skier recommended you, and boy, was he right!” Without missing a beat, he returned the compliment: “And I recommend Mark Skier.” What a nice guy! I left with all four of his CDs. It was really too bad that a certain studious student, who’d already said hi to her father's new musician buddy Aaron Razel, had to leave before two of the guys from Soulfarm, C. Lanzbom and Noah Solomon, played—they were awesome! I had a wonderful time, even though it it was followed by a two-hour trip home on two subways and a 1:30 AM arrival home. Boy, I'm gettin' too old for these late nights—I think I sleep-walked through work the next day. But I now know how to get to YU's Lamport Auditorium, just in case there happens to be a future performance that interests me enough to make me want to lose sleep over it, literally. :)


Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Whew. Thank G-d he didn't say "Mark who?"

I'd forgotten all about the Washington Heights Subway station and the crosstown uphill trek. It's been a while.

Sun Apr 02, 09:23:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Mark who?" :) Naah. Apparently, you made yourself sufficiently memorable.

Yeah, that was some trip, both figuratively and literally. :)

Mon Apr 03, 10:11:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mark/PT, apparently I can't always spot a "tongue-in-cheek" remark in print. Silly me. :)

Fri Apr 07, 08:52:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

According to to this reliable source, Razel is pronounced pronounced Rah-zell. Here's the latest report about the Aaron Razel concert for which Mark/PT and his Moshe Skier Band played back-up, courtesy of MOChassid.

Fri Apr 07, 05:05:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You took the wrong train- Take the 1 not the A. There is an elevator to St Nicholas and then you walk a block directly to Amsterdam. Both trains have stops at 181st St. Different Jewish communities- Bennet/Overlook and Amsterdaym- The Breuer below and Reform above in the first and YU in the second.

Sun Apr 23, 01:20:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Wow, thanks for the info! It's probably a longer ride, since the 1 is a local, but by the time I "schlep" (drag) myself and my rolling backpack across town and up that bleepin' hill, it probably evens out, in terms of both time and effort.

Sun Apr 23, 05:28:00 AM 2006  

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