February 23, 2006

Wrong Mayor

Last evening, I took meself down to Nariman Point to hear Rudy Giuliani, once Mayor of New York, deliver the Dorab Tata Memorial Lecture. His theme: Principles of Leadership. More about what he said, another time; here, I'll say only that he spoke a lot about 9/11, NYC's police department and its fire department.

Which brought to mind these few words I've heard hundreds of times:

    Well it's great to do a neighborhood concert. I hope everybody can hear us, I hope that that sound is good. I hope we're blasting Central Park west and Fifth Avenue pretty much away. I just wanna thank the police department, the fire department, and the Park's commissioner, and Ed Koch, and particularly, you know, people that never get recognized for doing good deeds for the City, a group of people that have donated half of their proceeds that they're making tonight; the guys who're selling loose joints are giving the City half of their income tonight.
That, of course, is Paul Simon, speaking between songs at their famous September 19 1981 concert in Central Park. It remains one of my eternal regrets that I actually landed in NYC for the first time ever just days before that; had I known of the concert I would have put off going to grad school to catch it.

On the terrific album from the concert -- easily one of the best live albums in existence -- you'll hear Simon saying these words. (Which is how I've heard it hundreds of times). You'll also hear the tremendous applause for his "people that never get recognized for doing good deeds for the City."

So when I was listening to Giuliani -- remember Giuliani? This post is about Giuliani -- last evening, these words ran through my head. This being the ex-Mayor of NYC, I could almost hear Simon saying in that distinctive high voice "... and Ed Koch ...". Koch, of course, being a popular ex-Mayor of NYC as well.

And after Giuliani finished, he asked for questions. I put up my hand, but found myself beaten to the post by at least two guys who simply started shouting their questions. This happened again when he finished the first question. As he was answering the second, a woman handed me a mike so I might more easily grab Giuliani's attention. So when he finished that one, I started speaking into the mike, but found myself beaten again by a guy closer to him who, again, got up and shouted his question.

But I also found myself beaten by myself. Because, to my considerable embarrassment and consternation, I realized what I had said into the mike was: "Mayor Koch, I would like to ..."

I gave back the mike.


That "Fifth Avenue" was "Fifteenth Avenue" as I posted it, the mistake brought to my attention by ever-alert JAP in the comments.


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Heeeyyyyyy .... Live in Central Park. Come to my arms, my kindred soul! Only it was Fifth Avenoo (there is no 15th Ave., surely?)

When we were up on Quiz Time (Siddharth Basu, 1985, but you may have been Stateside at the time), they asked us to introduce ourselves and I said "I want to thank the police department etc." Babu, poor conservative soul, stopped us and did a re-take because "you can't say that there here". Oh well.

But a post on Central Park and all the associated memories is pretty much in order. Thanks. ("Jerry NYEwood on saxophone .." "Dave Toofaney on the drums" oh yeah!)


Dilip D'Souza said...

Yeah, JAP, 'twas Fifth -- I must shamefacedly admit (doing that a lot this morning) that I copied that off somewhere and only really read it after I posted it. I'm making the correction as soon as I finish typing this.

That's a good Siddharth Basu story! (I was stateside). I can just imagine you sitting there rattling off those lines.

My fave song on that album, incidentally, is the sax-drenched "Late in the Evening", which in fact is pretty much my favourite Simon song I think.

Incidentally too, I did see S&G live eventually (Foxboro Stadium, MA) on a tour they did in 1983, sang pretty much the same songs. But not much can top Central Park.

Neela said...

yucky! is this simon and garfunkel?? they sang some song about herbs and spices, no? it even got turned into a hymn in church (ha ha! serves 'em right it did).

Next you'll be waxing eloquent about Bob Dylan.


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Was walking out the door to a meeting when I realised I'd made a boo-boo. Been itching to set the record straight ever since, so here we are.

It was Steve Gadd on drums (that electric solo on "50 ways to leave your lover"). Dave Toofaney was on sax. These guys have played with Paul from the "One-Trick Pony" days.

Favourite Simon number - have you heard "Hearts and Bones"? Right up there both as music and as poetry.

Your friend Neela has a very warped sense of humour. Like olives, you don't realise you like it till after you've swallowed it.


Pareshaan said...

hahaha - excellent post and a very nice comment section too.

Anonymous said...

Hey: Me favourite S&G song:
"Sounds of Silence"

Reminds me of the sounds our "journalists" make to further their p-sec agenda.

Dilip D'Souza said...

JAP, right you were to turn back and post that correction! Can't get these details wrong, dammit!

I have heard H&B -- nice song. There are many Simon tunes I like, another good one is "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from "Graceland".

Neela, yeah, that song about herbs and spices? Went something like this: "Are you going to Parsley and Sage? Scarborough Fair Rosemary and Thyme..."

Suhail said...

Lady Neela, how can you not like Bob Dylan. He was such a likeable character. Atleast his defiance at the live tour in Britain, almost mocking at his fans must be admired. That man was carved out of a genious streak.

Ofcourse some of his songs from 60-70s period (before he went all electronic/funkyish) are great. Have you seen "No Direction Home" a 2-part documentary on his life? JAP/Dilip if you guys are into Dylan you must watch it. It's awesome. Contains some rare footage of his early stoned days. And maybe this for some whacko Dylan-Lennon back-of-cab stuff.

Anonymous said...

More on the "herbs and spices" song:

The song, "Scarborough Fair" is a very old one, a traditional english song, dating to the 16th century. More about this from Wikipedia.

Simon and Garfunkel were one of the many singers/bands to render this song since. Their version is actually titled "Scarborough Fair/Canticle". If you listen to the song closely you'll hear two sets of lines sung at the same time - the use of a concept/technique known as counterpoint

See here for the lyrics to S&G's version. The lyrics in the braces are written by S&G, and form the counterpoint. It is beautiful how a song like this gets subliminally transformed into an anti-war song, as a result.

thanks for this post, it has filled my head with enough melodious tunes to last the rest of the day.

Suhail said...

Ramkum, thx for that info. The lyrics sounds interesting. I've never heard S&G before (or maybe I've heard it but unaware of it). Anyways, offlate I've been on some sorta personal mission of discovering good 60s-70s music. If you have the mp3 of that song, can you email it to "kazionline ATCH gheemail DAWT com" ? please?
And maybe even suggest me - Dilip/JAP you too - any signature S&G album to pick up? For that matter any similar bands? I've been enjoying Johnny Cash, Dylan, Guthrie and some Joan Baez etc.
If I like S&G I'll definitely buy them.

Anonymous said...

very hard to go wrong with Simon and Garfunkel. Just go to your neighborhood music store and pick up any CD of theirs that you find. "Live in Central Park" is obviously a good one as pointed out by Dilip/others.

And if you want to take a listen, here's a place where you can listen to snippets of 6 different cover versions of this song. (what would I do without google?)

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Suhail, couldn't resist. My definitive S&G album - "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme". "Central Park" would probably run it close.

Meanwhile, you can find some good stuff on limewire.com

Happy listening


Neela said...


its fi'th avenoo. if you are a true nooyawker that is and not one of those whiny boys with bad haircuts whose only only moderately Ok song was (not that culinary adventure) was redeemed by the incomparable Anne Bancroft. And no, "you can call me Al" are NOT lyrics.

Now This is a Real Song:

"Where's my gangstas and all my thugs
Throw them hands up and show some love
And I Welcome you to Detroit City
I said Welcome to Detroit City
Every place, everywhere we go
Man we deep everywhere we roll
Ask around and they all know Tricky
That's what's good man they all say Tricky..."


Tanuj said...

quite an entertaining discussion.

neela, here's an interesting theory:

simon and garfunkel is the preferred band for wannabe reverse pseuds for the following reasons:

1. they (s&g) are fairly poppish, soft, sometimes hymny, therefore accessible (to people evolving from, say, carpenters, boney m, jackson 5, laxmikant pyarelal, etc.)...

2 ...but strangely highbrow even to the authentic reverse pseud - a truly ideal transition band. s&g's highly surreal lyrics (i am a rock, and i am an island; i'd rather be a forest than a road; i've been robert mcnamara'ed and john o'hara'ed; and parsley, sage, etc.) with intel references to emily dickinson (who is possibly better at her stuff than prostetnic vogon jeltz, but that's another debate) make them reasonably highbrow.

now, another theory states that many english speaking desis (irrespective of command over the english grammar or fluency), mostly from (a) engineering colleges, (b) calcutta, and (c) IIM/XLRI/etc., are wannabe reverse pseuds. if you connect the two theories,you'll realize why s&g are so popular with us desis.

to extend theory 1: as one actually transitions into reverse pseudness, one is obliged to increase the %mix of dylan in one's music portfolio - the whole idea, of course, is to get more surreal and less hymny. vocals cease to matter as does melody. bizarre is the buzz, etc.

in the extreme case, this reverse pseudness drive may push the reverse pseud right into western classical music, which seems extremely surreal to this beginner. but he/she soon realizes that in his/her quest for the ultimate reverse pseudness he/she has actually entered the true pseud domain. this realization can be quite stunning, which is why so many reverse pseuds take to booze and pot, having lost all hope and identity. but not all become wasters - some smart ones take to trivia as a defence mechanism. i have come across many a gloating reverse pseud asking me if i knew stuff as useless and as bizarre as the time kieth moon mooned the crowd ("magical!"), or the 7 year old kid who wrote the lyrics to thick as a brick 47 years ago ("goddish!"), or the exact lines of introduction that some random announcer used to introduce paul butterfield at some monterrey jig ("halooed"), or even specific rockstar-groupie snog-networks ("very jive").

anyway, the point of all this was something i can't quite recollect. you see, i've had a drag too many thinking about the dotted line relationships between blind faith, leela chitnis, traveling wilburys, julia roberts and a halibut baked with rosemary and thyme.

Dilip D'Souza said...

And I thought this post was about the Mayors!

Suhail, when I first got to the US, I was chatting once with a fellow grad student and he mentioned Johnny Carson in passing. I said: "Who's Carson?" My friend was stunned -- he couldn't believe I hadn't heard of Carson. I feel somewhat similarly when you say you haven't heard of S&G! But hey, you've already got plenty of good suggestions for albums of theirs to listen to. Get some of Simon's solo albums too -- I like "Graceland"; there's also "There Goes Rhymin' Simon" ("Kodachrome", what a song) and "Hearts and Bones". H&B is a totally underappreciated album. "One Trick Pony" is a soundtrack, it has the aforementioned "Late in the Evening".

Tanuj, didn't you know? All S&G songs are about Leela Chitnis! (Ever really listen to "The Boxer"?) That's the connection you're getting at.

Neela, you want lyrics? I mean, you really want lyrics? OK, try these on, eh?

Little GTO, you're really lookin' fine
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin' up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine
C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO

Wa-wa, (Yeah, yeah, little GTO)
Wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa (Yeah, yeah, little GTO)
Wa-wa, (Yeah, yeah, little GTO)
Wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa (Yeah, yeah, little GTO)
Wa-wa (Ahhh, little GTO)
Wa, wa, wa, wa, wa, wa

(A truly great song by Ronnie and the Daytonas)

Tanuj said...

poor leela, what did she ever do to deserve this?

Anonymous said...

Simon Garfunkel and Leela Chitnis? Unable to see the connection. Please elaborate. I have only heard the essential S& G with some famous singles MRs Robinson, Bridge over Troubled water etc....

Tanuj - Yeh Laxmikant Pyarelal yahaa kaise tapak padaa...

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Thanks for bringing me back here, Dilip. Blast from the past.