One of my favorite things to do in Manhattan, and I know I risk seeming a complete geek by relating this, is to run around the Central Park Reservoir at sunset in the wintertime, the geeky part being I love listening to Garrison Keillor on NPR while I do it (although Peter Gabriel and Tom Petty come a close second). There is something about watching the crystal clear depths of the night sky as it darkens around the skyline (New York City dressing for for the evening) juxtaposed with the (admittedly) corny intimacy of an imaginary radio broadcast that somehow brings together everything I love about my life in one brilliant, breath-fogging, layer soaked moment. My other favorite thing being the last set at an intimate jazz club, a favorite piano player and a lot of old friends in ugly hats (jazz thing) sharing the sublimity. I like to think that the nerdy-ness of the first is balanced by the tragic-coolness of the second.
In any case this practice is especially magical the next two weeks, not to mention a very inexpensive holiday treat. For the next two weeks The Prairie Home Companion will be broadcasting from the Town Hall theater on 43rd St. here in Manhattan. Tonights performance included Michael Feinstein, Metropolitan Opera Tenor Raúl Melo, and the soulful jazz vocalist Inga Swearingen. So, imagine, running around the reservoir, gazing down across the water towards the skyline below and listening to a hysterically funny sketch about opera. No really. First time for me since the Marx Brothers. Anyway – two more weeks of holiday fun, and a great place to listen. Not that I’m advocating running around the park alone after dark. Bring friends. And say hello, I’ll be the guy trudging and chortling.