December 21, 2005

Rhapsody in Transit Strike Blues

I walked to Manhattan again today, journeying across the Brooklyn Bridge.

I set my iPod to shuffle and something miraculous happened. As I headed down Flatbush Avenue, walking faster than the cars were moving, Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" came on, bringing a smile to my face. It was as if the tiny white gadget was in tune with my head, giving me just the song I needed to remind me I got out of bed this morning.

Billy was followed by Paul, who reminded me that I was "Born at the Right Time." At mile three of my walk, despite the cold, despite my aching feet, I actually agreed with him.

By the time I got to the beginning of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, I decided not to press my iPod luck and made my own musical selection, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." It turned out to be a perfect pick. The jazz-era piece is just over sixteen minutes long and if you walk quickly enough, you can make it just past the second tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, halfway down the remaining walkway as it descends towards City Hall, before the music reaches its final crescendo. I highly recommend loading a copy into your MP3 player and trying this during your walk tomorrow or on any day.

As I did the walk, somehow my eyes were directed by the music to see the things that fit each movement of the song. The traffic crawling across the bridge below the walkway. My first glimpse of the Empire State Building, which rises as if at the top of a hill in midtown. A straight on view of the mathematically-symetrical cables and brick towers of the bridge itself. I felt like I was living the opening scene of Woody Allen's Manhattan, only in vibrant color and surrounded by a cast of thousands.

If you choose to do this, start the song after you've crossed the street and entered the walkway approach. You'll want to press play about fifty feet from where you enter. If you walk as quickly as I do, you should get most of the way across the bridge before it ends, but even if you stop to appreciate the view or are held up by pedestrian traffic, you'll probably make it to the second tower of the bridge before you have to pick another song. After Gershwin, however, I didn't want the moment to be ruined by anything else, so I put my iPod back in my bag. I still had to find a cab.

Posted by Doug at December 21, 2005 12:03 PM

excellent idea. i couldn't walk without my ipod.

Posted by: mo at December 21, 2005 03:52 PM

Welcome Gothamist readers. According to Gothamist's Jake, the above-mentioned Gershwin trick qualifies as my very own "hack." Enjoy. If you happen to do it this week, or if you have any other songs that provide a perfectly synchronized soundtrack to walking New York, please let me know.

Posted by: Doug at December 22, 2005 12:02 AM

What about Sinatra? New York, New York.

Posted by: ally at December 22, 2005 09:40 AM