Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Aggravation, Aggravation, Cultural Event, Aggravation

It's still Crunch Week in my department, but we were able to slip downstairs yesterday to watch the All-Stars Parade going past the building. I caught it just as Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford rode past, looking like a couple of grizzled WWII veterans.

Signs on top of the trucks had the names of each player. That didn't help the twenty-somethings standing behind me. "Jim Palmer? Who's that? Tommy LaSorda? Who's that?"

Back upstairs for more aggravation, this time with the help of the help desk. The system's locked me out. The system says I don't exist. The system doesn't recognize me. I have a deadline in fifteen minutes.

Then the "hurry up and wait" aggravation, waiting for approval by 5:00 so I could leave and go to the free Philharmonic Concert in Central Park. I brought a low chair that folds up into its own little carrying pouch. By 79th Street it felt as if I was carrying a set of golf clubs.

My cohorts and I set up our blankets and chairs at the same point in the Great Field where I'd sat to watch the Simon and Garfunkel Concert in 1981, a distance where you could just about distinguish Simon from Garfunkel. At that concert, my two friends from improv class and I kept saying, "This must have been what Woodstock was like," because we'd been too young to go to Woodstock. So now whenever I'm watching a concert in the park, I keep referring to the Simon and Garfunkel Concert the way hippies keep referring to Woodstock.

Like the Simon and Garfunkel Concert, there were Porta-Potties, and like the Simon and Garfunkel Concert, you had to step over other people to get to them. And the guys ended up going in the woods. I came back from the Porta-Potties to hear music playing quietly and wondered if it were a CD the Philharmonic was playing to get people to go sit down and get ready for the concert. No. It was the concert itself. Somebody had goofed on setting up the speakers; they faced in instead of out. So the sound was best if you were either a few yards away, or halfway up the road towards Fifth Avenue, where there was another set of speakers somewhere.

But even with the lousy acoustics, it was a beautiful night; warm but not humid, and the park smelled like earth. It was a good excuse for a huge open-aired picnic, and the stuff people brought was almost a caricature of a yuppie picnic. A vendor hawked red wine and white wine. Hopping to and from the Porta-Potties, I counted the number of blankets, tables and trays that had baby carrots and hummus. With my own, the number came to 30.

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