In the sidewalk steam - March 10
Looking into mythical New York
Flatiron "Crimson Assurance Company" building
Hermes and the golden age of steam
Whilst on hand to receive the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction award with Genesis at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, I was reminded that New York appears to be built on steam. So much of it they have to regularly erect funnels at intersections to siphon it off. Obviously the dragons that sleep underground have to let off excess steam whilst snoozing, for after all it is they who keep the city warm...
It's easy to empathise with Terry Gilliam's wacky/Gothic vision of the city, where a knight in armour suddenly appears out of a smoky haze in the Fisher King and in his brilliant short preamble to The Meaning of Life the anomalous Flatiron Building becomes a marauding privateer sailing through Broadway, like Something moving in the Sidewalk Steam from the Lamb. I guess it's hardly a coincidence that both Python and Genesis were signed to the same record label! Broadway itself is at odds with the grid system, cutting a maverick incision through the streets like a rebellious Mr Hyde let loose in the well ordered laboratory of Dr Jekyll.
The whole of Manhattan not only breathes fire but also acts as a giant amplifier as sirens nightly screech up and down the streets and bounce off those Towers of Babel in a wailing wall of sound. Rob Townsend often impersonates a New York fire truck at full blast with multiple clusters from his sax spilling through a chewed reed when we're playing Mechanical Bride live together.
Luckily I found time in New York to hook up with two other fantastic British sax blowers, Ian MacDonald of King Crimson and Foreigner plus Will Bates (son of Ralph and Virginia) who recently worked with Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack on the last Mike and the Mechanics album. Whilst I just dip in and out of NYC from time to time, both Ian and Will have chosen to settle within the labyrinth of the monster metropolis.
The winged figure Hermes/Mercury that graces the facade of Grand Central Station, in the photo here seems to be pointing to yet another steamy mass winding its way upwards towards that famous skyline, where New York temples rise to pierce the clouds. If you get to visit the city, try taking a helicopter ride around the place in a storm as I once did. It was darkly oppressive skimming the rooftops, whilst formidable clouds were bearing down... The whole place is like a neon Babylon, at turns beautiful in the golden sun and dark as any nightmare in the blink of an eye - an unpredictable but exciting odyssey in stone and steam.
Downtown dragon's breath | Gothic New York | Rhapsody in Blue