They appeared one day in random locations around town: funky old pianos.
Street corners, parks, river front. Twelve all told around the city.
One, I biked past almost every night. And every time I stopped: magic.
First Night: I’m alone. I play. Sense a person. Peer around the corner: “Oh don’t stop; it’s beautiful. This is exactly what I needed right now.” The man had leaned his bicycle against a nearby fountain. It’s midnight. I sense tears in his eyes. I inquire.
“I’m just coming back from visiting my friend in a coma in the hospital” Me: “So sorry.” Him: “Yeah, my buddy is a great guy. He and his girlfriend run this photography business, they were in a car accident…” Me: “I know these people! They do the photo booths with the amazing back drops?” Him: “Yes.”
We sit and talk.
We sit and don’t talk.
We sit and play music.
Second Night: It’s midnight. There are a few others. I’m playing. Three folks come tentatively walking up.
“You want to play?” I offer. They courteously and shyly refuse, but I can tell they want to, so I usher them towards the piano. Two women and one man. Kind chatter: they have accents. “Where are you from?” “Ethiopia”
He begins to play and my jaw hits they floor. An angelic voice emits from his mouth and my draw somehow finds the space to drop even lower. They are all part of an Ethiopian Gospel Band. Who knew such a thing existed!?
They teach me the song, and the dance, and I join in. Songs of hope and love. I harmonize - and they are shocked. In Ethiopia, apparently multiple voices sing full octaves apart, never in harmonies. Who knew? They giggle and encourage me on.
Ethiopian Gospel Choir songs with strangers on the river front at midnight.
Third Night: Two people approach. One woman, one man - both in their twenties.
“I know you” she says.
“No, I just have one of those familiar faces.” She can’t stand it, she knows there’s a connection. Finally, something clicks for her: “You’re the activist event calendar girl!” “Yes!” She is Megan - the girl responsible for the appearance of these magical pianos. One month prior, she and I had both pitched for the same grant: I for my website of activist events; she for funds with which to tune these outdoor pianos. Despite many other competitors for the grant, she and I were drawn to each other, mutually excited by each other’s projects and our similar spunky personalities.
She won the grant.
I kicked the pavement.
Every grantee that pitched was asked how they would promote their event or idea - and which one voiced a need for something like the website I’m working on. And yet, the money went to tune already paid for pianos that were sitting in the rain.
I became her biggest fan.
“I’ve been posting my nightly adventures on your Facebook page” I shared.
“That was you!? Oh my gosh! I couldn’t imagine who that was… or why only person was sharing their stories.”
And the guy? He was a photographer, a student, and had been quite involved in Occupy.
We sang, we hugged, we talked about changing the world, and we played the piano into the wee hours.
A good perch
A different perspective
Farmers Market, a taste of local flavors.
Wealth in any community comes from its people and their efforts to beautify every member.
Rain's finally here again, after one of the hottest summers I've had in the city, a comfort of home.
...and this is how I found out Ornette Coleman has died...
We started the walk in bright sun and a light breeze. I convinced myself that the dark clouds in the distance were blowing away from us. I was wrong. Wet dog, wet human.
Graffiti and Ghost Signs