I have a secret I’ve been bursting to tell you about since I first found out about it, but I held on for three entire days so that I could share it with you today for the travel theme, in the hopes that you might share one of your secret places too.
A very dear friend of mine, Dan, was in town this week with a show. Dan is an extremely talented actor and musician, and a gifted teacher. I know this for a fact because we first met doing a show where Dan was music director, and he not only managed to teach me a series of challenging songs, but also magically got me to understand syncopated rhythm and taught me how to play a number of percussion instruments from around the world. Suffice it to say, in all things acoustic, I would follow Dan to the end of the world. In this instance, however, I only had to follow him to Times Square.
After a wonderful evening catching up on life since we last met, we were walking towards Times Squares when Dan’s eyes lit up and he said he wanted to find the sound installation in Times Square. I was perplexed. I have walked through Times Square countless times and never noticed a sound installation, but I figured if there was such a thing, Dan would find it. I wandered through the neon-lit square which was completely deserted in the wee small hours, looking high and low for some mysterious exhibit to no avail, but when I turned, I saw Dan had stopped on the sidewalk with a great smile on his face. “Listen,” he said quietly, and as I stood on the metal grating in the sidewalk, I was enveloped in a rich, harmonic sound that seemed to rise from the grating and hover somewhere just above my head. It is hard to describe; a resonance with the essence of bells or gongs after they have been struck, or a church organ; a vibration of tones, a texture almost. It moved with me, as I travelled the length of the grating, shifting in volume and tone.
The artwork, appropriately called ‘Times Square’, is the work of artist Max Neuhaus, and is a skillful amplification of resonances already present underground, caused by the intersecting of several subway tunnels under the spot where the grating lays. There is no plaque marking the installation; it is something I guess Max Neuhaus intended for people to find in their own way. It is a secret hiding in plain sight.
Here’s the best thing about the discovery. In the days since I first stood on the grating, I have passed through Times Square’s hustle and bustle in the middle of the day and made a point to walk over the grating. Each time I do so, the wall of sound drowns out the surrounding clamour and time seems to slow down just a little. It’s like a secret peaceful island in the middle of a sea of chaos, and it makes me smile.
If you’re passing through Times Square, look for the installation in the triangular pedestrian island between 45th and 46th street, and smile a secret smile when you find it.
If you have a secret place you’d like to share, create your own post between now and next Friday, title it “Travel theme: Secret Places” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post. Where’s your secret place?