WHY I (Still) LOVE NEW YORK
(in spite of the pollution, noise, expense, and lack of tall trees)
Some of My Most Memorable Moments as an Algonquin in Manhattan
By Evan Pritchard author of Native New Yorkers
Some More Musical/Literary Experiences I Won't Forget
guitar at the Four Seasons for a bunch of millionaires at a dinner.
The manager was very rude and made me leave through the kitchen after
I was done. They asked me back however. I played there for a corporation
that was announcing a huge downsizing right at Christmas. The CEO handed
out real antique Colt 45s as Christmas presents to his managers. Later
I played at the Lowell Hotel (also five star food) as the featured entertainer
for a "Tribute to Excellence" Banquet for a man who made a
breakthrough in cancer research. I had the opportunity to talk to him
about his work. They treated me very kindly there, and I had some kind
of grub prepared by a man they flew in from Paris for the evening. It
sure wasn't Pemmican.
a wedding party and recognizing that the "deaf old guy" in
the corner was Gabriel Braverman, who was copyist under Toscanini, and
was the 1st chair violist in Fantasia under Mickey Mouse. I played in
his ear and he could hear just fine. He told me stories of the New York
Philharmonic under Toscanini, just as his successor, Arnold Arnstein
had told me stories about the "Phil" under Bernstein.
to play percussion and cowbells in Paul Winter's Winter Solstice Extravaganza
at St. John the Divine was an unforgettable experience. Overwhelming;
I did it several years. Paul Winter let a member of "Earth Beat's"
Russian Dimitri Pokrovsky Singers play a jazz trumpet solo, his life's
dream. As the man came off stage our eyes met and I said, "Krasnya
Baby!" (Beautiful!) You should have seen his face.
lecture on Native New Yorkers at the Open Center in 1999, describing
the ancient history of the Munsee in Manhattan and how they were exiled
to Canada, then introducing to the stage the current chief of the Munsee
of Muncie, Ontario, Mark Peters. What a surprise! Everyone was speechless!
It was the first oration by Manhattan's indigenous leader in over 350
years. Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Yona Gadoga (Standing Bear) Brian
Wilkes, Taino leader and voice of WBAI's Circle of Red Nations, Roberto
Borrero, and others, were there and also spoke. Believe it or not, I
wasn't thinking of writing a book about the subject yet.
The day office
boy "Richard Hell" (of the punk band Plasmatics) took off
his hat for the first time at Arnstein's orchestral score shop in the
presence of several famed symphonic composers. It turns out Richard
had blue hair! One of the composers went running and screaming out of
the building. Arnstein was coming up the stairs, wondering what was
going on. Richard had never taken off his hat before. Ironically, I
think one of the composers that stayed was MacDermott, the composer
The time I took on bad-boy Skitch Henderson in a copyright fraud case
on behalf of symphonic composer Richard Schulman. Schulman's Laurentine
Overtures was on the program, but the parts were still under lock and
key at the publishers (where I worked!) I ran down to scout out Carnagie
Hall and "counted coup," taking some programs from the floor
at intermission. Skitch had heard of my plan through spies and did not
perform the piece. The New York Daily News reviewer caught the discrepancy,
but the New York Post reviewed it as if it had been played in its entirety.
(Major Whooops!) It turns out Henderson had to pay ASCAP the composer
royalties based on the program listing, even though not a note was heard
that day. The composer was grateful!
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