Standing on the edge of time

Today, walking along the streets of Greenwich Village, I was overtaken by the strangest whim. Taking out my SmartPhone I opened up YouTube, and started playing Mandy, sung by the inimitable Barry Manilow. The lyrics blasted out for all the world to hear:

I remember all my life
Raining down as cold as ice
A shadow of a man
A face through a window
Crying in the night
The night goes into
Morning, just another day…

It was, perhaps, the single most culturally rebellious act of my life. Here I was, surrounded by cool, up-to-the-moment students from NYU and The New School, and I was blasting out the single most uncool song of all time.

There was something beautiful about the moment, the sheer overwhelming inappropriateness of my musical choice. What I was playing was so off the cultural radar that it might as well have been from another planet.

Although that moment did not occur in a vacuum. Earlier in the day, during my class lecture, I had checked the sound level by playing an excerpt from Schoenberg’s piano etudes.

The music that emerged was dissonant, atonal and heavenly. The students seemed disoriented. What was this weird noise I was subjecting them to?

“Isn’t it great?” I exclaimed with enthusiasm. “Who else here is a fan of Schoenberg?”

Dead silence. I could feel ninety pairs of young eyes just staring at me, clearly confused that I would choose to send such a strange and disquieting sound out into the universe.

Maybe I should have played them Manilow.

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