Monday, June 22, 2009

La Fete de la Musique

Here's a country that still has a certain sense of community, after all. La Fete de la Musique is a day when all of France devotes itself to making music, listening, learning, dancing. All events are FREE. Money has nothing to do with it. Every neighborhood has different bands performing almost every style of music imaginable (with an unfortunate penchant for hard core electronica or truly awful dance music). Most bands are conformed of amateurs, and most suck. But the enthusiasm is undeniable, both of audience and performers. France is a country of great aficionados. Most of them may be constitutionally incapable of moving to the rhythm, but this does not intimidate them in the least. They are willing to learn and they have no sense of ridicule.
What moved me, for I was deeply moved, is that everybody gets together to make it happen and to enjoy it. For one day, you share something special with your neighbors, it's that simple. Very, very cool.
I was thinking, imagine if we did this in NY, or the whole of the US. One single, solitary day when it's not about money, but about connecting. Imagine all those talented people who would come out and play on the streets, and all those neighbors that would enjoy it.
I don't understand how a country like this is less constrained by money than we are. They do public projects for the benefit of the citizens and they do not begrudge them every cent they cost. The fabulous mayor of Paris has instituted the amazing bike rental program, still going on, the Paris Plages festival with beaches on the Seine every July. They open and pay for art centers in struggling neighborhoods. They give back.
We, who are supposed to have everything, are miserly. Even free events like Summerstage or Celebreate Brooklyn are always about asking for contributions, donations, sponsors.
So I suggest to Mayor Bloomberg, who is so keen on winning again, to check out what they do over here.

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