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Tag essay curtain up dee abrahamsen.jpg

From a long slumber my city begins to twilight dream. The instruments of Lincoln Center now an opus of hammers. Saws tuning. Swaggering core-de-construction readying the plaza for outdoor performances. With all due respect, Madonna has nothing on New York City regarding reinvention. And Madonna is very good at it. Perhaps this reinvention act will take longer than others. No matter. In 1928 Eugene O'Neill wrote the five-hour play Strange Interlude and New Yorkers sat through that. Strange Interlude smolders with soliloquy. The characters innermost thoughts shared with the audience. A few smoldering soliloquies have also risen within our city's cast. Voices singing solidarity and change. One by one, on the asphalt stage, something good is rising. Curtain up.

Culture. Community. Art. Each of equal importance to the financial recovery of New York City. This past summers exodus revealed a drab metropolis in structural and spiritual decay. Neglect of  our streets and those who live upon it. Crime rising faster than shiny towers. Shame seeping into what was once New Yorker pride. The nineteen-seventies winked at us. And like the seventies we strengthened our posture and winked back. New York knows how to side step a sticky situation. A skill perhaps acquired from side-stepping gum seared to asphalt. As separate driven as we can appear, or be, New Yorkers in a tight spot are a tight-knit group. Individual artists took to the streets to sooth the city's soul. Where an unseeable foe closed the doors of institutions, it could not dim the house lights. It could not cancel our spirit. Artists' know that when we do not wait for edicts mandating unity, we inspire it. We reside in it.

Contrary to the onslaught of dismal headlines, it appears my city is now in the process of tentative revival. While discourse is apparently easier for the camera to spot and certainly exist, unity, empathy and artistry quietly carry on the reinvention. Perhaps these qualities need to step into the spotlight. Amping up to make it easier for the camera to see. Make it clear that caring renewal is all over the damn place. With the ingenious reopening of artistic outdoor venues we have the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with our eight-million-character-cast, albeit six-feet apart. Every reinvention begins somewhere. Ask Madonna.

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