The Carnegie Hall Effect

Circa 1983 I was working in NYC commuting in from the suburbs, wishing I could live in the Big Apple (which actually happened three years later in 1985 – but that is a story for another Blog) and I was hanging with one of my buddies at the South Street Seaport (by ourselves might I add) when he mentioned that he was thinking about how we should change it up, try something different – go upscale – no more beers and fries.  We needed to become more cultured he stated.  Cultured?  Like reading the NY Times?  No, more like going to Carnegie Hall. (Now mind you THPL was nowhere in sight during this conversation or for many years to come but there is a connection – just hang there with me).  Dumbfounded, I pressed on the idea – what would we do there?  Well, he had a plan.  We would get a season subscription to a Mostly Mozart concert series.  We would go there once a week and hob-nob with the Upper West Side crowd.  Who was I to say no? Yes, it was going to cost quite a few greenbacks but we thought it was at least better than three big beers at the Garden to watch the Rangers lose and so we took the subway uptown, plunked down a wad of cash and set out on an adventure, a mystery, and a new cultural experience all rolled into one. 
Each Tuesday for eight weeks we went to Carnegie Hall and with each passing week we seemed to like Mozart and the experience just a little better than the week before.  We learned the etiquette of watching the orchestra, we observed what the “regulars” wore, we listened to their conversations during intermission and we made a relatively feeble attempt to meet some of the girls that were in attendance.  The season went by in a flash.  And while it was sad when it was over we leveraged what we learned to sound “smart” when we went back to the normal Friday happy hour.  We pretended we knew lots of stuff about Mozart (yes he was born in 1756) and we found out his music was like Haydn's, and stands as an archetype of the Classical style.  (However, without Google and Wikipedia our research was limited to the 1959 World Book I wrote about a few blogs ago).  Sadly, we did not sign up for a second season; we were sort of out of money.  But we knew that we left Carnegie Hall different than we started.  As we all know the mind once open never contracts and we were now happy for it.  And thirty years later reflecting on the mission of THPL and my Carnegie Hall experience, I am struck by the relevance of the lessons and takeaways from that magical experience.
  • Take a chance and go do something that is new and slightly uncomfortable – you will learn from it – it is impossible not to
  • Gain an appreciation for excellence – there was so much perfection on stage that the beauty of the music surrounded you in tones and notes so perfect you could hear nothing else but perfection
  • Go out and see how others live – it was so fun to be part of the upper west side crowd even if for a moment.  It made us want something that we had before known little of
  • Learn to look forward to something – the weekly cadence was really fun – it gave purpose to the week and kept a different conversation alive for that season
  • Get dressed up, read ahead, live large – you will feel different and better as a result of it
THPL contemplates so many of these themes that I dare not add any more for tonight but one challenge.  Please go out and find your Carnegie Hall, let loose and have some fun with it. You will be happier for it and one step further on the journey to THPL.
Seems to me the weeks fly by, and once again I find myself doing pushups on a Friday night - Hey THPL buddies out there!, have a beer on me!  Sally, 3:26 + 20 seconds, 217 pushups (I guess it was 215 last night) on 4:17.  
Loving Life and Mozart
Joey G