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Coming across two booing in New York

 Since I wrote my last column in English some time has passed. All this while I have been traveling in New York and then to New England area. I’ve never been in this part of the United States before. So I was very glad to be able to visit and see the so to speak major “birthplace of the new world.”
 I understood vaguely why the north-eastern states of this country is called New England. Now I understand better. According a book “Albion’s Seed” written by David Hackett Fischer, in the period from 1629 to 1775, this country was settled by at least four large waves of English-speaking immigrants. The first one was “an exodus of Puritans from the east of England to Massachusetts from 1629 to 1640,” then followed by “the migration of a small Royalist elite and large numbers of indentured servants from the south of England to Virginia.” No wonder the six present states including Massachusetts are called New England.

 In New England the most impressive visit was on Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. I knew that there was a place with that name near Boston and the place was once famous for its literary luminaries. Henry David Thoreau was one of them. I was curious of this Walden Pond where Thoreau had lived for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days in 1850’s. Although I haven’t yet written about this experience in my Japanese blog, the walk on the 1.7 mile trail around the 62 acre, 103-foot deep pond was really enjoyable and soothing. I suppose the environment is different from those days Thoreau had walked around and made thoughtful observations on the trees, plants and creatures both on land and in water.
 I was glad when I found the famous sentence from his book “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” displayed on a wooden board at the place where his cottage once used to stand. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I wish I could say the same thing.
 As for my impression for New York, it was New York more or less I had imagined. My lasting impression was the fact that wherever you go in New York, there are always a bunch of tourist with digital cameras. Maybe I was one of them. I even thought that some New Yorkers are spoiled by these floods of tourists.
 I have to mention that when I had arrived in New York it was the very first weeks where young people have started that “Occupy Wall Street” action in the downtown Zuccotti Park. They were sitting with such placards as “The wealthiest 400 Americans own more than the poorest 60%” or “Corporations are not people.” Before my departure from New York I’ve visited the park once again. There were more people, I mean protesters there and naturally more tourists to take their photos. It had still a festive atmosphere. I’m not sure how long it will last.
 I stayed my last days of New York in a Harlem YMCA as I wanted to taste the legacy of a renowned writer, James Baldwin. I visited the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Malcolm X Boulevard several times. As there was a Malcolm X exhibition going on, it was a timely visit for me. I should have gone to the YMCA earlier. It turned out to be one of the cheapest places to stay in New York.
 Not only that. I’ve enjoyed strolling around Harlem. Harlem was also full of tourists. While I sat at a table in a popular restaurant one evening and looking at people, mostly black but quite a few white residents and foreign tourists, I thought the sight would have been unthinkable from the days when Malcolm X or Baldwin roamed around in 1950’s and 60’s.
 I visited Harlem’s crown jewel, the Apollo Theater twice. Once a week on every Wednesday night they have what is called “Amateur Night” there where aspiring mostly youngsters can perform their talents to the audience. If they are very good, they can proceed to the final competition to be held sometime later for a cash prize of $10,000.
 The event has been, I understand, going on for a long time and from here some real stars have been born. It was fun to be there and watch their enthusiastic performances, if not all of them talented. If you are not good enough, the audience could boo you out mercilessly. A week ago I saw a group of musicians with a solo white female singer booted out. This week I saw a Japanese female singer from Tokyo booted out. Her singing was not that bad, I thought. A Chinese male vocalist who did a rap song was far worse but he somehow could miraculously finish his song even some considerable jeering among the people near my seat.
 Maybe that “Occupy” thing in New York and other cities in the US symbolizes the fact that the existing establishment is being booed by the disgruntled public. What effects does the “Occupy” movement exert to President Obama's fortune and the US society in general, I have no idea. Or is it still too early to call it “movement”?

 (Photo: A beautiful Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. The cottage site where Henry David Thoreau once lived)


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