It’s Sunday night, 11:09pm.
I am sipping champagne (real champagne) and listening to Robert Glasper Experiment.
(I love that his band is called “experiment.” More things should have this label. More people should be honest about what they are doing. Do we ever really know?)
I am listening to Robert Glasper because I have a ticket (just me) to his show tomorrow at Esplanade as part of the (last, ever) Mosaic Music Festival.
I saw Robert Glasper perform with Vijay Iyer (another favorite) at NYU’s Skirball Center in 2011 — nearly 3 years ago to the day — when I was still able to get student discounts and rock up 5 min before the show began because I lived 4 blocks away.
Nobody told me that while living in NYC, I would have access to up-and-coming artists and I wouldn’t even know they were up-and-coming.
Nobody told me that living in NYC, I would have music and artistry and design and creativity around me in the f*cking air…. that just sitting on a park bench in Washington Square Park for 5 minutes, I would absorb more innovative and expressive material than I would if I dedicated 3 hours of my life to such a thing in any other city in the world.
Nobody told me that I would find musicality in the rhythms of the street.
Nobody told me that I would have access to top-notch live professional performers simply for having a student ID that got me crazy-ass discounts all over the 5 boroughs.
Nobody told me that I would become addicted to seeing these top-notch live professional performers as a result of my crazy-ass discounts.
Nobody told me that I would never again find the calibre, energy, and ambiance created by these top-notch live professional performers outside of NYC.
This is a sin.
Nobody told me that I would miss this.
Nobody told me that these kinds of performers, this kind of music, would mess with my brain chemistry in ways unchallenged since 1993…. those days when I first discovered experimental jazz, funk, soul, neo-soul, and house… when I was discovering names like Maceo Parker, Brad Mehldau, Medeski Martin and Wood, Roy Ayers, Nuyorican Soul, MosDef, Roy Hargrove, and The Roots.
Nobody told me that my musical brain chemistry would be altered again, because of NYC.
Nobody told me that I would find myself in Asia, nostalgic for something I had never experienced a few years prior.
Nobody told me that I would again be able to afford drinking champagne, like I could when I lived “the fine expat life” in Qatar and Vietnam.
Nobody told me that I would, in fact, become accustomed to drinking champagne quite regularly (despite high alcohol taxes).
Nobody told me that I would be so privileged.
Nobody told me that in Singapore I would have access to many — though not all — of the same performers I had seen in NYC, for various reasons, these performers come through a circuit of AustralAsia.
Nobody told me that I would see these performers in Singapore, in state-of-the-art venues, for a fraction of what I would pay in NYC.
Nobody told me I would still miss the experience of having seen them perform in NYC.
Nobody told me that I would forever be nostalgic for NYC, because no experience compares to it. Ever.
Nobody told me that living in NYC would change me forever.
It has changed me. Forever.
And I have come to accept the fact (I think… ) that I will always struggle with not living there. That always, a piece of me will wish I were there. That this will never go away. That nowhere else will be the same as NYC, especially when it comes to music and art.
It is okay. A piece of me will always be there.
And that is also okay.
I’m making peace with that piece.