What a swell concert that was! Yup, it was music when “swell” was a prime word of praise. Remember “What a Swell Party This Is,” the song from the film “High Society” with Bing, Frank, Grace and don’t forget Louis? Well, surely swell and then some was the annual Steve Shaiman Big Swing Band concert held on John Finley Walk overlooking the East River. As usual, it was standing room only at the top of the East 86th street mall location. And being so close to his mansion, the mayor should have been there with his wife and daughter and son. We have a dream the kids would find swing era music “really swell,” and so would their mother, who would say, “This music is just what our mental health programs need. Bring it back — big-time.”
Safe Travel Needs
Dream on? Of course, and the concert standees would remind the First Family what a relief it is not to dodge bikes on the John Finley walk, where. during concert time, only essential wheelchairs, strollers and baby buggies are allowed. And about city traffic, they’d tell the mayor, “Your green wave plan to protect city cyclists safety must not include cyclists proceeding before motorists at intersections.” This puts the city’s most vulnerable travelers — pedestrians — at greater risk. And at this concert you see your many gray hair, white hair and no hair constituents who feel threatened by cyclists ignoring the laws of the road.
Of course. they mourn the women and men riders who have been killed and more concern is needed — but traffic safety must be government’s all out and number one priority. All victims of traffic crime must be publicly mourned. Motorists’ failure to yield at corners is the number one cause of pedestrian death, yet is still not deplored, let alone punished, like driving under the influence is.
They’d also add how all city bicycles should be audible and more visible. They’d be a lot safer if they made a nice little sound and a red-flagged pole were attached to the rear fender. Reportedly, most bicyclists don’t like the idea, but in truth, they should make some concessions when riding in a high density city — a city which has done so much for bike safety, sometimes at the expense of other travelers, where bike lanes and bike racks limit easy and safe access to the sidewalk. Deliveries to stores and restaurants are hindered and more crucial, so is emergency help.
And both cars and bikes take away from mass transit use, the safest, most accessible city travel mode, which , alas, is ever more costly for people under 65, thanks in part to inadequate government support.
But surely the overall safe street traffic need is for the laws of the road to be strictly obeyed by each and every city traveler — we can’t say and do enough about that.
Sing Along Too!
About the great Big Swing Band, what an extraordinary treat it is. If only it happened every summer week, and not just one. And how really really swell if the audience were asked to sing along with the ballads. Singing is so good for what ails us. This “singing along” needs to be part of health care directives, especially but not only for elder people, And too often the 85 plus, fastest-growing age group needs more social interaction, which ought to include singing as well as speaking together. Hey, that works well, I mean swell, for every age group! (Incidentally, Spectrum channel 1947 plays commercial free swing era music 24/7.)
Oh, but consider how those ballads need also to apply to family, friendship and neighbor platonic affections, which everyone needs. Yes, that’s pretty radical, but so very much needed to help create that village where no one is left out. It can be done — all the above — if enough of us try. Yup, that would really be swell — and then some. Smile.