This week, after much anticipation, the first nine-block section of the brand new elevated public park in Chelsea, the High Line, opened to the public. Visiting this park, which was once an abandoned railway in jeopardy of being torn down, is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” New York City experiences. The park gives you a really unique view of the city, you’re not at the top of the Empire State Building and you’re not down on the ground, you’re somewhere in between on this beautiful green-space and it’s pretty incredible. One of the first to write about The High Line was Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker, back in May of 2001. In his lengthy article, which features photographs by the photographer Joel Sternfeld, he interviews High Line neighborhood residents Robert Hammond and Joshua David, the founding members of the “Friends of the High Line,” a charitable organization created to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as public open space. After this article and other press coverage began to feature the High Line, funding started coming in and the restoration project was underway. Click here to watch a great video about the history of the High Line featuring some celebrity supporters of the project. Next Monday, the “Friends of the High Line” is hosting an Opening Summer Benefit which “marks the culmination of 10 years of efforts to save, preserve, and open the High Line as a New York City park.” For now only “Section 1” (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) is open to the public and they hope to have “Section 2” (20th Street to 30th Street) open in 2010.
In keeping with the spirit of neighborhood comradery, The HighLine Ballroom, a music and performance venue inspired by the High Line that opened in April 2007 donates $0.25 from every ticket sold to “The Friends of the High Line.”
Starting in June, the HighLine Ballroom started a series of Tuesday night “late-nights” featuring the innovative hip-hop collective The Roots, and a series of their special guest performers called “The Roots Present The Jam.” The Roots began recording and performing back in the late-eighties when rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) met at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. The Roots produced its first major-label album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, in 1995 without sampling from any other artists, defying the conventions of most rap at the time. Although most of their music is full of politically charged lyrical content and complex sounds, The Roots are probably best known for one of their more mellow songs that won them a Grammy in 1999, “You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu. They have had seven other Grammy nominations including a nod in 2007 for Best Rap Album for Game Theory. In a surprising move this year, The Roots are performing as the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s NBC late night talk show. Lucky for Jimmy and lucky for us since we know they’ll be in town and we can catch them weekly at the HighLine Ballroom.
Definitely my new favorite track off their latest album, Rising Down, released in April 2008, is “Rising Up!” which features Chrisette Michelle and Wale. In an interview with NPR, ?uestlove, says “the titles draw on William T. Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down, a book about the psychological nature of violence. The album in sort of its political hand really deals with how humans will use violence before anything.” Listen to it once and you won’t be able to get the hot drum beat and smooth baseline out of your head…
The Roots (feat Chrisette Michele & Wale) – Rising Up!: