Basic human goodness - if I'm not mistaken, this is the Buddhist concept that human beings are fundamentally kind and wonderful creatures meant to enjoy life and each other. Of course, this innate goodness is too often obscured by confusion, conflicting desires, and selfishness born of fear...but we see enough of that, and can all benefit from daily reminders of how good people can be.One of the aspects of the nypianotuner experience I treasure most is daily reminders of basic human goodness - most people I meet are kind, intriguing, and make me delighted to be human. So many characters! Today sparked that feeling - a special sense of "we're in this together" always accompanies the approach of inclement weather... As the news warned us that the snow storm of the century was bearing down on us, my upcoming customers reached out to me to see if I'd be making our appointments. I have a tendency to scoff at dire media predictions because I know they have a vested business interest in sensationalism - I'm sure one day this attitude will backfire horribly on me, but today wasn't that day... The snow settled smoothly across the brownstones, covering the trash and grit with it's gentle embrace, and I had no problem making my three appointments for the day.
My first appointment was in the old Pfizer chemical plant just off the Flushing Ave G stop, which now houses a variety of start ups, small culinary businesses, practice spaces etc.
My engagement was in one of the practice spaces - it greatly pleased me to see my client pull back the heavy sliding door of "Module 10" - the repurposing of old/odd spaces with plenty of history showing through is very New York, and very much NYPT...
My client was a genial 20 something who rents this space to produce his own music, which I quite enjoyed... A dreamlike wall of sounds... He had some useful tips on independently releasing an album, which I employed today... But that's another story. I also adored this tag on his piano...
How curious...if only these pianos could talk, the stories they'd tell...the basic human goodness here was his kindness, and the enthusiasm to create that burns in the hearts of men and and leads them to spend thousands of hard earned, scarce cash to rent extra studio space and print vinyls.
My next appointment took me into the high end brownstones of Fort Greene to a repeat client for a tuning and some hammer spacing on a Steinway baby grand with one of the most epic backdrops, a painting by a recently overdosed artist who lived in a nearby collective - a tragedy - his spirit lives on in this painting, touching lives in new ways he never could've predicted. The beauty of art...
This piano's owner was a delightful character who went to college for jazz saxophone, then switched to business because he "hated how they made him play classical saxophone" - he's now in asset management and clearly has done quite well for himself. I enjoyed listening to him read books to his 4 year old son on the couch while I tuned - I also appreciated his insistence that his son "pick out a good book to read, one I'll like, not one of the boring ones." Awesome - he made his son return two before finding an acceptable option. After the tuning he invited me downstairs to check out his "wind midi controller" - a tube that one plays like a saxophone but is plugged into a box he "had to order online from some Japanese guy because you can't find them anymore" which contains a library of sounds. Now he can play electric guitar solos on his sax - good stuff.
Last appointment was an evaluation of a piano for sale in Park Slope. I never met the client, but he employed me to check out a piano he was thinking of buying to make sure it wasn't a disaster. It was night by now later than I usually with by the time I arrived. An older couple ushered me in from the snow and helped me poke around the piano with great enthusiasm - I could tell they enjoyed seeing the inside of the instrument and learning more about it. One unique feature of this Steinway upright from the 30's is that the pin block was exposed and had been replaced.
You can see the fresh laminated wood below the "accelerated action" tag.
The woman asked if I wanted tea - I casually agreed, not expecting her to emerge from the kitchen momentarily with a silver platter laden with tea, cream and sugar in fancy china - basic human goodness. When I finished putting the piano back together, we sat for a spell at the kitchen table finishing tea and chatting. She's been a first grade teacher at the school nearby for decades - he was excited about my upcoming electronic music album. "I enjoy electronic music - I remember seeing an electronic concert in the 70's at Columbia - the giant tape machines - marvelous." A different era of electronic music - I hope he likes mine! I bowed out to head home, telling them that my girlfriend was surely wondering where I was by now - the kindly lady said "I bet she is!" and tried to give me one of their hats you wear since I didn't have one. I politely declined, and she apologized laughing for "trying you be my mother or something."
Basic human goodness.