Renegade Cabaret on the Highline

New York never fails to redeem itself" - E.B. White in "Here is New York"

A lot as already been written about the inhabitants of an apartment that rubs railings with the recently opened Highline Park in Chelsea.

You can google "Renegade Cabaret" in the blabosphere and land on their Facebook page, webpage and a lot of citizen cyber-ink. Prior to the $152m, "no binoculars needed" viewing platform unrolling outside her window, it appears resident Patty Heffley "lived in obscurity for 31 years in her building on West 20th St", sashaying from bathroom to bedroom without having to duck 'n' run in a towel as you do, and ecologically hanging out her laundry on the exposed fire escape without hassle.

On June 9, 2009, things changed, when this soon-to-be world famous public park knocked on her window box. Her sporting response was to grab a couple of friends with talent, string out the paper lanterns and put on a show. Since then, aerial perambulators have been rewarded by impromptu performances if they happen to be there at the right place and the right time.

I stepped out with friends last night, on a bitterly cold December evening to do my favorite Thursday night Chelsea Gallery crawl. I suddenly heard a woman's singing ring out into the night as clear as a bell, and who I will assume is Elizabeth Soychak from reading their website. She was followed by a 'very dear friend' of hers, whose name I didn't catch, reciting 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. Both performances were very good, and the PA system they'd rigged up surprisingly hi-fi, although it would have been terrific if the guy had dressed up to the hilt like Ms Soychak - I guess jeans and t-shirts seem to be the rigueur of any performer these days.

Unseen to me from my street vantage point, a well-padded audience had gathered above on the Highline to appreciate the show. I recorded the above movie before my battery froze.

Even more compelling about the Renegade Cabaret website is the link to Project Laundry List, a movement promoting a return to drying your clothes with the sun rather than a dryer. Don't get me started on this. I cannot abide the use of dryers especially in warm climates where the sun is blazing outside, because you're not allowed to make the place like the third world". At this rate of unnecessary energy consumption, we'll become the third world. Wear black and just don't wash your clothes as often. How often do you wash your car seats and sofa or swivel chair and you plant your ass on it every day.

I'm as big a proponent of natural drying of clothes as I am a vigilante against leaf blowers. Now I'll go and see if is reserved ...

Thank you Renegade residents for responding to the removal of your privacy with such spirited insouciance. You are clearly what makes New York the kind of place E.B. White wrote about.

Here's an even better video of this show by Ben Shirai, who was standing in the dress circle, rather than down in the cheap seats (um, the pavement below) like me. Thanks Ben!

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