I had the pleasure of attending a gala last night for ArtsConnection, a great example of the private sector filling the gaps in our public education system. Bringing the arts to schools in the NYC area seems to have a powerful effect on the children that Bush is busy not leaving behind, and actually improves their test scores considerably. Personally, I hated art in elementary school, and quite rudely refused to fingerpaint in Kindergarten once. I just didn't see any point to making such a mess. But for those that are more artistically inclined, being able to express themselves at an age when they don't always have to right tools to do so yet strikes me as rather important.
The celebrity schmooze award went to Cyndi Lauper, one of my favorite artists in the world, so it was quite a thrill to see her accept the honor. She was recording at a studio for a new album, and had to rush in and rush back out again without performing for us, but the short introductory movie they showed before she came onstage had a live performance clip that sent chills through the room. How a Brooklyn girl with an accent that thick manages to belt out songs with such power and emotion is beyond me, but it always grabs me and shakes my soul a bit.
Here's a bad cellphone pic of her as she was leaving Gotham Hall. I felt like a shameless celebrity stalker. I ran after her as she left and thanked her for coming out to the event, telling her what a huge fan I was. She looked at me, and with more sincerity than I would have been able to muster said "Thank you for comin' out and suppohtin' the ahts!" I just grinned ear to ear. She's so unusual. Meeting certain personal idols is a wonderful perk to living in the city. Thank god for the ahts!