W42ST Daily 7/13/2020

The waves crashed on the shore. Thunderous, wild, thrashing waves that sucked eagerly at the sand beneath my feet, pulling at me to go deeper … deeper … both intoxicating and terrifying in their power. Three generations of women sat in the shallows and giggled as they were tossed this way and that, at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean’s fierce riptide. One little boy was upended and sucked under for a moment, before getting to his feet again and grinning in triumph.

The Rockaways yesterday were glorious. Noisy AF, with sunbathers’ music competing for attention and beach patrol’s shrill whistles warning swimmers to keep away from surfers. Huge, roaring aircraft took off every ten minutes from JFK, drowning out my audio book and any attempt at conversation. Drinking nutcrackers, those sweet, icy cold, neon-colored boozy beverages, brought a slightly illicit edge to beach day. 

Compare that with last weekend’s trip to Connecticut – where you can walk for miles into the still, shallow water of Long Island Sound and it still barely reaches your waist. There are no waves; not really. And the only sounds are of barking dogs and children whining from too much sun. It’s safe. Sedate. The PG beach.

Standing, watching the waves yesterday, my friend turned to me and marveled that we get to live in this incredible city and still get a subway to the beach – a beach that is about as New York as it’s possible to get. 

I like both. But yesterday, there’s nowhere I’d have rather been than on my New York tough beach.

Back in 2018, Kenneth Overton – along with filmmakers Jonathan Estabrooks and Miranda Plant – started working on a project about Simon Estes, who was part of the first generation of Black opera stars to achieve real success. A direct descendant of slaves – his grandfather was sold at auction for $500 – Estes discovered the joy of music through the church, and has sung for presidents and popes. 

But as they did their research, they uncovered a much bigger story they believed had to be told.

“Opera’s racist history is longer than Broadway’s … and it has much further to go,” says Kenneth. He discusses the art form’s problematic past, and the power of art to heal. This is his story.


Robert Battle’s Juba is a modern-day Rite of Spring with a twist, “an electrifying thrill ride through ritual and folk tradition.” You can watch Alvin Ailey’s new production for a limited time here.

Its timeless themes of passion, friendship, and heartbreak have made La Bohème one of the world’s best-loved operas. Watch the Royal Opera House’s production free here.

Helen McCrory stars in Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, part of the National Theatre at Home series. Watch the play about a need, loneliness, and long-repressed passion for free here.

The Public’s free Shakespeare in the Park series moves on to the radio this week, with a production of Richard II, which will be broadcast in four parts, starting today. Find out more here.

See Patrick Stewart in his 2008 Tony-nominated performance as Macbeth, playing opposite Kate Fleetwood as his scheming wife. It’s free here.

Thanks to those who have written to us with words of appreciation, bought us coffees (and cocktails), and offered their services to support the work of W42ST. We see you and love you. Many have also contributed financially, helping to keep the neighborhood connected and updated at a time when we’ve lost all other revenue. Our gratitude is boundless. If you can help, any amount, no matter how small, makes a massive difference.