Okonomiyaki and connecting through music

Such a New York moment… Getting a late dinner of okonomiyaki (a Japanese savory pancake) at Otafuku, a take-out place in my neighborhood, I hear a track I don’t know, but I think I recognize the groove. “Is that Krush?” I ask. (I used to spin DJ Krush a lot when I had a downtempo radio show.) “Yeah,” says Karl Palma from behind the counter with a surprised smile. (Here’s a link to his band.) We end up talking about Krush and Spooky and Shadow for half an hour, while he shares some of his favorite tracks with me off his iPod over the store’s stereo, especially turning me on to a collaboration with a trumpeter whose name he doesn’t remember, but I recognize from hearing him play last year with Bill Laswell’s Method of Defiance project: Toshinori Kondo. I had forgotten that Krush was part of that project too. I just picked up the DJ Krush – Kondo collaboration album Ki-Oku

and am enjoying it now.

Music makes connections like no other art form, at least for me. Of course, it started with my saying something. Me from a few decades ago would have been too shy to speak up, and this wonderful encounter, which made my night and more — and I believe made the Otafuku manager happy too — wouldn’t have happened. It’s moments like this that I feel how much of a blessing it is to live in such a vibrant cultural mecca, and how much of a blessing it is to be open, not closed down to the world around me. I remember once when Garrison Keillor had just moved to New York to work for the New Yorker and a reporter asked him how he felt about leaving the heartland for such a crazy dirty city. He referenced the line from Shakespeare, “What is a city but the people,” and said that if you love people and find them fascinating and wonderful, there are just more of them here. On good days, that’s exactly how it feels to me too.

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