Wednesday, March 11, 2009

banks that fail in yonkers


It isn’t banks that fail in Yonkers
that drive me nowadays quite bonkers;
I live too far away from there
about these banks to really care.
It’s my own bank that drives me crazy.
about the reasons I am hazy.
They tell me that I have exceeded
their limit, but I’ve always needed
to go beyond it. Why do they
now tell me that I have to pay
what I am owing them? They should
be patient. In my neighborhood
there’s lots of people they allow
to go beyond the limit. How
should I, I ask, behave myself
when I’ve not got their kind of wealth,
without a house that you can call
a mansion, or a garden with a wall
and pool, of course a tennis court.
Since I am of possessions short,
why don’t the banks forgive my debts
as I’d forgive their own? Their threats
are tiresome. I feel quite hale
and hearty, meaning if I fail
because I haven’t got much money,
not even that sort they call funny,
the fault will be my bank’s, I tell you.
Till then, I have a bridge to sell you.

Inspired by an article by Stephen Holden “If Banks Fail in Yonkers: Songs for the Meltdown,” NYT, March 9, 2009, writing about a jazz program “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, Flatiron district:

The show reminds you that there is a song to suit any situation, even a financial meltdown. If Ira Gershwin’s lyrics for “Who Cares?” don’t offer expert accounting advice, they suggest that a cheerful attitude toward looming bankruptcy can help dissipate panic: “Who cares what banks fail in Yonkers/Long as you’ve got a kiss that conquers?” That giddy, optimistic love song is joined to Stephen Sondheim’s hyperbolic romantic pitch “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow,” a song to which Mr. Comstock imparts a faintly ominous undertone — the narrator is a little too eager to make the sale. Conceptually this smart and amusing show follows an arc that begins with fantasy and denial (“Use Your Imagination,” “Not a Care in the World”), slips momentarily into despair (“Brother, Where Are You?,” “Remember My Forgotten Man”), then after several tangents including a trip to Brazil (“You Don’t Have to Know the Language,” “A Rainy Night in Rio”) returns to face grim reality with renewed determination and a restored sense of values. As the jaunty, winking ’30s jazz song “A Hundred Years From Today” puts it:
And why crave a penthouse that’s fit for a queenYou’re nearer heaven on Mamma Earth’s greenIf you had millions what would they all meanOne hundred years from today.
“Nowadays,” a Kander and Ebb song from “Chicago,” gives the same live-in-the-moment message an edge of desperation: “men everywhere, jazz everywhere, booze everywhere, life everywhere, joy everywhere, nowadays.” This show, in which Mr. Comstock and Ms. Fasano are accompanied by Sean Smith on bass, ends with “Ain’t We Got Fun,” an early ’20s salute to domestic canoodling as the ultimate panacea: “Not much money, oh but honey, ain’t we got fun?” Along with that other swinging cabaret couple, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, who live just down the block, Mr. Comstock and Ms. Fasano are turning the neighborhood into a hotbed of pleasure. Is this the new Peyton Place?

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 3/9/09

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