City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.


Today, our show’s soundscape has been joined by the distinctive highlight of an Italian marching band, around the corner by the zeppelo kiosk and the ‘pop the balloon with a dart’ stall. Occasionally, its wheezing strains threaten to approach Kenmare St. I’ve been to one of the Little Italy festivals around here before – occasionally glancing up to see if the young Robert De Niro is running along the rooftops – and fervently hope that it doesn’t come our way.



Apologies to some of yesterday’s speakers, who had to struggle through some persistent low-level feedback, but we’re getting there now. I’m actually getting used to the trucks and the horns, and am secretly enjoying them. The huge trucks in particular, which appear just unnecessarily big, come crashing up and down the pockmarked road outside with real gusto. It feels like the truck and the city are shaking each other apart. (Jace Clayton has interesting things to say about this NYC soundscape today.) All the speakers and punters are very gracious about this, however, so many thanks for their patience. Maybe they’re enjoying it too.

We’re beginning to become old hands at working the Storefront building. You really do have to learn how to operate it, like an old piece of industrial machinery. Camilla shows me how to ‘knee open’ one of the panels. You need to give it some heft. Geoff and I wonder if this is a building that needs a form of instruction manual. Our glass-top table arrives today, as well as fans to keep the air moving. By Saturday, we’ll be all set 😉




Another really interesting day. I trust you’re getting a sense of all this, through these notes, the various Flickr photos, the YouTube vids. We’re trying our best to fan the information out in waves; as well as this near-immediate reportage, we have some more professionally-produced video on the way, my fellow organisers will be writing reflections at various points, from various angles. We wanted to make sure, just as the show bleeds into the city streets and vice versa, that it also radiates some digital echoes online, so that those who can be here in person, in real time, are augmented by those who are elsewhere, at another time. It’s not like we’re working to a musical score, but they’re the same principles.


Bryan, listening

Just as with a good soft city, where you actually decide what it’s about, helping create the city, a good show will enable each person to draw different things from it. (Maybe what they want to hear, occasionally.) I know my cohorts will take slightly different angles from all this. For me, I again hear talk of the sensory aspects of design (after Pallasmaa), of a craft process changing from master builder to enabler, of leaving open spaces in cities and systems for others to design and inhabit; of ruins, war, deconstruction; of shock cities.

After tidying up, I’m too wired to go straight home, so I walk through the gently throbbing, beautiful SoHo streets for a bit, enjoying being alone in the city and taking a bath in the crowd, as Baudelaire would have it. God knows I need a bath after a day in the heat, but the temperature at 10pm is perfect.

I figure that going to see a film in New York City is like going to watch football in Barcelona or do karaoke in Tokyo. You just have to do it. It comes with the city. So at the end of it all, I catch the late showing of bewildering magical anime ‘Paprika’ at the Angelika Film Center in SoHo. I start writing these notes sitting in the café.


Afterwards. It may be the influence of seeing the excellent Celluloid Skyline exhibition at Grand Central Station earlier, but the taxi ride uptown never felt more like the ‘The Fifth Element’, a high speed chase of nothing in particular, bobbing and weaving and occasionally floating through the late night traffic, as if skimming a stone up 10th Avenue.


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