Chrysler Building Sold

Chrysler building in the fog. Photo by GrufnikThe Chrysler building is my favorite skyscraper in the world. News that investors from Abu Dhabi have bought majority ownership brought back a long-buried personal memory.

I was working on a film with an editor in a building south of the Port Authority Bus Terminal off Times Square. We were pulling an all-nighter and at 2:30 am a sound engineer called to alert us the sound tracks we were waiting for were finished. I had to them pick them up several blocks away in midtown.

I started walking in a wind-driven rain. It was a miserable night. I was carrying a significant amount of money and Times Square before Disney was not the calmer family version it is today.

So I had all these worries: getting the tapes back quickly enough to get the matching done, avoiding getting mugged and cleaned of my cash, and finishing in time to make the final mixing appointment later that same day. Such was the life of a struggling documentarian before Avid and Final Cut Pro.

I was miserably wet besides hypertensively anxious. The long walk took me past the Chrysler building. I tried to keep my head down and look inconspicuous while also scanning the environment for muggers. Believe it or not, I was approached by a panhandler at three in the morning in Times Square.

I stopped at an intersection and happened to look up at the Chrysler building in the fog. It was an amazing sight. Its lights illuminated the low-hanging clouds and the silver metal of the facade that form the building’s unique lines. It was breath-taking. Grufnik, a photographer with a photostream on Flickr, captured a very similar view in 2006. His photo is posted under Creative Commons license.

In that tense night, a moment of beauty interjected itself and took my mind briefly to another plane. The city became a different place and the tension melted away for that moment.

I trudged on, picked up the tapes, unloaded myself of the cash and caught a cab back to the editing room. We finished the sound matching in time to make our appointment for the final mix.  The film won some awards. I was pleased, the subjects were pleased and I moved on to the next project, which I’ve forgotten.

But I still remember the Chrysler building in the fog.

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