Nike+ FuelBand The Movement “FuelNomad #4”

I’m slowly learning the rhythm of New York City. The first music from the United States that spoke to me was West Coast rap. It was a raw new language that didn’t seem real, much less legal to me. It overtly helped me learn English and showed me a different side of California–a sharp contrast to the sunshine smiles and surfing safaris I associated with it.

Straight out of Tokyo, I was now in New York, where rap was born. With so many bands, DJs, and performances, NYC is a bound by constant sound. I wanted my Saturday to be set to a New York soundtrack and to push past my goal of 5,000 NikeFuel while finding the beat. As we sink into our sofas, taking in the sounds of our favorite albums, we forget the physicality of music. If chess is a sport, playing drums is a Ironman competition. What could I learn and earn immersed in city sounds for a full day?

With my morning run behind me and becoming closer to a sprint thanks to my friend’s inspiration, my legs were awake. My Nike+ FuelBand has been showing me when I’m moving and what makes me the most productive. Skating always has me putting up big NikeFuel numbers, so my board was the choice for zinging around the boroughs.

First up, a huge block party in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Once a desolate neighborhood comprised of factories and warehouses, Bushwick’s now a center of art, music, food, and culture. Young, old, every walk of life was flowing around the streets. The mix was in the music too. Rock, rap, punk, disco—the DJs were spinning the yarn of NYC with each record. The music blared and the world felt in motion. Free music, free dancing, and free expression. The only thing not free: NikeFuel. From noon to 3 PM I added 2,000 NikeFuel by joining the dance party and throwing down some slappies and wallrides along the way.

From the chaos of the streets to a museum dance party in another neighborhood that’s changed rapidly since my first travels to NYC years ago: Long Island City, Queens. Outside the museum graffiti artists painted walls as party goers snapped pictures with their phones.

While spray cans hissed outside, a crowd gathered under an interactive sculpture created from skateboard scraps. Adults danced and children played in the misting water spouting from the installation. Sound pulsed through the garden. Whether it was drum and bass, ambient, or techno, the crowd moved with the art creating the moment.

Hours passed. The music kept the crowd in a trance. I soaked my feet in a small pool and felt tiny underneath the hulking sculpture above me. The kids were less frantic, the crowd fading. The last note sounded. My NikeFuel numbers were climbing, but I still wasn’t feeling a runner’s… well dancer’s high. Maybe that would change as I rolled towards the city.

Nighttime has arrived. After stopping into a bar where all the skaters flock to in the city, I noticed some guys setting up a drum set. Sometimes the smallest bars make the biggest noise in New York. Sometimes that noise is historic. A full on rock band was about to play. Long hair swinging, fists pumping, guitar solos shredding—raw New York. Sweat on the frets sprinting sound down the home stretch to end the night.

Just before midnight, before it resets, I check my Nike+ FuelBand. 7,326 NikeFuel. My feet were sore from dancing, pushing, standing, and skating so I high-fived my way out the door and to the subway. Exhausted, I sat on the platform feeling good that I managed to make a day of spectating one of my most active.

My head was still bobbing. In the corner was a man wearing a plastic crown, plucking famous riffs on his worn in electric guitar, a small amplifier and tip jar at his feet. Eyes closed, he never missed a note. I wondered if he could even see as I dropped some change into the jar. The ping of metal on metal switched his focus as he rang out a chord and thanked me. “You’re great,” I said. “Are you a professional?”

“I got this guitar when I was 15-years-old,” he responded as a recorded voice reminded me that my train was arriving in 2 minutes, “Haven’t put it down since, instead of just playing it in my room, I play here all day and usually go home with enough.”

“Enough for what?” I asked my friend in the crown.

“Enough to keep playing,” he replied. “How many people do you know have a gig in New York every night?”

I recognized the notes Mr. Crown was playing because they were famous songs, but it was his unique take. He didn’t write those songs, the songwriters didn’t write those notes or invent the guitar–it’s all just our snapshot of what’s already there. I waved to Mr. Crown before I boarded the car. I guess we’re all both amateurs and professionals, it all depends on who’s asking.

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