News & Politics

Duke Ellington, Mayor John Lindsay, City Hall Steps, 1969: Video


Who knew the New York City Municipal Archives had a YouTube page? There’s not much up there now — just 3 videos — but it seems like something to keep an eye on. There’s a stiff Mayor Lindsay commending a mordant Alfred Hitchcock, who mentions a “24 hours in the life of New York City” story he’s been wanting to film (“Maybe,” he adds, “we could use the Mayor as a kind of leitmotif, and keep cutting to him at various stages of his daily agony”); a clip of mayoral St. Patrick’s Day stills; and this bit from an appearance by Duke Ellington, who plays piano and interlocutes at a concert of his own material on the steps of City Hall on September 15, 1969. “Young and up and coming musicians” support him — and, Ellington adds, when surrounded by such as they, “the expedient thing to have is a claque… I have this lady, she gets $15 an hour [and] she says, ‘When is the Duke gonna play?’ ” Mayor Lindsay emerges late in the event to make some borderline ludicrous remarks (“the United States of America is understood to be preeminent in the area of jazz music”).