Jesse Jarnow

asian night

Before the game, the announcer announced that it was Asian Night. As such, there would be a performance of “traditional Korean music and dance.” Nothing more specific, just “traditional.” From the visiting dugout paraded a troupe of dancers and hand percussionists. A man played long, piercing drones on a horn. Processed through the tinny scoreboard P.A., the horn cut through the stadium din with stunning clarity.

When the dancers were done, men began banging on a massive drum set up by the Mets’ dugout. Again, no explanation, just booms. At first, they didn’t come through the speakers, and we could only hear the drums, muffled and indistinct, like distant fireworks. When they were piped through the P.A., there was an unbelievable echo, almost literally the dimensions that Jamaica’s early dub astronauts were trying to create. And again, the crowd — or those paying attention, anyway — were totally boggled. The speakers were cut off quickly.

If I was a kid there, I think I’d have to be totally intrigued, especially by the mysterious, ricocheting horn. It would’ve been like discovering music through the crackle of library-loaned vinyl, or from the erratic signal of the college radio station a few towns over. There was no scholarship to the presentation, and it was awesome (if maybe accidentally so, at least for that). “Let’s have a big Shea Stadium hand,” the announcer announced. Some people clapped politely, and the buoyant pre-recorded organ played again. .