For the third year in a row, New Yorkers wandering through Central Park tomorrow will be faced with an uncharacteristic outpouring of raucous Canadian nationalism, when the city's annual Canada Day celebrations unfold with a concert featuring Cowboy Junkies, Natalie MacMaster, Sarah Harmer, and a reading by author and essayist David Rakoff.
The show is now a firmly entrenched tradition in the city and possibly the largest annual gathering of Canadians outside Canada.
Originally from Toronto, Rakoff has lived in New York for the last 17 years. He says he feels like a bit of a pretender at the Canada Day festivities. In his Manhattan apartment yesterday morning, he tried to quell his nerves at the thought of facing more than 3,000 celebrants who might be confused about what an author is doing at an outdoor summer concert. "It seems to me there's really nothing to get the energy going at a big music concert like a guy up on stage reading from a book of non-fiction essays," Rakoff quipped. "I'm already anticipating the very legitimate beefs of those people who have come to the show to be entertained."
His anxiety may not be misplaced. The annual event draws a noisy crowd of flag-waving, beer-swilling Canadians who spend much of the time between musical acts asking strangers which high school they went to in their hometowns. There is rarely much patience for non-singing perfor- mances. But Rakoff looked on the bright side, saying he'd just seen a forecast that predicted foul weather for tomorrow afternoon.
"It's apparently going to thunder and rain," he said cheerfully. "I'm almost at the point where I'm willing to charter a plane to drop dry-ice pellets onto the crowd. Would that help it rain, do you think?"