A friend took me to the first ever NHL game in Brooklyn last weekend. I was charmed by the sight of an organist in the antiseptic Barclays Center, and so I wrote about him:
Paul Cartier is an air traffic controller, and monitors flights around the country from an FAA facility at Long Island's MacArthur Airport. The job offers unique stress—a friend of his was manning the radar for the second plane hijacked on September 11, and understood the scale of that disaster before almost anyone else in the country—but it doesn't get to Cartier. In the morning, he is happy to get out of bed. At night, he goes to the Nassau Coliseum, to watch hockey and play the organ.
Paul Cartier has been playing the organ for the New York Islanders off and on since 1979. He was there during the Stanley Cup days, when "it was just the PA and the organ—no rock, no nothing, no DJ." He was there during the lean, leaner and eventually leanest years that followed, when recorded music took over a progressively more zombified coliseum and the organ was pushed to the sidelines. Today, he said, "I don't play a whole lot other than the clap stuff, and the little ditty to get the crowd going.
"I used to play a little bit for warm ups and stuff, but as with everything else, advertising becomes the key. So they kind of lost out on that."
On the second-to-last Saturday in September, in a place where advertising is not just lucrative subtext but something like the entire point, Cartier and his organ made their Brooklyn debut at Barclays Center. The Islanders came, too.
Read more here, my friend.