Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Geographically speaking, the iconoclastic yet brilliant composer John Cage identified himself primarily with Manhattan, which served as his home for decades. On October 6, 1977, Cage published a unique work of art in Rolling Stone magazine (with the encouragement of Jann Wenner) entitled "49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs," designed to commemorate the magazine's historical relocation from San Francisco to New York City. The painting consisted of 49 multicolored triangles placed atop the Hagstrom map of the Big Apple; in subsequent years, Cage published a score "for performer(s) or listener(s) or record maker(s)," derived from the said map. One of those influenced by the 49 Waltzes was experimental filmmaker Don Gillespie, Cage's longtime friend and associate, who sought to make a filmed adaptation of the 49 Waltzes by videotaping each of the 147 locations denoted in the score; he did so by placing a rotating camera at each location, and chose the duration of each location via the religious text known as the I-Ching. The resultant feature-length film appears in this unique release.