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Monday, July 31, 2006

night of fire

Saturday night.

It started on the Brooklyn bridge, with a tug-o-war to decide whether to go to Brooklyn or Manhattan. By the time we got there, people were streaming towards Brooklyn. I had a really bad sun-burn and was with people I didn't know that well, but felt comfortable with. We were a group of about 8 but we managed to keep track of each other through the whole night. I fought off nausea as my skin started dealing with the sun I'd given it at the beach earlier. My first impressions were skepticism about the trendiness of the crowd along with the undeniable aliveness of everyone. As we watched the crowd pass us by, waiting for a friend to join us, many people would look me in the eye- really taking me in. It put my skepticism in check. I am as much a part of the scene as they are. The unequal role of observer is untenable.

Some moments:

girl on stilts in the subway ride to Coney Island. Communication reduced to group chanting: "DUCT TAPE OVER HERE. DUCT TAPE OVER HERE". We encountered the stilts girl several times later that evening.

Another subway moment: A girl shows me her Mamiya camera which she bought for $200 off ebay. She tells me that being in the dark room is therapeutic for her. The negatives on these cameras hold more information than a 35 mm. They are 2 1/2 X 2 1/2 inch squares. She says that you can see the individual pores in people's faces.
During our conversation a fight breaks out between a black fellow in a black robe and cloth hat and black woman with her daughter. He had told her to be quiet and she was having none of that. The police ended up escorting the guy out of the subway car and the lady loudly proclaimed victory- that justice had been done. Didn't seem so clear to me. Seemed like both were to blame.

Later on, we walk the streets of Brooklyn with a guy named Lenny and two people Gretchen and Sushil (something like that) who had met that night. Gretchen had been painting hundreds of people's faces, Lenny's among them. He is excited to run into her again. Lenny is a Coney Island native- seems to be a heavy drinker- works in sales for Newman's Own. When we finally part ways, leaving a party, Lenny is unwakably passed out in a chair. He was wearing angel wings and a devil's tail which someone had given to him. He had a tattoo on his upper right arm that he had drawn himself of heaven and hell, and he felt like it was destiny to be given the angel and devil garb. He planned to go swimming in Coney Island the next morning right after the water was cleaned. Probably didn't make it there til later though.


Sarah Silbert said...

Sounds interesting. Very cool pictures.

Boaz said...

Thanks. I didn't actually take the photos. Here are some more I didn't take:

Sarah Silbert said...

The stilts look pretty fun. Seems like a crazy, crowded event.