Monday, September 22, 2008
it was the last night of the san gennaro festival in little italy. celebrating the blood of a saint which has hardened and re-liquifies each year, by holy miracle. the spectacle is less sublime and more grotesque, packed with people eating awful varieties of fried foods and carrying huge carnival prizes like we're back at coney again only there are lights in arcs across the small winding street that make me feel like christmas or the first time i walked down that street in mid winter and snow started to fall just lightly and it was magical. first encounters and last encounters, in gram parsons own faraway city with a faraway feel though now it manages to be right here, right now, with that same sense of distance and unknowability that it has held for me since before i came. and there are moments when you're walking down the street and you don't even feel like you're wholly there, and walker percy comes to mind with the millions of personal rays shooting all over the place and it's falling down around your ears. and there are moments when you are whirling down the street and you're feeling fine and the city embraces you as you're holding on to someone's arm and they're gliding along with you, happy and momentous and shooting out rays of love for this place that thrills you because that feeling of being welcome is so rare and strange. and there are moments like this particular one standing on top of a phantom tollbooth that is perched on a rooftop with wind swirling around you and dramatic parrish clouds around you and the glow emanating from the edges and the corners of the buildings leaping up around you and the distant lights of the manhattan bridge not so distant from here and you look over the edge at the carnival crowd and it snakes in lights and bodies and heat down the road into the lights. this is the last night and at 11 they will start the rapid dissembling of the stands and carts and light displays and by the morning it will be any other street, clear and unceremoniously returned to the quotidian. now a small mamiya is being perched on a small tripod in the farthest corner of the rooftop, and he says to come and have a look, and you see a perfect little jewel postcard shot of the light river running down the street, the crowd and the fireescapes and the smoke and the dazzle. the photograph of an end for a beginning. the next day is bright and crisp with fall and the photographs can happen again, even without the lights. it was nothing to do with festivals and crowds and carnival excitement or clouds and rooftops and the thrill of the embracing city. sometimes things shift about in your mind and click into place with the right timing and the right inspiration and the rightness of the changing of seasons. elegy.