… turned to glorious summer by this sun of New York.
This is not to say that summer is New York is not exhausting, just gloriously so.
In mid-June, I rode the Staten Island ferry (which is free) from South Ferry to, well, Staten Island. It was a perfectly sunny day to see the Lady with the torch.
Following an afternoon of book club discussion and summer food and drink, we stopped by the LUMEN arts festival, where the exhibits on light ranged from silhouette videos of the Manhattan skyline
to pools of water? milk? with colorful patterns that you could splash in
to someone bathing in a sudsy tub.
It was curious, if not enlightening.
On another day, I joined friends in the free ticket line for Shakespeare in the Park at 8 a.m. The line itself is something of a production, with some people sleeping there overnight, while others like me try to get there early. Once you’re in line (preferably before 9:30), you just stay there till they start handing out tickets around noon. Rules include (a) not leaving the line for longer than 15 minutes (b) not swapping your place with a buddy (c) not smoking (d) not queuing up for a play more than twice in one summer. The queue is policed by volunteers and by the people in the line. If you’re hungry, a guy from a neighborhood bodega takes orders for food and drink. We didn’t try the food but picnicked by ourselves till the line moved at noon.
We were number 293 but were able to score 10 tickets among 5 of us, all of which we put to good use in the evening. The Delacorte is a great venue, and the production of Comedy of Errors was well done, but the overall experience (including the picnic in line) was the real pleasure.
But not every outing in a New York summer needs to be planned. Do you like to see Swedes wearing floral wreaths and dancing to a folk band from Minnesota? You can partake of such low-key fun by going to the Swedish midsommer fest near Battery Park City.
I was mainly excited about the prospect of meatballs, but the lines for food felt too Ikea-like. Still, it was a nice way to revisit my Swedish mid-Western “roots”.
The organized Scandinavian idea of fun was nowhere to be seen at the Mermaid Day parade in Coney Island. There were teeming crowds and paraders in various states of undress, scales, tales, crowns, gowns, and assorted accessories. Judah Friedlander was King. Enough said.
Continuing the Brooklyn theme, some friends and I went to the STooPs art festival in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, where different artists performed on stoops and corners and inside a pre-war mansion throughout a 12 block radius. Dancers, singers, painters, actors, and different performance artists did short works that elicited reactions from huh? to whoa!
The performance by Ase, LAVA, and Les Nubians fell squarely into the “whoa” category.
A friend and I then stepped away from the gravitational pull of New York for a couple of days in Maine, where we dined on fruits de mer from menus that joked about their intelligence.
We couldn’t go whale watching due to rainy weather and fog but did get to admire some dramatic coastlines and a lighthouse.
The latter was allegedly a favorite spot of poet H.W. Longfellow.
And that was just June. Stay tuned for July and its exhaustions.