Warts are in, at least on pumpkins. So are lumps, bumps, wrinkles and diverse colors. These compelling and unique “Super Freaks,” seen on a day trip to Daisi Hill Farm in Millerton, New York, wore their weirdness proudly. Back in the city, I was bored by the smooth-skinned orange pumpkins sold street-side at corner groceries. Now I wanted a Jack O’ Lantern with some serious battle scars. Looking in the mirror, I felt more tolerant of my own. Imperfection is organic. It is honest. And, at heart, it can signify rebellion.
One day my sister found a strange bundle on her driveway upon returning home. It lay there in a filthy, crumpled and mysterious heap. She edged around it, in case there was glass or metal inside. Then she parked and walked back slowly, worried about the threat of a trapped or injured animal. The mound was silent, so she came closer. Bending over, she saw the iconic red, white, blue pattern and realized what it was. There had been a violent windstorm, a cyclone almost, and she guessed it tore from someone’s pole and then dropped like a random crab from a bird's beak onto her property. She picked it up and wondered which house, which family might be missing a flag. It was filthy and frayed, which created new problems. What were the laws of display and discard, she wondered. What were the rules of decorum? She canvassed the neighborhood but didn't turn up any empty flagpoles. The easiest thing was to stow it in the garage, so she did. Months went by and she forgot all about it. Then the Fourth of July approached. The dirty flag began to tug at her conscience. She decided to give it a try in her washing machine. Surprisingly, It came out fairly well renewed. Its tears and holes receded in its newfound glory. It deserved a second chance. She hung it up in front of her house. It was her flag now.
Whistles are a stop sign for the ears. Traffic cops, lifeguards and referees all use them to control the flow of action. But whistles have a happier side, too. A child with a whistle skips to a self-made joyful rhythm. Whistle-blowing can be fun, but it's not always easy. Sometimes it takes deeper convictions than lungs to blow a metaphorical whistle in corporations and government.
The annual NYC Pride March through Greenwich Village has always been a compelling mix of resistance, protest and celebration. The theme of this year's march (June 20, 2018), "Defiantly Different," protested the Trump and other world government administration's ongoing efforts to strip LGBTQIA protections and rights. Serious signs of protest joined bucketloads of glitter, confetti and rainbows on marchers and their floats.
This large green team from TD Bank walked by tooting their own whistles and handing out free ones to onlookers. I grabbed one as did the people shoulder to shoulder with me. Individually, our tiny shrill exhales were impossible to hear. But all together, we made some damn serious noise.
A friend of mine once looked out her window in deepest night and saw a parade of elephants underneath. She described it to me so vividly that I almost stole it as my own memory. It turned out she wasn't dreaming. The only way to get the Ringling Bros. elephants to Madison Square Garden each year was to walk them across Manhattan when the streets were empty. Her vision of pachyderms on Park was real.
That circus folded in May, 2017, but our collective fantasy of seeing elements of the greatest show on earth lives on. This year's Bloomingdale's New York celebrates it with windows themed to the new P. T. Barnum movie, "The Greatest Showman." You can step right up to view the bearded lady (above), the snake charmer, the fortune teller and the trapeze artist all captured at work and play. The store's message is of fabulous individuality, inclusion, and, of course, shop until you drop. No elephants required.
New Yorkers can be a funny bunch. We're proud of the larger-than-life traditions here—Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Times Square New Year's Eve, Fourth of July fireworks—but the truth is we watch most of them on television like everyone else. I regularly give thanks that I can do the Macy's Day parade in my cozy kitchen while I clean up from the night before and cook for the day ahead. But if someone with a direct view invites me to their apartment, I give in. There's nothing like having a giant balloon practically smack you in the face. Seen from above, the careful coordination of the parade's diligent rope handlers are as incredible as the floating cartoons. Like orchestras and sports teams, its a harmonic convergence. For one handler's personal take on how it all happens, read here.
American seasonal flavors and scents are threatening to turn pumpkin season into one giant corporate cliché. You know autumn is here when pumpkin donuts, bagels and cream cheese come rolling out of Dunkin' Donuts. Ditto Starbucks' pumpkin-flavored lattés, Frappuccinos® and scones. Even Oreos, M&M's, deodorant, and, hilariously, pet shampoo are getting pumpkinized, reports Fortune. Personally, I like my gourds in shards. For years, I've applauded the changing of the leaves by watching farmers at Daisi Hill Farm in Millerton, New York, load pumpkins large as cannon balls onto a handmade medieval-style catapult. There's more deep-bodied joy in watching them fly through sky to explode in a distant field than all the pumpkin-spiced goods in the world will ever deliver. Unless, of course, you're the pumpkin.
Aspenites, apparently, don't need snow to ski. They just strap themselves in their skis to the rack on their car. But at least they get to hold poles. This Aspen rooftop skier is certainly telemarking his independence (From Britain? From winter?) in the town's annual July 4th parade. Or perhaps he's a dog lover making a sly homage to Mitt Romney's Irish Setter, Seamus? Whatever you think, it's little feats of homegrown ingenuity like roof-rack skiing that lead everybody to love a parade. I took this photo last year, but it stayed on my mind. This year I went to the beach. I wasn't about to follow in this guy's shoes.