Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So it was the first of May on Saturday, and to that end my lovely wife and I went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, known as Sakura Matsuri. Possibly due to the very wet winter, most of the trees had lost their blossoms already but there was no lack of action.

We caught the end of a wildly energetic Taiko drumming set and also saw some 'Japanese Gypsy Rock' music which was better than it sounds. There were loads of kids, both Japanese and not, dressed as Manga characters and Harajuku boys and girls. We strolled around the beautiful Hill and Pond Garden, ate a slice of cherry pie and exchanged niceties with all the other people who were out enjoying a beautiful spring day.

The day's beauty and innocence were slightly disturbed by an unusual event however. Shortly after we had settled down on a soft grassy bank, some commotion roused me from my would-be-slumber.

I had heard about New York's red-tailed hawks before but never expected to encounter so gruesome a sighting as this. On a branch, metres away from me, landed a hawk with a very much twitching and very 'nonplussed' rodent of a large variety, a squirrel perhaps. Said hawk dispatched his lunch without ceremony and tucked into some hors d'oeuvres before moving off to another spot where he was not the subject of 250 cameras wielded by a bunch of Harajuku and Russian tourists. My favourite NYC blogger captured a similar event recently:

New York's most famous Red-Tailed Hawk is known as Pale Male and he has been nesting on a very chichi 5th Avenue building adjacent to Central Park since 2002. Pale Male has apparently sired 26 chicks with several mates over the years. The building's owners were a little 'nonplussed' about this at some point, and removed the nest, before being seiged by a barrage of twitching New Yorkers (including Mary Tyler Moore), who demanded the return and preservation of Pale Male's abode.

Talk of blond birds brings me to the next item on my busy calendar last Saturday - Debbie Harry. After attending a Maypole dance, I followed the procession of dancers to Deitch Projects for the Shepard Fairey opening. He's the guy who produced this image when Courtney Love was sentenced to Anger Management classes:

And this, when the Obama kids were petitioning Pops for a Portugese water dog:

New Yorkers are not afraid to stand 'on line', as they say, and this they were doing in great numbers in order to get a glimpse of the work. The line snaked three deep all the way around the block and didn't appear to be moving. Deitch Projects closes after this show and director Jeffery Deitch is moving to LA to take up his post at MOCA there, so I guess this is part of the reason for the excitement. Besides, New York has always done pretty well at elevating artists from the street to the gallery; see Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat for example.

I had a Dim Sum date later and I'm not as good as standing 'on line' as New Yorkers, so I retired to the doorway of an abandoned building across the road to watch the parade (This doorway, incidentally, did not reek of piss, and I attribute this either to Giuliani or the fact that New Yorkers have bladders like airships.)

I was joined there by a girl from New York and her boyfriend from Milan. It was he who identified Lapo Elkann, 'playboy' and heir to the Fiat fortune, as the driver who pulled up in a Ferrari and parked badly in a spot just vacated by a black SUV that appeared to placemarking for him.

This was not nearly as exciting as Debbie Harry though. I would say she was tottering on vertiginous heels, but so broken up is the surface of Wooster Street, that you would even totter in a pair of Whoppers. I didn't really see what she was wearing to be honest, but it certainly wasn't this.

It was then that I realised I was ahead and should quit. I had hoped to meet Shepard and propose that we collaborate on a work. In his absence I've just gone ahead by myself, and here's what I came up with:

Paul Edmunds, New York 2010

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