Monday, February 21, 2005

Vox Christi

Saturday February 19, 2005


Oddly enough, these words, all rooted in the vocal, seemed to crowd out all other observations as we walked through “The Gates” in Central Park at 10AM in full sun. Odd because despite the huge crowd, a quiet solemnity prevailed. At first I assumed this was by dint of the extreme cold, but came to realize that what we were hearing was the sound of people thinking rather than talking. I cannot recall a time when I have been part of a throng this big that wasn’t jabbering, fidgeting, jostling, shrieking, chanting or cheering. Even in Rome, when we trotted out the Pope, the crowd was about as ruly as that of a Superbowl, bruising their neighbors to get a full frontal into their cameras.

For this reason above all others, we decide the installation is good.

C feels it conjures fluorescent laundry. I counter with the impression of a bevy of Catholic school girls, but that is because I am obsessed with pleats. Yup, I love em. (I think that in heaven, if Miss Jesus will have me, I will be perpetually draped in Mariano Fortuny, but still allowed upstairs at the Eagle.)

As we approach The Boathouse for brunch, C, who loves this park, says that he’ll side with the Christo fans, but he is glad the installation is temporary “like when the carnival comes to town”.

I am distracted by the sight of a volunteer wearing an official beige “Gates” vest. He holds a long pole with a yellow tennis ball skewered on its tip. This is used to adjust the saffron when the wind twists it over the armatures (and, we agree wholeheartedly with that savvy stud from Philadelphia who observed that the armatures should have been grey to blend in with the winter trees and make the saffron really float.)

C suggests that we should be Christo volunteers next time. I agree and share the rumor that Jeanne-Claude has announced her desire to cover Jeff Stryker with red and gold flocked wallpaper. Wheat paste: the lube of a legend.

Later that evening, I laugh as I enter the soaring atrium of the Time Warner building and am assaulted by the sight of two one hundred foot long orange curtains and a matching valance framing the escalator down to Whole Foods. Is this a tribute or is it a nasty bit of mockery? Either way, it’s just pitifully lame. Worse is next door, where the window dressers at Hugo Boss have replaced the relentlessly black clothing with some orange tat. Everyone seems to have gotten the spirit except for the dour clerks at the Thomas Pink store where the colors were recalcitrant. I suppose that to be a function of the brand name, and I rethink my decision that if C and I ever had a daughter, we would name her Saffron. She might never be pretty in pink. I return to our earlier choice: Aerial Surveillance. She’ll grow into it.