I’ve only been soaked three or four times since I got here. I’m not sure what I was thinking with the rain attire that I brought with me, but then again, I don’t really walk around Seattle in cold, driving rain for hours a day. I guess I didn’t think it did this here. In my mind, its often cold, rains some, snows a lot sometimes, and everyone is out going about their business. Check that idea. Its about 37 degrees. The rain varies from lashing me unmercifully diagonally to horizontally. Its been the kind of day that turned cheap umbrellas inside out. People are still out, but they’re not lingering, they’re moving fast.
After spending a couple of blissful hours at the International Center for Photography, thrilled to find an exhibition on Surrealism in Photography in Paris, I gave in and bought a coat this afternoon; the last size small on the sale rack. Its one of those semi-puffy things that has a big hood and comes down to about my knees. Black, of course. This is New York. The weather here is not surreal. Its very real.
When I got back to my hotel room this evening, I had three coats hanging on various knobs doubling as hooks. They weren’t all still dripping, but they started that way.
My excuse for coming to New York is now in the past. I checked the reception off the list this evening. As one gentleman I spoke to for a while put it, “This is in the wrong place. It needs to be someplace where its going to hit someone and make them think about something new. We are all like-minded people here. We don’t need to tell these stories to each other.” In some ways, I agree with him. But I wouldn’t have been there tonight talking to him if the exhibition hadn’t been there. Its time for being someplace like Grand Central Station, as he proposed, has not come yet. The people who were there this evening all believe in building a more ethical economy. But its only if we believe that it is possible, and that there are enough of us out there who believe in its possibility, continue to hold that thought, and work for its inevitability, that the future will be brighter for our children than it is at this moment in time. We have to believe that by coming together from various parts of the globe to talk about and visually tell the stories of both success and failure, that we send out ripples of hope to a collective human consciousness (or unconscious) for a future which empowers all human beings equally, and which protects and cherishes the earth as the source of our being.
Walking through Times Square this evening, warm inside my new coat, with the combination of temperature, precipitation, and wind only getting more brutal, I couldn’t make the link back to the kind of economy we were discussing across town only an hour prior. Here I was standing IN the very icon of commercialization in the hub of the western world, looking around me at what has got to be more neon than in Las Vegas – although I’ve never been to Vegas so I wouldn’t know – and my mind was reeling at the gap. The French language has a better world for it – decollage – which literally translates to “takeoff”, like an airplane. What I was struggling with was a gap on the order of a plane taking off from the earth. The two thoughts were not compatible. One lifted off and left the other behind. How does one get from Times Square to solar powered encampments in Palestine , cooperative alternative production of power, and organic farms in rural and urban America. So I gave up. I didn’t think about it. I just walked and marveled at the spectacle. I found a doorway where I could hold my camera solidly in place without my tripod and shoot some photos of the scene, which, with all of the water, made for myriad reflections, amplifying the already overwhelming effect of the lights.
It was fine to wander there, not making too much of the scene, but my feet started getting really wet and my stomach started growling. I found my way, by feel, to a quiet restaurant on 9th named, appropriately, Nook. Cash only, no alcohol license. Some people brought their own bottles of wine. It might have been nice to sip a glass of red wine on a stormy night, but this seemed like the perfect place to be regardless. I stood in their doorway for a few minutes and dripped. I didn’t want to move. If I had shaken my head, water would have gone flying, like off of Cody shaking after a bath. A lively young Polish woman named Regina took my order and generally took care of me. She loves Seattle, and has three friends living in the area who she visits often. Another man I talked to knows the owners of a boutique downtown who I’ve known for a long time. I know its a cliche, but it really is a small world.