Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Photo of the Day: The Meeting Bowl

I took the accompanying photograph last week, before Hurricane Irene scared the crap out of virtually the entire Eastern Seaboard (and which, the more you see images of people in distress on TV, convinces you that this was not overblown by the media and/or government authorities).

About 15 years ago, while visiting New Orleans during the holiday season, I asked a hotel clerk what life was like down there the week before the Sugar Bowl. “Imagine thousands of drunken maniacs descending all at once on this fair city,” he said, in ripe tones that could have come from a Tennessee Williams play.

That week, I thought of all the bowls that consumed America: not just the Sugar Bowl, but the Orange Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Bluebonnet Bowl, the Liberty Bowl….Being then in the city that furnished much of the background of the Lestat chronicles, I wondered when the Crescent City was going to get around to having a Rice Bowl. Give cash-hungry colleges enough time, I thought, and they’d even dream up a Tidy Bowl (or, in football terms, a “Tie-D Bowl”).

I never figured that New York would be bowled over by all this, but, judging from the little spectacle I saw last week, I was mistaken. Leave it to the Big Apple, however, to come up with a variation—okay, a very, very weird-off-the-charts variation—on all of this.

The Meeting Bowl you see here was a work of public sculpture near Father Duffy Square. You would think, given all the vacant office space the city has now, that it doesn’t need any more than it has already. But you would be wrong.

The sign accompanying this proclaims that it’s “temporary and playful urban furniture with a gentle rocking motion.” After an earthquake this past week, a “rocking motion,” no matter how gentle, is going to make a lot of baby-boom New Yorkers wonder if their parents might not have been so wrong after all in warning that certain mind-altering substances could produce unexpected bad flashbacks.

Who would use this Meeting Bowl, then? Pols? Not likely--like creatures that crawl along the ground, they prefer to work under cover, unexposed to the light. Ordinary people? Not likely, either.

Crazed people who don’t mind being exposed to the elements? Now you’re talking…

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