The key to doing Labor Day in New York is knowing what to do when and where. There are always brackets around the [where] like: how long will it take me buy subway/bus/car to get to the place where I’m supposed to be having fun? And will my fun have totally worn off by the time I get home?
This is a serious question.
I returned to my neighborhood, Crown Heights, the morning of the West Indian Day Parade. People were coming out of the clubs covered in paint… I don’t know if there’s a connection to the Hindu holiday holi, which is celebrated in some parts of the Carribean. A woman named Myrtle asked me to start shaking what my mama gave me, the way she was. I stopped dancing after a while and talked to her. She’s 80 and when people ask why she’s so youthful she talks about a life chopping wood and growing vegetables. “I grew my own food, and I never messed with alcohol or any of that stuff.” I asked her if I could take a picture with her and eased on down the road, past vendors plying their wares.
Police thronged and waited for the crowds. Revelers — last night’s or today’s or who-cares-when’s — gathered for the festivities. Neighborhoods were festooned with West Indian and American flags. The urban/rural weekend is not to be beat.
I do worry about this neighborhood… It’s in hockey-stick gentrification mode, with a fair turnover of residents but also a lot of stalwarts. I’d like to see the neighborhood retain its present character, but life is change.