Red Dress Running

September 10, 2005

A quiet, calm afternoon at City Hall Park. Suddenly, without warning, a horde of … are they men? are they women? performance artists? political activists? monks? … comes running around the corner, heading up Park Row towards Broadway. They are all dressed in red robes. Or, perhaps in … red dresses?

I jump up to get a closer look. Yes, those are definitely dresses, all kinds of bright red dresses. For moment, my view is blocked by traffic. Three more red-clad runners appear. They stand on a traffic island, waving, screaming and drawing chalk symbols on the pavement.

Seemingly in response to the shouting and waving, the first group of runners in red dresses turns around and comes roaring back, rounding a corner, startling drivers and pedestrians and hurrying into a dark lane at the edge of Manhattan Island. I run after them and snap a few photos.

Later, when I get to a computer, I google “red dress” and learn about a worldwide (but previously unknown to me) subculture called the Hash House Harriers that dates back to a running group founded in Kuala Lumpur in the 1930s. What I’d witnessed was announced on the local chapter’s Web site as the:

Red Dress R*n 2005
Trail start will be 3:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10th at The Patriot, 110 Chambers St,, off Church. There will be a 2:00 p.m. celebrity makeover hour preceding the start of trail.

Running up Park Row Posted by Picasa

Turning the corner by J&R Music Posted by Picasa

Who are they? What are they doing? Posted by Picasa

  • Booger’s Hash Primer
  • Half-Minds on Hashing
  • Hash Heritage Foundation
  • Go To The Hash
  • Harrier.Net
  • Hasher.Net
  • New York City Hash House Harriers
  • Red Dress Run 2005 flyer
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    Stretching on the Brooklyn Bridge

    September 10, 2005

    It was the perfect day for a leisurely walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. A bit past the halfway mark, near the bronze plaques commemorating the bridge’s construction, I came across members of The Silver Brown Dance Company – a small group who were rehearsing for a performance they’ll hold here tomorrow.

    Walking towards Manhattan Posted by Picasa

    Midway across the East River, looking up Posted by Picasa

    Dancers stretching Posted by Picasa

    Warming up Posted by Picasa

    Preparing for rehearsal Posted by Picasa

    Reaching up Posted by Picasa

  • Silver Brown Dance
  • Brooklyn Bridge Web Site
  • Brooklyn Bridge Web Cam
  • Brooklyn Bridge: American Icon
  • The Brooklyn Bridge in Harper’s Monthly, 1883

  • West Indian American Day Carnival

    September 6, 2005

    The Caribbean Sea is so close to New York City that it is possible to hop on a flight at JFK Airport and be on a sun-drenched beach in about two hours. This proximity, combined with the difficult political and economic conditions in many areas of the Caribbean, has led to a continuing wave of immigrants from the region. Although they may have left their tropical homes behind, many of the Caribbean immigrants brought their distinctive island cultures with them. Over time, their music, food and celebrations have become woven into the fabric of New York.

    Caribbean Carnivals have been held in the streets of New York for decades. The biggest, the West Indian American Day Carnival, is a Brooklyn Labor Day tradition. The celebration is a combination street fair and parade, and the day is colorful, loud and chaotic. Everywhere, the people and music jostle for space and air. The pulsing rhythms of reggae drown out the steel drums of calypso, which give way to the brass and drums of soca. Shouting vendors circulate through the crowd hawking t-shirts, hats, towels, flags, bracelets and whistles emblazoned with the flags of West Indian nations. Young men spread counterfeit CDs and DVDs on the sidewalks next to booths selling handicrafts, toiletries and sweetly burning incense.

    The sidewalks of the parade’s route, the Eastern Parkway, are crowded with food vendors that fill the air with tantalizing aromas. The variety is astounding – everything from slick professional restaurants with neat, tidy signs and deluxe tents to grandmothers shyly offering a cardboard box full of cookies and slices of homemade cake carefully tucked into plastic baggies to lone men drinking and cooking mysterious bits of meat on greasy hibachi grills.

    Because this was the first time I attended the Carnival, I hadn’t been aware of two significant differences between this and most parades in New York, both of which made photographing the event a challenge:
    1) At the West Indian Carnival, the crowd easily spills over the barriers, mingling and mixing with the official participants.
    2) Parade participants compete for prizes and the judging stand is set up in front of the Brooklyn Museum, at the very end of the parade. That means that participants are expected put on their biggest, most energetic performance of the day after walking in the blazing sun for hours. As a result, many of the dancers and marchers contain their energy and pass the time (and miles) eating, drinking, chatting and talking on cell phones, not launching their full-out finest performances until they are in view of the judges.

    The lesson: anyone who attends with hopes of photographing the participants in all their glory should arrive early and stand as close to the judges’ stand as possible. And wear a hat!

    Angel on stilts Posted by Picasa

    Orange plumes and green cape Posted by Picasa

    Waving the flag Posted by Picasa

    Checking the cell phone Posted by Picasa

    Two of New York’s finest Posted by Picasa

    Large food stand Posted by Picasa

    Cow heel souse Posted by Picasa

    Sweet as her home made cakes Posted by Picasa

    Surrounded by masks Posted by Picasa

    Pink ladies Posted by Picasa

    Harlequin Posted by Picasa

    Uniforms Posted by Picasa

  • Our Brooklyn: West Indian Carnival
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Association
  • WABC-TV News
  • Wikipedia entry for Caribbean

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