Figment, Again
From the ferry terminal on Governor's Island you can see the silver and glass towers of Battery Park City rise over the sea-chafed eaves of the old Maritime Building at the tail end of Manhattan, and then, if you like, you can turn around and see a grass-covered hill surrounded by abandoned colonial buildings. What do you think every day, if you live on this island, staring at the teeth of the great World-Fish of New York? What are your dreams? What are your stories?

Thankfully, we will never know, because from Friday to Sunday, June 11-13 of 2010, ferries departed every half hour to bring hordes of well-moneyed youth dressed in neon orange and prismatic wings to assemble gentle works of art for public consumption. Many of these works represented a spirit of community and giving: a tree on which tiny bottle-cap sized wishes could be hung, a naked hairless youth soaked in glitter squatting on a tree stump asking people to gather around him and tell him his dreams, sculptures made of air and vinyl and light to be tossed and juggled in wholesome, uplifting play.

Among Saturday's group of optimistic wayfarers sailed the FICTION CIRCUS.

We established our camp huddled in the shadows of a hundred-year-old archway and began running snakes of cable and assembling the equipment. The HARBINGER, still fresh from its Boston debut last Saturday, was mounted on a grim spike and turned to its maximum power, and the laser-harp's beams glowed sharp and red in the dreamlike haze of salt-spray and grass floating across the lawn from the bay. Techno songs were played. Short stories were read. A dance broke out, a red flag waved like a bull, the words FICTION CIRCUS scrawled across the lake-clear breath of God.

As the words echoed out of the archway, funneled to all corners of the tiny island paradise, the skies began to cloud. The entertainments grew darker. A group dedicated to making houses for snails set down their string and shoeboxes, picked up baseball bats covered in foam, and began to clash at first in innocence and later less so. A group of girls who had been dancing in a common skirt to bring peace to the planet put in eye-blasting optical illusion jumpsuits and screamed about how they loved their bodies into a megaphone atop a mountain of donuts and bagels, new wave rock videos playing on flickering CRT monitors. A man with an accordion labeled NARCISSIST stalked the roads, belching tones and strangled screams. The Hare Krishnas threw off their robes, jumped into a rainbow-colored dune buggy, and began to shake down picnickers for donations, leaving only bloody noses and pages of the Bhagavad Gita torn out and wadded with Bible-paper precision into throats.

Sensing the trouble, the FICTION CIRCUS broke down its equipment swiftly, stealthily, and joined the crowds of decent people who sensed the way the wind was blowing and began making their way to the ferry, abandoning their belongings to the mobs of butterfly-winged glitter-coated New Men and New Women who were even then establishing power bases at critical choke points among the island's network of hills and gullies. In steerage, the Harbinger and a sheaf of dirty paper-clipped short stories in tow, we sailed for Battery Park City near sundown, laughing and talking about the show, imagining--needing to imagine--that the powder-cracks behind us were fireworks meant to celebrate a new dawning of peace in New York Harbor, that the fire-smell licking astern was nothing but good will, somehow.

Thanks to Figment 2010 for allowing the Fiction Circus to perform "a show in heaven."

Posted by future on Sun, 13 Jun 2010 23:56:17 -0500 -- permanent link

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