I had reservations this year. Almost none of the neighbors I hang with go on account that its too dangerous, waking at 3 am is strange and I went last year. J’ouvert, the before dusk until you can’t stand, West Indian folklore crash course, sexified wine-fest (try this dance when nobody is watching), Nut-cracker, weed & rum fueled street procession, run-up event to Carnival has come and gone again and I sit now, still recovering from its 30 hour grasp of my being. Still in its sticky handed, foggy minded throes, still affected by its radiance, its vibrant intensity. I realized, as the sun crested over Empire avenue, my ears and body throbbing from steel drum corps, surrounded by a mix of oil covered, half-naked, Dionysian impassioned revelers in all sorts of bizarre costumes, that this was in-fact, the West Indians version of Burning Man.
It has an engrossing history. [Via Wikipedia-“Carnival was introduced to Trinidad by French settlers in 1783, a time of slavery. Banned from the masquerade balls of the French, the slaves would stage their own mini-carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating and sometimes mocking their masters’ behavior at the masquerade balls.The origins of street parties associated with J’ouvert coincide with the emancipation from slavery in 1838. }
It seemed to me that, on this singular day of the year, people actually are allowed to let their spirits free. Surprisingly, the NYPD just stood by and lets it happen. Finally! People could express themselves however they deemed fit…and march and enact the rituals they grew up with. These are transplanted people so part of their core has been pushed aside. But not today. Today they are back in Grenada, back in Trinidad/Tobago, walking the streets of St. Vincent and Panama, embracing the spirit of Jamica, of St. Lucian, of Barbados, of Haiti. Therefore, marijuana was consumed at a furious rates, drinks openly consumed. And, on a whole, everybody got along. I found myself walking down the middle of the street around 7:30am with a bottle of Guinness and some Corn Soup -(nice video) which was PERFECT as I was soaked to the bone from the hours of rain we had made it thru during the night. I had almost giving up but soldiered on. This shot is a puddle mixed with paint that had rinsed off of particpants during the downpours.
Here are some additional images. These shots are actually not the main images I shot of the event. I primarily worked with a Holga, a 6×6 plastic film camera with a colored flash and will have those images in the weeks to come.
and a small video. I guy comes by and lathers my head in motor oil and his compatriots have a laugh at the bald white guy no covered in oil.