Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Oh, yeah, about those waterfalls.

Y'know that scene in Raising Arizona where it's a dark & stormy night, and the camera is focused on some mud, and then a hand comes clawing up out of the mud followed by the rest of a howling John Goodman?

Well, that's about what work feels like right now, except that I'm still deep in the mud. Close enough to the surface that I think I can do a linky lunch post, yay!

Y'know those NYC Waterfalls, the ones that are NY's biggest public arts project since Christo & Jean-Claude's The Gates?

Well, the water's now a-falling. Personally, I'm rather enjoying it - I see one on the old Manhattan banana pier just north of the Manhattan Bridge every day on my way to work, and the one under the Brooklyn Bridge every day on my way home (when I'm not leaving the dark, that is, grumble grumble). They are fun to look at & it's also interesting to watch how totally oblivious most people are of them - 99% of my fellow commuters don't even glance. Sorry, Olafur.

The critics are gushing (sorry, couldn't resist).

But what do the paddlers think?

Well, of course we'd all discussed it over the winter & we came up with a much better idea - instead of all the waterfalls being in the same part of New York Harbor as you always see on the picture postcards, how about making a treasure hunt of it, hiding them further afield so that seeing them all went from being a standard short round on a Circle Line to something more of a quest? Maybe one at the 160 year old High Bridge on the Harlem River, one up around Spuyten Duyvil, you get the idea.

The actual response to the actual waterfalls among the paddling community, though, has been pretty ho-hum. Here's a link to a local kayak/knit blogger's review. Two flippers down, pretty much

Thanks to Erik at Nature Calendar for posting that to the NYCKayaker list.

That was pretty par for the Waterfalls reviews by the local paddlers. One big "Meh".

Not terribly surprising, though. We're not his target audience. With us, he's not just preaching to the choir, he's preaching to the preachers. His basic premise was New Yorkers look at the East River as a flat surface & by putting something flashy & splashy out there, he'll draw the attention of the oblivious.

For all of us boaters of all sorts who are already hypnotized by the whirl and life of New York City's waterways, that's totally superfluous. If you asked a hundred local boaters to tell you the first words that spring to mind when you say "East River", I bet you a bottle of Balvenie that the word "flat" doesn't get a single mention (unless it's in relation to a shallow area). It's sort of like somebody saying that they will draw our attention to some magnificent, powerful animal by garlanding it with tinsel.

Could be a pretty effect, but we were already amazed. And I can't stop wondering what sort of boating programs could be run for fifteen and a half million bucks.

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