austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And the sisters take pictures of brothers

When we approached the Central Park Carousel it was just a little after 3 pm. I know because I joked that they closed for the afternoon at 3 pm. This worried bunny_hugger that I might have been right, since we'd gone something like 0-for-400 in attempts to get to the carousel when it's open, but I was being facetious, and the ride was open.

Of course we rode it; even if it's not as fast as ought to be it's still a classic old carousel, and fun to look at. Also, around the center (covering the machinery) are some decorations which we figure have to date to about 1960. There are some circus-animal scenes of trained dogs and a seal rendered in paint and statue, but more than half the center is a moderately elaborate scene showing a space alien laughing at a clown who's strapped a rocket to his back and is pointing at the (shocked) moon; the fuse is burning down, but about to be extinguished by the water spilling out of another clown's watering can. It's got to be an Early Space Race scene, but I'm curious about its exact history, and why the circus figures don't quite fit in the action.

On the carousel's canopy are a couple of scenes showing Cupids --- well, at least, cherubim --- attempting to hunt. At least, one is holding a downed bird; the other is chasing a rabbit. They aren't the same poses on all the pieces, either; the rabbit is plainly hopping away from the Cupid, although I suppose it never properly gets away. Better than the bird did.

The carousel also has a ride camera, and charmingly, it's done the old-fashioned way, by having someone come on the ride and take pictures of each pair. It's a digital camera, and people can check their proofs on the booth's iPad, so it's not perfectly old-fashioned, but it's the spirit of the good old way. Our ride photo turned out ... better than average for her, but since I was leaning over pretty far to make sure I got in, I looked mildly drunk.

We sat outside the carousel for a long while --- nearly an hour, actually --- to appreciate the building (which is really cute, including a carousel horse motif), and the lovely afternoon, and to try getting in touch with bunny_hugger's brother so we could fix up afternoon plans. Toward the end of this I started to shiver, and bunny_hugger was worried because I was underdressed for a chilly day. I was underdressed, I admit; I'd expected it to be about as warm as the day before. But I think bunny_hugger worries overmuch about how cold I am, too. And we had been outside for something like ninety minutes by the time I was getting chilled. But, yes, I should've worn a jacket.

New York City opened another carousel, Jane's Carousel, since we were there last, in August. This one is in the rather new Brooklyn Bridge Park, near the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, and the nearest subway stop didn't actually give us much guidance about how to get to it. We had an inspiration, though: walk towards the river. This made it obvious.

Jane's Carousel is on the riverfront, inside a glass box that isn't as stylish as the Apple Store, but which --- at the time of the evening we caught it --- opened up this brilliant play of light and glare. So I'd give full points to it for the transparency, and the way it refracts colors beautifully at the right times of day, but ... it's a square building. Apparently, the architect was told they wanted a circular building (octagonal would also have been correct), but the architect insisted on square. While it's admirable to trust the judgement of the expert you're paying for the judgement of, really, it just looks wrong. I did notice that at least one of the glass walls can be folded up and slid out, like a temporary wall partition, and I concede that's a great idea. Perhaps the shape is forced by the needs of this retractable side. (I imagine the opposite wall also retracts, but didn't notice whether the mechanism and structure was there for it.) But it should've been octagonal.

Somehow it was nearly six by the time we got there, and I don't know how, since all we had done between about four and then was go to the bathroom (at the Apple Store, since we'd been in Central Park) and take the subway into Brooklyn. I'm sure it felt to bunny_hugger like an eternity since I was tossing off silly Manhattan-as-its-own-world jokes (``this is the first subway stop in Brooklyn ... I'm surprised they didn't stop the car for a passport check''), but it doesn't seem like it could have been that long. But this would be important: we were able to ride the next-to-the-last ride of the night. The carousel's web site said the winter hours, closing at 6 pm, started the 6th of November, and it was the 5th, so we imagined we would have another hour, but no, they were determined to close at 6 pm and that was the last ride. If we'd been a little later we'd be sharing the justifiable outrage of some folks who came in as we lingered: the web site said they were closing at 7 pm, and here, they weren't.

Apparently, they closed early to arrange for a party, based on their drawing down curtain screens, and people bringing in tables and clouds of balloons. So that's understandable, but it does mean we only just missed having another carousel-we-never-get-to-ride to replace Central Park's.

Jane's Carousel is, of course, about a century old, and it's been under renovation for most of that past century. It just got put back in public in September, and it looks great. The paint is fresh and new, and except on the two chariots pristine. More, and surprising, is that it's a matte painting rather than the gloss which is the modern fashion. This is more authentic to the way the carousel would have been originally painted, and avoids incidents like bunny_hugger's fear last month that Cedar Point might have replaced its Kiddie Carousel animals with fiberglass replicas of themselves.

The chariots are a curious exception: while they're fresh-painted, the paint is 'weathered' so that it looks old and peeled and faded and chipped. The point of this eludes me, and bunny_hugger, but perhaps it's to make some point about the actual age of the carousel. I don't know.

After the ride and our being chased out, we spent a little time just past the sunset while bunny_hugger firmed up exactly where and when we would meet her brother, and how to get there, and gave us some suggestions for things we could do to be lost until we might meet up.

Trivia: The Borough of Queens doubled in population between 1919 and 1929, reaching over a million people. Source: Only Yesterday: An Informal History Of The 1920s, Frederick Lewis Allen.

Currently Reading: From Sails To Satellites: The Origin And Development Of Navigational Science, J E D Williams.


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