14 March 2011
Carnival in the Streets
"Just as an individual person dreams fantastic happenings to release the inner forces which cannot be encompassed by ordinary events, so too a city needs its dreams."
In other words, every city needs a place for people to be freaky.
That's one of the many simple messages from "A Pattern Language," a classic, influential book about towns, communities, homes and landscapes by Christopher Alexander et. al.
Compared to a lots of the more staid cities in this country, Austin has a pretty good amount of freakiness, and more importantly, we have public spaces and events where we allow people to let their freak flags fly.
We have our trannies and thong-wearers, drum circles, and jugglers. We have Barton Springs, where people gather to hula hoop and walk on tightropes throughout the summer. We have Eeyore's birthday party. We have bike zoos and community street bands. Even Sixth Street could be considered a "carnival space," with the Esther's Follies stage spilling out on the street and all the crazy people out and about.
Do we need more? Of course we do! And frankly, the police ought to be more accomodating to street performances and general community disruption, as long as its healthy. They are getting better, but its not like Brasil or New Orleans. Just sayin'.
And now, thank the baby jeebus, we have HONK!TX, which just completed its inaugural year. A fantastic example of Alexander's "Carnival Pattern," where costumed musicians and dancers bring their performances to the street, disrupting the normal flow of the city. Healthy cities need surprises like that.
The two videos posted here are from one night of this 3-day festival and feature the What Cheer? Brigade from Providence, RI. Man, oh man. Just amazing. Local groups, like the Minor Mishap Marching Band and Austin Samba School, also brought their sounds to the streets. Highly recommended event for next year!
And just to bring this all back 'round to the garden, since this is a garden blog after all, I'll just say that I think it's important for gardens to have secret spaces for people to get freaky, and you can take that however you want. But I guess what I really mean is that you need a protected space where you can sing to the birds if you want, you can laze around nekkid if you want, or you can just turn on the music and just plain dance dance dance. Everyone needs it.