Msnowe's Blog

parade thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on March 29, 2009

(Where m.snowe has a moment of philosophical inquiry about parades)

m.snowe just walked into work (yes, it’s Sunday–whatevers) and on her walk, had the chance to observe a parade making its way downtown on Madison Ave. The music was loud, the crowd not very deep. It was an annual parade for some middle-eastern country. The floats were small, and pulled by old trucks and in some cases, tinny SUVs. At one point, there were three men on horseback, and a handful of lady dancers in vibrant colors moving slowly but with purpose to the blaring music. One float got m.snowe’s attention–it had four people dressed in various costumes or full character suits–and was clearly a promotion for some kind of cartoon television show or movie. The costumes were not well done–they looked nothing like the pictures of the characters that were pasted on the sides of the float. It didn’t seem to matter to the costumed crew, though. They waved and smiled with abandon.

m.snowe watched the parade for a bit more, and the “quality” of the floats, or the number and dress of the people marching did not improve–it was ramshackle at best, and tattery at worst.  m.snowe had a moment when she thought it was sad, that the not-so-deep crowds lining Madison were cheering for such a display of what m.snowe rather prejudicially dubbed “the shabbiest tourism pitch ever.” It was clear that the american standard of what constitutes a vibrant society is partly its cultural displays–and if america is good at something, it’s at showing off how cool it is (even when it really isn’t). Usually, that takes money–and it’s clear that these paraders were operating on a low budget, and you can’t fault them for working with what they had. m.snowe’s disgustingly american sensibility, however, pitied them for a moment, and she thought “if they take this seriously, how sad…”

But only for a moment. The relative shabbiness of the parade made it easier to see the decrepitude of culture that depends on materialism/capitalism, and the depressing notion that when you place your worth on your ability to show off, you are in effect creating your own “culture bubble” when times are good. Like the economy, people who live in a culture with money can ignore their foolish reliance on materialism, because of the sparkle and shine of it. But once that bubble bursts, you’re left with maybe three horses, and a crappy character suit (that is probably infected with lice or crabs or something). And maybe it is depressing to exhibit–but it’s also more real. What m.snowe really means to say is that sometimes people are so caught up in the extragance, in the artificial beauty that was created to sell things, not enrich things, that perhaps seeing an alternate form of pride and capitalism, is a healthy, healthy thing.

m.snowe loved that parade–it was more real than anything she’s seen during the Macy’s Day.

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  1. KT said, on April 2, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I remember 6th Avenue Haitian Day Parade. Loud Music and Snow Cones. Chinese parade in Soho. Colorful dresses and softer music. I love how anytime and anyplace in NYC, there’s probably a parade happening. Either that or a street fair. God I miss the city!


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