January 19, 2010


There are certain New York things that become thread-bare references they are so frequently used, mentioned, repeated and photographed. The Bethesda fountain in Central Park could be one of these things, but she is not. She is not made vapid by being perpetually cited (there is even a part of Grand Theft Auto set on this terrace, just beneath the flutter of her wings). At least in my mind, she is totally untouched by the banality, by her endless guest appearances in films, by the swarms of Korean brides who peacock underneath her every Saturday, by the blinking of camera shutters as often as the batting of eyes. Maybe that is because her genesis is so pure. The people from Central Park pronounce that she was sculpted by Emma Stebbins (the first major sculpture done by a woman in NYC) in 1861 as part of a tribute to the aqueduct that was built to get clean water to New Yorkers, who were mighty dirty at the time. Bethesda is, of course, a reference to the biblical pool, where an angel would visit and make sick people well. "For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease with which she was afflicted" John 5:4.

Plus, he looks great perched at the hem of her skirts.

1 comment:

Jill said...

The New York fun has begun in full sway! I can't wait to read about all the adventures you have.

Thanks for posting the video of Stephen. I've now had my morning belly laugh. It feels good. Thank to Stephen too!

Have a great day.

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