The Q's been in NYC for 27 years. He's been to all kinds of parties and celebrations. For sheer exuberance and musicianship and joy, there is nothing quite like J'Ouvert. I was having too much fun last night at 4:30 am to shoot a lot of video, but below you'll see the beginning of the early morning parade before the Parade. Starting at GAP and going down Flatbush to Empire then east, J'ouvert has none of the absurdly loud decibel-busting trucks and much less of the giant shimmery outfits that make Carnival so instantly recognizable. The pulsing sound of drums and chanting mix with the powder and oil and paint to make it feel more primal & proudly spiritual than, say, Burning Man or an E-laden rave. One truckbed had an entire female drum contingent, led by a monster player on the kit. Others had steel pan bands. Almost all the music was acoustic, but loud enough to dance to. The handful of Caucasians seemed to struggle to find their groove, maybe just out from parties or bars, but awed. Almost every face was smiling, and shrieks of laughter and big hugs broke out every few seconds as friends found each other. The anticipation of morning, mixed with not-a-faint whiff of ganja and rum, means anything is possible and cares are forgotten.
I saw Inspector Fitzgibbon at Bedford and Empire not long after an aide to Governor Cuomo was shot in the head, and another person got shot in the finger, and many fled towards the 7/11. The 71st commander was resigned to the fact that it might be a long, long day. In fact, the worst had already happened. More than a million people enjoyed the parade in relative peace. It was hot. Damn hot. Some kids were enjoying their very first Carnival, and assuming no one gets rash and over-zealous, they'll be back for more.
And while it's easy to blame this big raucous street party for the violence, it's probably true too that the answer to all the violence is just as apparent in the bonds of friendship, family and faith that brought so many people together to begin with.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.