Cults: December 2004 Archives

Solstice lights

Only now that my birthday has passed (even when quite old, late-December children sometimes remain pretty sensitive about their personal nativity celebratory rites) I can start to think about the pagan Saturnalia, the forest peoples' Yule or any of the other defiantly-non-commercial celebrations of the return of the sun. I think Festivus could well be included among those observances and entertainments.

I took the image above on this very cold, windy afternoon. It's a deliberately fuzzy representation of one of the most prominent modern manifestations of hoary early-winter tradition, the fully-lighted Rockefeller Center tree. (I prefer to think that any connection between it and Christian worship is pure invention). It's a pretty neat sight if you could forget almost everything around it right now. I couldn't, so I decided the shot had to be fuzzy - and dark. This huge dead tree's penultimate resting-place environment is not a pretty thing one week before Christmas.

Of course the deco buildings are pretty fabulous, but the several rows of security barricades set up around the tree (they're gaily painted red and green) and the offensive, vulgarly-omnipresent NBC visual promotions (even during the hours when their storefront studio lies empty) have at least temporarily erased the charm once associated, even in the last weeks of the year, with this wonderful midtown oasis. Cranky tourists and pushy shoppers (and big Christmas tchotchkes in the terraced Channel Gardens) only added to the ugliness today.

I haven't even mentioned the scary over-amplified "holiday music," which seems to be stressing out even the normally-unflappable pigeons around St. Patrick's and the Olympic Tower.

Alright, I'm now back home in my warm cave, so maybe I should be quiet and think lovely thoughts. Happy Solstice everyone, and many happy returns!

This page is an archive of entries in the Cults category from December 2004.

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