Like millions of Americans, I decided to join the global, celestial viewing of the annual August Perseid meteor shower. It was a marvelous Sunday evening in Carversville. Billowy white, afternoon clouds departed on schedule, giving me a late-evening sky canopy of glittering white lights and no obscuring haze for miles. I was primed for a cosmic trip through dust left by the comet Swift-Tuttle.
It was a perfect moment, this harmony between nature and modernity. Thanks to my wireless connection, I could enjoy the evening air, while writing emails to friends and family, sharing news of my upcoming astral adventure.
Light Show Lover
I attach transcendental meaning to every form of light show: white lights on bridges, lit windows in skyscrapers, fireflies in my garden.
In my twenties, my husband’s brother produced a marvelous breast sculpture a pulsating piece of female anatomy, featured in a Lincoln Center Salvador Dali moment. It offered endless hours of kaleidoscopic, lightshow effects, and transformed our ordinary Brooklyn apartment into a posh night club.
We were members of the renovation generation back then, buying red bananas at the corner bodega. Today Smith Street is one of the hottest neighborhoods in the five boroughs.
An Early Riser
Determined to see last night’s light show at its prime, but also suffering from a very late Saturday night in Manhattan, I went to bed early, setting my alarm for 1am. Waking five minutes ahead of schedule as usual, I looked at the clock, grabbed my robe and enthusiastically ran down the stairs, towards my date with an exquisite phantasmagoria.
Dismissing the sky view from the living room window, I refused to accept the reality of the night sky. Stomping my bare feet in wet, green grass, I finally succumbed to my intense disappointment. The spectacular, clear, early-night sky was gone.
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office promised me a great show, a new moon, dark skies and plenty of meteors. Instead, I saw nocturnal pea soup.
Never Give Up
All is not lost, however. I have another opportunity to experience a psychedelic euphoria with a visit to the Whitney Museum’s “Summer of Love” Exhibit.
“Summer of Love” revisits the unprecedented explosion of contemporary art and popular culture brought about by the civil unrest and pervasive social change of the 1960s and early 70s, when a new psychedelic aesthetic emerged in art, music, film, architecture, graphic design, and fashion.
The L called it a good show about bad art.
“Someone should write a whole book about how different drugs affect the way art looks. Damien Hirst’s Spin Paintings, for example, accurately reflect the intense, short-lived exhilaration produced by a line of cocaine. Some of David Hockney’s Los Angeles paintings feel as happy and slow as a spliff of marijuana. And Andy Warhol’s masterpiece Chelsea Girls is the cinema’s enduring hymn to the use of amphetamine.”
The Fringe of Reality
Much of the Whitney art was created under hallucinogenic influence of LSD, a fantasy-inducing drug that challenges our perception of reality with merging shapes, forms and colors that aren’t “real”.
Vivid, red geraniums aren’t actually visible on a dark, cloud-covered summer night, but one could probably pass a lie-detector test insisting that they were visible at 3am in full-crimson splendor, defying science in all their glory.
My Carversville flowers didn’t glow in the dark last night, and for one brief moment, I realized that forward-looking me wanted a supernatural, spiritual, acid-like experience with this heavily-promoted, healthy, heavenly light show.
You Can’t Go Home
As a mature adult, I should know better. Nothing comes as advertised anymore. My Macbook Pro batteries die in an hour, and Pepsi just admitted that the mountain image on Aquafina, the best-selling bottled water in the U.S., is misleading.
Aquafina is tap water and so is Coca-Cola’s Dasani. There’s not a natural mountain spring in site where they come from. Fear not, though. There’s a nationwide Aquafina Pure Luck promotion going on in 60 cities, rewarding consumers with a bottle in-hand.
Time Marches On
My first country house was in the Catskills, on Route 28, north of Ashokan Reservoir, the source of New York’s A-1 free drinking water.
I read today that Max Yasgur’s upstate farm in Woodstock, New York is for sale. For the 400,000 folks who attended the Aug. 15-17, 1969 music festival, headlined by Jimi Hendrix and the Who, the Yasgur farm, now owned by Roy Howard, is a special place. The festival land is not being sold this year; only the house.
In Bucks County, a huge new road and sewer system are scarring the Bucks County landscape, cutting deeply through the magnificent, wooded countryside from Comfort Lane to Aquetong. The land conservation movement is strong in Bucks County, but I’m nervous what gifts this giant disfigurement holds in store for me.
Back to Reality
I understand now that the Perseid meteor shower was just a momentary escape for me, a late-night trip into my psychedelic, optimist, rose-colored past.
For me, it’s time to prune the rose brushes. I fear I’m sounding like Andy Rooney, and this would not be good for my career.
Maybe next year I’ll have my light show.