The Painted Ponies Go Up and Down


(Why am I naming days?)
08/08/15, Day 14,339 (Mercena Day 358): The Painted Ponies Go Up and Down

Blame Joni Mitchell, but there’s nothing quite like helping your daughter take her first carousel ride to put you in a time-drunk mood. Yesterday, the three of us went to Forest Park to ride the historic carousel and watch the Zabo the Clown show. We weren’t sure if she was too little to ride, but the supervisor assured us that if we held her tight, she should be fine.

So there I was, hands tightly clutching my daughter as Heather rode to the side of us, taking what pictures she could. The carousel was carved in 1903 and retains that beautiful, old-timey, haunting feel, undermined somewhat by the contemporary music selection. But as Mercena began to wiggle with impatience, I was definitely doubting our decision to bring her on the ride.

Then the carousel began its smooth spin and rise, and I was swept up in the magic as her fussing stopped, and she gazed in wonder as the world turned around her. It was one of those out-of-time moments that is over in a second, but in that second, is the only thing that ever happened.

The child train ride we took before that, on the other hand, was both underwhelming and unnerving, careening around a tiny circuit with a mechanical mewling sound that made you think the track was made of kittens. Mercena was rightfully underwhelmed.

Zabo the Clown, however, was a much bigger success, due as much to the mosh pit of excited toddlers as to the act. Mercena loves being around other kids, so this was her kind of party, and we had to keep her from grabbing all the other children in her sociable delight.

Her action-packed day kicked off with a long overdue brunch with old friends and fellow Fo-Hi residents Cotton and Jason. It was great to see them and catch up, and especially so because Mercena was in such great spirits. There was one particular sequence where she had all four of us giving her hi-fives in order that had her laughing and screeching with rapture.

Fathers and daughters were also a theme of Holden, a play created by Anisa George for the Ice Factory, and featuring her dad and our old friend, Bill George, as JD Salinger. The play lived in the dark psychic space of the privileged violence of the young white male shooters plaguing our country, tracing their lineage back to Cather in the Rye and its mythic relationship to the wounded male ego and the killers who adopted the book as their own. It reaches into the trauma of Salinger’s wartime service, and seeks hope in the bonds of family. Beyond the joy of seeing Bill act (and split wood like a bad-ass) and celebrating Anisa’s growth as an artist, it was also helpful to see a play operating in a similar aesthetic space as Kevin R. Free’s FluxForward play, Anatomical Lewis. Purgatory plays are difficult to make work, but when they work, have a truly theatrical power (since the trapped space of a theatre is itself a kind of purgatory).

Coming home, I worked late on a surge of Flux and NET stuff, weary but inspired by a day of theatre and family. A staycation can be rejuvenating, even if it’s not restful…

Published by CorinnaSchulenburg

Artist and Activist

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