Last month, I stopped by to check out two heritage parades: the West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and the African-American Day Parade in Harlem. All parades are fun but sharp contrasts set these two apart.
Emerging from the subway on Eastern Parkway for the West Indian Day Parade, a visitor is confronted with a wild scene on the street. 18-wheelers with speaker systems blast Caribbean music as thousands of people dance in time. The sidewalks and smaller streets that flank the parkway are choked with spectators, food vendors and police vehicles.
Eastern Parkway on Labor Day
The first thing the eye catches is the flags. Thousands of flags of every West Indian nation twirl in the air along with the music—flag bandanas, shredded flag t-shirts, flag capes and the traditional flags poking up from the crowd. DJs from local radio stations perched atop the trucks yell through the amplifiers, competing with similar sound systems on tractor trailers immediately in front and behind.
And then you notice the costumes. Women in 10-foot high peacock feathers and leopard skin; men dressed with black-painted skulls and rags like the undead sailors in Pirates of the Caribbean.
She let us take a photo with her….I think I’m in love.
And of course, the food was not to be missed. We chowed on some jerk chicken with deep-fried plantains, ox tails and collard greens. All and all, the West Indian Day Parade was extremely memorable—a dramatic taste of the Caribbean moving through the heart of Brooklyn.
The 43rd African American Day Parade on September 16th was unquestionably tamer. Floats moved lazily up Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard punctuated by marching bands and African drum circles. From my perch at 125th St, neither the number of spectators and participants nor their intensity seemed to rival the free-for-all of the West Indian parade. But this relative calmness can certainly be appealing, especially as far as family friendliness is concerned.
The NYPD marching band in the African American Day Parade.
Who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine? Largest cathedral in the United States and fourth largest in the world, St. John’s inspires all but the most traveled of churchgoers (specifically “Vaticans,
Each April, car enthusiasts from all over the New York metro area descend upon the Javits Center for the International Auto Show. Knowing nothing about cars, but curious about the hype, I decided to go to the show this year with the eye of a dilettante.
Standard Auto Show scene: models talking about cars you can’t afford.
Meanwhile Aaron and I scope out the new Smart Car Convertible.
Some of it was just what you might expect—unveiled 2013 models, new concept cars. But I was pleasantly surprised at the theme that unified vehicles across the spectrum: environmental friendliness. It seems like every manufacturer from Lexus to Ram is developing a hybrid, plug-in, or more fuel-efficient model.
A car that can transform into a plane. I’m holding out for the model that includes boat and train options as well.
By far the most exhilarating thing I learned at the show was that DeLorean is back…and it’s going green! DeLorean Motor Company, based out of Northern Ireland, survived for less than a decade before declaring bankruptcy in the early 80s. But the car’s legacy lives on—it will forever be remembered as the car Christopher Lloyd converts into a time machine in the Back to the Future trilogy. But who knew that DeLoreans are now being made once again, this time out of Houston, Texas?
The Electric DeLorean which will go on sale next year. For a mere $90,000, you can have that 1980s style without tailpipe emissions!
I found the show to be moderately exciting and definitely worth going to once. And it was interesting to check out the Javits Center, New York’s premiere convention center, which may soon be slated for either renovation or demolition…or both?! Do I need to go to another auto shows any time soon? Not until DeLorean puts out the model that time-travels at 88mph!