Wednesday, January 25, 2012

City Semester... The Shadow's Experience

From Woodlawn cemetery to Coney Island, City Semester students got a taste of New York City. The two day vision quests began this week and started off at the Woodlawn cemetery where tribes split up and presented the offerings we've been working on this week. After getting lost for about twenty minutes in the immense cemetery, everyone in The Shadows tribe gave their very thoughtful and unique offers to our spirit gods: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Vito Marcantonio and Carrie Chapman Catt.  Some of the offerings in my tribe included a performance of speeches, a collage commemorating a jazz legend and a showcase of food that represented three cultures in East Harlem.  When the offerings were done the tribe received our first clue, a slip of paper with the numbers 125. That told us we had to take the first subway ride of the day to 125th street, not knowing exactly what we would be doing there.

At 125th street the first clue of the day was received and told us to find a place where we could learn all about jazz.  In the video, our music in the city teacher Mr. Christensen played a tune on his saxophone and we had to figure out whose song he was playing and photograph ourselves by their display at the location.  After some discussion and research on our handy smart phones, we found The National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Inside we learned more about Miles Davis and the artist of that tune, Duke Ellington! The pic of our tribe was sent over and clue #2 was received. That clue led us to the west side of Harlem at Minton's Playhouse. This location was a famous jazz club where all the greats performed. After walking up and down Harlem, the group was not happy to hear clue #3 which sent us back to East Harlem to the corner of 116th street and Lexington avenue where we had to record members of the tribe reciting a speech in the style of congressman Vito Marcantonio. While it seems like a simple task, our spirit guide Ms. Banks was not satisfied with the first video we sent and we had to redo it with more "passion and Vito." After take two, Ms. Banks approved and gave us the fourth clue sending us to Central Park.

The Shadows hopped back on the subway to 77th street and walked over to the park. At the park there were two tasks. We had to find the statue of William Shakespeare and also complete the green guide's task which was finding four different objects that represented different parts of the city in Central Park. After walking through bushes, around trees and searching underneath park benches the four objects were found. We could now go to our meeting for the day at 43rd street. We were on 66th street and decided a long walk through the city would be appropriate. The walk wasn't too bad, but by that time the tribe was quite exhausted. We walked in mostly silence the entire way there, which was different for The Shadow's because we had been quite chatty the entire day. Before our meeting we sat in Bryant Park till it was time to go and generated questions to ask while some members went off to use the bathroom after holding it in for what seemed like forever. The group gathered again we went off to our meeting at The League of Women Voters of The City of New York. There we met with Miriam Adelman and had a conversation about the League, its history and significance. The talk was very informative and it marked the end of day 1.

Wednesday morning when the class split back into tribes we were with our spirit guide. The first task of the day was right by City Hall Park, on the corner of Warren St. and Broadway we got a general sense of where our spirit god Vito Marcantonio died on a morning like that one. A clue given to us by the medium then led us to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the east village. There we had Erika read aloud the Puerto Rican Obituary written by Pedro Pietri one of the founders of the Nuyorican. The next clue led the tribe to the Brooklyn Museum where we would visit an exhibit by Judy Chicago. "The Dinner Party" was a representation of feminists in world history throughout three different eras in time. The exhibit shows three very long tables that form a triangle and on the tables are placements for important feminists in history. Our task led us to Susan B. Anthony's placement that had a plate in her memory and a runner with her name sewn in a crazy amount of detail. We could then read about other women who had similar roles in history that related to her. The exhibit was very special and I think it was a favorite among all the Shadows. After looking at it we took time to reflect and write down any thoughts on it in our moleskines. That was the last task for the day, so The Shadows hopped on yet another train and figured out the route to get us to Coney Island where we'd end the day with our peers.

                                                          At the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

                    Tashi & Sam viewing "The Dinner Party" exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum!

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