As seems to be the case with every communal event that is unprotected however, the past couple of years have borne witness to the slow, but inevitable slide into commercialisation. The flower beds have steadily receeded in size and number, the billboards have gotten bigger, the opening hours shorter. You almost instinctively reach for your wallet now when filling through the turnstiles. As is usually the case, the beneficiaries of such changes are highly concentrated and powerful, whilst the benefactors in the community are dilute and disorganised. The shift from what they once felt a part of, to something to which they are merely spectators is so slow, it is almost imperceptible.
I guess that's why I got so excited when I heard about a pillow fight that had been organized in the context of a "flash mob", to be held on its grounds on the closing day. Although the term was unfamiliar, I was soon educated with a quick tour of YouTube. People, mostly complete strangers, secretly organise some form of mass action; freezing motion, spontaneously breaking into song, starting a mass ninja fight-whatever. Then they disperse, just as suddenly as they began, like nothing happened. Although I'm sure the attraction to this activity differs from person to person, I realised that mine was actually the attraction itself. People were willing to organise for a common purpose, and I wanted to be a part of it. I mean, everyone knows pillow fights are pretty much the awesomest fun ever, but the fact that it was at an event I could feel sliding into a black hole of this city's conservative apathy was even better.
I hear and see allot of people bailing on this place because it is so "boring", because there is so much more "to do" in other cities. I have realised that most of the time what they mean is, there are distractions in other cities that they don't have to put any effort into creating, that they can walk away from whenever something better catches their eye, that are with people whom are intentionally disconnected from any sense of unification. That a place in itself cannot be boring, but is made that way by the people that inhabit it.
While it may have been the lingering influence of the previous nights booze, this afternoon felt like one of the most magical I have had in a long time.
Hope you like the images.