Great Lawn Concerts 9/15/2011

About the recent concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park, September 15, 2011.

I found out today that the reason the stage from two weeks ago was not left up for this upcoming concert was that "the two organizers could not come to an agreement".

As a result the park will have to endure almost twice the abuse.

As I watched the park patrons scattered across the lawn I wondered if anyone else felt the same way I did. I found that several people I spoke to agreed that it is a waste to host concerts like this in the park. Still, I wondered why more people do not speak up against it and as I was wondering my eyes fell on a little boy on the lawn playing with a plastic bag.

Why would his parents allow him to play with a plastic bag? I was uneasy just watching him putting the bag so close to his face--where was the boy's parents?

Well the boy was under the guardianship of his nanny--his parents were not around.

The scenario helped me in a way to understand why more people were not concerned about pesticides and extravagant concerts and general destruction of the one partly natural place we have left in the city...

I then stopped my mindless wondering. If people are not overly concerned about their own children then it's going to be a tough battle to persuade them to be concerned about a lawn.

September 25, 2011
A full week has not passed since the dismantling of the last giant stage for the concert on September 15th, and the heavy equipment is back on the Great Lawn in Central Park building another giant stage. More lights and more diesel generators, more cops on overtime, more dumming down of human beings, and more waste of valuable resources on fickle events. But for one day coming soon we'll loose the use of our precious park and a select few will be entertained for a couple of hours.

I have just read your words about the event in Central Park and I agree with you. I think the park should be reserved for individual and small group gatherings of recreation and relaxation - and most of all appreciation of nature. With so many other venues, there is no reason to intrude on nature with blaring nose and foot stomping of huge numbers of feet on the grass and I pity the chest thumping volume of sound on all the wild and household animals who have no choice but to endure our hedonistic worship of false idols. Event developers do the same thing here - pack up a slate of known "stars" and hold outdoor events at the base of Mt. Crested Butte. It is disgusting.
Well spoken and I admire your passion in saying your feelings.

Barbara C.
Crested Butte


Just a simple note of support from me for your mega-concert criticism.........I agree with all my heart and soul. Thank you for expressing so many of these thoughts on our behalf. Your values and beliefs are uncompromised--and that is, tragically, so rare a thing.

Lisa W. Ithaca, NY


I love your comments on the concert. And you are right. I am so happy you have a cat. Lucky cat. And I am thrilled beyond I have lived long enough to see Pale Male father eyasses...... I spent three weeks.....all those years ago; writing everyone.....and they all wrote back; but no one could make that nest right except Pale Male. I consider it a total miracle that "stinker one and stinker two" hatched...and have survived. And are thriving.
You continue to be my hero!
Here I am in Santa Barbara , California! I still get mail from the New York Audubon...and we love birds and animals here.
Your cat is there a story? What a lucky cat!!

Santa Barbara!


My name is Beth D. and I live in Michigan (work in Detroit).
I just read your commentary on the concert in the park and of course you are right. You get it right every time in your narratives and in your photos. You see nature the way it really is, a magical mystery, a gift to us, that we can only dream to aspire to. You spend your whole life trying to get other people to see what you see and marvel at what you marvel at and only a small fraction of the population get it. I know because I see what you see. I feel about these hawks the way you do. They are a privilege for us to see.
I look up (and anyone can look up whether they are in a gutter or a castle) and see beauty. You look elsewhere and you see man and their incredible feeble attempts to imitate nature, conquer it or destroy it but never just to leave it alone. Always remember there are people like you, there have been people like you and will continue to be people like you (who I refer to as the natural aristocracy) who will hold up nature above man, as it should be. Don't ever become disheartened by man's idiocy but let it keep you strong. One hundred years ago there were people who felt like you. A man named Joyce Kilmer and a woman named Sara Teasdale. See what they wrote below about trees and stars. Most important, never never never stop what you do because those hawks need you and so do we!!


When I write stuff like this (about the Opera on the Great Lawn) it is easy to be swayed by feedback. I find that most people prefer to avoid full frontal attacks on established practices like these and would rather talk or give feedback on some other less touchy topic. I did get at least one beautiful letter of support and that is worth more to me than a thousand letters. But even if I received no feedback at all I am compelled to speak out regardless because I must be popular with my own conscience above all other outside support.
Believe me when I say that I would much prefer to just take a few pictures each day and keep quiet but I cannot I have to account to myself at all times no matter what. So no matter if I get one person or a thousand persons or even no one at all to support me, I have to speak when my heart tells me to or I may as well not exist at all.

September 16, 2011:

If you walked anywhere near the Great Lawn on Friday you may have noticed a sort of lifelessness and perhaps even a thwarted feeling hanging in the air. Even if it was sunny and cool, this feeling saturated the area as the crews broke down the equipment which was erected for the massive concert the day before. Where did all the excitement go? Where is all the supposed fun now? Gone forever it appears, and soon there will be nothing to remember for all the exorbitant spending which went into creating those few hours of ‘joy’. The only thing gained I suppose is that shoppers who were impressed by the concert, now and a long time to come, will be reaching for boxes of Barilla macaroni instead of any other competing brands.

As the gigantic stage got dismantled I tried to imagine what it would be like to spend those valuable resources on more worthwhile and longer lasting investments rather than short lived frivolous events. Right then my eyes gazed over toward Belvedere Castle where I visualized an array of fine telescopes being installed up there so that young people could have an opportunity to observe the inspiring celestial bodies in the New York City night’s sky where I know first hand how enchanted they will be all through the year by the natural beauty we are offered on so many clear nights.

My eyes moved over to a long brick building running west along the 86th Street Transverse and I imagined what it would be like to have a large workshop with tools and machines installed to teach young people how to build benches and furniture and other useful crafts to make them have other options in their life than trying to enter the entertainment field and other capricious careers which works only for a few and leaves the vast majority who cannot make it with a depressing future.

Then my eyes found the large red aluminum siding building which houses the Central Park Precinct and I imagined what it would be like to transform that building from a hostel for useless peace officers into a teaching science lab where young people can come at will and listen to talks and participate in challenging problem-solving tasks and experiments like measuring the toxins in the soil in Central Park and analyzing the air and ground water and other useful projects which once again may help them to understand the importance of keeping the environment clean and healthy.

A series of telescopes, wood and metal working machines, microscopes a chromatography lab may very well veer a young mind or two on a path which they may find more enriching than the path they may be compelled to follow if they watched their parents get drunk or high at a Great Lawn concert. With so many avenues to engage an otherwise wayward mind there will be no time for criminal activities and very little need for an elaborate Police Precinct which do nothing more that pollute the park with their ineffective vehicular patrolling. It would be nice if the police themselves could be the operators of the science lab. A young person will be better off having a paid city employee guiding them and teaching them rather than sitting in a vehicle with their engines idling reading the NY Post.

It is one of my greatest wishes to see more done to institute engaging activities for young people in Central Park to help them appreciate the value of the simple things which our generation was lucky to have in exorbitant quantities like air and water and productive soil, which they may soon have to ration, if they follow our wasteful ways.

I soon found myself walking through Strawberry Fields where I had hoped my luck would be repeated in seeing another hawk like I did the day before in this area. I didn’t see any hawks but I paused at the little monument in the middle of the path and looked down at the word embedded on the asphalt or marble or whatever it was in that circle. The word helped me to Imagine what the world would be like if we did not revere drug addicts and other selfish human beings like John Lennon but instead dedicate acreage and monuments in Central Park to the many more worthy role models like school teachers, community volunteers and other non-glamorous New Yorkers who practically give their life up each day to make a difference in the future of the young people they come into contact with each day.

September 12, 2011:

Today I watched from afar a very large covered stage being constructed on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Over on the Locust Grove there were thousands of steel police barricades stored and waiting no doubt to be placed on the lawn in the next day or so. All the fences were removed from the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond and even around the Locust Grove. I must admit the area appeared more pleasing to the eye without the fences.

The sight of the massive stage unsettled me though. I feel that this sort of thing just doesn’t belong in a delicate park like this. Why is Central Park being used to accommodate such a large event? With so many theaters on Broadway, Lincoln center, Madison Square Garden, and other similar venues why is the Great Lawn the place chosen to attract so many people for a single event? There was a time when the Central Park Conservancy used to prohibit tripods on the Great Lawn, “the tripod legs may damage the irrigation system” they often said. There was never any truth to that claim. Each year thousands of heavy steel barricades are dragged across the lawn with no fear or concern for the terrible damage it does to the lawn and the park in general.

The Central Park Conservancy is forever complimented on how clean the park is maintained, but very few people realize the downside to this organization’s sterile landscapes.

The park’s age old rule of no advertising, and peaceful relaxation continues to be violated year after year and what is worrying is that not enough people seem to care and those who do care can’t find a way to do anything about it.

This upcoming event on the Great Lawn, from posted signs, is sponsored by ‘Barilla’--our precious park is being used to advertise macaroni. When I walked further north I saw that the basketball courts were fenced in where dozens of trailers and tents are set up in the enclosed area. There are large clusters throughout the fenced in area and throughout the covered stage area where it appears to have round the clock work taking place. Several diesel generators can be heard blasting the area with their exhaust fouling the Pinetum. Through the tall wire fence I could see a great deal of activity.

Whenever I see enormous spending on events like this I can’t help thinking how better those resources could have been spent to create learning centers for children with massive telescopes and powerful microscopes to open up and stimulate their young minds.

Instead those valuable resources will be used for a few hours’ entertainment for a large group of adults after which all is lost. Many of these adults will hardly be able to remember the event because they would be drunk anyway. But what I find will be the more noteworthy lost is for the young children who will gain nothing from all this and even worse they may grow up to create more worthless expenditure and put value in events like this just like their parents.