"A stimulus package for hard times!"
I hear these words in Times Square, but don't pay much attention. Instead, I am distracted by the cacophony of humanity that surrounds me, framed by the neon assaults of the twenty-story high advertisements.
I turn this time to see why it is worth shouting above the fire engine sirens and impatient taxi cab horns, and don't believe my eyes.
They are selling Obama condoms. I think I've seen it all now. I can pack it up and go home. I thought I'd seen it all when the Naked Cowboy paraded in his tighty-whities on 46nd Street, mauled by a mob of old ladies clamoring to take their pictures with him.
I've been here often enough to know that I shouldn't be shocked anymore.
I continue on my journey north, clutching my skirt as I step over the subway vents that blow vertical air with a vengeance. I am trying to avoid a Marilyn Monroe impression, but I would be no competition for the ocean of oddities that surround me.
60th Street and Columbus. St. Paul's. I don't see it at first because it is shrouded in scaffolding. I'm just in time for Sunday Mass, and I start to believe that I have gotten the time wrong. Save for a few nuns, wearing white habits and black veils, I am alone. I wander around the church, gazing at the side-altars of St. Patrick, St. Therese, and St. Anne.
Ah, tranquility. The respite from the jolting images fourteen blocks south.
Or so I thought. I turn the corner to see what looks like a decomposing body, laid out on cushions. Shouldn't there be police tape surrounding it? It looks like a crime scene.
But no, it is a sculpture. If art is meant to take you by surprise, this has done it.
Upon closer inspection, it is the creation of Alan Dietrich, and represents the Resurrection of Jesus. Ok. I'm not sure I get it, but at least it's not what I thought it was. Then, I see a sign with more information.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, gold, jewels, and "other materials". The collaboration looks like petrified wood. The intent is to connect Jesus with the most ancient elements of the history of Earth here in modern day NYC.
I am duly impressed, not having ever considered a link between Jesus and T-Rex, but I walk away learning something, and the artist has done his job.
I am more drawn to the towering stained glass windows, the echo of the poised soprano as she practices a "Hosanna", the enormous organ pipes that breathe behind the altar. Now THIS is a church. None of the cozy community halls that fail to inspire but nonetheless have the presence of God in them. You know here that there is something special, something sacred.
People file in, filling only a fifth of the church as the priest invites us to "raise the roof" in song.
So much for the ties to the ancient. I'm in 2010, after all.