2003-10-12 Baying At The Moon… Reverently – New York Times

Baying At The Moon… reverently


New York Times
October 12, 2003
By Colin Moynihan

Sky gazers hoping to see Friday night’s full moon were most likely disappointed by the heavy cloud cover hanging over the city just after sunset. But in a garden in the East Village there was no shortage of surrogates. Nine white paper globes of varying sizes hung alongside a glittering silver disco ball, all suspended from the roof of a wooden stage at the rear of the garden, at Avenue B and Sixth Street. Affixed to the back of the stage was a five-foot-tall photograph of the moon. One man suggested that a powerful floodlight on the roof of the Earth School, opposite the garden on Avenue B, could serve as an emergency substitute for the moon. Even three tambourines with white skins that reflected the light of a wood fire elicited lunar comparisons.

The crowd sat on wooden benches in front of a fire as Steve Jones, the organizer of the monthly lunar celebration at the garden, invited creative commentary about the moon. He stood beneath several strings of white Christmas lights that stretched like a mini-Milky Way across the front of the stage.

‘We’re here to celebrate the full moon,” Mr. Jones said. ”It’s a moment when all human beings experience the gravitational pull, creating an opportunity for psychic resonance.”

Over the next 90 minutes guests tapped out rhythms on bongos and shook rattles as a succession of people stood in front of the fire to utter moon-inspired musings.

A woman recited a short poem:

See the moon, beautiful, round and cold

The other ones hot

Look at the moon the way its passing like this

No, lost the moon again.

She was followed by a young man who sang a song he called ”Eclipse,” about unrelenting stars that control destiny. Mr. Jones, 46, a web designer and longtime fixture in artistic circles in the East Village and on the Lower East Side, began the gatherings in 1999, a year after he closed Gargoyle Mechanique Laboratory, a performance space on Avenue B that he had run since 1993. Over the years, he said, he has been fascinated by all sorts of celestial subjects. In the early 1990’s he was host of a radio show about U.F.O.’s on Steal This Radio, a pirate FM station based on the Lower East Side. Recently he organized a bicycle tour through Manhattan, identifying and discussing spots where visitors from other planets are said to have been glimpsed.

For the last three years — until last week — Mr. Jones ran the Chama Teashop, a gallery on East Fourth Street. Outside the shop was a large silver replica of a flying saucer and inside were paintings of alien space travelers. Though Mr. Jones shut down the shop and moved to Staten Island, the full moon celebrations, which began on a monthly basis in 1999, continue.

Some of those in attendance on Friday night said that they had been to many full moon events in the garden. Others were first-time visitors. Marisa Wallin, 19, a student at New York University, said she had read about the celebration the previous day in a calendar of free events and decided to attend.

”It’s just so beautiful in here,” she said. Her friend and fellow student, Greg Manley, 18, pointed to a toddler gazing at Mr. Jones, who at that moment was holding aloft a large, round gong.

Press Coverage