Friday, June 01, 2012

Food Day in Brooklyn - 2

The scene seemed idyllic at first. Pavilions, stands and stages across a hilly expanse. But then we looked a little closer: you couldn’t buy beer with real money. You needed special money. You were supposed to trade your real money for the special money first.

We traveled a little further and found a beer stand that took cash. But you needed a bracelet. I gazed back up the hill. I saw neat rows of food stands with extravagantly painted signs. People. Trees. No indication as to where one might obtain a bracelet.

We toured the natural amphitheatre. Around its rim, vendors fed lines of people extending from the amorphous pit like a hundred hungry tongues. Employees stood at vague points on the hill with signs that read, “15 minutes to go!”

Down on the lawn some people had food. Some people had beer. Some had food and beer. It was difficult to imagine what they’d endured to obtain it; or perhaps into what privilege they had somehow been born.

Onstage someone bellowed a perfunctory welcome: How you all doin’ today? Soon a dixieland band struck up, its jaunty counterpoint bleating incongruously over the proceedings. I thought about the woman on her hands and knees.

We found the shortest line—Thai food—and so there we stood, and stood, and stood. I took a break to try to find the bracelet place. I reached the side of a beer tent where a worker was chatting with a customer. I asked the worker where to get a bracelet. He shrugged. Like he didn’t know what I meant. Certainly he didn’t care. I asked the customer.

“How do you get a bracelet?” I ventured. “How do I get a bracelet? Like the one you have.” I pointed to his. “There.”

“Over there, by the entrance,” he replied, pointing at a shroud of trees. Then he swiveled uncertainly. “Or over there. I dunno. There’s two entrances,” he said.

“Over there?” I asked, pointing where he had pointed first.

“I think so. Yeah. I think.”

I found the ID booth. There was a line snaking away from it, around a tree, and back out of view. Hundreds of people all shifting foot to foot. I turned away and walked back to find that Sara had made a little progress up the hill.