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Thinker's Notebook

Thirty Days Hath September

New things are born in September. The ninth month of the year is the time when all of the energy that we’ve poured into the year begins to give birth. September represents the completion of a cycle. The word September derives from the Latin word septem, which means seven, and most numerologists, astrologists and hood scholars understand that this is the number of completion. Christians teach that God rested on the seventh day after completing all of creation. Hinduism teaches that there are seven chakras. So, September is the completion of a cycle, and the calling for us to begin to reap our harvests from what we have spent all year planting.

There is no better place to feel this energy of birth and completion than in the Village of Brooklyn. Here, our diversity is our strength, our creativity is our skill and our borough is our muse. In the County of Kings, we live the evolution in real time, the end of the summer bringing the beginning of the fall. One week you’re carefree, taking in rays out in Prospect Park or on Brighton Beach, and the next week you’re back to waking up at 6am so that you can get the kids ready for school. September in Brooklyn is a short film about the beauty of autumn filmed while still wading in the summer sun, that slim moment before the change makes you forget about the one and remember the other, that nanosecond when it is all in all. The sun is big and full, and the leaves are just starting to change, and it’s cool with a light wind at night while still hot and humid at the height of the day. The kids go to school for that first week, but then they come home and go outside to play, respecting autumn’s demands during business hours while abiding by their fleeting summer desires in the afternoons. And then, just when you think autumn has mandated a rigid regiment of school, you get two days off in the second week of September for Rosh Hashanah, and then another day in the third week for Yom Kippur. Thank you to our Jewish cousins, proof that we all win when diversity exists.

For me, the bridge between summer and autumn in Brooklyn begins with the Labor Day Carnival on Eastern Parkway. It is there where all of your summer sins are washed away in sweat and bacchanal. You eat like a glutton, drink the spirits in abundance, dance and share your energy with close friends and complete strangers. You let go. You let go of everything and allow the rhythms and the colors and the people to spin you into salvation. And then you walk home, leaving every demon, every duppy, every shameful summer sin on the ground there on Eastern Parkway. And people will always point to the violence that transpires every year up there without considering the circumstances. Every young man that calls the streets home finds themselves on Eastern Parkway every first Monday of September. They, too, come for the rhythm and the people and the process, and when you put misdirected, frustrated, undiagnosed and troubled youth from across the borough all on the same parkway, current beefs, past beefs and street vindication gets revisited. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t be who I am if I only painted the pretty side of the easel, because you and I both know that there is another side. But you can’t blame the carnival for that side. We have to blame ourselves for ignoring these kids for the other 11 months and 29 days out the year. They need our love, too, you know. I, for one, grew up finding lessons in the bad, reminders of what not to do, who not to be, where not to tread. So, I give something to the parkway, but I take something away from it, too.

The bridge to autumn begins on Eastern Parkway, but it ends on Atlantic Avenue three weeks later. Atlantic Antic celebrates the spirit of Brooklyn in a different way. While Eastern Parkway exposes the carnal, Atlantic Antic exposes the communal, the lesson of the whole being the sum of its parts. We shop for knickknacks and eat funnel cake, and we wear a light jacket because the autumn air carries a nip. Atlantic Antic is so much more responsible than the Labor Day Carnival, proof that the fall brings us back to center regarding our focus. The most empowering thing you can do in your community is to spend your dollar with local businesses. This is the beauty of Atlantic Antic, our ability to galvanize as a community and support the businesses therein. Yes, it’s a festival, but it’s also an example of cooperative economics. Yes, there is dancing and music, but our presence on Atlantic Antic on the fourth Sunday in September may make the difference in a small business owner’s ability to continue making payroll. I shop as often as possible at Atlantic Antic, so once again I give something to it, but I take something away from it, too.

American poet Helen Hunt Jackson said, “By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.” 30 days of blissful transition. Enjoy them!




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