One of Central Park’s more transient and consistent residents, “THOHT” typically spends his days drawing a crowd of passers-by at the entrance to any number of bridges and underpasses in the area. On this particularly stifling late-summer night, I caught him packing up early…though I have never managed to discover exactly where it is he goes…
Just another day in the Apple. One of the lazier (or is that “innovative”) street performers in Manhattan rakes in some spare cash while taking a break on a park bench just outside the Central Park Zoo.
While the composition of the scene was surely intended to be absurd, what caught me was the entirely UN-intentional near-perfection of the anchor color and the inherently crisp “springtime” sensation conveyed…an all-too-welcome relief to eyes grown accustomed to a seemingly endless grey Manhattan winter.
I came across the opposite entrance to this tunnel, as I had a thousand times before…but New York always has a way of making the same old things new again. I gently laid down my camera bag, stepped aside for any passers-by before taking a knee just off the gravelly path…and waited.
The mournful, wailing acoustics were so accidentally phenomenal, and his immersion in the moment so deep, that it took several minutes to earn so much as an appreciative nod of acknowledgment before he resumed his positioning toward the sun and made the most of his captive one-man audience. Random notes suddenly fell into line in an orderly musical procession, and I was fascinated by the scene until the music died and the last reverberation escaped the tunneled enclosure.
I had seen him sitting in place so many times before – a fixture in the park for years – but never had he seemed quite so lost in thought… For a moment, and out of raw respect for his pensive pose, I actually resisted the urge to raise my camera…a very fleeting moment.
Over the years, I have revisited this image countless times and always wonder just what consumed him so… I have wondered if, in that one moment, he was truly ensconced somewhere in the middle distance or simply as indifferent to my presence as to that of his friend. And while I never tire of the inherently comical nature of the composition, there will always be something serenely focused behind his gaze…perhaps compounded by the mystery of the unknown, but hopefully the product of a lifetime sufficiently full of moments far more amusing to him than this one…