(more details later, as time permits)
Ironically, Strawberry Fields was the farthest thing from my mind when I decided to head over to Central Park last weekend to take some photographs. It had occurred to me that the intersection of the north-south “loop road” inside the park, with the 72nd Street east-west transverse road was likely to be a good spot where I could find an unobtrusive place to watch the usual weekend activities moving past me. On a mild, pleasant Saturday afternoon, there were bound to be a nearly infinite number of people jogging, biking, skating, and walking west towards the park exit on 72nd Street — or east towards Fifth Avenue, or south toward the Sheep Meadow, or north towards the Great Lawn and ultimately around the north end of the park at 110th Street.
I, too, entered the park at 72nd Street, and strolled a couple blocks to the east to find my convenient spot at the intersection — and paid no attention to the fact that I had entered the park just across the street from the massive Dakota apartment building where John Lennon once lived, or that my path led me past the Strawberry Fields memorial a little above me. I didn’t see the sign marking the eastern boundary of the field, even though it was plainly visible, and even though I began taking photos almost immediately of the bikers and joggers and skaters as they moved past me with the sign just behind them. And as you’ll see from the photos in this set, it’s pretty clear that most of them didn’t see the sign either; they were too busy concentrating on the roadway in front of them, or on the conversation they were having with the people next to them.
Along with the bikers, joggers, and skaters, there were also a large number of “pedicabs,” with energetic young men (and a few young women) pedaling their way across the east-west transverse, while simultaneously keeping up a non-stop monologue about whatever noteworthy things they thought their passengers (who were mostly tourists) would be interested in. After a while, I began to notice a pattern; actually, I began to hear a pattern, when I realized that I had heard snatches of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” over and over again … and then I listened a little more closely to the pedicab-drivers’ chatter, which almost always involved their pointing to the hilly area straight ahead of them and saying, “Strawberry Fields – it’s right there!”
I didn’t really notice the pattern from a photographic perspective until I got home, and uploaded the nearly 2,000 photos I had taken during the course of my two-hour visit (yes, I really can take a thousand photos an hour). As usual, I kept less than 10% of the photos that I shot … and as it turns out, nearly half of what I kept involved cyclists, joggers, or skaters moving past the small “Strawberry Fields” sign in the background.
When I was finished photographing, I walked back towards Central Park West along a small sidewalk — instead of the more “obvious” path of following the wide east-west roadway transverse to the 72nd Street exit. As a result, I came directly into the center of the Strawberry Fields memorial area, where a few people were picnicking, and a much larger number of people were standing around the huge “Imagine” plaque that had been laid into the paved stones. All in all, it seemed like a nice way to wrap up the set of photos …