Big Park, Weird Place
City Park in New Orleans reflects the city around it. Normal on paper, a collected assortment of glitter and blight in practice. It possesses many features that one might associate with a regular “park” like swings (probably), shade-making trees, (certainly), and strung-out pagans. (periodically) City Park has lots of great sections where a combination of post-katrina neglect and post-katrina binge-drinking have seemingly coalesced into questionable choices. Questionable, but borderline charming all the same. Among it’s chief contents that set it apart from regular parks of the first world are:
-A strange silo behind a cafe full of black swans and weird ducks where they roost and lay eggs, to what end, I have no idea. They don’t seem to be collected, and nobody appears to be even aware of the space
-A tiny train big enough for children to ride and small enough for me to use to act-out scenarios wherein I am Godzilla
-A Stadium bearing the unfortunate name “Tad Gormley”
-A formerly dilapidated golf-course, left to fall entirely into disrepair after Katrina complete with impassibly tall grass, scary abandoned snack-shacks, and (probably) the ghosts of golfers who died
-Alligators, golden pheasants, and wild pigs
-A small cafe featuring the most down-trodden staff that I have personally witnessed in a city that runs on the energy made from crushing the souls of service industry workers
-A park-within-the-park that features life-size versions of storybook and fairy-tale characters, presumably to induce terror in children and ruin their childhood tales forever
Of all the strange trinkets the park has to offer up to the observant soul, the crown jewel for me is the Singing Oak, or Chime Tree. A massive live oak tree stands alone in a field at the front of the park. Within the branching boughs someone has hung chimes of all different sizes and shapes. They are painted black, presumably to blend in with the shadowed branches of the tree. With a huge range in size (the longest reaching over 14 feet), the dozens of chimes act as a random-theme generator, different and swaying, but tuned with the goal of harmony.
Unless one takes the time to actually walk out underneath the tree, the mystic symphony will go unheard. The Singing Oak, however, does not take requests. I sat underneath it for nearly forty minutes requesting fairly simple American songs, and it did not seem able to even play the simplest ones. But I guess it’s still cool.