By Jean H Charles
I have always been fascinated by New York in September; since taking time off to be with my 101-year-old father in Haiti, I have been missing some Septembers in New York. Sudden business matters forced me to be in New York this September, as such I am delighted by and I am regaling in the pleasure of summer yielding to fall in the magic of the moments.
While summer was the lazy time, when time itself could stay still, the beginning of autumn in September is the start of the cycle of life when school opens its doors again, business doubles its hiring process, as if life renews itself de novo in a new spin that will accelerate progress. The Jewish people know something that the rest of the world does not; it is for them the beginning of the year.
September starts in New York with the giant West Indian parade on Eastern Parkway, the parade that can be seen from the moon, because it gathers some three to four million people in one small corner of Brooklyn, frolicking in the debauchery of the mores and the culture of the Caribbean.
It is also the US Open, when tennis aficionados from around the world and from around the United States converge on the Ashe Stadium and its courts to watch Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal and other tennis stars compete for the coveted prize of the Grand Slam in the US before moving on to other parts of the world where the tennis circuit makes or breaks the winners.
At this year’s Open, a young Haitian American Victoria Duval breaks the code to become a champion.
As soon as the US Open is over, the Fashion Week, with its new venue at the Lincoln Center away from Bryant Park, draws the true stars as well as the aspiring ones to the runway from where the dresses for the Emmys would get their inspiration.
September in New York is also the time when the heads of state and government from around the world converge on the Big Apple to attend the annual general session of the world assembly at the United Nations. With the efficiency of a Swiss clock, the New York City police, added to the Secret Service agents from Washington, whisk prime ministers and kings and dictators from their hotel venues to the east side of Manhattan in the Assembly Hall, where they will inform the world of the progress and status of their countries in the year past.
Iran was high on the agenda, as well as Syria. The Iranian Diaspora opposition put up a huge demonstration on the Peace Plaza to denounce President Hassan Rouhani as a so called dictator with velvet gloves. They have been in exile since the departure of the Shah on January 1979. It was 34 years ago. They are longing to go back home and rebuild Iran.
September in New York is when Bill Clinton on the west side of Manhattan presides at the Clinton Global initiative, attracting kings and stars and moguls of the industry to pledge commitments towards eradicating malaria, ignorance and malnutrition in some parts of the world where squalor, suffering and sinister government is the lot of many, compounding their misery in a never ending demonic spiral.
It does not come cheap. It costs $20,000 to register and the food is not that hot. But you can and you will mingle with all the moguls of this world.
Haiti as usual did have a special place in the heart and the minds of the attendees. With Bill Clinton, Sean Penn and Denis O’Brien (Digicel) on its side as marketers, it will remain on the front burner for a long time. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe made a compelling case on why Haiti is sexy. One does not visit Haiti once, Bill Clinton has said, who caught the Haitian bug since the days of his honeymoon in that magic land.
September is the last call for the beautiful tropical flowers that fill the dividers and the giant pots at each corner street of Manhattan, giving the impression that Manhattan is an extension of the Caribbean, where those plants and those flowers grow in the wild, pumping out where they please, making you wonder whether God has a hand in the planting?
September is the time for harvest, when the fruits such as apple, pears and plums are ready to give away their crop for the year, making food in New York much cheaper than in the islands. While four bananas cost one dollar in Haiti, I bought a whole bunch of ten for one dollar in New York.
September is the time where I am longing for the wood chimney, when the temperature is not cold enough to light the gas furnace, but cold enough to fill the chimney with wood that you have collected through the year, well dry, now they are ready to provide a warm heat that fills the whole home, making sleeping at night a rendezvous with Alice in Wonderland. Add some pine cones to the burning fire and you have one more pleasure to the senses.
Taking a stroll upstate New York is as enchanting as New York City when the leaves start changing their colors to become red and yellow before they die, fall and replenish the earth and the tree hibernating during the hard and long winter. It is the time for the big agricultural fairs, where the farmers bring their products to show off as proud parents do when their children have brought only honors to the home.
Staying in New York for the fairs, the mother of all fairs takes place on September 29 or the last Sunday of September, the Atlantic Antic, where the giant Atlantic Avenue is closed to vehicles and people invade the avenue to buy antique furniture, and rare pieces unearthed all over the world.
There is also the St Genero fair, the fiesta of all fiestas; this martyr saint from Naples, Italy, offers the occasion for an 11-day extravaganza of food, games and antics all along Little Italy in downtown Manhattan. I brought my son, Nicholas, 24-years-old, to the fair. He was amazed and surprised to discover for the first time a practice that might be as old as New York.
The St Genero Festival gave me an excellent model on how the saints’ fiestas can be organized in Haiti as an economic tool to bring income for the citizens of the cities in question. The organizers of St Genero festival could provide an excellent service to Haiti with this transfer of technology. Haiti does not leave the feast of a saint without a fiesta. Plenty of money can be made for the living while honoring their saints.
September in New York is a cherished privilege for those who long for and enjoy the best in life. It is a must that one should cherish if you can; very few cities in this world offer so much in a month when the last call to bring the plants in, and the winter clothes out, preparing for the long and rigorous winter that will come anyway. It is better than to be in the Caribbean, where sand, surf and sun is always warm. Any one of the islands will do, including mythical Haiti!