Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Simple, But Effective
I imagine you had to be there to appreciate the humor. The same man who swore that there was no reason not to move to Santa Barbara (see Not Going Anywhere here) was known for his pithy aphorisms. Some years ago, he offered one of my favorites.
When fanfare, drama, and over-the-top displays are all around, how do you distinguish yourself? If you have traveled to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, during the Christmas holiday season, you know what I am talking about (see stories here and here; see photo galleries here and here). With fierce pride, ego, and in the one-upmanship style often found among New York City residents, the Christmas displays in Dyker Heights have reached outrageous proportions. You're certainly not going to stand out or even be noticed unless you take a radically different approach. And not everyone has the financial means or the motivation to stage a Disneyesque extravaganza on their front lawn.
One holiday season, I was on one of my first visits touring the neighborhood with friends. One of our group was that very same man who made the threat regarding moving to Santa Barbara. As we cruised the area, we would periodically see a nice, elegant, but very modest display.
As we passed these types of very simple displays, often perhaps just a string of lights in a single color hung elegantly in a tree, our friend would roll down his window in order to show respect, observe seriously as one might admire a fine work of art, and then state very approvingly with the utmost gravitas, "Simple, but effective." This became the night's refrain as, from time to time, any one of us spotting an appropriate candidate would call out, "Simple, but effective." We loved it, and in the context of the evening as we became numbed by the extravagant displays, the phrase became hilarious and a mantra we would use for years to come whenever simple elegance reigned.
On Monday night at the Village Halloween Parade, I began to weary of the costumes and overwhelming experience of it all - the crowds, traffic, police, media, competing photographers, and noise. I even began to tire of the brilliant creativity and wonderful pageantry. A fellow photographer actually came over to me, said that I looked too serious, and suggested that I enjoy it. After all, it was a parade. Lest I be seen as a burnt out curmudgeon, I will tell you that all of my friends, most of whom are long-time residents of the Village, have not gone to the parade in many eons - it's just too much work if you have done it already. In my case, only my ability to get a press pass and enter the parade gives me incentive to go.
I was not particularly focused - the sheer volume of paraders makes it impossible to see even a small number of the best costumes. Invariably, I am disappointed to see the most interesting participants following the parade night when looking at other photos.
However, in all the mayhem, I spotted one woman who shone through it all with her simple costume. Perhaps you might want to say that this woman's makeup strains the definition of "simple". In a vacuum, you may be right, but at the annual Village Halloween Parade, it could easily be considered simple. So, my hat off to her for such a stunning costume amid the night's festivities, achieved in a manner that we may say is Simple, But Effective :)
Photo Note: This photo was to be included as the featured photo on yesterday's parade posting, yet ironically, it was overlooked, buried on my computer desktop. When I was busy this morning closing all the parade photos, there it was, having been lost in the fanfare and flurry. This story immediately came to mind as I reflected on how one must be attentive or beauty can be missed, particularly when it is simple, but effective.