Every town is cluttered with statues of the departed. Could be Garibaldi or Mao, Jefferson or Lenin.
Ancient or Modern, they’re dead. And they’re so heroic we hardly notice them. We can’t touch them and they don’t touch us.
But there is another kind of memorial, the ones made by ordinary people to honor ordinary people and they have a power the monuments don’t.
Here’s one from Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn.
Sometimes they whiz by the car, sites where someone got hit.
On my block, a 23-year old girl named Emily Dunn was hit by a bus and killed and this memorial grew and then, itself, died.
This went up a few weeks ago in a doorway a block away:
Right across the street there is this plaque in the sidewalk in front of Harvey Milk’s former camera store. It not only memorializes him, it also contains him, or at least his ashes.
But what of love? Death gets its statues but love we mark on our own. Here, on a bridge over the Seine, sweethearts lock padlocks to mark their affection.
Without any permits or committees or hearings or plans, in the cracks, our feelings.
Very moving. Thank you.
i just saw the padlocks on a youtube travel series called Sonia’s Travels. If you can overlook sonia’s apparent self-adoration in some shots, the footage really captures the ‘secret code’ of cities.