Archives for category: park

Yesterday you read about how our group gathered on a lawn across from the High Line before heading up for our walk along the elevated park.

Hanging out in 14th Street Park is very different from walking the High Line — one is a quiet, serene, nearly empty patch of green in the middle of the city, a little urban oasis; the other is a tourist mecca, a narrow, constructed space with literally thousands of people walking through it at any given time. It’s a different sort of experience (motion rather than stillness, sound rather than silence, lots of contact with strangers rather than next to none), and not everyone in our group was up for braving it. So as we went from the park to the street outside…

…and from the street up onto the High Line itself–

Some of our members peeled off, leaving only a core group to walk the walk.

What is the High Line? It used to be a set of elevated train tracks used by freight trains to get goods to and from the Meatpacking District back when meat was actually packed there. Abandoned for years, the tracks got resurrected as a park by some urban developers who realized they could be made unique and gorgeous and turned into a site for pleasant strolls and sun-swept relaxation. And you know how we love our relaxation.

So we’ve been coming to the High Line from our group’s earliest days, before the whole thing was even done being rebuilt. One of our photos from those days was even chosen by the High Line for inclusion in the fancy coffee table art book they put out to celebrate their creation:

Now the rebuilding is done, and the High Line offers a delicious variety of intriguing and photogenic spaces.

Open stretches and covered ones —

Scenic overlooks —

Spots graced by views of the city’s newest grand public sculpture —

Speaking of which, it’s possible to accidentally walk off the High Line (a public park) and onto a private plaza owned and run by the new Hudson Yards property barons. We know it’s possible because we did it! And got politely (well, sort of politely) ushered back off the private plaza by a security guard who kept trying to get us to be sympathetic to him. (He seemed to think if he didn’t chase us off it would cost him his job. Who knows? Maybe that’s even true.)

But the High Line itself is public and public in the very best way — meaning free for anyone to walk any time, with or without a shirt on, whether you’re a woman or a man. We were thrilled to visit our old haunt again and to feel as welcome as ever.

What came next? Well after the heat of the day and the effort of the walk, we were ready for something cool. Fortunately, there was an ice cream truck waiting at the exit — run by a wonderful woman from Greece, no stranger to topless sunbathing herself. 🙂

From there we had another long walk before us — at street level this time, from the far west side to midtown, where we could hop a subway. How did that stroll differ from our walk on the High Line? Find out in Part III of our report — coming later this week.

We’ve been visiting the High Line before the High Line was even finished being built.

This year was the first time we got to see the whole thing, all the way to the endpoint on West 34th Street, capped by that grand new work of public sculpture nicknamed (actually named?) “The Vessel.”

It was quite an adventure, and we’re going to write about it in three separate posts this week, to give you a feeling for the whole afternoon. Which began with us gathering near the entrance to the High Line at 14th Street and Tenth Avenue, where there’s a convenient little park called (uncreatively enough) “14th Street Park.”

It’s barely a park at all, really. One square block of concrete paving with a single circular grassy hillock in the center. (Does it even count as a hillock? It barely rises at all in the center. Really it’s just a flat grassy circle. Is it even a circle or an ellipse? These are the questions we wonder about. We read a lot, and we like getting these things right.)

Anyway, we gathered, and we did it on the grass in 14th Street Park. First just a couple of us, then a handful, then a gaggle, then a pack.

Well, what group noun would you use for a group of topless women? It’s a “dazzle” of zebras, which doesn’t seem fair somehow — why can’t we have that one? A “convocation” of eagles, a “parliament” of owls, a “quiver” of cobras. A “murmuration” of starlings. Well, we murmured, we convoked. We probably quivered a bit. We like to think maybe we dazzled. But mostly we just relaxed, enjoying the sun and the breeze and each others’ excellent company.

That’s it — a “relaxation” of topless women.

Our relaxation held onto the park long enough that total strangers around us took notice and found enough comfort or curiosity to join in. This woman from Atlanta by way of Texas walked up to us, asked a few questions, and before long was sitting in our circle, and before much longer had her breasts bared in solidarity and joy.

Two women from Colombia went topless but stayed face down or held their shirts over their chests, saying they worked nearby and didn’t want to chance their employers seeing them out the window of their office building. Fair enough. But they took our info and promised to go properly top-free when we next meet in some other neighborhood. And another woman went down to just the thongiest of thongs. We felt our influence was doing some good.

Our meet-up included some first-timers, most of whom discovered us over Instagram. (In the last month alone 564 women in NYC have told us over Insta that they’d like to join us! We welcome every last one.)

We also had some second- and third-timers from events earlier this summer–

–and some old friends, back again from earlier High Line visits.

While waiting for all these folks to show up, we had books to occupy us…

…and snacks (these chips are made of chicken — no, really)–

…and just getting to know each other (we did the summer camp thing of going around a circle saying our names and where we’re from and was this our first time, etc.).

And when that ran out of steam, we got ourselves up off the grass,

headed toward the exit,

and out onto the street.

What came next? The High Line, of course — and you’ll see more of that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, if you’re a woman in NYC and think what you see in these photos looks like fun? Drop us a note. It’s easy: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

You’ll be part of our relaxation in no time.

There are many parks in New York City, many even just in Manhattan, and even after eight years we haven’t been to every single one. So why do we have some spots we come back to again and again?

Because they’re special. This one was special to no less a New York City luminary than Edgar Allan Poe, who lived a few blocks away, christened the spot after his landlord’s son (or so the story goes), and came here to meditate and write his poetry. What obscure poem did he work on here? We won’t give it away, but it starts, “Once upon a midnight dreary…”

How did this location inspire a classic of gothic melancholy? You’ve got us. There’s nothing dreary about the spot, with its giant boulder, its lush foliage, its towering trees, and its views of nearby hills and paths. The Hudson River flows nearby, as does the majestic West Side Highway. (Poe missed out on the latter.)

And better than all the rest is the privacy the boulder affords, once you’ve climbed to the crest. There’s room enough for two dozen people to set out towels and take off their clothing, and as long as you’re sitting down, no one lower down in the park can see you. As a location for people coming to one of our events — and maybe also to outdoor toplessness — for the first time, it’s pretty much ideal.

So it won’t surprise you to learn that many of the people we invited this time were first-timers —

— though there were some second-timers as well, returning after enjoying our visit to Summit Rock a week or two earlier.

(Interestingly, there’s no rock at Summit Rock. At least not like there is here. See what happens when you get anyone less than an immortal poet to name locations in your park for you?)

We discovered all sorts of interesting coincidences as our new members met and made friends. Vegans met vegans, chefs met chefs, a couple of doctors met an aspiring medical student. But there was also diversity of every variety, across the spectrums of gender and age and race and body type.

We had tasty snacks and beverages —

–read everything from a weighty photo history on street art to 1984 to Joyce Carol Oates’ psychedelic riff on the Charles Manson murders, The Triumph of the Spider Monkey

–and we napped,

–and chatted,

–and smiled,

–and everyone treated everyone else with kindness, patience, respect, enthusiasm, and warmth.

Why can’t every group of people be like this? We come from all sorts of different backgrounds, different neighborhoods, different countries of origin sometimes, and yet somehow we are able to be good to each other, to be humane. To be, in a word (and notwithstanding our partial nudity), decent. It’s not hard. In fact, it feels like the easiest thing in the world. And if two dozen people who start out as total strangers to one another can do it, who says two million people can’t? Or two hundred million?

Well, one step at a time. First you climb a hill, then a boulder, then a mountain.

Would you like to join us on our quest? Show the world what freedom looks like, what equality looks like — what decency looks like — and enjoy some great times doing it? We’d love to hear from you. Email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or message us on Insta or Twitter at @ToplessPulp.

Because we know you rock, too.

Mostly when we meet in one of New York City’s parks we keep to the ground. But the last time we visited Central Park, there was a tree we found simply irresistible.

First, one of our organizers found her way onto its branches–

–and then several of our first-timers followed suit.

And at least one made it into the upper branches.

All this was good practice for the event we held a week later, which was on the top of a giant boulder in Riverside Park! But those photos are for another day. (Well, okay, here’s just one, to give you a taste:

For now, we’ll remember fondly our afternoon of climbing a more organic surface — and greeting this venerable tree’s bare limbs and trunk with our own.

Each year around this time of year, with the city’s colleges and private schools out for the summer and public schools about to be, we like to hold a picnic in one of Central Park’s quieter spots for students and recent graduates, to celebrate several things: the end of another school year; the fact that in New York it is legal for women to go topless anywhere a man can; and the fact that this equal right applies equally to all women, regardless of age, race, background, body type, sexuality or any other attribute.

Why is this last point important? Well, in terms of age, we’ve found that girls and young women often feel uncertain whether the law really applies to them, and this lack of certainty and lack of confidence too often leads them to curb their own exercise of the freedoms they’re entitled to. No young man, having just finished a year of high school, would ever question whether he’s entitled to take his shirt off for a game of frisbee in the park — but ask his twin sister if she’s got the same right and you’re likely to get a different answer.

In terms of race, women of color often (and understandably) are uncertain that they’ll be treated with as much tolerance as white women — by either random passerby or the police — if they choose to go topless in a public place. And queer women sometimes worry that, if they are perceived as such. their rights might not be respected as much as those of their cishet sisters.

And of course the intersection of two or more of those identities can lead to higher anxiety still, and an even greater tendency toward self-policing.

So: our student picnic, where we specifically reach out to young women who might not otherwise even have heard of our group, and go out of our way to put together an event that’s diverse in as many dimensions as possible. It’s not “virtue signaling” — it’s a project to deliberately assemble a group large enough and diverse enough that everyone can feel comfortable within it, and then give first-timers who might never otherwise try outdoor toplessness a chance to do so. (It also doesn’t mean we don’t care about diversity the rest of the time — it’s always important to us. But we think it’s good also to make a special extra effort from time to time.)

We also invite some of our longtime members, to act as guides and ease the newcomers’ transition into the world of body comfort.

To jump to the happy ending: this year again, as in all previous years we’ve been doing this, we had a wonderful time. None of the random passerby who wandered through the glade we quietly took over gave us more than a passing glance, no one complained, and no one was made to feel uncomfortable. As for our new members themselves, everyone was friendly and warm and open, and by the end of the event, everyone was gladly exchanging contact info and pledging to stay in touch.

Some were so comfortable, they left the park with their breasts uncovered, relishing their new freedom.

As one new member told us after, “It was my first time and it felt very normal to just be outdoors with bare skin. I was surprisingly very comfortable and I hope to muster up the courage to do this more often when I’m alone in public.”

Alone is tougher, of course — people are more likely to give a hard time to a woman who’s by herself than a group of ten or twenty women. There is safety in numbers, and strength, and solidarity. But alone or in groups, we are so glad to see that more women are discovering the pleasure of what we do and mustering the courage to do it themselves.

So…how about you? Would you like to try it sometime? If you’ve been curious or tempted, even if you were also unsure or nervous, please take a moment and email us. We’re at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’ll find the event — small or large, more private or more public, only topless or fully nude — that’s right for you.

Now is the time, while it’s warm out and while a little voice inside is saying, “You can do that too.” You can. It’s your right. Let us help you discover it.

So here it is, April at last, spring at last, still in the 40s, and we don’t mean celsius, but with the occasional balmier afternoon, the occasional patch of sunlight that warms you like a memory of summer; and you know us, we jump on that like kittens on a plump sofa cushion. The first daffodils of the season are out, and the first cherry blossoms, and by god, so are we,

Central Park is starting to turn green, the trampled soil cautiously putting out its first grassy feelers. And with the return of the grass come some of the park’s more curious denizens: the bagpiper, with his mournful tunes; the t-shirted LARPers, Game of Thronesing it up with a pair of foam swords apiece; and the hopeful sunbathers, trying by sheer force of will to make the thermometer read 70. We had no bagpipe, no foam swords. But force of will? We’ve got that to burn.

We visited our old friends, the flowers–

–and the statues by the Columbus Circle fountain.

We dined on french fries from Landmarc across the way–

–and read books by Stephen King.

For no particular reason, we fooled around with a shiny bit of mylar that caught our eyes as it glittered in the foliage.

But mostly we just reveled in the feeling that spring was finally on her way and that life was returning with her. Soon it will be properly warm, and shedding our jackets and shirts won’t require any bravery of a temperature-related variety. And we want to remind our female readers that it shouldn’t require any bravery of any other variety either — men take their tops off in the sun all the time, and it’s every woman’s legal right (in New York, at least) to do the same thing.

Would you like to join us sometime? Especially if it’s your first time exercising your equal rights, doing it with other people might be more comfortable. We welcome first timers and old hands, the eager and the nervous alike. (Trust us, we’re not all equally bold. But we do all like to feel the sun on our chest.)

If you’re an open-minded, body-positive woman, we’d love to hear from you — email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and we’ll find the sunny spot, and the taste of freedom, that’s right for you.

IMG_7613Yes, it’s November — yes, Thanksgiving is on the horizon — yes, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Yes, yes, yes. But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of warm weather. It’s statistically unlikely, but if you’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for as long as we’ve been doing it, you’ve seen some warm November days. Even warm December days. Not this year, so far. But it has happened. Photographic evidence provided here.

IMG_7561IMG_7557IMG_7594IMG_3373IMG_7568Will 2018 give us any? Who knows. If so, we’ll grab them. But if not, we at least have these memories to warm ourselves by.

IMG_8745IMG_8717IMG_8804IMG_8765IMG_8726And thank you for voting yesterday.

Warmer days are ahead.

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