Archives for category: park

Between March and May, we didn’t once meet as a group. Not indoors, not outdoors. We quarantined, like the rest of the world.

And we still are. But very cautiously, with care to stay safe and healthy, we’ve gently begun poking our heads outside and gathering again — in very small groups, seated at least 6 feet apart, only outdoors (where virus transmission rates appear to be vastly lower), and with masks on hand…but gathering again, finally, to sit in the sun and talk to other human beings through a medium other than Zoom or Facetime.

Half a dozen of us met, on separate towels except where two were from the same household and could safely have closer contact.

We chose one of the quietest lawns we know, in the northern reaches of Central Park — the part of the park where the street numbers reach triple digits and the tourists (are there still any in New York?) never go.

All the same, we were happened upon by various solitary walkers and small family groups; one even picnicked within sight of us (though a Covid-appropriate distance away). And we’re pleased to say that our toplessness excited exactly zero interest or comment.

We thought our cautious removal of our masks might call down more opprobrium these days than our baring our breasts — but neither did. Kudos to our fellow New Yorkers for forbearance, tolerance, patience. The classic NYC live-and-let-live attitude is even more to everyone’s credit now when infractions genuinely can be a matter of life and death. We owe it to each other to safeguard each other’s wellbeing — no breathing on your fellow citizens! But the sight of our breasts does not have any infectious quality, unless it might infect someone with a taste for freedom, for equal rights, for physical comfort. And those are the sort of viral qualities you don’t want to obstruct.

Two weeks have passed since this day in the park, and we can report that everyone is still healthy (ink notwithstanding!).

And so we’re planning our next couple of events. If you’d like to join us, please email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Space is limited, obviously, but we welcome all women to get in touch, and if you want to join us sometime — to come out with a towel and a book and just, for once in so many difficult months, relax — we’ll find a way.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll take advantage of any opportunities you might have for solo adventures — on your roof, on the fire escape, in the yard, in the park. Stay safe and stay smart, but we hope you do find your way out and uncover.

We formed this group a decade ago to fight the injustice of being treated differently because of an accident of birth — specifically, being born female in a world constructed by and for men. But as we’re constantly, cruelly, and painfully being reminded, gender is not the only axis along which injustice and inequality are dealt out. Race is another, and the events of recent months have been shocking, horrifying, heartbreaking. They have also been galvanizing, with thousands — tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands — rising up to say, “We will tolerate no more.”

We want to express our solidarity with the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and with anyone anywhere who fights for the right to live their life free from oppression, from violence, from cruelty, from fear.

(Our own encounters with the police have been few and in the end have all worked out okay — but that doesn’t change the gut-wrenching fear when you see armed men walking toward you with looks of impatience and intolerance on their faces, especially given the very real danger that you might one day encounter the “bad” cop who doesn’t know or disregards the law in his zeal to punish you for something that is no crime.)

As a group of readers, one small way we feel we can contribute is by directing people toward books that might help open eyes and minds and educate all of us about the issues surrounding race and racism in America. With that in mind, we are glad to share two recommended reading lists of books on these topics: one from The Book Table and one from Refinery29.

While we’re at it, another bookstore you should know about is Elizabeth’s in Akron. Not only do they offer a wide selection of relevant books, a portion of every sale goes to the Loveland Foundation to support their mission of making mental healthcare accessible for black women and girls.

Educating ourselves is only one small step — but it’s an important one, and we hope you’ll join us in taking it.

We look forward to the day when no person will be denied their innate human dignity or their fundamental equal rights because of the color of their skin or the conformation of their anatomy. The fight will not be easy or short — it already hasn’t been. But it is worth fighting.

Three months into quarantine — lockdown — shelter-at-home — whatever you call it — and we’re still not able to meet as a group. No one in NYC is. But somehow life is still going on. Yesterday was Memorial Day, and Central Park was full of families sharing a picnic blanket at least six feet away from the next family or walking the paths, masked. And people who love to be topless are finding ways to be topless, whether that means finding a quiet clearing in the park–

Or leaving the city for a wilder terrain–

Or getting rid of their shirt while driving–

Or on the roof–

Or the back porch–

Or an empty stretch of beach —

Or just in the privacy of their own home.

Meanwhile, some of our members embrace online challenges like reproducing famous works of art, or invent provocative new images of their own.

It passes the time. But we hope it’s not too much longer before the situation improves and we can meet with our friends again! Safely, carefully, but together rather than alone. June may not be the month for it, we realize. Nobody knows what month it’ll be. But it’ll be some month, and hopefully some month soon, while the temperature is warm enough to pull down our swimsuits and wear nothing but sunscreen.

It’ll come. We promise: we’ll be back.

As we write this, on May 1, 2020, we’re 7 weeks into a global lockdown. Quarantine. Call it what you will. This wasn’t the way the year was supposed to go. It was supposed to get warmer, winter was supposed to give way to spring, buds were going to start peeking out from tree branches and nipples from under shirts. Life was going to start again.

We got a little foretaste of it on March 9 — a preview of the spring on a day when, improbably, the sun came out and the temperature soared into the 70s.

It seemed like all of New York City came out into the streets and parks to breathe deep of the suddenly temperate air. There must have been a few thousand people in Washington Square Park, seated side by side on the grass, still damp and slightly muddy from the previous night’s rain.

The feeling in the air was one of amity and comity, of tolerance and openness, of warmth of every kind.

So when our group’s eager members gathered on the lawn, first in a tight little group–

–and then in a sprawling one numbering 20 or more, no one gave us a second look (much less a hostile one). No one told us to put our tops back on or bothered us in any way.

And we in turn were tolerant when approached by neighborhood characters like the Free Hugs man.

Who doesn’t want a hug sometimes?

Some of our long-time members showed up, eager to throw off the shackles of winter hibernation.

And some first-timers joined us too, taking a long, late lunch from office jobs or playing hooky from their last classes of the day.

How could office work or homework compete with a chance to feel the sun on your skin?

We took these photos 54 days ago and have been holding onto them ever since. When we took them, we had no idea that this would be our one and only event for the next two months — or three months or six months or maybe all year. Who could possibly have imagined what was coming just a few days later?

We almost didn’t want to post them — as if by holding them back, we were keeping a little bit of that day alive, as if we could avoid facing the fact that our larder is now empty: no more photos waiting to be posted, no more events to tell you about.

Oh, we’re still optimistic that things will get better before the summer comes and goes. But even if they do — even if a small set of us cautiously decides to gather in the warmth of June or July or August, sitting 6 feet apart from one another in some quiet corner of Central Park — it won’t be the same. Not thousands of people sharing a lawn and a beautiful day, careless and free, without masks, without fear, without the specter of sickness and death. Freedom is still important, and so is equality, and we’ll continue to fight for both. But it’ll be a while before anyone will feel easy and comfortable again.

It’s a new world, and we will learn how to navigate it. But for now, we share with you this moment of bliss, this moment Before.

We’re glad so many of you were able to share it with us in person, and we’re glad so many more of you will share it with us now in memory.

Life in New York has changed — life everywhere has changed.

The rules have changed: no gatherings of more than 10 people; no “non-essential” gatherings of more than 2 people; no gatherings, period. No going outside for anything but buying food or medicine or to see a doctor or for a bit of daily exercise. No going within six feet of another human being.

But the people of New York haven’t changed, the people in our group haven’t changed, and the laws that state that women in New York have all the same freedoms as men haven’t changed — meaning that whatever limited freedom we are allowed, we can use it topless if we want. And we do want. Every little taste of freedom matters, even more so at a time like this.

So we asked our members to share selfies with us, showing how they’re spending their quarantine hours, whether that’s the limited time we’re allowed out or the endless hours we’re spending in — and whether they’re in New York or not. Our members are spread all over the world at this point, and for once this is an event everyone can take part in.

So where do we go when we need to feel the touch of sun and air on our skin? In the limited time we’re allowed, we go out to the park or the forest or the riverbank.

Or just the nearest grassy lawn, together with our canine companion and the most unsentimental book ever written.

We get topless on the deck outside our house, if there is one,

Or up on the roof,

Or out on the fire escape.

Or, if we must, we get our sun through our windows.

What, you thought we’d wear tops when we’re stuck at home? Whether it’s “remote learning” or “working from home,” the only thing we need to have on is our MacBook.

Or not even. We just get some traditional books, and a nice glass of something to go with them, and we’re good for hours.

It does make us appreciate the pleasures of reading even more than we already did.

And that’s just the first 10 people we heard from! We’d love to hear from you too. Show us how you’re spending your quarantine time, whether it’s sheltering at home or seizing the chance to be naked outdoors in some quiet, unpopulated spot.

Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta.

We can’t be together — but you can join us all the same.

March 9, 2020.

For the last leg of our end-of-season visit to our favorite NYC parks, we paid our first visit of the year to Union Square.

Why Union Square? Well, to start with, it’s home to the city’s biggest farmer’s market, which means fresh-picked fruit to feast on — or to wear as impromptu pasties.

It’s also quiet, in spite of being home to a subway station and a never-ending stream of pedestrians (and chess hustlers, and street vendors, and, and, and…). The lawns on the east side of Union Square are set off by fencing and shrubbery and statues and just generally feel like an oasis amid all the midtown tumult.

It’s near the New School and some other schools where members of our group are enrolled, making it a perfect spot for a quick topless break between classes.

It’s far enough downtown that no one bats an eye if you walk from the subway to the park in a stylish leather top that lets you enjoy the breeze almost as thoroughly as if you had no top on at all.

Nor does anyone remark on it when you switch to actually having no top on at all.

But there was another reason for our choice when we went there on an unseasonably warm day earlier this month: Union Square is within walking distance of our favorite rooftop sundeck, and we wanted to pay a last visit there as well. So we had a rather full day: topless in the park at noon, nude sunbathing on the roof at 3.

Was that too much naked fun for one day? Sure — for a day in July, with the summer stretched out before us, feeling endless. But for a day in October?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, the poet tells us, and so we did.

Would you like to gather some rosebuds with us when next spring rolls around? Or perhaps discover what indoor fun we’ve cooked up for the fall and winter? Drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta or Twitter. You’ll find that when you’re with us, naked is always in season. 🙂

For the third leg of our valedictory tour, we returned to Central Park, but the southern end this time, where all the tourists do go. This being one of the very last days of summer, there weren’t all that many tourists around — or all that many of us, for that matter. (School had started, summer Fridays were over at work, iffy weather made people hesitant. And so on.) But those of us who came enjoyed a truly lovely afternoon.

It was overcast, so no need for sunscreen (although the sun did peek out once or twice!), and there’s really no better spot for a mid-afternoon picnic on the grass than the lawn at Columbus Circle.

If it was too chilly at first to go fully topless, it wasn’t too cold to unbutton–

–or to find other ways of setting our nipples free.

And it did warm up! After a bit of brisk weather at the start we found ourselves bathed by gentle breezes and warmed lightly by the sun.

We weren’t super-energetic this time (for the most part). It was a snoozy afternoon, but that’s fine. Nothing nicer than lying in the grass with friends.

No one bothered us, our bare-chestedness notwithstanding. Which is proof yet again that a) New York is the coolest place on earth, and b) people here have finally figured out that a woman going topless isn’t grounds for ogling or catcalls or complaints or even paying attention especially. Yes, one teenage boy came over on the obviously concocted grounds of asking where the nearest bathroom was, but eh. A boy’s got to see his first boobs sometime. What do you want to bet he’ll treat the sight as more of an ordinary one now that he’s seen women simply relaxing without shirts on, just like he and his friends do all the time, rather than only ever having seen a woman’s chest in the context of porn or some sexualized videogame?

This was one of our last park outings for the year — but not the very last (yes, there’s a Part IV still to come). And we’re still holding out hope for a warm November! But if we don’t get that, we’ll have indoor events to tide us over until the thaw in the spring. Want to join us, indoors or out? We’d love to hear from you. Just email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta or Twitter.

For the second leg of our valedictory tour (which began in the secluded northern reaches of Central Park), we went back to the place we began this summer: Washington Square Park.

Now, Washington Square is about as different from upper Manhattan as you can get, and not just because it’s on the opposite end of the island. Where the meadow in Central Park is pretty empty even on warm summer days, Washington Square Park is busy and crowded even when it’s cold out — and the day we returned was far from cold. So the lawns were full of NYU students (and professors, and random other people) taking a last bit of sun for the season.

That didn’t stop us from doing the same. And happily, the results weren’t so very different from what we experienced up north. Far more people saw, but they ignored us (not counting the one wild-eyed fellow in an ill-fitting suit who stopped by to tell us about his role in the development of the anarchist movement — and we have a feeling he would’ve buttonholed us no matter what we’d been wearing). We felt comfortable and safe, two things you might not expect to feel out in public without a shirt on, surrounded by a hundred strangers.

New York seems to have accepted the fact that women have the same freedom of choice that men have when it comes to how much or how little to wear. When we first visited this park eight years ago, we certainly got more questioning looks than we got this time. It’s real progress, and we’re so pleased to have had a role, however small, in bringing it about.

What did we spend our time doing? Not all that much reading, although three books by Stephen King made an appearance. (The Shining, Joyland, and The Colorado Kid, if you’re wondering.) An adorable puppy also made an appearance, briefly, and got lots of attention.

Mostly we spent the time getting to know each other, since there were a number of first timers in the group. According to time-honored tradition we said hello by comparing ink.

We also shared some ingestible treats, most of them 100% legal.

And we just lay back and recharged our batteries.

How will we recharge when it’s too cold out for sunning in the park? We have no shortage of plans: there will be a topless karaoke night in November and our annual spa visit in December, among other well-heated delights. But we do miss being outdoors and warmed by the late summer sun.

Might November contain a day warm enough for us to do it again? It might — we’ll see. If you’d like to join us if it does, email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta or Twitter. Same thing if you’re in the mood for singing along to Madonna’s greatest hits. We’d love to make your acquaintance — indoors or out.

The temperature is in the 50s and dropping — next Sunday, the low is supposed to be 40. On top of that, it’s raining, the Duane Reade down the block is advertising Halloween specials, and all in all it just feels like summer ended a million years ago.

But it didn’t. Less than 3 weeks ago it was 90 degrees in New York City — only for one afternoon, true, but it was in the 80s for longer, and even when it dropped into the 70s it was still quite comfortable to be topless outdoors. So for the past several weeks we’ve been enjoying a valedictory lap around the parks of Manhattan, conscious that it was our last chance to enjoy them before the cold properly set in and the only thing getting denuded in the park would be the trees.

We started up at the north end of Central Park, which is like the upper reaches of the Himalayas in the sense that tourists never go that high, so you’ve basically got the place to yourself. There’s a meadow we like to use, which is secluded enough even at the height of summer and basically empty when fall rolls around. You can stand on your head with nothing on but a thong and no one sees, no one cares, no one says a word.

You can also gather with twenty of your closest friends and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin,

…secure in the knowledge not only that what you’re doing is completely legal (it’s been legal for 27 years for women to go topless anywhere in New York a man can) but also that, even if someone does pass by and see, it won’t raise any eyebrows. This is New York. Upper Manhattan. People see stranger things in this neighborhood than a girl with her titties out.

So we got our titties out.

And lo and behold, no one cared. Why can’t everywhere be like this? We had a few boys in the group this time, and our barechestedness drew as little attention as theirs — including from them.

We were able to read in peace,

and even get some schoolwork done.

Practice some asanas,

and our sk8r grl moves.

Show off ink and body jewelry,

and our selective adoption of undergarments.

Have a nosh al fresco,

and just lie back and daydream.

Even when we left the park, a few of us kept up the spirit of liberty that had animated our afternoon.

And why not? Why shouldn’t women be as free to walk down the street shirtless as men?

Nothing but cold weather should make us put more clothes on. And even then, we find all sorts of fun things to do naked indoors! But that’s a subject for another post — a whole winter’s worth of posts, in fact. For now, we’re going to remember the summer as it was at the very end: sweet and warm and free and fabulous.