Archives for category: park

IMG_9959Our group’s name notwithstanding, we read all sorts of books, not just pulp fiction. (Not even just fiction.) But when we do read pulp fiction, it’s often from a line called Hard Case Crime, which was founded by a friend of our group who kindly gives us advance peeks into what they’re going to be publishing months and months before anyone else gets to see.

IMG_1708IMG_1765IMG_5166IMG_3593This summer, that meant getting an early look at a first novel called Charlesgate Confidential by film critic Scott Von Doviak. And what a great read it is. An art heist in 1946 leads to a hunt for the missing art in 1986 and then to a series of murders related to the still missing art in the present day, and it’s all woven together in a twisty, satisfying way, all over Boston (even though we read it all over New York).

IMG_4059IMG_7788IMG_1724IMG_7785IMG_7623IMG_7680And we’d offer to lend you one of our ragged, dog-eared copies,

IMG_0074except now we don’t have to because this coming Tuesday the book’s finally being published and you’ll be able to get a copy for yourself!

IMG_9929We don’t generally shill for books, even ones published by our friends, but this one is pretty terrific. Don’t believe us? Here’s what a random guy named Stephen King said about it on Twitter back in June: “Get this book, campers. It’s a fun machine…the white-knuckle kind.”

How did Stephen King get his hands on a copy? Are we saying that Stephen King came to one of our events and stole one of our precious copies of Charlesgate Confidential?? We are so, so, so totally not saying that. Because it wouldn’t be true.

But we do love us some Stephen King too. 🙂

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IMG_7111In August 2011 — seven years ago — half a dozen of us decided that we were going to try doing this thing we knew was legal in New York, but that we’d never been brave enough to do: go topless in the park on a hot summer day.

park-jFor our first test of this freedom we supposedly had, we chose Sheep Meadow, the most glorious grassy lawn in Central Park, a stone’s throw from the legendary eatery Tavern on the Green. (That “green” they’re talking about? It’s Sheep Meadow.) We found our way through the fence and onto the grass, and after a timid moment or two, we unbuttoned, untied, unzipped — un-topped — and did it ever feel good! Not just the solar rays on our sun-deprived skin, but the feeling that we were really as free as the law said we were, that our rights really were equal, and our breasts as valid as any man’s chest. No one stopped us, criticized us, shamed us, ogled us. No one told us to put a shirt on or to go home; no one reminded us that there were children around (though there probably were, there always are). We simply were allowed to be.

IMG_7355IMG_7281IMG_7130Each year since then we’ve come back to Sheep Meadow at least once, and this summer was no exception, except that we left it almost to the very end. Once again half a dozen of us came out to enjoy the sun and the soft grass, the gentle breeze and the lack of judgment. Once again, no comments or stares came our way, just the kiss of the wind against our nipples, and at the very end, the tiniest scattering of raindrops to refresh us and (finally) chase us out of the park.

IMG_7296Two of our longest-time members were there for the event, along with one of our newest: a college student who made her mark instantly by bringing lemon sorbet, Pellegrino water, cups, and ice, for impromptu sorbet cocktails. (We’re keeping her.)

IMG_7166IMG_7357Reading material included a dystopian tale of a world in which women are a lot less free than we are — and which sadly, some days, feels only a few small steps away from coming true.

IMG_7134To take our mind off such dire futures we focused on the moment. Small physical joys. And it was blissful.

IMG_7159IMG_7236IMG_7250Would you like to join us? There’s still time! Monday is Labor Day, the traditional end to the summer season, and we’re marking it with a picnic in the park. If you’re a body-positive woman and in the city over the holiday weekend, why not see for yourself what freedom feels like? Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Before the winter comes  (and before this insane government goes all Margaret Atwood on us). Come out to the park with us, and enjoy the taste of liberty. It’s cool and refreshing, we promise.

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IMG_5030In our last post, we described a wonderful outdoor acroyoga class we held in Washington Square Park, where one of our members instructed us in balancing each other in midair on our feet.

IMG_5442IMG_5585It was a blast. But before we started flying, we had a more down-to-earth meet-up, and we wanted to share that with you too.

IMG_4982IMG_5218IMG_5022It always makes for great photos when we do something out of the ordinary — go rowing on Central Park lake…

octpfas_080513-9288…or snowball fighting in the middle of winter…

IMG_9682But our usual fare is more modest, even if not in the conventional sense of the word. We bring towels out to the park, like you do; we bring a few snacks and some bottles of water; we bring books to read and friends to talk with; and we take our shirts off to enjoy the feeling of the sun on our skin.

IMG_5078If a group of men did this, it would inspire exactly zero comment. Groups of men do it all the time, in fact, and zero comment is what it inspires. But get a group of women together to do the exact same thing, and… Well, on a good day, pretty much the same thing happens, at least in New York. But even here we get the odd comment. “There are children nearby,” one concerned and exasperated-sounding woman called to us. “Don’t you think you should put something on?”

IMG_5246No, we replied. We don’t think that, but thank you for asking? What we do think is that children will grow up healthier — both girls and boys — if they learn at an early age that there is nothing more shameful about a woman’s body than there is about a man’s; that those rounded shapes under a girl’s shirt aren’t some mysterious prize to be quested after or peeked at or groped, they’re just parts of the body like noses or biceps or knees; and that no woman has to apologize for or conceal the way nature has made her. We don’t always love our bodies, but they’re our bodies. And we’re all entitled to enjoy them equally.

IMG_6015IMG_5015IMG_5355The nice thing about Washington Square Park is that out of literally thousands of people enjoying the day together with us in peace and tolerance, only one felt the need to disturb the serenity with an outburst like this. But that’s Washington Square Park, and that’s New York City. We know that women elsewhere in this country and elsewhere in the world don’t have the same freedom we do. And that’s one of the reasons we created this blog, and why we keep posting to it year after year. People still need to discover that women’s bodies are something perfectly ordinary (half the people in the world have one!) and deserve to be treated as uncontroversial whether covered or uncovered.

IMG_5294If you feel the same way we do, we’d love to have you join us sometime. All body-positive women are welcome. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and we’ll find an event that’s right for you.

Remember, it’s already August this week! The summer won’t last forever. If you’ve ever felt curious or tempted or eager to try it for yourself…carpe diem.

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IMG_5748Everyone’s afraid of something. For some of us it’s spiders, enclosed spaces, heights. For others it’s being naked in public. Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you we spent an afternoon in an enclosed space with spiders — that’s a post for another afternoon. (Or never.) But we did have a chance recently to tackle the other two.

IMG_5818IMG_5564Does two or three feet off the ground count as “heights”? Well, it kind of does when you’re being hoisted up and then balanced on a friend’s legs. It’s an exhilarating feeling, but also kind of terrifying, and we got to experience it when one of our members who’s an acroyoga instructor led us in an acro class on a lawn in Washington Square Park.

IMG_5638IMG_5896And does just having no shirt on count as being naked in public? Well, it kind of does when you’re not used to it. So one of our instructors — who had no issue being hoisted and balanced, or even being spun like a beachball while being rotated between another acro pro’s legs — wore discreet pieces of flesh-colored tape rather than go bare-breasted.

IMG_5506Will the second time be easier for all of us? No doubt. Nothing feels quite as scary as the first time you try something new. But kudos to everyone who demonstrated bravery and curiosity the first time out. We had a great time.

IMG_5827IMG_5767There was even some throwing and catching involved, for the very bravest among us.

IMG_5868IMG_5870And one important lesson: you don’t have to be the very bravest. Even if you come to one of our events, you don’t have to do anything you’re not ready to do. Some of us sat out the acroyoga this time, and that was fine.

IMG_5211Some weren’t ready for the toplessness, and that was fine too. You’re welcome either way. Just send email to us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. If you’re female or a female-bodied person, we’ll find an event for you, whether you’re facing your fears or utterly fearless. (Or like most of us, somewhere in between.)

Won’t you come fly with us?

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IMG_6273This past Saturday, five dozen people took all their clothes off in Washington Square Park. Some of our members were among them.

IMG_6041IMG_6147IMG_6135IMG_6055IMG_4250Not only did no one call the cops on this display of naked bodies, but the cops were already there and fully supportive — they were present to make sure everything went smoothly and that none of the naked people were harassed or bothered. And none of us were.

IMG_6131Now, here’s an interesting fact: one day later, if any of us had tried to undress to the exact same extent in the exact same place, we would have gotten stopped, and maybe arrested, by those exact same cops. Does that make any sense to you?

Yes, Saturday was a special day: the 5th annual “New York Bodypainting Day” festival. For five years, artist Andy Golub has brought together fellow artists from all over the country and all over the world to paint nude models on one afternoon in the summer. And yes, there is an exception in the public indecency laws for nudity that occurs in the course of making or exhibiting art. That’s why no one got arrested on Saturday.

But what’s the logic? How can it possibly be the case that sixty fully naked women and men standing in a group is an inoffensive sight one day, but the following day even just one fully naked woman or man — perhaps lying among a bunch of sunbathers such as this group that watched us for hours on Saturday — is offensive enough to be deemed illegal?

IMG_6268The prude who says a breast, a vulva, a penis is always and automatically shameful may be wrong (in our humble opinion), but at least the prude is consistent. The person who says vulvas and penises are fine on Saturday but forbidden every other day is either the strangest Sabbath observer ever or else just a hypocrite.

IMG_6308But — as long as the hypocrites are making the rules, we’ll take such opportunities for freedom as we’re granted. One day each year when we can shed the last little vestiges of our clothes out in the park is better than none.

IMG_6312IMG_6190IMG_6292And this one was better than most. The weather was absolutely perfect (not a hint of rain in the sky), the crowd was supportive (not a complaint heard, at least by our ears), there were a pianist and a xylophonist nearby for musical accompaniment (randomly), and we even were graced with a street fair right outside the park, for when our thirst required fresh-squeezed lemonade to quench it (Andy kindly supplied some snacks as well, including unintentionally appropriate ones).

IMG_6253The art that emerged from this inspiring environment was suitably inspired. Meant to reflect this year’s theme, “Movement,” we saw everything from the literal, with moving flora and fauna–

IMG_6250IMG_6263IMG_6241IMG_6338…to the metaphorical, such as a bit of cubism (which began, remember, as an attempt to show movement on a static canvas — how great to see it attempted on a rippling moving canvas!)

IMG_4240…or the sort of movement that results in social change:

IMG_4258Speaking of which, we’re a bit of a movement ourselves, aren’t we? Sparking social change, making people think differently about what they’ve always assumed. Seeking freedom.

IMG_6326On Saturday we were free. In a way we rarely have the opportunity to be. Could Monday morning be just as free someday?

Yes. Someday. We firmly believe that. With or without paint, with or without clothes, bodies should be free.

IMG_6052IMG_6143IMG_6181If you’d like to join our little movement, drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. With your help, we’ve got some brick walls we’d like to bust through together.

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IMG_4119We went to Bryant Park the other day expecting to get to lie on the lawn — but when we got there, the lawn was roped off, with signs proclaiming that the grass was taking time out to rest after getting stomped on by several hundred pairs of feet during a recent event.

Slightly disappointing — but being dextrous improvisors, we pulled a pair of tables and half a dozen chairs over to the edge of the lawn and sat ourselves down for a lovely and civilized topless picnic, fueled by nibbles sourced from park purveyors.

IMG_4074IMG_4085IMG_4114Interestingly “time out” was an apt theme for the day’s festivities, since we were joined for part of the afternoon by an editor from the magazine Time Out New York, which has written about our activities from time to time over the past several years. While she didn’t get topless herself, she mentioned that she’d spent time topless on Fire Island, so…we have hopes we might yet convert her from curious-observer to full-participating-member status.

IMG_4303In the meantime, we enjoyed our sojourn in what is perhaps Manhattan’s busiest and least private park. Jammed in the heart of midtown, this particular urban oasis leans toward the ‘urban’ side of that formulation. The result was an unusual number of random people sneaking cell-phone photos of us and looking furtive when we made it clear we saw what they were doing.

IMG_4385On the other hand, we also had some lovely interactions, including with a park security officer who stood up for us repeatedly whenever he was asked if what we were doing was legal (it was, and he knew it, and he patiently repeated it to anyone who questioned it), and with this fellow, whose service dog welcomed the warm hug we offered it.

IMG_4281There was ample sun and a variety of spots from which to enjoy its caresses.

IMG_4179IMG_4162There was talk of politics and body image and subjective feelings of comfort, including some discussion of why it feels different to be topless with your nipples bare vs. topless with your nipples covered. (One of our members came to our event straight from a swimsuit photoshoot for which she’d had nipple covers already in place, and she left them on as much for visual variety as any other reason.)

IMG_4228IMG_4233And to add to the whole covered/uncovered dichotomy there was this is-it-a-top? top, which served not only in the park but for the subway ride home after as well.

IMG_4039IMG_4182-subwayAll in all, a terrific way to celebrate the first full week of summer. Would you like to join us for the second? We have a very special private bodypainting event coming up, followed by an outdoor acroyoga class taught by a member who’s not only an acro instructor but also a black belt in taekwondo! If you’d like to come to one of those — or just to one of our regular events where all be do is sip cool beverages and hang out — please email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.  All women are welcome! We hope you’ll take a moment to write and say hi.

And remember: it’s your right as much as it is his.

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IMG_0864Today, our blog topped 22.5 million views — a random number, but also sort of an astonishing one when you consider that we’re just one small group in one city, quietly going about our business. Granted, it’s a big city and what we’re doing is eye-catching. But still. It’s gratifying to know that our message has peacefully spread to so many readers in so many parts of the world. (Fewer than half our views have come from the United States; the rest have come from everywhere from Europe and Australia to Micronesia, Vatican City, even North Korea.)

People across America and throughout the world have seen that in New York it’s possible for women to enjoy the same freedom as men, and for women’s bodies to be treated as normal and ordinary and healthy, rather than shameful or provocative or in some other way deserving of being forcibly covered up or hidden away.

0713-jWe’ve flown the banner of freedom in parks and plazas,

park-jMadisonSq-eOn rooftops and in restaurants,

IMG_9479IMG_5605IMG_6824IMG_4327At landmarks and monuments,

octpfas_081513-9618AS_2382In front of audiences of hundreds and alone in privacy of our little inflatable pool,

IMG_5038IMG_9556In bikini bottoms and in nothing at all.

IMG_3009IMG_2965IMG_2887And through it all we’ve maintained our sense of humor and patience and our conviction that in the end the world will come to see things our way.

Would you like to be part of our grand adventure? Whether you’ve ever done it before or are a nervous first-timer, we welcome all women. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and let us know you’re interested. You’ll be bare-chested under the sun before you know it. And we have a feeling you’re going to love it. 🙂

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