Elaphe obsoletaAn albino version of the New York native Black Rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta) being held by one of Prospect Park’s “Pop-Up Audubon” staffers recently.

This is the largest snake species in the state, reaching up to six feet in length. They get bigger in the South. Constrictors, Black Rat snakes squeeze their prey to death, and will eat anything from eggs to other snakes, with small mammals, including bats, a mainstay. That last menu item is a good clue for where you might find these snakes: they are excellent tree climbers. Generally a woodland species, they are also fond of barns and their attendant mice and rats, meaning they are a good friend of the farmer.

This guy normally lives in the Audubon Center at the Boathouse, which, unfortunately, will not be open on weekends in the near future. Instead, “Pop-ups” (a trendy term for “temporary” and subject to the weather; last Saturday’s was cancelled) will be positioned around the park under a flimsy tent — without the restroom, water fountain, cafeteria, air-conditioning, and safe space services that the Boathouse also provided. This is a bad state of affairs, particularly when one sees private parties using the facilities for weddings and the like. Now, the Audubon Center will be open later in May on Thursdays and Fridays, but weekends are the park’s busiest times. The fact that the Boathouse will be open on weekdays suggests that this decision isn’t one of funding, but one of fundraising. Money is to be made renting out the Boathouse for persons of means.

This is, as I have noted for many years, the inevitable result of privatization. Those with money get the goodies, and, perhaps more importantly, control the agenda about those goodies. The Prospect Park Alliance — an unelected entity, it must be remembered, that of necessity follows the course of which people will fund what projects — was set up to help fundraise for the park. It has done very many impressive things, remaking the park for the better after the disastrous abandonment of the urban by tax-supported white flight, subsidized suburbanization, and the long counter-revolution against the public sphere, that profoundly successful assault on American democracy. And, over time, under the administration of neoliberal tribunes like Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani, and Bloomberg, the Alliance and similar entities has been progressively pushed towards funding the majority of the park’s operations as public monies, and oversight, have been withdrawn.

Of course, compared to Central Park, which has reveled in the millions of the super-rich, Prospect is barely a glimmer in the eye of our masters of the universe. Meanwhile, parks without wealthy neighbors — in the Bronx, Queens, other neighborhoods of Brooklyn — simply hope to have a few drops of largess dribble down upon them, trickling down from the heady heights. When parks manifest the great gap between haves and have-nots, we know how far into the hole of injustice we’ve fallen.

Maryland Monument Memorial Parking Lot

Maryland Memorial Parking Lot

In a related notion, park lawns are much too precious to withstand large political demonstrations, but more than a week-long occupation by the likes of the disastrous Great Googa Mooga Shit Pile, this year boasting of its “temporary cell towers” so that 30,000 food lovers can Instagram pictures of their meals to their friends — that’s their example — why, sure! ConstructionLast Friday, preparations for this Friday’s GGMSP were underway at 7 a.m.

As a side-note — the snake of the minority constricts the majority of us — it should be noted that philanthropy is tax-deductible, which means that it is not actually charity, that is, given, sacrificed, without any promise of give-back. It’s a system that results in even more of the tax burden being pushed upon those who can not lawyer-, accountant-, and Congressperson-up.

3 Responses to “Snake/Privatization”

  1. 1 Kevin Dann May 13, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Brilliant and welcome reminder Matthew. Thanks so much for being the blue jay in the oak tree warning about the SNAKES in the park’s grass.

  1. 1 Hunkered Down | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on May 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm

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