Bohemian Rhapsodies

"I am Harry K. Thaw, the deranged Pittsburgh millionaire!" exclaims Matt Levy with a wild look in his eyes and a plastic light saber grasped in his hand. "I despise Stanford White. I hate him. I will find him and I will kill him."

According to the plaque, Stanford White, the architect who designed the Washington Arch, took the virginity of Thaw's favorite chorus girl and future bride, Evelyn Nesbit. Thaw shot White in Madison Square Garden, which White also designed. The resulting trial was the most famous of its age.

"Harry K. Thaw was the first man acquitted of first-degree murder by reason of mental defect," explains Gideon Levy in an immaculate suit representing his historic character, White. "Apparently, the very thought of his fiancée being manhandled by a lascivious architect drove him absolutely maaaad."

Bunnies, beatniks, and pirates, oh my: Mark Kaye, Jason Engdahl (in bunny suit), and Christos Pathiakis at the Madagascar Institute's "Dueling Re-Enactments."
photo: Jacob Pritchard
Bunnies, beatniks, and pirates, oh my: Mark Kaye, Jason Engdahl (in bunny suit), and Christos Pathiakis at the Madagascar Institute's "Dueling Re-Enactments."

Quite suddenly, Levy descends on Levy and a light-saber duel ensues (a less than historical nod to the light-saber battles the brothers facilitate throughout New York City). On the other side of the fountain, the skateboarders suddenly attack J-Sun Burns, the drug-dealing panhandler, in a re- enactment of the Washington Square sequence from Larry Clark's film Kids. The surrealists begin a slow, steady march around the fountain, carrying a small replica of the arch and a sign that reads only "Woe." The giant, freaky bunny head crashes a pre-wedding photo op under the arch and begins dancing with the nervous groom. (Let it be known Paul Ust spent his final moments as a bachelor in the arms of a hallucinatory bunny idol.) The beatniks toss fake books into the air until the ground is littered with titles like A Coney Island of the Mind, Junky, and The Dharma Bums. The pirates wheel a water cannon into the melee. Hackett ignites it and a jet of water shoots into the air, drenching bunnies, beatniks, surrealists, tourists, hippies, skate punks, musicians, onlookers, college students, dogs, kids, and lovers of Washington Square Park.

"Who won?" shouts one of the Madagascar accomplices.

"No one," bellows Hackett as he brushes dreadlocks from his face and pops open a treasure chest of champagne.

"See," says Biega, the old-timer, fanning himself with a newspaper. "That's the way it is."

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