Best Locale to Conduct a Voodoo Ritual (2008)

Central Park, Fifth Avenue from 106th to 110th streets

The inspiration for Angel Heart, William Hjortsberg's brilliant novel Falling Angel, describes a 20th-century voodoo ceremony gone down at the Harlem Meer (Dutch for "small sea"). Restored to the rugged topography envisioned by Olmstead when he converted the 11-acre swamp into the park's last hang, it's still a prime locale for Hoodoo mess. Not a decade ago, this eerie, spooky corner of the park was only frequented by nightcrawlers and shady bums. Today, it features a performance series and Discovery Center. There's also a sandy beach at the shoreline, a cove and waterfall, a ravine, and densely wooded areas nearby. When the moon's blood red on high, the Meer's as good a stand-in for Lake Pontchartrain as you'll find in the Northeast. Bring your drums, gourd rattles, cornmeal, the offerings, Li Grand Zombi, and, of course, yourself, the vessel of the spirits.


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