Monday, July 06, 2009
Charming Cobras In The Square
See here *
The Marrakesh marketplace in Morrocco had nothing on the Plaza de la Constitucion this weekend. Sales of factory made "African Drums" and some kind of lotion called Shea butter, amongst the boiling pots of corn on the cob, Italian ices, water vendors, costume jewelry and counterfeit purses and sunglasses.
In May, a Federal judge ordered that the city cannot ban artists (prints, sculpture, paintings and photographs) The city administration for some unknown reason, has decided not to enforce the ordinance prohibiting sales and requiring a permit of any kind for the sales of merchandise on the streets and parks of St. Augustine. This pretty much contradicts the reason for the ordinance in the first place, to prevent a flea market atmosphere.
The Plaza has now been discovered by an affable group of Ghanaians who have set up four separate stands all selling the same goods such as exotic glass and plastic beads, kalimbas , drums and sculpture.
Vendor to Couple about 20 feet away:"Hey you over dere! Come here! I have something to show you!"
The couple slowly walks over (zombies!?, hypnotized!?)
Vendor:"I have goods here that you will love, here, rub dis into your skin" (offering an open container of some yellow waxy substance)
As if in a trance the couple dip into the container and rub a small amount onto their forearms.
Vendor:"Dis is a magical ointment called Shea buttah." Stops and calls out to another couple who have already walked past....."MADAME !Free Samples Here! You Need To See Dis!" They continue to walk on.
Back to first couple "Ok you can have ninety percent off! You will love dis! It not only is a wonderful moisterizer but can prevent colds and the flu! You can see beautiful skin on African women who use shea butter. Some actually eat spoonfuls for internal problems. Only five dollahs! Ok, Ok, Wid dat,I give you dis beautiful bracelet for your little girl. No? "(Followers of the Holy Spirit Movement rebel group of Uganda smeared their bodies with shea butter in the belief that it would stop bullets)
The vendor immediately abandons the conversation turning to another couple perusing the goods. "NO Chawj Foh Looking !, Ninety percent off! I have carved dis just for you! (pointing to an obvious mass produced wood sculpture sold in flea markets all over.Yes, at least this is a constitutionally protected artwork)
That day we had the regular five local artists of prints, paintings sculpture and photos and twenty one vendors of general merchandise.
The artist Suvo was jailed on Memorial Day 2008, for offering newspapers and American flags for sale. The ordinance has not been changed. The court date is set for August 8, 2009.link