Friday, May 25, 2018

ANGELS IN AMERICA - hidden meanings in the Ramble

This is the Bethesda Fountain that is featured so prominently at the end of "Angels in America." The last scene in the play is set in front of this statue and one of the main characters has a monologue about the trees across the Lake.

What is not explicitly stated, but I'm sure Tony Kushner was very well aware of it when he wrote the monologue, is that the trees across the Lake are in The Ramble, a section of the park that was notorious for being a place where gay men went to have sex, as this article in the July 24, 1978 edition of New York Magazine explains:
Just south of the famous tupelo is an intimate, secluded maze defined by other unusual trees—the ginkgo, the ailanthus, the rare cork—grown tall now with age, their intermingled branches shielding those who wander there from the view of even the highest buildings along Central Park West. Around these sheltering trees, around the asphalt walkways that wind through the Ramble, are man-tall thickets of bushes. And leading into those verdurous tangles are man-made trails—cleared not by the Parks Department but by the feet of decades of men, seeking to meet other men in a gay cloister away from the city's disdainful eyes. There have always been parts of our city that have served as gay cruising areas: Washington Square Park in the 1940s, Third Avenue near the Queensboro Bridge in the 1950s, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 89th Street and Riverside Drive in the sixties, piers at the end of Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in the seventies. But Central Park West, and particularly the Ramble, has retained its popularity for 50 years.
I was in the Ramble in the early evening recently, but not for the gay sex. More about that soon.