Pumpkin Friday and Critical Nonsense

1. Louis, 2. Allen, 3. Hester, 4. Grand, 5. Rivington, 6. Suffolk IIX, 7. Elizabeth (I named them, too.)

Dedicated readers may remember a weird little phase I went through this time last fall:  I carved pumpkins, constantly.

Every Friday morning I would wake up extra early, carve a Jack-o-Lantern, and display it on a busy intersection a block from my apartment.  Pumpkin Fridays were social experiments.  They were meant to answer 2 questions:

  1. How long could a shiny new Jack-o-Lantern survive in one of the most trafficked and drunken intersections in Manhattan?
  2. Could I move the needle of the Lower East Side’s festivity meter by introducing a steady stream of gourd art?

The answers, respectively, were about 2.5 days and maybe a little.  But it turns out they weren’t the important questions anyway.  The real insights of Pumpkin Fridays were in how they affected me.  I have to admit, that month and a half was especially grueling.  The jack-o-lantern process – even when streamlined – is long and messy.  You’d be surprised how badly a pumpkin a week can carve into your own free time (and sleep cycle, as it were).

Still, there was something intensely energizing about the whole thing.  So much so that as I remember it now, I feel that same electricity charging me up again.  Not because the pumpkins were making a splash in the community, not because they were particularly well done, not really because they were important in any way.  In fact, I found the process so exciting for just the opposite reason – carving the pumpkins had no immediate value.  It was an act of pure, impulsive, creativity… and zero reason.  Acting on that impulse – and freeing myself from the constraints of utilitarian time management – was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve ever had.

It’s pretty wild how often being in this program has made me forget that lesson.  Time is very precious here, and when any resource starts to thin, it’s the superfluous nonsense that gets chopped first.  But what if the superfluous nonsense is what keeps you going?  Exhibit 1: It’s October 6th and my pumpkin count is still at zero.  Exhibit 2: How many new eating goodly posts have you read since September?  This blog may be a huge time drain, but it’s also one of my greatest sources of inspiration.  It sucks how easily the really important stuff can get reasoned away.

This is the last day before fall break.  I’ve got a midterm in an hour, a couple projects to hand in after that, and I’m out the door.  In the days to come, I really hope to rediscover my balance between what’s sensibly critical and what’s critical nonsense.  Of course – seeing as how I woke up early to study, but ended up writing about pumpkins instead – I might be well on my way.


Pumpkin Friday: 8

A short and sweet ending to Pumpkin Fridays: To mark the close of the Jack-o’-Lantern season, I scattered a dozen sugar pumpkins around my usual LES median.  Stop by the intersection of Allen and Houston to check out the impromptu autumn still-life.

On recipes, creation, and pumpkin soup…

When I started this blog, I made a conscious decision not to post recipes.  It’s not that I have anything against recipe blogs (in fact, I love them) – it’s just that I didn’t think I’d have anything of value to contribute to the vast internet world of home cooks.  It would be embarrassing having my ideas ignored, critiqued, and in general swallowed up by the dark matter of cyberspace.

But I must admit, now that a couple of months have passed, my opinion on the matter is a little different.  Continue reading

Pumpkin “Friday”: 7

Positively glowing.

Halloween – the Jack o’ Lantern’s bar mitzvah. After a solid month and a half of carving pumpkins, the big day finally came.  In honor, I kept this week’s Elizabeth pretty close to the iconic jack o’ lantern look: scary-yet-happy, lots of triangles, classic.  She’s also the first one to glow, which I think looked awesome.

I put Elizabeth out late night Saturday (Mischief Night).  Due to the circumstances, I wasn’t that confident she’s actually make it to the big day.  When I went to survey the damage Sunday morning, my fears only heightened.  For the entire walk, smashed pumpkins were strewn across the sidewalk.  It was a pumpkin slaughterhouse, and I was sure mine had succumb to the same fate.

Not looking good…

Continue reading

Pumpkin Friday POSTPONED

For reasons obvious and not obvious, Pumpkin Friday will be pushed back to Sunday this week.  In the meantime, I encourage you to do 1 or all of the following:

  • get your Halloween costume together (I defy you to make it more ridiculous than mine)
  • stock up on Pumpkin/Oktoberfest beers before they’re off the shelves
  • see Saw 3D (the embodiment of all that is wrong and right with American cinema)

Until next time…

Pumpkin Friday: 6

Suffolk IIX


As I’ve been paying more attention to pumpkin carving lately, I’ve been increasingly amazed by the stuff people are doing out there.  By far the most impressive to me are the ones that aren’t carved so much as sculpted – by using the thick flesh of the pumpkin, artists create three-dimensional creatures.  When done well, the illusion is visually arresting and impossibly cool.  Check out these insane examples: (if you look at them all in succession, it sort of tells a tragic and ultimately disturbing story… sick!)

Continue reading

Pumpkin Friday: 5

UPDATE: Rivington Lives!

The morning after


freshly carved

My schedule is changing a bit this week thanks to a new job… instead of having Friday morning’s free to carve to my heart’s content, I work.  That means 1 of 2 things has to happen to Pumpkin Friday: I carve the pumpkins on Thursday night, or it just becomes Pumpkin Monday.  I tried the first option this week.

And so, I give you the first of the communal pumpkins carved after dark: Rivington.  Rivington was a combination of ideas from Matt and Laura (my other roommate, Dan, was around but contributed close to nothing).  Matt suggested a monocle and Laura thought it should have a matching mustache.  I know now that monocles and mustaches are both really hard to convey through gourd.  Regardless, I think Rivington came out great and I hope to have pictures soon of his beautiful mug in the daytime light.


After curfew