Arts & Culture, Our City, Video

A SELF-GUIDED WALK THRU UNION SQUARE | JUNE 2020

Photographer/filmmaker Ramón Galván captures lonely Union Sq in the summer of our discontent

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The just-gone June of this today’s textual publication bears a scant, solecistic resemblance to the June of this here same-monthed video of Union Square sights roamed by this Somerville Texan. Between I and Gina’s intersection stretches Lincoln Park’s scruffy fields and beer-bellied hills, where not months before the eyes of many play-minded children screamed wide at tiny glimpses of scintillating slides and spinners yelling for climbing hands and fallen kneecaps. Today, if not on this hour of publication then at this publication day’s slow sundown, one might surely walk through a water-sprinkled sight of peachy-faced parents and kiddos feet-naked. Not so was it for me, weeks ago, when tangerine nets decked and left elisioned playthings for the sake of lives saved. Hindsight sure makes such placards palatable as current-time cases in Texas surmount this area’s own highs by twofold.

Distance and masks mark the times as do the signs of Union Square proper. Storefronts share similar guides save the slight differences in language and working hours. Construction, today, has more or less coalesced into a confusing pedestrian crosswalk connecting opposite walks of Somerville Ave. Parking spots continue making way for walkersby unlike that of myself, camera-led onto car-traffic’s way. Be sure: Few cars precluded my mid-street, mid-morning filming on Himalayan’s highway; the same safety in recklessness is not as guaranteed today. It seems like many yesterdays ago when cones lined along Market Basket’s facade sinewed shoppers at a six feet distance. Back on June’s Tuesday kickoff some five hundred and eighty thousand Mega Millionaires came out big each with two dollars; just half as many green Jefferson’s went won on month’s fourth Friday.

As it goes, change overtakes each moment’s passing present; and so it is a neighborhood comes alive anew on its very own grounds. The signs might remain until perhaps an autumn’s rain shrivels paper or blasts off plastic ties, but any single tour through Union Square, Lincoln Park, or any such place is never guided the same. Today skaters will (and do) ollie and kick shirtless to the ground, and Somerville’s White whippersnappers share blankets at sunset. The hoops will one day reunite with layups and threes and the soccer field will someday lose its cage. Although the highlighter-yellow letters B, L, and M have been sprayed glossy black and the majisculed message erased, the lives of Black folks matter just as emphatically today as they did long before this year’s June and July — and will continue to well after every future month. Signs, there or not there, can’t spell out the soul of a place.

July calls, and I’ll pass through again and again with sunned toes and 50-millimeters mentation, happening through history at some wanderer’s periphrasis pace, self-guided.

Ramón Galván is a Texas-born photographer and filmmaker who now resides in Somerville. More of his work can be found here.

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