Friday, July 14, 2006

Hipsters Versus Park Rangers in New State Park?

East River State Park

One of the more genuinely amusing parts of having a state park in Williamsburg is bound to be the inevitable clash between the anal-retentive, rule-heavy New York State Park bureaucratic structure and Williamsburgers. How bad are The Rules? Pretty darn bad. We personally know of brides reduced to tears at Gantry State Park in Long Island City by Park Rangers who order and end to photo sessions and even use vague threats of jail should the photographic excess continue. A photo permit is required for "commercial photography" and, of course, a rule is a rule. (Where would we be if state park rules were not enforced and permit-less brides took pictures on their wedding days with the New York skyline in the background?) You have to call ahead for the permit and cannot buy a permit on the spot. Those are the rules. (Gowanus Lounge believes it would be a nice touch if the Park Rangers were required to recite such rules in German.)

Park Rangers also routinely descend on photographers using tripods, with the reasoning being that since commercial photography is banned in New York State parks, anyone using a tripod is a pro. So, at Gantry Park, anyone trying to take a sunset photo of Manhattan across the river with a tripod who is spoted by the Keepers of the Rules, is told to lose the tripod. We have also personally seen this happen.

On the other hand, it's okay to sunbathe topless in NY State parks. We were treated to a discourse on this subject by a friendly and lonely Park Ranger who expressed his frustration that there was nothing he could do to stop women from ripping off their shirts and catching some rays. Those who tend to enjoy doing so in his park are often European, he noted, except for the girlfriend of a certain baseball player who tormented him with her exposed breasts during the summer of 2005.

So, one can conclude that it's okay if you want to take photos of your topless female friend in the new state park as long as you don't use a tripod. (But, please, please check with one of the friendly Ranger people in the park before doing anything, lest the rules be enforced differently in Williamsburg.)

Won't this make the Williamsburg park more fun?


Blogger Ranger Gord said...

Sounds like you have a problem with New York state law, not park rangers. Park rangers are charged with enforcing the laws as they are written. If you would rather they deal with topless visitors instead of commercial photographers, then contact your local state representative and try to change the laws.

As a park ranger, I too have interrupted photo shoots due to a lack of a commercial photo permit. While I would not prohibit a wedding party photo shoot, I would not hesitate to issue the photographer a citation for a lack of a permit. Commercial photographers know that they are often required to get permits to conduct business in public areas just as a mobile food vendor would. The brides in your story should be angry with their photographers for trying to make a few extra bucks by not getting a permit not at the park ranger for doing his job.

2:03 PM  
Blogger rsguskind said...

Thanks for the thoughtful commment, and I do understand the difference between the laws/regs and those whose job it is to enforce them. On the bridal party/permit issue, I understand that a State Senator, having seen one of these bridal issues unfold at Gantry, is going to introduce a bill allowing on-the-spot permit payment and issuance. But, yes, the issue is the regulations.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous eliz said...

snuck in and took some photos here yesterday.

12:26 PM  

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