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Williamsburg Acrobatics
December 11, 2011 11:49 AM   Subscribe


 
Well...it's not like she was *really* 285 feet up. After all, had she fallen, there were plenty of steel beams and girders that would've broken her fall well before hitting the bridge.
posted by NoMich at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2011


In the age of the Wadsworth Constant, Vimeo doesn't allow fast-forward.
posted by rhizome at 12:02 PM on December 11, 2011


I don't have a problem with the post (and maybe it's the old person in me) but this seems really irresponsible.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


George Carlin would do a great riff on this. Definitely would be rooting for her to fall.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2011


It's not the heights, it's all the goddamn quick cuts and shitty camera work.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:10 PM on December 11, 2011 [20 favorites]


I love her plea deal: "Five free performances for children!"
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well...it's not like she was *really* 285 feet up. After all, had she fallen, there were plenty of ...

...car windshields to break her fall.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:13 PM on December 11, 2011


It looks like she was above the MTA rails, actually.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2011


Amazing! My only problem was (and maybe it's the old person in me) that it was NEVER NOT CUTTING.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:19 PM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Irresponsible how? Compare this act to the average motorist on the road; what are the risks and the likely consequences?

There's possibly some room for the NYPD to have been a bit more professional about the whole deal (the whole pushing cameras thing never looks good), but this feels to me like it played out about right.
posted by nonlocal at 12:20 PM on December 11, 2011


Ugh. I was prepared to be all, "you guys are jerks," but now, having now watched it, I just wish there was a flag option for "promotes dangerous, obnoxious, attention-seeking behaviour." I hope there was at least a hefty fine attached to that absurd plea deal.
posted by wreckingball at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in 1932...
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:28 PM on December 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


The video's editing made the event impossible to appreciate.
posted by davebush at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was probably a time that I might have thought, "wow that's cool and daring" but as a parent of someone her age, I kept thinking "how would I feel if she was my kid?"

A few years ago I watched one of the Walendas tight-rope walk across the Allegheny and was really unprepared for my emotional reaction to it. I got really anxious and felt sick as I was watching him once I saw how the wind was hitting him and how high up he was. I idea that at any moment I might watch him die made it a really unpleasant experience.
posted by octothorpe at 12:38 PM on December 11, 2011


the height thing? no problem. The constant jerking video work was making me nauseous. And frankly if your going to do something like this do it over a canyon or something, acrobatics = cool+good. Acrobats with a decent chance of a multiple car pile up = no sympathy from me.
posted by edgeways at 12:39 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Neat stunt, her talent and skill are obvious but she and her friend some off as self-absorbed and obnoxious twits. Did this really have to be done over auto traffic, when drivers could be distracted?

Way to tie up the police there Seanna.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2011


I got really anxious and felt sick as I was watching him once I saw how the wind was hitting him and how high up he was. I idea that at any moment I might watch him die made it a really unpleasant experience

I had the same reaction a few months ago sitting in the audience watching 2 guys on this giant spinning wheel cage thing. I was surprised how anxious the whole thing made me. The possibility of seeing one of them slip and fall to their death seemed very real to me and it suddenly stopped being entertainment. It must be age.
posted by davebush at 12:46 PM on December 11, 2011


Wow, so many comments here are totally wet-blanket.

This is one of those things that makes New York City crazy and awesome. It might make you uncomfortable, but events that bring you what you least expect ought to be cherished.

And there are a million other things that could and do distract drivers. I'm not really concerned about one aerialist.
posted by entropone at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't have a problem with hijacking a public space to do an impromptu show even if it means the back of a police car at the end.

I do, however, have a problem with the distractions and possibility of a failure on her part disrupting everyday lives and causing at least one serious physical injury (if not death), as well as some sort of emotional or otherwise life-changing impact on everyone that was within a mile of the incident, even if that just meant the bridge closed down for an hour and someone couldn't get some ice cream for their kids.

What really pissed me off is that near the end when everyone was yelling at her to come down and motioning for her to do so, they jacked up the music to make it seem more thrilling. What's not thrilling is your audience being so scared of what the NYPD might do to you that they're screaming at you to stop your performance and hurry up and get the hell down from the infrastructure instead of continuing to make a scene.

The misdemeanor and subsequent charges were a nice touch, but pale in comparison to what might have resulted from doing something like this where she decided to do it.

Again, I commend her for her bravery and showmanship but that was seriously, irresponsibly uncool.

P.S. Since childhood, I've always gotten anxious when I went to circuses and big, extravagant events where people are doing crazy stunts. Too many horror stories on the news and general "Man I want to do thi-- [thinks about consequences for a second] NEVERMIND."

The internet has only intensified those anxieties by polarizing the worst of the worst.

posted by june made him a gemini at 1:05 PM on December 11, 2011


From the main page of her website:

"When I fly, people forget everything they thought they knew about impossible."
- Seanna Sharpe, The New York Times


How likely is it that her plea deal was actually to do more performances? That seems more like an encouragement that a discouragement. I wonder if there is more there than it says on the video.

I can't say why this feels so different than the recent post about pole-dancing, but it does.
posted by ianhattwick at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2011


Aside from the public safety concerns, the trouble with this is that its not wild or crazy enough. The "twin silk cloud blah blah" thing of her own invention? It's just a long sheet anchored in two places. Basically what you'd see at a circus, except less interesting because she can't get all wrapped up and then unroll from it. She also doesn't appear to be exceptionally graceful. Kind of boring.

As far as public safety - the only three possible outcomes here are that no driver notices, that she causes complete gridlock on the bridge while people watch her boring performance, or that 1+ accidents result from distracted drivers worried about a human dangling from a bridge (that trumps other distractions like the radio, right?). None of those outcomes are really great.
posted by pkingdesign at 1:21 PM on December 11, 2011


Aah Xmas: the time for grinches... won't somebody think of the traffic?
posted by pjm at 1:22 PM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah 2nding the wet blanketness. THE CHILDREN! Won't someone please think of the children!!
posted by jcruelty at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2011


But, that said-- way too many quick cuts. Damn MTV generation. Man on Wire did it right.

Don't forget the importance of illegal spectacles to urban life. It's what makes cities worth living in. (One thing anyway)
posted by jcruelty at 1:28 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


“It’s not the ideal bridge but I was obscured from traffic," she said. "I didn’t want people in cars to look up and see me and crash and cause accidents." gothamist

Performance artists often stage climbing stunts in the name of a cause—global warming, war, big bank malfeasance–Sharpe, 24 years old, told The Wall Street Journal that her motivation was more personal.

“My goal is to face my fear and to inspire others to face their fears,” Sharpe said in an interview before she went up the bridge.
WSJ
posted by ianhattwick at 1:28 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do, however, have a problem with the distractions and possibility of a failure on her part disrupting everyday lives and causing at least one serious physical injury (if not death), as well as some sort of emotional or otherwise life-changing impact on everyone that was within a mile of the incident, even if that just meant the bridge closed down for an hour and someone couldn't get some ice cream for their kids.

aren't all of these possible just by driving a car?
posted by entropone at 1:37 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surprising number of grouches...
posted by Jibuzaemon at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2011


It's not the heights, it's all the goddamn quick cuts and shitty camera work.

It says that the video was cut together from "footage recorded by the crowd". From the looks of the crowd, it's doubtful that anyone sequence was very long, thus not allowing for smooth transitions from one camera to the next. Irritating, yes, but understandable.
posted by carping demon at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


any one
posted by carping demon at 2:04 PM on December 11, 2011


Yeah 2nding the wet blanketness. THE CHILDREN! Won't someone please think of the children!!

I do not have a strong opinion on the goodness/badness and wisdom/foolishness of this performance. I do however agree with jcruelty that we should not hang children off a bridges. Even if they have been bad.

I also agree that the editing was annoying, but, hey.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:19 PM on December 11, 2011


"And that, kids, is why you should never do ecstasy."

Or totally should.
posted by LordSludge at 2:20 PM on December 11, 2011


Talk about pretentious. The "20 foot double-silk cloud swing of her own invention" is a rope. This is why hipsters are banned from circuses.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:35 PM on December 11, 2011


I might be the oldest commenter here today, but I am amazed at all you young sprouts who are being all "get offa my lawn" and complaining about the quick-cut editing, which is the result of putting together lots of shots from random witnesses, so I think it came out great. Live a little, folks.
posted by Hobgoblin at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


> complaining about the quick-cut editing, which is the result of putting together lots of shots from random witnesses

Yes, but the quick cuts are being done even when the feed is obviously from the same source. That leads me to think that a simple static shot of the performance wouldn't be very interesting.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:51 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


That leads me to think that a simple static shot of the performance wouldn't be very interesting.

Or the guy who put it together needs to lay off the meth.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:52 PM on December 11, 2011


The "20 foot double-silk cloud swing of her own invention" is a rope.

No, actually, it's not.
posted by soy bean at 3:50 PM on December 11, 2011


She also doesn't appear to be exceptionally graceful.

In her defence: were I hanging off Williamsburg Bridge I would be considerably less graceful than that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:11 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet if she had gotten more attention as a child, today she would be a successful tax attorney. Or something.
posted by 4ster at 5:29 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now if someone were to take Seanna Sharpe and mash her up with Phoenix Jones...
posted by mdaugherty82 at 5:55 PM on December 11, 2011


What you talkin. Hook her up with Travis Pastrana. Let em have little suicidal kids that cannot die. Somehow X-Men and Gracie Jiu Jitsu are involved.
posted by LordSludge at 6:33 PM on December 11, 2011


I don't give a shit about your stupidity;I don't give a shit if one stupid person forgets to secure a line and falls to her death. I don't care that you broke your neck or leg, or died. You did that to yourself.

BUT I do care. You don't perform stunts like that where you falling body can do some damage to some poor motorist or pedestrian or emotionally scar someone who just happens to be in the right place at the wrong time.

I hate you so much right now.
posted by joelf at 6:38 PM on December 11, 2011


As much as you hate her, I love her more.
posted by LordSludge at 6:51 PM on December 11, 2011


"She also doesn't appear to be exceptionally graceful."

Yes, it looks as though she jerks violently every 10-20 frames or so.
posted by bz at 6:51 PM on December 11, 2011


Her behavior while handcuffed appeared to be very far from graceful.
posted by davebush at 6:56 PM on December 11, 2011


Hmm...I'm having a hard time disputing the legitimacy (or accuracy) of any of the negative responses voiced so far. It was, yes, irresponsible. It was pretentious and attention-seeking and probably suggestive of an enormously self-absorbed personality.

But I started grinning when the acrobat managed to get her handcuffed-behind-her-back hands back in front, and enjoyed the very ostentatious kiss with the boyfriend at curbside. All in all, it seemed to me that at every turn the acrobat opted deliberately to model non-ordinary behavior in a highly visible way. And I sort of approve of that kind of thing, although I know it's never that simple.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:23 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


My girlfriend is an aerialist and she worked with Sienna previous to this performance. All (the girlfriend's) circus friends were as divided over this performance as this thread is. I only met her once, but this performance seems very....well, very Sienna.
posted by Brainy at 7:24 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Needs — but can never have — a little more Phillippe.
posted by cenoxo at 7:51 PM on December 11, 2011


A) Many years ago my drunken knucklehead buddies and I were walking across the Williamsburg bridge and several of us (them!) decided it would be a good idea to climb up onto a support and jump down the 25 feet or so into the nets that they had suspended over the roadway in those days to stop construction debris/suicides from cluttering up the works. Holy shit was I terrified, watching my friends climb out there in the freezing cold wind, and psyche each other up into jumping out into the net.There was no one on the bridge (there was NEVER anyone on the bridge, then), so if something happened we would have, I guess, had to run all the way back to our apartment or possibly all the way forward to get help. There certainly was not a functional payphone near there and cellphones were still a decade away from our economic strata.

But yeah, finally one of them (Howard?) got himself past his better nature and fucking jumped off the bridge, relying on nothing that Dinkins-era maintenance net to stop him from slamming into the steel grating below where his corpse would be smeared along by an endless stream of cabs and trucks until the bridge turns into Delancy.

The net held. Although, contrary to all of our impressions, it had NO GIVE AT ALL, and was basically like jumping into a bunch of taut half-inch thick cable. Not like some springy circus net. Ouch. You could tell that he was simultaneously HURT and delighted. Fool.

B) What a terrible costume.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:54 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


That video is unforgiveably herky-jerky, especially at the beginning. When it settles down though and she's just spinning around up there I ... against my better, sober, adult, responsible, get-the-fuck-off-my-lawn, oh look, someone wants to be noticed, nice face-paint no really, nice bowler, no really, no, just no... that was pretty fucking cool. Would have been better if she was cut out of it entirely and no one ever knew her name. (Can you imagine that? That would be impressive. As is it's a little too much oh-please-please-please look at ME-ism). I would want to punch her boyfriend in the mouth later when I ran into him at the bar and he went on and on and on about how fucking cool it was - but just her up there, doing that in the bridge? As irresponsible and fucking crazy and cold-sweat inducing as it may be? Pretty fucking ok. Now I hope I never ever hear of her again.

A friend of mine bungee-d off, from underneath, on his 30th birthday. Middle of the night, with five other people. One of the few things I wished I'd done. To see the East River from that vantage, on the sly, unknown. Like going up the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge for your 18th (something you could do back in the 80's. Before I knew what it was to have a perfectly manicured lawn...)
posted by From Bklyn at 12:28 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


irresponsible as hell ... but also beautiful.

also bendy.

Grumpy ppl, don't be so upset that she has more life in her than you. Also, child of mine, don't let me ever find out you are doing anythign like this!!!
posted by fistynuts at 1:06 AM on December 12, 2011


I love this performance and the video and am disappointed by the reaction here. Not everything in life should be safe and boring.

"She also doesn't appear to be exceptionally graceful."

Anyone who says this should post a video of their best attempt at merely holding a front lever for ten seconds. You don't even have to be 300 feet in the air with crosswinds and no safety net. Let's see how graceful the naysayers are.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:20 AM on December 12, 2011


Her punishment reminds me of Phillip Petit's punishment for doing his high wire act between the WTC towers. He was charged with several felonies and plea bargained down to 3 kids shows (which he later modified into one larger free performance). His whole WTC stunt was covered in the documentary Man on Wire.
posted by Badgermann at 8:24 AM on December 12, 2011


Oh no! A person in show business seeks attention!

Um, that's how it works. The lady has the brass to do this and get the publicity. I hope she picks up momentum as a result. Any excuse to see someone do this, in my book.

And as for all those people about whom we're supposed to be concerned with the possibility they could have a life-altering event as a result: They took that risk whey they chose to be in New York fucking City. Get over it.
posted by Goofyy at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not the heights, it's all the goddamn quick cuts and shitty camera work.

Yes. I was less dizzy watching Cloverfield than the first and last minute of this.
posted by aught at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2011


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