Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sleepy Hollow Idyll

I decided I needed a small break from being really, really pissed off. This being the eve of the Feast of All Hallows (and the Headless Horseman being featured in a Yahoo homepage flash animation), I have decided to give a shout out to everyone's favorite headless Hessian. The Headless Horseman serves as a genius loci of Sleepy Hollow- there is a restaurant named after him, and the local athletic teams are named the Horsemen.

Sleepy Hollow, NY lies about thirteen (cue scary music) miles north of my home in the City of Y______. Formerly North Tarrytown, the town's population voted to change the name of the town in 1996 to honor Washington Washington Irving's beloved tale, which is set in the vicinity of the Pocantico River (and to try to start a tourism-based economy after the manufacturing base of the local economy* disappeared). In 1999, the Tim Burton movie loosely based on Irving's tale hit the theaters, giving the newly-named village a cult status that was unanticipated.

Sleepy Hollow is also the site of Philipsburg Manor, an 18th century provisioning plantation/milling complex (the Pocantico river has been dammed to run the manor's gristmill since the 1700s, the current mill is a reproduction) which is now a historic site worked by farmer-historians in period clothes who relate the history of slavery, commerce, and agriculture in the pre-revolutionary period. Class trips to the manor have been a rite of passage for schoolchildren in the NY metro area for decades. The Pillipse family had the Old Dutch Church built as a place of worship approximately 325 years ago.

In 2006, a statue of the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane was erected on Route 9, the same Broadway which stretches from Lower Manhattan to the Canadian border, south of the Pocantico River:

While not a Disney fan (I abhor the lobbying they have done to change intellectual property laws- especially in light of the fact that they made their bones employing characters in the public domain), I have to confess that I enjoy the Disney cartoon narrated by Bing Crosby. The cartoon, which miraculously can be found on Youtube, has more of a sassy "Tex Avery" style vibe to it:

I have never seen the 1999 movie, but I consider myself a purist. I look at Ichabod Crane as the template on which the character of Shaggy from Scooby Doo is based. Ichabod, like Shaggy, is ruled by his appetites, and loves Katrina Van Tassel for the richness of her father's dinner table as much as for her zaftig good looks:

The pedagogue’s mouth watered, as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back, in a side-dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living.

Ichabod Crane is also credulous, like Shaggy, but lacks the support of a brainy girl, a clever jock, a fortuitously clumsy red-headed charmer, and a talking dog, and can't figure out that the spectre which leads to his downfall just might not be real. Alas, he also lacks a groovy, tricked-out van to carry him to the safe haven which lay south of the Pocantico.

Sorry about the paucity of links in the latter paragraphs of the post- it's getting late, and I've had a long day. That being said, curl up with Washington Irving's original, and have a happy Halloween.

*There was a General Motors plant in North Tarrytown. "The water turned greenish brown, except by the GM plant, where it turned red or yellow or whatever color that they were painting the cars that day."


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I have never seen the 1999 movie, but I consider myself a purist. I look at Ichabod Crane as the template on which the character of Shaggy from Scooby Doo is based.

My dad had the Classic Comic, and that's how I first learned about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Substance McGravitas said...

What's with the crap about it being banned?

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

What's with the crap about it being banned?

If it's on the internet, it must be true!