Sep 13, 2011

America's National CRAPtime

If you follow baseball, then you've heard about the trouble the sport has attracting African American youth.  It's not that they aren't playing sports.  It's just that baseball isn't at the top of their list like it once was.  I can tell you that this is true.

On Sunday, I was out on the bike.  An old grey Firestone (the tire folks) I call the "Grouse Goose." Don't ask.   So I'm on the bike and the day is just lovely.  I'm tooling along, looking like Clark Gable in shorts.  I head around Astoria Park, which butts up against the East River. The views are stunning and dramatic, and it being September 11th, I feel like this city really is invincible. If I was supposed to be afraid of terrorists, I wasn't right then.  If you head south past the park, you'll come to a giant hill.  At the top of the hill is a sign:  "Waterfront Pathway." Lovely, right? So I cautiously proceed down a steep hill (Firestone good at tires, not at brakes). As I do, I can't help but think, "Hey, this neighborhood isn't as nice as I'd imagine, being waterfront property and all."  But it's day light, and today we're all Americans, so I travel on.

Certainly it's true that "Waterfront Pathway" does refer to a serene promenade that runs beside the East River, offering unique views of Roosevelt Island.  What is not inferred in "Waterfront Pathway" is that you're now in the middle of a GIANT HOUSING PROJECT.  Your bicycle promenade is their sidewalk.   Strangely, for a former victim of violent crime while passing through similar neighborhoods, I was feeling fine.  You see, the day was THAT LOVELY.  A kind sun. Mild temps. Patriotism.  Then, up ahead, I see them.

About one hundred yards in front, a gang of boys gather.  Not a gang as in "Holy %$&?, the Latin Kings!", but in the "Hey, that's a large group of young men."  I can see them, but I'm not worried because they look to be playing football.  My anxiety rises, however, when I notice they are running to sit on the park bench that rests beside the path.  "This ain't good," I think. As I get closer, they begin sitting very nicely.  Quiet.  Backs straight. Hands...out of sight. Never trust a kid sitting still.  When I am about ten yards away, they begin counting. One...two...three!  I pass them, and as I do hear the splat of water balloons on concrete.

First thought: "Whew.  I'm dry."  Second thought: "Pedal faster, Lance ArmWrong!"  Third thought:  "Wow.  Those kids would make terrible pitchers.  I was molasses, and they still couldn't hit me from five feet away.  I bet these kids never play baseball."

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