OUT IN THE STREETS

IMG_1585I miss the days of hanging out in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name playing basketball with all my friends and kids I didn’t know, but after a few games of three-on-three, we became life-long buddies. ..Thanks for the competition.

Hey Cubie, make us laugh; you were the best at it. Remember the time when the malted spilled on a certain someone during the summer league? Or how about Danny’s dog whistle?

I see you Timmy Kemp jumping so high through the air that you were talking to the lord.

Forte Bellino, can I get a ride with you down to St. Francis? Miss your conversations. Say hi to “Fonz” for me.

Curtis Walker with your afro and pick dug in the back taking the ball to the rack and scoring in traffic. No one could stop you.

I miss guys like Sean Riley who was one of the toughest SOB’s I hung out with; despite being a tough guy, he had the biggest heart in the neighborhood…Thanks for your protection and your friendship.

I miss the “older” guys who hung out in Farrell’s. They hit you with their wisdom and wit…Thanks for showing the way.

Yo, Hooley, gimme a container to go! What? I’m not 21? So what…

Ok, I’ll go to the bodega on 8th avenue and 15th street for a six-pack. Take it to the park and get drunk.

I miss my basketball coaches at Holy Name…Thanks for teaching me the game and that it’s OK to have passion for something.

CYO – riding the trains to away games. OLPH, OLA, Regina Pacis, St. Finbar…

Danny, thanks for making me develop a left-hand in the fourth grade; I took that lesson and taught my daughter to shoot left handed lay-ups. I didn’t see many kids on her team shooting them left-handed.

I miss the teachers at Holy Name. You taught me my A,B,C’s…Thanks for always being there. I DON’T miss anyone at the school who hit me with the wooden paddle.

Yo Brother Thomas, wish I could sit down and listen to some of your stories.

Imagine if I moved to Greenwood Lake to live with my cousins? Don’t laugh, I actually wanted to at one point in my childhood.

Father Shine, why did you always throw me out of the boys schoolyard late at night? It sucked being at home, the yard was my refuge. When I was there it felt like I was in Madison Square Garden.

Andy Purdy, how about those late nights after the CBS west coast game on TV heading down to PS 154′s and playing ball until 3 AM? No one ever threw us out.

Yo G, let’s hang out down in your basement and listen to records.

I had so much fun in the third grade playing for Georgie Rauthier; he was the best coach any boy could have.

Joe Lee, forget the Yankee games, how about shooting in the yard at 8AM on Saturday mornings?

To all my buddies who rushed the gate with me at 15th street.

Mr. Liquor Store man; I was 16 when you were selling me Wild Irish Rose.

Farrell’s football on Sunday mornings down Farragut Road. Duffer, thanks for the numerous rides to and from.

Officer Doyle, thanks for trying to set us straight. Now can you pay me back for pouring out my beer.

Mrs. Deere, sorry I cursed at you when you yelled at me for crossing the avenue…the light was red. You raised three great kids in Richie, Mickey and Eileen. They were always nice to me.

Tommy Houk, loved playing whiffle ball with you on Howard Place.

Yo Charlie Alberti, how often did you work out? You were great at baseball and basketball. Bet you would have made a great football player too.

Jamie and Timmy Rooney, think we need to choose up a game of stickball. Do kids still do that?

Mary Kay, how about “the last dance?” If not, I’ll take a game of ‘Around the World’ in the yard.

Bobby and Gerard Trapp, I don’t have a ball, can I walk down your steps and use one? I see about six or seven of them. I promise to return it.

Mom I’ll go to the store but please don’t make me use the food stamps.

Dad, oh shit, the bum’s not here. Mom, where is he?

Playing ball down at East 5th with Jackie and Billy Ryan.  Can’t forget my guys Turk, Randy and Guido.

Hey Joe, can I pay you tomorrow for a slice and a coke?

Wanna go to Bonali’s and get a slush?

Gerry Coles, you wanna race? Better yet, let’s have a 100 yard dash on ninth avenue; you vs Charlie Kawas.

Joey Corrar, who you like tonight in the NCAA tournament? “Keep an eye on Valvano…”

Let’s go down to fifth avenue, I wanna buy some records. Forte, I’ll be sure to pick up a racing form for you.

Oh shit, there she goes again, I gotta ask her out. She’ll probably say no.

Let’s go to Lenny’s for a slice. “I can go for a slice, you got wheels?”

Hey Laura Cox, it’s raining, let’s go hang out in your apartment.

Who wants to go over to the city?

Bishop Ford.

Why did we waste all those eggs on Halloween?

Mustaseed in Bay Ridge…I was 17, the lady I danced with was in her 30′s.

You need your sidewalk shoveled?

I forgot to do my homework. Shit, the bell rang, I’m late for school again.

Track practice at 3:30. We have to meet at the 10th avenue entrance of the park.

Sister Joan, hope all is well.

Midwood field, track meet. Edward R. Murrow right across the street.

Mr. Mussa, miss your enthusiasm.

John Jay, not once, not twice, but three times a student!

The Grady Special, Coney Island Avenue.

Miss Monzillo, you were always a great sight in the morning.

When it rained, we had so many leaks in our ceiling. Mom put pots on the floor and when they filled we had to dump them in the tub.

L’Mour with George Brossard…I was 17.

Breakin’ night.

Basketball Digest.

I’ll see you in the NBA.

I hate mom’s new boyfriend.

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

IN MY TIME OF DYING

Go ahead, say it, when you read the title of this entry you think of the Led Zeppelin song, right?

“OH MY JESUS, OH MY JESUS, OH MY JESUS!”

I feel like I’m going to die right now.

They have me surrounded. There’s no escape. I’m fast and all but there’s no way out.

There’s about five or six of them.

They’re all bigger than me. I’m 15, they look about 17, maybe 18?

I don’t have a chance.

FUCK!

All I’m doing is walking through the park over by Hippie Hill looking for a spot to crash.  I decided to hit the grass and rest. A few cars are out on Prospect Park South West. I see the 68 bus pulling out on it’s way down Coney Island Avenue.

Sitting down on the grass is a big mistake!

Mom threw me out of the house a few hours ago.  She’s always on my case.

Take the garbage out.

Make your bed.

Brush your teeth.

Eat your dinner.

Get off the phone.

Blah, Blah, Blah…

It’s a school-night, a little before midnight. All my friends have gone home. I have nowhere to go. I was thinking of going over to the boys schoolyard but I’m drunk and have a hard time walking. I also smoked a few joints tonight, so I’m in no shape to go anywhere.

Think I’ll rest my weary bones right here but I’m fucked.

“Give us your money,” one of them says.

I stand still, frozen, staring at him.

“You heard ‘em, cough up your dough, bro!” another says.

“I ain’t got no money,” I reply.

It’s not what they wanna hear.

One kid steps to me and punches me in the face, I go down and hit the ground.

I wish my friends were here right now.

Why can’t Officer Doyle roll up now like he always does when we’re drinking a can of beer out of a brown paper bag.

No one ever said, “Stay out of the park at night,” Why should they? Prospect Park was safe at night. No one fucked with you, especially if you were with your friends. But now I’m alone.

I get up to my knees, I can feel blood dripping down my face.

Looking up another kid walks towards me and looks down at me.

“Give us your money and we’ll leave you alone!”

“I told you, I don’t have any, I’m broke.”

Now it’s his turn as he kicks me in the chest, I fall backwards.

All I can hear is these guys laughing.

“Check his pockets!”

“Yeah, empty this punk’s pockets and get his money!”

I’m on my back looking up and all I see is the dark sky and some stars.

One kid starts to slide his hand in my pocket. I don’t put up a fight. I figure if he goes through them, and finds nothing, he’ll leave me alone.

“This chump is broke!”

“Told ya,” I say as I’m trying to get up. Bad move. The kid pushes me back.

“Let’s kick his ass,” one kid cries out.

All I can hear are voices. I have no idea who’s who.

They begin to take turns punching and kicking me. One time I watched ‘West Side Story’ and now I feel like I’m part of the cast; getting jumped.

A sneaker in my rib cage, a fist on my head, a punch in the face; holy shit,  I’m getting my ass kicked and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I remember someone once said if you ever get jumped by a bunch of kids just roll up into a ball and cover your head.

I try that, it doesn’t seem to work. I wish they would leave me alone. I didn’t do anything to them.

After a ton of blows from these guys they finally stop. I’m on the grass almost certain I’m about to die. I can’t feel any part of my body. I see them walking away and can hear them laughing. At least I’m not blind and can still hear.  They walk towards the road in the park and pass the horse corral.  I can barely make out what they look like. I have no idea where they come from or where they’re going.

In my time of dying, want nobody to mourn
All I want for you to do is take my body home

Well, well, well, so I can die easy…

Jesus, gonna make up my dyin’ bed.
Meet me, Jesus, meet me. Meet me in the middle of the air
If my wings should fail me, Lord. Please meet me with another pair

YOU DON’T OWN ME

Thanks to Kenny W. for this article from the New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/movies/tracing-urban-change-in-brooklyn-from-kotter-to-girls.html?_r=0

Here’s a small sample:

That Brooklyn was the quintessential Old Neighborhood, a patchwork of ethnic enclaves safe from any Columbus. The old Brooklyn was a place from which ambitious young people — Jewish, Irish, African-American, Italian — set out, not a place they flocked toward. In the mid-20th-century imagination, it is like a small, provincial town that happens to lie just across the East River from the capital of all aspiration. The journey from one side to the other is long and freighted with symbolism, and at times impossible. Ralph and Alice Kramden, in their Bensonhurst walk-up, were a million miles from Park Avenue. Brooklyn is where young Alvy Singer lived with his squabbling family in a house under the noisiest roller coaster in Coney Island; Manhattan was where he found Annie Hall. Brooklyn is where Tony Manero worked his dead-end job, ate his pizza and argued with his parents; Manhattan is where, in the last shot of “Saturday Night Fever,” he will seek freedom, fortune and artistic fulfillment.

FEEL THE BEAT OF MY HEART

The following blog entry is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

On a warm night in June we are hanging out in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name. There’s about twenty of us.

Motherfucker!

There she goes again.

Talking to another jerk.

Twenty-first street boys think they’re so cool. They’re nothing but clowns with their wife beater t-shirts, ba-ba shoes, slicked back hair and tight, Bo Derek Ten jeans.

Look at them trying to play ball in OUR schoolyard; they don’t even know how to dribble the fuckin’ ball.

But why is she over there on the side talking to Mario? She is, Lori, my girlfriend.

He’s got muscles on his muscles. What a muscle head!

I bet Lori’s mad at me from last night?

I was yelling at her on her stoop and her mom came out and told me to go home.

“WHY DON’T YOU GO HOME!” she shouted as I slammed the gate and walked up Windsor Place cursing out loud.

We fight and argue all the time. I’m so mean to her. I don’t know why I say the things I do, deep down I love her and she tells me she loves me.

We break up every couple of months.

I get jealous when I see her talking to other boys.

A few weeks ago I saw this kid chasing her around while we played coco-leavio and when he caught her he gave her a huge bear-hug from behind. I was so pissed that I ran home, grabbed my Louisville slugger and chased him around the avenue.

Back to Mario and Lori who are standing on the sidelines closest to Prospect Avenue while we are playing five-on-five on the middle court. It’s dark in the yard but the street light on Howard Place gives us enough light to see the hoops.

I’m dribbling up and down the court with one eye on my defender and one eye on Lori and Mario. Why is she so interested in him? Wonder if he knows that she’s taken. That if he tries any funny stuff I’m going off on him.  I can’t stop looking at them; matter of fact one of my teammates throws me a pass and it zips right past me and over towards my girlfriend and Mario.

I jog over to retrieve the loose ball.

As it bounces towards them I reach down and Mario kicks it back to the court before I can get my hands on it. Think Lucy and Charlie Brown when he’s about to kick the football.

“ASSHOLE!” I shout.

Mario looks at me.

“Who you callin’ asshole?” he answers.

“You, jerk-off.” I reply.

Lori looks at me, she knows how jealous I get when other boys talk to her.

“Steven, stop it.” she pleads.

“No, fuck that, I ain’t stoppin’ shit!”

Mario takes a step forward.

“You wanna do something tough guy?” he asks.

I look at him, then at Lori.

“Fuck you!” I scream.

“You wanna go?” Mario screams as he pushes me in my pigeon chest. His strength pushes me back a step or two.

Lori jumps in front of Mario and holds him back.

The players on the court and my friends watching on the side come running over.

A couple of Mario’s friends from twenty-first street start yelling.

“YO, COOL OUT!” I hear a tall, fat kid say. He’s dressed just like Mario. Kind of looks like his twin but could play offensive line for the New York Jets.

My friend Jimmy grabs me and pulls me over towards the church wall.

“Yo Red, take it easy man.”

“Fuck that!” I scream.

I look over and watch Mario and his friends walking towards the entrance of the yard on Howard Place.

“YEAH, GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE AND GO BACK TO TWENTY-FIRST STREET!’ I shout as they walk up Howard and hang a right on Prospect Avenue.  Through the fence they scream back at me.

“WE’LL BE BACK,” a kid shouts as they walk up towards ninth avenue.

“YEAH, COME BACK, WE’LL BE RIGHT HERE WAITIN’ FOR YA!” someone shouted.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

R.I.P. MATT CONROY

I was sent this message from a friend.

Please read and click the link below.

Dear Friends and Family,
Matthew Conroy passed away unexpectedly on Sunday March 23.  He was an amazing man who was loved by all. He had the type of smile that made YOU smile and feel at ease. He gave all of himself to his family and friends and now we are asking you for that same generousity.

Funerals are extremely expensive and unfortuantly, Matthew did not have life insurance. Doreen, Shannon and Matt are in dire need of financial support to give him the farewell he deserves.

You can dontate via this site or in person.

Please be aware that I, Justine Harrigan was asked to set this up for the family and NO money will go to me and all info is secure. I am just managing the site for them.

http://www.gofundme.com/7sq9ow

THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL

In this entry, names have been changed to protect the innocent…

It was a cool, breezy night in late March, somewhere around eight o’clock. Everyone was here.

“Here,” was Prospect Park. There must have been over twenty-five of us, this was our main spot; we hung out here almost every night. On weekends we would stay until midnight. Seemed like I was always the last one to leave.

My basketball coach at Holy Name always preached, “Be the first to practice and the last to leave.” 

park bench

Tonight my eyes are glued to a pretty girl, her name is Morgan. I was surprised to see her to tell you the truth. She didn’t hang out with us often.

There were certain girls in my grade who I had no shot with. They might as well have carried a sign on their backs saying,  I’M NOT INTERESTED IN YOU SO DON’T EVEN TRY IT!

Let me paint the picture for you; I was this skinny, curly, red-haired kid and I was a wise guy. Not the kind of wise guy from Bensonhurst or even down on Court Street, I had too much to say. I was in love with basketball and thought I had all the answers.  I wasn’t very good at talking with the girls either. It was awkward. Do you blame me, my father, who was long gone treated my mother like shit.

Deep down I’m not so sure how the girls felt about me but you can best believe the parents of those girls were probably worried about their daughters hanging out with me.  We might have been attending Catholic school but we were starting to discover the opposite sex…and the bottle.

Did I tell you we were 14 and in the 8th grade?

There was two months to go then it was time for that next step; high school. There was an engaging discussion on which high school we were attending next Fall.

Earlier in the day I saw Morgan on Prospect Avenue coming up from Tenth Avenue. I know she lived down there because I would always see her walking up and down Prospect Avenue.  She was all alone on her way towards the Ninth Avenue.

Maybe she was on her way to Joe’s to get a slice?

BargainLand to get some perfume?

Or maybe she was walking by the boys schoolyard to see who was there?

If I had the ball in my hands I’d dribble between my legs or behind my back; I was a show-off hoping to impress her.

The minute I saw her I got nervous. I was dying to talk to her but as soon I left the schoolyard and headed up Prospect Avenue, I was too afraid to say anything. I walked along side her dribbling my basketball.

“You going to Power?” Morgan asked. Picking up my dribble I heard her ask me again, “well?”

I was stunned.

Here was one of the prettiest girls in Holy Name talking to me and how did she know I was going to Power?

We had never said a word to each other in school but now she was talking to me. Don’t get me wrong, I would stare at her every day and chase her when we played tag at recess but that was it.

“I’m going to Power,” I answered.

Again, too shy to even look at her, I kept my head up and continued dribbling my basketball. Our coach at Holy Name always told us when dribbling the ball, “keep your head.” Our coaches gave us a lot of advice; it seemed like they were teaching us life lessons too.

She looked at me and smiled. Her white teeth were beautiful, “Yeah, I know.”

Did she just say she knew I was going to Power?

Holy shit!

I stopped dead in my tracks staring at her. I wanted to kiss her so bad right there on Prospect Avenue.

She looked at me in a weird way. Morgan had a habit of tilting her head to the side when she looked at you. After a few uncomfortable seconds, we continued towards the avenue.

Standing in front of the church I felt like a complete idiot. Why couldn’t I keep a decent conversation with her?

I watch her cross the avenue and go to Henry’s Deli on the corner.  Glancing over my right shoulder at Jesus hanging on the cross in front of the church. I could have sworn he said something like, “stay away from that girl…”

My friends and I spent a lot of time together. I was getting drunk every weekend.  I said I earlier I was shocked to see her in the park with us that night. She had some friends down at the horse stables across the street from the Bowling Alley. As pretty as she was, she probably had a boyfriend from I.H.M.

I was beginning to like the idea of getting drunk. The following weekend I tried some wine. We were hanging out when someone came by and asked us if we wanted a hit. When the bottle was passed to me I hesitated at first. First thing I noticed was that it was in a brown paper bag.

“Damn, what is this?” I asked as I enjoyed the taste of the sweet wine.

“Wild Irish Rose” someone said. “Just pass the bottle and don’t drink it all.”

I had hit the jackpot. It tasted better than beer and best of all it was cheap. By the time the bottle got back to me, it was empty.

“How much is a bottle of that?” I asked

“Ninety-nine cents,” someone shouted.

Like usual I was broke. But I knew tomorrow night I was stealing a dollar from my mother and getting some of that wine.

After drinking wine every weekend, later that summer I discovered Tango. It started to get expensive buying a bottle of vodka and a pint of OJ so instead you could purchase a mixed drink in a bottle from the liquor store, they called it a screwdriver over in Farrell’s.

Pretty soon I was getting drunk four, sometimes five nights out of the week.  I’d come home and my mother was out with her friends, asleep or she’d be on the phone. One night I grabbed a bottle from the liquor cabinet and went up on my roof. I sat there and drank every last drop. With my back against the brick chimney I looked up towards the sky asking God for help. I’m not sure I spoke loud enough.

I was 14 years old and turning into an alcoholic.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com