BRACE YOURSELF

FRIDAY AFTERNOON – MAY 15

Walking to the train I see an old friend, Anthony Mastrandrea.

Great family from Windsor Place. Went to school with his older brother Louie.

There’s Dominick, Peter and Stephen.

Their mom and dad are good people.

Big soccer fans back in the day. They loved the New York Cosmos. Mainly Giorgio Chinaglia.

Anthony pulled his truck over to chat. Good move Ant, we need more friendly people in the world.

As I pass the boys schoolyard on Prospect Avenue and Howard Place looks like they are having recess. It’s not Holy Name though, it’s St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy.

Something ain’t right at 241 Prospect Park West.

There’s like 15 kids out there.

They’re not playing ball either.

They have their school uniforms on and all but…

No hoops.

No slap-ball/punch-ball

Nothing.

Just chasing each other around.

HUH?

While I walk down Howard Place I am tempted to make a suggestion to the three adults standing in a circle keeping an eye on the children.

“Let’s choose up sides!”

COME ON MAN!

GET THESE KIDS GOING.

Good thing I didn’t. Probably would have called the cops on me.

We had some big time, and I mean BIG TIME slap-ball games in the yard during recess.  The full-court basketball games were competitive. We would unclip our ties and toss them to the side.

Yeah fruitcake, I had a clip-on. Go ahead and laugh.

When the girls stood against the church wall and watched us, we played harder.

We played in our dress shoes. Remember the marshmallow shoes? LOL. Try running in them.

Shirttails sticking out in the back. (Is Shirttails one word or two?)

Did I mention we had between 40 and 50 kids in our class?

Mary Kawas always participated. One of the best athletes I ever went against in the yard. She was aces…

So with two, sometimes three classes at recess, that was over 120 kids. Wait, we had four 8th grade classes.

Where did everyone go?

And here’s one for the local child psychologist: we organized the games ourselves.

Most times we made the teams up back in the classroom before we came out.

LEADERSHIP!

On the Manhattan-bound F-Train it’s not too crowded. But first off, I miss the swipe of the Metro Card.

“Swipe it again,” dude behind me says.

I want my tokens back!

F-train comes roaring into the station. I board and pass on planting my ass in the open spot. I choose to  stand.

Looking around the train everyone is in a trance.  What’s the deal?

Hating the fact that they are going to work I would guess. I am on vacation, sorry.

Straphangers look mad.

Angry?

Perturbed.

Definitely tired.

But lighten up Francis, it’s FRIDAY!

As the F travels from Fourth Avenue to Carroll Street I get a peek at the BQE. It’s packed. Bumper-to-Bumper. Don’t miss those days at all.

I thought I was standing my ground when all of a sudden I lose my footing.

The Bergen Street Curve got me.

Damn!

Totally forgot.

Loved the guy with the business suit holding the coffee in one hand, his phone in the other. Briefcase between his legs.

He spilled the coffee all over.

LOL

To me, people get way too close on the train. I need my space. Back up people.

Gotta love the people who run for the train, as the door is about to close they stick half their body in and get stuck.

What’s that all about?

Wait for the next train bro!

You look silly stuck in the door.

How about Smith and 9th station and York Street?

These stops are packed now.

Never was that way.

Guys on the train look like they wanna fight. Look like boxers entering the ring.

Mad at the world.

One guy got on at East Broadway, swear he was ready to rumble.

Where’s Michael Buffer?

Forget “Watch the closing doors.”

I’ m waiting for, “LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”

Oh shit, Second Avenue, my stop.

Gotta get off.

Talk to you later.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

GOOD MORNING BROOKLYN

FRIDAY MORNING – MAY 15

I am up, showered, and out the door by 6:30.

Places to go, people to see, food to eat and of course, coffee to drink.

It’s a gorgeous morning. Sun is out, people actually have smiles on their faces and respond when I say, “Good morning.”

Crossing the circle I think of heading into Connecticut Muffin but decide to hold off.

First stop is Terrace Bagels on Windsor and ninth.

The place has a line. People love their bagels. Guys behind the counter are hustling. If Louie the owner was around, he would be proud.

“WHO’S NEXT?” Counter guy shouts.

“Give me the Brooklyn Boy a toasted Everything bagel,” I answered.

For those who don’t know, the Brooklyn Boy is Ham and egg on a bagel.

I sit at an empty table by the window and back door. Placing my bag on the chair, people are in a rush, gotta get to work I guess. Moving quickly.

All good, I feel them. I remember those days.  That train, oh that train…

My first screw up of the trip was jumping the gun.

Counter person calls out “DAVE” sandwich was ready. I reached for it and made a mistake.

“You Dave?” he inquired.

“Oh shit, my fault,” I quickly countered placing the brown paper bag back on the counter.

Everyone waiting for their order gave me the stink eye. I felt stupid.

Dave was like, “YO BRO, THAT’S MINE.”

Finally my sandwich is ready.

Grabbing a seat, all set to dive into a real breakfast sandwich but something was missing. I need a newspaper.

Post, Daily News, Newsday…I will even settle for a New York Times.

No Rae and Otto and Jimmy’s is now closed.

Suspended operations!

Damn!

“Yo, you know where I can get a newspaper?” I asked someone on their way out the door.

“No,” the guy with the suit and tie growled.

Damn dude. Sorry I asked.

The avenue needs a newsstand. In the worst way.

Great idea for a business huh? (Anyone want to back it, I’ll move back to run it) We can call it “Reds.”

We’ll sell papers, magazines, candy, soda, and we’ll even bring back the counter and make egg creams.

After I polish off my sandwich and wash it down with a bottle of water, I head up the avenue to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Passing a few people on the avenue I don’t recognize one face.

Where is everyone?

Dunkin’ Donuts is steady. Couple of people in-line. Donuts looking good but I can’t be messing with them.

I order a large coffee, milk and three splenda and grab a seat by the window; great view of the avenue.

Wi-Fi is kicking. What would I do without it?

I’m in my glory.

“Coffee light and sweet,” I hear someone shout to the counter person.

Haven’t heard that in a long time.

As I look across the street at Holy Name Church I see an older group of folks exiting.

I see Mrs. Martin from Windsor Place.

Oh shit, there goes Mr. and Mrs. Cox. I think that’s them?

Finally, some familiar faces.

Feel like jogging across and asking “How’s Laura and Karen?”

Two good girls I grew up with back in the day.

Have to tell you about a young lady who complained about her coffee not once, not twice, but three times.

Felt bad for the lady behind the counter.

“Don’t worry my friend, I love the coffee here,” I assured her.

A college kid is working hard. Wiping down tables. Cleaning the legs of the chairs.

“Great job,” I tell him.

“Thanks,” he answers.

I hope he doesn’t think I was a smart-ass. I admire people who work hard.

Time to split, going over to the city today.

Where’s my Metro Card?

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

THE CONROY’S – GOOD PEOPLE

While in Brooklyn last weekend, I was informed of a young lady by the name of Jill Conroy. Jill attended Bishop Ford and hails from down by East 5th street.

Maybe some of our readers are familiar with the Conroy family?

Jill plays college basketball at Holy Family. While she attended Bishop Ford, she played on the girls basketball team; Dennis Nolan was her coach.

And how about Bobby Valentine? Unreal what Bobby did.

Take a few minutes and check out this awesome story via ESPN.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=110907/September11

-Red

hoops135@hotmail.com

I CAN’T GIVE IT AWAY ON 7TH AVENUE

THURSDAY NIGHT – MAY 14

Hooked up with my friend Carl from Sport Prospect for dinner.

We went to a great spot on seventh avenue called, Burger Village. I highly recommend it.

The french fries were awesome.

Seventh avenue is a great place to walk, take in the sights and of course there are many great restaurants.

How can you not like it? There’s a Starbucks down there too.

Later on that night I walked up to the monument on the circle (Back in the day they called it the “Totem Poles.”)

While sitting there checking everything out four teens walked past me, one was dribbling a basketball.

“You play on a team?” I asked her.

“No,” she answered.

They were from the neighborhood and attended Poly Prep high school.

“What are you doing out so late?” I asked them.  Keep in mind it was now midnight.

“My parents are having a party,” one girl said.

Also keep in mind these kids were 13 and 14 years old.

Nothing changes. Kids hang out with their friends at night. We did it.

The four high schoolers were cool.

No problem at all…

Later on while I was walking up to the avenue I bumped into my old friend Edmund Gallahue and his wife Laura.

Ed and I were classmates at Holy Name. Felt bad for him when he told me he lost his cell phone earlier that night. Hope he found it.  Not sure what I would do if I lost mine. (Knock on wood)

When we were students at Holy Name we ran Cross-Country together. One particular race in Prospect Park  Mickey Reilly finished first, Ed second and I came in third. Unreal! I will never forget that day.

Later on in the Spring we ran track together.  Our relay team was amazing. Mickey, me, Ed and the late Jimmy Rail.

We cleaned up with the medals. Wish I had still had some of those medals. Wish I had all my baseball cards too. Wish I had a lot of things to tell you the truth.

The night was topped off with a trip to Farrell’s to see my buddy John Powers. “Duffer” was working the stick and is one of the good guys. The crowd was alive. It’s too bad I didn’t recognize anyone.

But it was all good.

I got back home a little after one.

Time for some sleep, I have to get up early the next morning.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

I’M BACK. BACK IN THE NEW YORK GROOVE

THURSDAY AFTERNOON – MAY 14

Landed at LaGuardia Airport.

New York City is alive and kickin’.

It’s a little after four. People everywhere.

Hustling off the plane I am looking for the nearest newsstand; I need a New York Post and Daily News, not to mention a Metro Card. I also need the men’s room.

Snatching my luggage off the belt, I head to the Hudson Newsstand for my card. I am also looking for the Q70 bus.

“Right outside my friend,” the nice man says, pointing out to ground transportation as I give him $9 for the card. I have to come clean, help at the airport is at an all-time high. People were so nice.

I walk about 50 yards and I see a lot of signs.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

There’s so many fucking signs!

Oh before I forget, you should see the line for the cabs!

Forget that, just take the bus to the train.

I move to the right place, the bus pulls up to the curb. The driver has a smile on his face.

I hop on, smile back at the bus driver, insert my Metro Card and head to the back for the ten minute ride.

The bus driver is like Mario Andretti. He’s driving like you have to drive in New York, aggressive. Express bus.

One stop away in Jackson Heights and I head for the subway. The streets are packed.

F-train is downstairs and I am on my way to Brooklyn. Two swipes of the Metro Card; $5.50, not bad. As I passed through the turnstile, I notice a high school kid duck under. Two cops are 20 feet away. Kid has a lot of balls.  Back in the day we jumped over.

HELLO BROOKLYN!

I can sense the excitement in the city. I sure do miss it. Feel the vibe. Check my flow. Gotta get my hustle on. If you go slow, you’ll be crushed. Stay in your lane.

The Manhattan-bound  F-train pulls into the station and  it’s empty. I grab a seat but quickly change my mind. I decide to stand up in the back of the car. This way my luggage doesn’t get in the way.

When the train pulls into the 21 street-Queensbridge station I think of Ron Artest.

“SAY QUEENS-BRIDGE!”

Other notables from the same area:

Mobb Deep, MC Shan, Nas, Roxanne Shante, Marley Marl and the late George Jefferson. I think Vern and Vic Fleming are from Queensbridge too.

Passing Roosevelt Island, we go under the water and into Manhattan.

Lexington Avenue, few people get on. Coming from work, they look tired.

57th Street. Wish the F-train stopped here back in the day when I worked the door at Planet Hollywood.

47-50th Rockefeller Center.

42nd street. They say Times Square has changed. Tomorrow I see what they are talking about. Maybe I will take a picture with Elmo.

34th street, the Garden. Rangers are in the playoffs and kicking ass. Knicks? Forget them for now.  NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday.

23rd street.

14th street.

West 4th. The Village. Will spend some time here tomorrow.

By now the train is packed.

People are back-to-back. One rider was pissed that someone got too close to her.

“Better get out of my face,” she says.

Be cool Yolanda. (Pulp Fiction)

These people look like they are ready to fight. Can’t anyone smile? It’s not that bad.

Don’t forget, it’s rush hour though. I’m sure they are tired and can’t wait to get home.

Ramble on…

I hear some interesting conversations.

People are listening to their headphones.

Some are reading. Love the guy who is singing out loud.

Some have their eyes closed. No doubt thinking of what’s for dinner.

Broadway-Lafayette.

2nd Avenue, which I will devote an entire blog entry. East Village was booming all weekend. Gem Spa.

Delancey street. Thinking of buying some jeans on Orchard.

East Broadway. Eddie Lau in the house.

York Street. It was amazing how many people got off the train and I couldn’t believe my eyes as to how many people were standing on the platform waiting for the Manhattan-bound F-train.

“You gotta see the view from my apartment,” one lady said to her friend. “I’m right on the water.”

Nice. What’s your rent?

Jay Street Boro-Hall. St. Francis College. Gerard Trapp and Edgar, former Terriers.

Bergen street.

Carroll street.

We’re coming out of the tunnel now. Can’t wait to look out the window. What a view.

Smith and 9th. Again, ton of people got off at this station.  Many people start talking on their phone. As a kid we played Visitation in Red Hook. long walk from train to gym. Murray had some team. Ty and Keith, two good ball players.

4th avenue. Change here for the R train to Bay Ridge. Lots of steps. It’s a cardio workout.

And finally my stop, 7th avenue. Thought I was going to say 15th street for my stop, right?

Not this weekend. But I will head up to the avenue soon.

Before I head to my apartment, I stop off at Smiling Pizza for a couple of slices and a coke.  The joint is packed. It’s dinner time what do you expect.

The guys behind the counter are aces. Very efficient.

“WHO’S NEXT?”

It was an exciting train ride from Queens, through Manhattan and now in Brooklyn. I covered three of the five boroughs.

Boy it’s good to be back.

HELLO BROOKLYN!

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

SKYSCRAPERS AND EVERYTHING

Welcome to NY sign

What a tremendous weekend in New York City!

Next few days I will tell you all about it.

I will hit on a lot of topics and of course mention all the wonderful people.

Sorry, but what happened in New York, will not stay in New York.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

EAST 5TH STREET

It’s going down Saturday at 5PM.

Everyone is coming back to play some ball on the court we played on many years ago.

East 5th street park down by Ft. Hamilton Parkway.

Jackie Ryan is the man for putting this reunion on.

Can’t wait…

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com