Very cool video…
My friend and frequent contributer to Container Diaries Pat Fenton, will be hard at work once again…
On Tuesday, September 16, I will be doing a short, twelve minute reading from my one man play in progress on Jimmy Breslin at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea area of New York.
It is a second reading of my play in progress (almost finished).
The night, which starts at 7 P.M. (to 10 P.M. ), will also include on the bill other readings and musical entertainment by members of the Irish American Writers and Artists Salon.
Admission is free.
New York Daily News with the story of spanking your child when they act up. You know, a form of discipline.
The courts say it’s kosher.
We all got hit back in the day when we were out of line.
How about at Holy Name? Mamma Mia!
Listen to Kiko from Long Island City, the father of a 9-year-old boy who is quoted in the story:
“A father has to educate his son, has to spank a little to protect his kids from growing up wrong. Some kids, if you don’t smack them a little, they won’t learn any respect.”
Friday morning, May 2
Someone once said, “an alarm clock is not an alarm clock, it’s an opportunity clock…”
Usually when you’re on a vacation you sleep in, right?
Well not if you are back in your old Brooklyn neighborhood.
I’m up with the birds and the sun. In the shower, dressed and out the door.
I have an opportunity to check in with some old friends and make some new ones.
Making my way up to the Avenue I see people walking along the Parkside. Health conscious for sure.
I also see people rushing to work, trying to catch the early morning train to Manhattan.
Instead of stopping at Connecticut Muffin I walk to the Windsor Cafe for the best scrambled eggs and ham. But first I grab a newspaper.
Three guys working in the cafe, George, Nick and Gus are three of the coolest people I have met on this trip. These guys run the show, they make things happen at a high rate. Might be the first time I have ever sat at the counter in a diner.
Next stop is Terrace Bagels for a bagel and coffee but the joint is packed; all the tables are taken. I head down to Connecticut Muffin and grab a latte.
Camping out for an hour, sipping on my latte I don’t recognize one single person. I’m so pissed I forgot my MacBook Pro back home. I could have had these diary entries up to the minute.
Time to go see my guy Carl down at Sport Prospect on seventh avenue. But first I stop off at the Armory on 8th avenue. They have done a great job with this place; it’s a basketball court and they have a nice running track.
Now it’s time to hop on the train and head to Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.
I had thoughts of walking but I had to meet someone up at Bishop Ford at two. Can’t be late.
Jumping on the F-train one stop to 4th avenue where I switch for the Manhattan-bound R-train for two stops.
I come out of the station and I’m overwhelmed by the Barclays Center. Boy has this area changed.
Flatbush and Atlantic.
You know the place, where the big clock is. Better known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.
“Red, you remember back in the day you needed to carry a pistol around here?” my boy Johnny P. reminds me.
Sssshhhhhhhh…Don’t mention any stories from back in the day.
It’s game-day; tonight the Brooklyn Nets play the Toronto Raptors in game 6 of the NBA playoffs. You remember the Nets, right? They used to be in Jersey. But don’t forget, at one time they were out on the Island; Strong Island for the Public Enemy fans.
This place is amazing. I walk around a bit and grab a Starbucks in the lobby. Around the corner on Dean Street I see the employee entrance and maybe I’ll see J-Kidd coming in?
Across the street there are a few apartment buildings. It must be mint living across the street from an NBA arena.
Never got the chance to go in Barclays Center but some day I will check out a game.
I did make a pit stop in their gift shop. It was empty. Nice merch out on the floor but a little overpriced for me. Guy on the floor was a bit chatty and friendly; said he graduated from Xaverian out in Bay Ridge.
I head back to the neighborhood taking fifth avenue all the way to ninth street where I hop on the B75…oops, I mean the B61. No more 75.
As we all know, Ford is closing its doors in June. As I get off the bus and cross the avenue there’s a big sign on the black picket fence. Someone took a bed-sheet, hung it on the fence and used a black Sharpie:
SAVE BISHOP FORD.
I head down the block and meet up with Danny Piselli. Danny was my coach way back in the day at Holy Name and he also gave me my first high school coaching job. He was the JV coach and brought me in as his assistant. I had a ball.
Hey Dan, I took mental notes of that season; I use a couple of your drills with my team, thanks.
We chat about old times and he fills me in on the situation at Ford.
Time to split, head back to the apartment and get ready for the Old Timers dinner later tonight out in Bensonhurst.
Looking forward to seeing a lot of good, basketball people.
As we roll into Manhattan I peek down on the floor and see newspapers all over the place.
The train is hot, I’m talking “August” hot.
Out on the street the temperature is 80 degrees, down below in the subway it has to be close to a hundred!
It’s muggy and sticky. I’m good though despite wearing a long sleeve, button down dress shirt and a pair of jeans. Not sure why I wore my black dress shoes, my feet are killing me.
A guy seated directly across from me is sipping on a can of beer covered by a brown paper bag. Before he takes a swig he looks around the train. Probably checking for a cop. He looks at me and I at him, I quickly glance in another direction.
At each stop on the Coney Island-bound F-train in Manhattan a handful of people get on. It gets crazy crowded. I do not miss these awkward times, trust me.
I need my space.
It used to bug me out when someone would shimmy up to me and I was able to smell his cologne.
Back up yo!
We pull into 57th street and I have a flashback…it’s the station I used to get off when I worked at Planet Hollywood in the early 90’s.
The train is like a can of sardines. To be honest I have never seen a can of sardines. Let’s just say it’s packed, back to back like the Limelight back in the day.
One thing that stood out to me when we reached Brooklyn; As the train stopped and the doors opened at the Smith and Ninth stop, a lot of people got off. Years ago I don’t recall many people getting off there. Same for York Street. I saw a ton of people get off there too.
“Watch the closing doors please…”
I get off at the 7th avenue station along with many others. Seems like my bag is getting heavier and heavier as I climb the stairs to the streets.
First thing I did was stop off at Smiley’s Pizza on the corner of 9th street and 7th avenue.
I order two slices and a small coke. The guys behind the counter are cool and very efficient. I doubt there’s free refills, the fountain is behind the counter.
As I take a squat in a booth I notice three guys, probably in their early 20’s sitting in front of me. All they do is complain about society. I felt like saying, ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP’!
Complain, Complain, Complain…
To my right is a Smiley’s employee gobbling up some pasta. Must have been on his break. How cool is that? Go on break and eat some pasta.
“Yo, can you watch my bags?” I asked him as I ran next door to grab a newspaper.
“Sure, no problem…”
They tell you to keep an eye on your personal belongings in New York City but I felt it was safe to let my man watch my stuff.
Two stores over is a newsstand. I buy the Daily News and head back to my spot. My pizza is ready. I’m officially “New York” now, eating and reading the newspaper.
Customers come and go; they order pizza and pasta. The place is busy as ever. It’s in a nice location. Right at the top of the subway station. Location, location, location…
I make my way across 7th avenue and head to my destination; 13th and 8th. But first I have to stop in Johnny Mack’s to pick up the keys. I’m staying at Joe’s apartment; he and I go way back. Thanks Joe!
Johnny Mack’s has a few people sitting at the bar. I walk in, talk to the bartender Sarah while she hands me the keys.
“Wanna drink?” she asks politely.
“Nah, I’m good…”
I take the keys and head to the apartment. After dropping off my bags I make my way up to the avenue.
Sanders is closed, I mean the Pavilion Theater. There’s not a soul around.
Curling around the circle, walking past Connecticut Muffin there are a few people sitting outside chatting. I thought of cutting across through the circle but the traffic was like the Indy 500.
I cross the avenue and walk past Farrell’s; it’s packed inside. No one is hanging outside My man Duffer is at the stick. I pop in and chat with one of the good guys from the neighborhood.
Duffer’s been behind the bar at Farrell’s for 33 years.
Bars are part of the neighborhood. So far in 15 minutes I have been in more bars than I have been in the past five years.
It’s starts to rain so of course that fucks everything up. I had planned on walking around the hood to check things out.
I take shelter under Red’s Shoe Store awning. Next door at Rae and Otto’s there’s a party going on. But Rae’s isn’t a candy store anymore. It’s a restaurant and they call it “Krupa’s Grocery.” They kept the sign and everything.
“Good morning luv…”
Yo Ricky, what up kid?
Looks like they are getting ready for a grand opening. I have thoughts of crashing. Maybe when I was in my twenties, not now.
I chill out on the corner for about thirty minutes watching people walk by…I don’t recognize anyone. When someone walks past me they look at me and I look at them.
“What the fuck is this nut doing standing on the corner?” they must be thinking…
I have to focus in and do a double take. We used to hang out on the corner every night. There’s not a single person on any corner on the avenue.
Across the street in front of my old apartment there’s a lady sitting on a milk crate with three little dogs.
The rain stops. I hang a left on Windsor Place and make my way to the boys schoolyard at Holy Name…
“Bless me father for I have not been here…it’s been four years since my last visit.”
Saw so many people; Met a few new ones too. That’s the one great thing about life, we have the opportunity every day to meet someone new. Michigan State’s head basketball coach Tom Izzo once said, “Get to know the person next to you that you don’t know.”
Thanks to my main man Joe Lee who handed me the keys to his railroad apartment on 13th street. Joe and I go way back. Used to play ball in the yard and we would also attend Yankee games together.
Soon as I landed Thursday night at LAG airport and stepped off the plane, I could “feel” NYC.
Walking through the airport. I thought to myself, ‘this joint hasn’t changed‘.
After grabbing my luggage I made my way out to catch my ride into the city; the Q72 bus! On my bucket list is having someone in a suit holding a sign with my name on it. How cool would that be?
Standing out on the sidewalk we see taxi’s, cars and busses in rare form.
Cabs racing to pick up passengers curbside and bus drivers leaning on their horns as pedestrians dash across the street.
Drivers of cars double parked waiting to pick someone up.
Big ups to the bus driver of the Q72, he showed me how to insert my metro card that I had purchased for $19.05 just a few minutes earlier at the newsstand. I miss newsstands.
The bus was packed but I was able to snag a seat towards the back.
I looked around the bus and people were on their phones, looking out the window and some were asleep. Not one single conversation taking place.
Communication is a lost art.
A few passengers looked angry. Some tired and some worn out. I, on the other hand was excited to be there. It was a long time in between bus rides. I’m sure the every day hustle has beaten some down. But these people were not defeated. It’s a grind but they persevere. You gotta!
The bus driver was flying on the highway, passing cars left and right. It was fun and exciting. Like I said, “The joint hasn’t changed.”
As I stepped off the bus and onto the dirty sidewalk I made my way to the F-train. The area was electric. You could feel it in the air. Roosevelt-Jackson Heights was rockin’. Not sure If I had ever been in this part of town.
As I walked to the station I was stressing sliding the metro card through the slot because of the people behind me were bum- rushing me. Fear not, it allowed me access. If the machine rejected my swipe, I could just hear the people behind me, “Come on motherfucker!”
I hopped on board the empty Manhattan-bound train and grabbed a seat in the last car. I placed my Northface backpack on the seat next to me, my big suitcase in front of me between my legs. I pulled out my phone and headphones and listened to some jams.
To my surprise we pulled into 21st street/Queensbridge; why was I so surprised? Well it’s only the home of Vern and Vic Fleming, Ron Artest and the rappers Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, Marly Marl and Nas. I totally forgot the F stopped there.
Coaching men’s basketball at St. Peter’s College back in 2005 we had a player, George Jefferson who was also from Queensbridge. Sadly, George passed away at the age of 21.
A few passengers got on the next couple of stops. Coming from work I’m sure. It was nine o’clock. The people looked dazed, some confused and of course, they were tired. Probably on their feet all day. Some up to ten hours.
At Roosevelt Island, the last stop in Queens more people boarded, the train was filling up fast. A few passengers listened to their music and closed drowsy eyes. All the seats were now taken. A tall guy got on, stood in front of me and was listening to music. I removed my backpack from the seat, tapped him and gestured for him to sit.
“Thank you,” he replied.
Now it was time for the train to go under water and enter the city of Manhattan.
“He’s not here.”
“Yeah, I know that but where is he?”
“Gone, I don’t know where!”
“When is he coming back?”
“He’s not coming back.”
“He found a new family.”
“A new family?”
“Yeah, a new family.”
“Why does he need a new family? He’s got us.”
“I don’t know. Now go outside and play…”
When I stepped out of my apartment on Windsor and ninth all one had to do was turn right and walk four short blocks to Bishop Ford High School.
Despite not being a student at Ford I spent a lot of time at 500 Nineteenth Street.
On Monday, Ford announced they are shutting it down for good in June.
I received the news via text message on Monday afternoon.
“FORD IS CLOSING IN JUNE!”
I had to look twice at my i-phone.
Bishop Ford is closing?
Back in 1977 when I was in the seventh grade at Holy Name it was time to take the co-op. They had you select four high schools that you had an interest in attending. Did I ever tell you I was petrified when it was time to take a test? My palms were moist, I had butterflies in my stomach and I would gag. In the sixth grade I once faked sick at home just to avoid a test.
3-Christ the King
The year before, after watching the Panthers play in the King tournament at St. Thomas my mind was made up where I wanted to attend high school (my tenure at Kareem’s alma mater lasted two days).
I’m not sure why I wrote LaSalle down and I think I filled in Christ the King because I had watched their basketball team play in the summer league at Holy Name. Little did I realize how far away the school was and what kind of commute awaited me. F-train to Delancey and switch for the M?
Sitting there I thought to myself, “I’ll complete the list with Ford.”
How stupid was I?
At that time my good friend Glen Thomas was a freshman at Ford. Two classmates at Holy Name, John Godfrey and Mary Kawas put down Ford and would soon be enrolled. It would have been cool meeting up with Mary and Johnny G on the corner of Windsor and ninth and walking to school with them every morning.
How stupid was I?
Why not attend high school with my friends?
As a young boy I would go up to Ford to watch the Falcons basketball team play as much as possible. Neighborhood guys like Danny Piselli, Jimmy Rauthier, Charlie Alberti, Willie Lanzisera, Edgar Dela-Rosa, Joe Santos, Artie Lee, the Ferro’s, Brian Lang and Andy Purdy all wore the red and black.
There was nothing like a Friday night game against Xaverian; the gym would be packed. I would sit way up at the top of the bleachers against the wall on the Ford side of course and watch all the action. Besides the great games between two very good teams was the passion and spirit felt throughout the gym. The student sections from both schools were always hyped up.
“SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP!”
“EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD!”
I know, I know, different chants back in the 70’s compared to what we hear today.
(Container Diaries shout out to Brian Keating of sixteenth street who ran the point for the Clippers.)
Back in the early 70’s the Los Angeles Lakers held a practice at Ford between championship games with the Knicks and Jo-Jo White filmed a commercial for Pro-Keds.
It’s hard not to think of basketball when I hear about Bishop Ford. If I had to do it all over again, I would have put Ford at the top of my list. I probably would have played for their basketball team and came out all right.
It’s a sad feeling knowing that after June, Bishop Ford will be gone forever.
Like Alice Cooper said in his song, “School’s out forever, school’s out for summer, school’s out completely. No more pencils, no more books…
Received and e-mail with a question:
Back to the mid-70’s; They wanted to know the name of the bar down on fifth avenue and 14th street.
A clue, it had a “bungalow look” on the outside.
I was born on tenth street between eight and ninth avenues, down the block from Prospect Park.
Our address was 665 – we lived in a really cool brownstone. I recall mom taking us up the street to the 11th street playground almost every day. When she wasn’t paying attention I’d run around to the bandshell, jump on stage and make-believe I was Mick Jagger. If you go to a playground today parents are all over their kids; Never taking their eyes off them. Can you blame them?
Things must have turned for the worse in 1969, because that’s when my father left our family. It sucked because we had to move. I was going to leave all my friends behind. Down the block towards 8th avenue there was a family, The Basile’s; they were and still are to this day “good people.”
Mom had a great relationship with a very nice couple from across the street. Antoinette and Dick were very nice to us, especially at Christmas time. Instead of a gift they would give us a Christmas card with ten bucks inside. When it got close to Christmas I always asked mom when they were coming over. Antoinette and Dick had a huge pool table on the middle floor of their brownstone. You guessed it, we played a lot of pool. I think that’s why I became such a good pool player at the age of ten. I can’t leave out all the Saturday’s I spent down at Timboo’s playing on their pool table in the back of the bar.
One day we were out on our stoop. Some of us were running around out on the street, Mom was sitting on the stoop. It was a pretty busy time of day, people were walking up and down the block. Antoinette was walking out of her house.
“ANTONIETTE, HOW’S YOUR DICK?” mom screamed.
Everyone stopped dead in their tracks.
People were staring at my mother.
Antoinette looked embarrassed as I was too.
It was an awkward moment for sure.