Monday, March 10, 2008

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IN THE NEIGH-EIGH-BORHOOD. Some marvels of North Brooklyn: the playground across Bedford from McCarren Park is where a rough crew of grown men play baseball every summer, fueled by styrofoam cups of beer ferried over from the Turkey's Nest. I've watched them many times, making their diving catches on the unforgiving blacktop, from which they get up limping and belligerent. Today I walked by and saw them, in 36 degree weather, playing a spring training game in grey sweatpants and several layers of t-shirts, the top ones uniformly red. They were a little slow -- from cold or disuse I can't say -- but they were playing hard. When someone missed a play they lustily booed. They'll be more ready on opening day than the fucking Mets.

Up in Greenpoint, where Polish is the primary language, the store windows were festooned with posters for a light middleweight named Pawel Wolak who'll be fighting at Madison Square Garden on March 15. The undefeated (13 KOs) Wolak is, per NewsBlaze, "the 26-year-old grandson of Polish farmers and son of a carpenter who arrived in New York as a teenager," and will face Dupre "Total Package" Strickland at MSG. By "Brooklyn" and "Polish" they mean "Greenpoint," of course, and the hometown crowd is with him. It doesn't matter that they can't spell his nickname properly. They'll go drunk to the Garden with their red-and-white flags, and get more drunk, and come home absolutely shitfaced with their flags draped over their shoulders, as they do after World Cup matches. But they won't make much trouble. Brooklyn Polish drunks are the best-behaved drunks I've even seen.

Sometimes I miss Manhattan, but on days like this I feel like I got promoted.

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