Some Old White Cripples Once Could Jump

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Published on The Doomstead Diner  August 9, 2020

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Tihs post fits under the category of my autobiographical articles which covered various parts of my life.  The longest of these was the 5 part Over the Road series of articles which covered my years in the Trucking industry, but there have been many others, covering my early years in Brazil, my years at Stuyvesant HS in NYC and my years at Columbia University as well.  I have however neglected one period of my life, the 'tween' years between when I returned from Brazil around age 10 until I headed off on the #7 Flushing Line Subway to Stuyvesant at age 13 or so.

There are a couple of reasons I am writing this post now.  One is that at this time of year, every year, I get nostalgic for the days of my youth, when I was a fast and very coordinated athlete. My birthday rolls around at the end of the month.   That's me in the pic at the left, doing a backflip in the South of France around age 29 as I recall.  Kinda hard to believe that is the same guy you see in the video above in the Header here. The Cripple who can now barely make the walk from his Cripple Cart and pretend to take a shot at the Basket.  It's hard for me to believe it myself actually.  It was Long Ago & Far Away in another Galaxy.  But so it goes, age and living hard and fast take its toll on your Meat Package, and I have done some serious damage to mine over the years, so now I get to pay the price for that.

The other more proximal reason for this post is what went on Inside the Diner on our Forum over the past 3 monts or so.  Two of the longest Diners got in a row over a Political topic they both have strong opinions on, from opposite sides of the Political Spectrum.  Basically it was about Social Justice Warriors (SJW) and Black Lives Matter (BLM).  For a good 3 months, the forum discussion was monopolized by this dispute, which became ever more vitriolic over time as neither of these ideologically pure combatants would give an INCH on the topic.  As the verbal Napalm began to flow ever more freely off both keyboards, it became nothing less than emabarassing.  Embarassing for the 2 authors of these posts which became ever more juvenile and began to resemble the commentariat of The Burning Platform back in 2010,  embarassing for the Diner because it completely took the discussions off Collapse and onto this sub-topic, and embarassing for me because I did not put a stop to it sooner.  The final straw for me came when I got this message in my e-mail:

"Can you please get these two jerks to shut the fuck up on the racism stuff?  I visit the Diner to read about the latest news in collapse, not about racial politics.  Usually you guys have done a good job with this, but I'm not going to come back here anymore if this keeps going."

I myself felt exactly the same way, *I* no longer enjoyed visiting the forum myself!  So that did it for me, I decided to use the Power of Admin to squash this shit out, no matter what the consequences.  The consequences were that  BOTH of them went Walkabout and no longer post to the Diner Forum, and say they never will again.  I suspect both of them will also blame me for this outcome, which was entirely of their own making.

One of the biggest ironies here and what brought me to the topic of Basketball was because both the combatants attempted to justify their positions with anecdotal stories along the lines of "some of my best friends are/were Black".  "I grew up as a Poor White Boy in TX, and worked with all Blacks in a factory".  "I had a co-worker who was a Black Panther back in the 60's".  etc.  On both sides, these stories are not statistically relevant arguments and justify nothing.

What this did do though was bring back in my memories the years I spent playing Hoops on the playgrounds of NY Shity.  Returning from Brazil at age 10, I really was only good at 1 Team Sport, Futbol (aka Soccer here in the FSoA) which was none too popular at that time here.  I played with almost all Black Boys from the Favelas back then.  In NYC at the time, the New York Knicks were a dominant team, with Willis Reed at Center, Dave Debuscherre & Bill Bradley at Forward, Earl Monroe & Walt Frazier in the backcourt and Phil Jackso the "6th Man" who could play any position at all and came in as regualar substitute.  A very nicely integrated Black/White team of the era.  So I decided I would learn to play Basketball.

Which I did, playing by myself usually in my school playgrpunds, mostly filled with White kids because our neighborhood was almost all Irish & Italian.  It was not until my Junior High years that I found out all the REALLY GOOD  hoops players were in the BLACK neighborhoods!  So once I FINALLY got permission from my mom to ride my bike to Jamaica (another neighborhood in Queens but mostly populated by Blacks) I would ride over there and sit on the ground watching mostly, because for at least the first half dozen or so times I went there I never got picked for a game.

This for 2 reasons basically.

#1-  I wasn't Black, I was White.  Usually I was one of the only White boys on the playground at all.

#2-  I am not Tall, and Hoops is in general a Tall Meat Package game.

So I suffered "Reverse Discrimination" in 2 areas, one because of my Skin Color, the other because I was Altitude Challenged.  This sort of discrimination though is obviously nothing compared to economic descrmination as you reach adulthood for a Black kid.  You do get some sense of it though.

Finally I got picked to play in a 3 on 3 half court game, because there was nobody else there with the right skin color and personal altitude to pick.  lol.  I finally had my shot at the "Big Leagues", for my area of Queens anyhow.  Mostly I passed the ball to the other guys, but a couple of times I got an opening and all the time I had spent doing outside Jump Shots paid off.  I SWISHED a couple from around 15-20 ft out.  The next time I got there, a Black guy name of Ruben picked me right off the bat!  He was not very fast and really not a good athlete at all, but he was pretty fucking big for 14 years old, around 6'2" and probabably 220 lb would be my guess.  He could do a good layup and he could rebound, and he could deck about anybody else playing in that playground.  No Refs in playground Hoops, nobody ever gets called for a foul.  Ruben was on the other team we had played against.  We became friends, and practiced together on give & go and fast passing and setting pick & roll.

When I got to HS I practiced more in the playgrounds of Stuyvesant Town with my friend Sheldon and I had one ULTIMATE GOAL!  To be able to STUFF the Ball through the Hoop.  But at my height at the time, this was pretty fucking hard to do.  But I was one White Boy who COULD JUMP, and eventually I worked up a technique to do it, although it took a HUGE run-up and clear sailing all the way to get it done.

So one weekend I went down to Jamaica to play with Ruben and he says to me "Black Jacks and us are getting together and we are going to Harlem to play Full Court next week with the Big Hitters.  You wanna come?"  I nodded my head and gave the Thumbs up on that one!  It was a HUGE honor just to be asked!

The guys playing Ball there were better than us, but not THAT much better.  We got beat most of the time, but ocasionally squeaked out a victory.  We were playing there a few months when my BIG BASKETBALL MOMENT of FAME finally came to pass. 🙂  Ruben was blocking up the lane waiting for rebounds, and then a shot came which I could tell was off trajectory.  I took off heading for my basket just HOPING Ruben would pull in the rebound, which he did, He hurled the ball about 15 ft in front of me and I had to run hard to catch up with it, my full speed of the time.  I was at my top speed and the basket was all clear in front of me.  So no layup this time I decided, a split second decision.  I am gonna DO IT!  In a full court game, not practice!  And so up I went with the adrenaline flowing and every ounce of energy I could muster up and I got the job DONE.  I stuffed it!  Jaws Dropped on the court (especially the girls! 🙂 )  I got the greatest compliment any White boy could get  on the asphalt, "GODDAMN!  That little Mother Fucker is a White Nigga!". lol.

Anyhow, I tell you this history to make a point about the embarassment our two Diners caused us here, which is if you ain't Black, you cannot possibly know what it like to BE Black in a White dominated society, no matter how similar your childhood experiences may have been  For a Black person from the ghetto to rise out of that poverty is even more rare than a small White guy who can jump high enough to stuff the basket.  It does happen, of course, some rare talent in music or sports usually make Millionaires out of some Black people.  Statistically speaking however, it is an extrordinarily rare event.

The outcome of this exercise in Pitching Napalm was that BOTH the Diners went Walkabout.  Not only did they ruin the Diner experience on the Forum for everyone else, they ruined it for themselves as well.  But I am certain they will both blame me for this outcome.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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