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August 18, 2004
About the potential of some of my childhood games to gain olympic status and how throwing pork against a wall, even in New York City, does not lead to good results. We did not have those fancy glass marbles in Poland. At least I was not aware of them. The little round pieces of glass were something I was introduced to in Germany. This is where kids made up certain value systems for these round objects and then played with them to get them out of each other's hands. I did not really understand how this whole thing worked. Some of the nicer little pieces were less valuable than some really ugly ones. I guess the strongest kid with the cheapest marbles sometimes wrote the rules for the neighborhood. The only way to get the good stuff was to win it all. (And then give some away and make some new friends.) The games kids played with marbles in Germany were the same, or very similar to those we used to play in Poland. One would dig a little hole into the hardest possible patch of pounded dry soil, or one would use a well tested battle ground with a hole that had been passed on by generations of players and then the game would be a bit like golf, I guess. One would try to be the first one to get ones marble into that wicked little hole in the ground. Whoever managed that first... would just collect all the other marbles. Those with no marbles left would be sent home (often crying.) We did not have marbles in Poland. So we used... money. Cash. Real coins. This somehow made more sense. These game pieces had a system set up by much badder and stronger boys. This was like playing adults. (Oh, and btw. I tried to bring in some of that reality spirit to germany, just to discover that the kids there really did not get it. Now seriously, has anybody ever bought ice cream with marbles?) It is also far more difficult to play the game of golf with a coin than with a little ball, of course. I guess the putting irons even the playing field a bit. But can you imagine Tiger Woods trying to get a little krugerrand into a tiny hole in the middle of a well designed arena? I actually think this could be a good sport. There would be some really good educational value in that. I would watch superb players snip in vary valuable playing pieces of internationally regulated weight into a tiny little hole in the ground. I think there is some real potential in that... really... (I have worked in advertising for too long. I am corrupted.) Well, we did not always have a fighting ground and not always had the luxury of that little precisely dug round hole. One wanted to win back some of that lost cash during school breaks as well, of course. We knew that teachers would have certainly not allowed for us to crawl around on all fours, trying to get the best position for that killer shot to take the savings away from that slightly less skilled kid. New rules had to be used to be able to play under those much more difficult conditions. We had to be able to run away quickly, leave no traces, be mobile. So we simply used the wall. It was as if we turned the circularity of the game with a little hole in the ground into a two dimensional game of precise aim. Several players would line up at a certain distance to a wall, (and the older kids would sometimes just stand farther away, because they were more professional,) and we would throw the coins in a way so they would land as close as possible to the wall. Whoever managed to throw his coin closest to the wall, would get all of the other, less fortunate coins. Or let's say the equally fortunate coins of obviously less skilled players. Really some really tough kids were often able to throw coins so they would end up standing, leaning against the school wall. I mean there is no way to beat that... (except with a suicide throw that would remove that master of the game from his position, sacrificing the slightest chance to win that particular round of throws.) Oh, the game might sound very simple at first, but it is really a tough one. Coins do roll, they bounce off the wall and of each other. Sometimes a throw too daring would just mean the end of one's game. Hmm... I am trying to imagine this game again, played by a really skilled team of Canadians. Maybe on ice, throwing... hmm... some really beautiful game pieces.... I remembered the game of throwing the coins against the wall when I saw something slightly unusual in front of the building here this morning. It was almost as if somebody had played the game and then just left their coin, or their token, just there. It was the ultimate sign of a winner. The real winner would not even care about the winnings. All he cared about was the honor. The legend.... I really thought that some kids had played that game at night, right here on Broadway, right here in front of mandee's, in front of that sometimes quite cheeky clothing store with pictures of girls in the window wearing t-shirts that would say something like "I partied with Justin." Daring? Almost. More like a teenage thousendeere... (is this a word? I mean like almost millionaire.) Okay, so here is the meat of the story. The item on the sidewalk this morning was a raw piece of pork. It was a pork chop, a raw one, greasy, marbled. I think it was pork. I am not a meat in the street expert. It must have been there for a while. It was't there long enough for the rats to discover that bone marrow could be somehow especially delicious. But it had been there long enough for the rats to discover that the giant piece of meat looked delicious. There were some droppings right next to that found piece of animal. Maybe it was poisoned? Was this some sort of really bad joke? Is there such a thing as the meat joke? A store manager from mandee's saw me hover next to the red and fatty piece of pork. It was on the sidewalk in front of her little empire and so she came out of the store to ask me what I was examining. "It is just a piece of dead meat." I shouted in her direction. "Oh, okay..." she answered, and walked back into the store... Just a dead piece of meat on Broadway. Seems like a pretty normal thing, doesn't it?... I still think that those Polish kid's games could and should be turned into real sport, if only played with the right kind of coins. Imagine... olympians throwing their medals against a well branded wall... or maybe ultra-light airplanes throwing especially designed rings, against a billboard... I think the olympic potential of some sports is not yet fully explored. What about those knife throwing games mentioned here earlier? And did I ever speak about the beer cap tour de France? I do not think the use of meat is a good idea... in any kind of sport or game. Meat is best when it is alive I think... but then it is not really meat I guess? I really wonder where this red and dirty chunk originally came from... doesn't it make us want to hug New York?