The latest issue of The Digital Americana was just released yesterday. As part of my continuing exploration of the question: “What happens when I check out totally normal things?”, this issue I went to a double header in the Bronx and had a good time. Also an interview with Khairi Mdnor of RECESS NY, and a bunch of other very cool things. Here’s a sample of my baseball piece:
“I’d never been to The Bronx before. After a long ride on the D train I got out at 170 station and walked down to Taft High School where The Rays and The Bulldogz would be playing a double header that day.
At 3:30pm The players were just arriving, getting their gear in order. I sat down on the bleachers and got my lenses ready, put a roll into my Minolta X-570, a good machine. The sun was out, and having never written sports before I was excited. I have a lot of respect for men and women who dedicate themselves to athletics—pushing their bodies, mapping the seemingly endless bounds of human ability. Personally, I fall into the modern majority of aggressive sedentarianism.
Over on the bench to my right these guys were hanging out, prepping for the game. Flash of the nerves I once knew in Junior High. These are the cool kids. What am I going to say to them? I rustled it up. Told myself that this was different. We’re all grown up now, sifted into our different lives, comfortable and accepting. I went up to the guys. This was The Rays, they were leading the AA Division in the New York City Metro Baseball League. Men in uniforms, joking, carrying on, pulling on stockings, cleats.
“Hey guys,” I said, “My name’s Carib. I write for a magazine called The Digital Americana. We’re doing an issue on the National pastime and I’d like to take some shots of y’all playing. Maybe ask a few questions later on.”
“What?” said a bald guy who’d been pulling on his jersey while I was talking. He turned to his teammate, “What’s he doing?”
“For a magazine,” said the teammate, a tall dude with a good crook eye. Well built, “Sure, man. You’ll want to take a bunch of pictures of me.”
“Word?” I said.
“I’m pitching,” he looked down at the others, laughing, then in some reverie, “Probably the last time I’ll ever pitch out here. What’d you say your name was?”
“Carib,” I said, balancing the syllables. I approached him.
“Karim?” he said, a common mistake.
“Carib. With a B. Like the Caribbean.”
“I’m Fernando,” we shook hands, “Nice to meet you.”
“Hey,” said a third guy on the bench beside us, “Can we get the pictures?”
“Well sure, man. I’ll leave my contact info. Send me an email and I’ll send you the good ones.”
We all nodded to each other a few times and they went back to gearing up. I stood there silently for a moment in the interpersonal limbo that arises when one has met people explicitly not to get to know them.
“Thanks, guys,” I said. I walked over across to where the other team was seated.
The Bulldogz were livelier, maybe just more of them had already shown up. There was movement. Lots of Spanish being thrown around. Insults that friends make with friends. I repeated my introduction. More sure of myself this time. Magazine. Pictures. Send me an email.
“Oh,” said the man I had addressed, “You wanna talk to him. I’m just assistant coach today.”
“Who? The guy in the glasses?” I said, indicating a short man in sports shades stretching out just off the thirdbase line, “What’s his name?”
I walked over to Roberto and gave him my piece. I was getting good. Quick delivery, nonchalance, whatev.
“Sure, man. Sure,” said Roberto.
“Honestly,” said this hulk of a dude seated on the bench, not taking his spectacled eyes off the clipboard and papers in his hand, “I’m probably the only one you’ll want to get shots of out here.”
When I said that he looked up and laughed. Looked around and laughed, and his friends were laughing with him. I also laughed.
“Only get me from the left side,” said an umpire with no good sides.
There followed a string of the same sort of joke. Popping out of any given mouth like very manly dolphins from the steady surf of our continued laughter. I slung my RayBans down to one ear and raised the Minolta, aimed it at the hulk.
“Hey,” serious stop, “Not on the bench, man.” <READ MORE…>
This is Khairi and his daughter: