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the Community Center
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1:I came up in the community center. I used to be physical director of the South Central Community Center in Chicago on 83rd. It's still there. It used to be around there when I was a kid. ~ Bernie Mac,
2:You don’t sound too excited about this,” Tucker comments twenty minutes later. He holds the door to the community center open for me.
“And you are?” A yellow sign decorated with balloons greets us. “This process is so hard that I have to learn how to breathe? That’s not normal.”
“You watch any of those YouTube videos?”
“God no. I didn’t want to psych myself out. Did you?”
He gives me a thumbs-down. “I don’t recommend them. I’m wondering why we use brass balls to describe someone who’s really strong, because after the second video, my balls tried to climb inside my body. Plus, my YouTube history is officially fucked.”
“Ha. Exactly why I didn’t watch any.” I wag a warning finger at him. “Stay by my head during the birth or you’ll never want to have sex with me again. ~ Elle Kennedy,
i cop a squat on a squared-off log,
to watch you ball on the community center court.
butt numb, i shift my weight
and shake mosquitos from my ankles,
but never take my eyes off the game.
yours follow the orange orb, your pupils
twin, brown moons reflecting its light.
your play is wild efficiency,
you are a four-pronged magic wand,
waving, as if agentless, in all directions at once.
an opponent dribbles the ball - now he sees it,
now he don't, it's gone, flown,
and you've given it its wings.
you are one-eighth of the shrieking rubber,
one-eighth of the growls and calls. you are
the delicious assist, the unerring pass.
you spread your skills out before me, a peacock
among pigeons, as if to say "all eyes on me,"
and make it worth my while.
a chill trails the sun west like a long, clammy train,
crawls over me and my makeshift bench,
over the emptying playground,
but stops at the edge of the concrete,
where eight men burning keep it at bay,
the way torches smoking around a patio
ward off insects. twilight rises like dark steam
from the dewy grass, but you don't see it.
the ball still lights the court
until the winning jumper sinks and puts it out.
then earth returns to view, and you jog over
to slap my palm and beam,
and receive the grin i give you like a trophy.
~ Evie Shockley,
4:The breakdown of the neighborhoods also meant the end of what was essentially an extended family....With the breakdown of the extended family, too much pressure was put on the single family. Mom had no one to stay with Granny, who couldn't be depended on to set the house on fire while Mom was off grocery shopping. The people in the neighborhood weren't there to keep an idle eye out for the fourteen-year-old kid who was the local idiot, and treated with affection as well as tormented....So we came up with the idea of putting everybody in separate places. We lock them up in prisons, mental hospitals, geriatric housing projects, old-age homes, nursery schools, cheap suburbs that keep women and the kids of f the streets, expensive suburbs where everybody has their own yard and a front lawn that is tended by a gardener so all the front lawns look alike and nobody uses them anyway....the faster we lock them up, the higher up goes the crime rate, the suicide rate, the rate of mental breakdown. The way it's going, there'll be more of them than us pretty soon. Then you'll have to start asking questions about the percentage of the population that's not locked up, those that claim that the other fifty-five per cent is crazy, criminal, or senile.
WE have to find some other way....So I started imagining....Suppose we built houses in a circle, or a square, or whatever, connected houses of varying sizes, but beautiful, simple. And outside, behind the houses, all the space usually given over to front and back lawns, would be common too. And there could be vegetable gardens, and fields and woods for the kids to play in. There's be problems about somebody picking the tomatoes somebody else planted, or the roses, or the kids trampling through the pea patch, but the fifty groups or individuals who lived in the houses would have complete charge and complete responsibility for what went on in their little enclave. At the other side of the houses, facing the, would be a little community center. It would have a community laundry -- why does everybody have to own a washing machine?-- and some playrooms and a little cafe and a communal kitchen. The cafe would be an outdoor one, with sliding glass panels to close it in in winter, like the ones in Paris. This wouldn't be a full commune: everybody would have their own way of earning a living, everybody would retain their own income, and the dwellings would be priced according to size. Each would have a little kitchen, in case people wanted to eat alone, a good-sized living space, but not enormous, because the community center would be there. Maybe the community center would be beautiful, lush even. With playrooms for the kids and the adults, and sitting rooms with books. But everyone in the community, from the smallest walking child, would have a job in it. ~ Marilyn French,
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