Ther are few
areas of nature left in Dorchester, the largest section of Boston,
Massachusetts. Among the noise of cars whizzing by on the highway and
sirens screaming through the crime-ridden streets lies a peaceful
clearing. The clearing is located in the back corner of the Garvey Park.
It is bordered by basketball and hockey courts on one side, an alley
opposite to these, and I-95 on the third, however is surrounded entirely
by trees and bushes. After watching the area for a couple of weeks, I
observed and analyzed its interactions and changes.
In the center of the clearing is a picinic table. There are beer
cans, liquor bottles, blunt fillings, car parts, and various other forms
of human refuse strewn about the ground. It is made clear by the content
of the garbage that people come to this place to escape from society. The
same trees that prevent any substantial greenery from sprouting provide
cover for the local parriahs to feed their dependencies.
Bums and smokers, however, are not the only specimens that
appreciate the spot. On a few occassions I noticed a family of racoons
creeping about the premesis. Like the people who accompany them, they too
seek refuge in this place of nature. They too, are trashpickers. They
too fear being seen by humans, shunned for their activities just as the
homeless are. It raises the question, what is it that attracts these
stragglers? What draws them? Is the air somewhat cleaner, the setting
more peaceful, or is it the sole factor of seclusion?
Thoreau said,"The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the
almshouse as brightly as the rich man's abode." I have found the almshouse
of nature. Neglected, unappreciated, disregarded by most, the small piece
of nature remains. Leaves pile up, decompose. They grow back, and fall
once again. The cycle continues, and this is one place of nature that will
never go unappreciated again.
My friend Will has a
serious disease. Her name is Stephanie. This is no ordinary sickness.
Their "relationship", if thats what you want to call it, has been
festering like a sore. They are constantly fighting like a married
couple, even when they are for the moment broken up. What's in fact
broken up is the girl's self esteem. Stephanie always finds her way back
like a ho-ming device. Her problem is that she can't stand on her own two
feet. She always needs a man to lean on and usually ends up crushing him.
Stephanie was particularly hostile toward a girl named Tina.
Tina and Will had had some good times together, but always remained
friends. However, under Stephanie's reign, Will wasn't allowed to have
any girl friends, and that was the "bottom line", as she put it. So
Stephanie beat the crap out of Tina.
She is not a big girl, mind you, but when it comes to assuring
that no one else take interest in Will, the beast is unleashed. Tina was
ruined in the fight. Steph had the eye of the tiger and then some. It
tok three guys to finally stop the brutality and save what was left of
I later asked Stephanie what she was trying to prove. She
replied that she was seeing to it that
"No chicken head tini bopper best be steppin to my boo, or I'll
have to regulate!"
"But I thought he broke up with you?" I replied
"That's what he thinks! I'm a hafta beat some sense into that
fool, ya heard!"
"He doesn't want to be with you!" I couldn't believe I was
saying this. I had gone to far. The next memory I have is waking up in
the hospital. It turned out thatshe had pulled out a nickel role and
completly knocked me senseless, along with breaking my nose. I still have
nightmares about the terrible ordeal, and I am currently seeking help.
The dent that this bully left in my pride and my face are nothing
compared to the constant twich that she left in my nerves. It took me
three hours just to type this essay because of it. One thing that I
learned is that Stephanie has some twisted emotional problems. Lucky for
her, she just found a new boyfriend. His name is Rob. He's an 18 year
old junkie with no job and an illegitimate child. Best of wishes to the
happy new couple, but I for one am staying far, far away.
In Emily Dickinson's "The
Brain- is wider than the Sky," she uses incredible imagery to make a bold
statement about the endless possibilities of human thought. It is a much
needed contrast from her array of gloomy poems which deal with death, in
many cases her own. This piece is consistent, however, with Dickinson's
unfailing ability to build on a concept at different levels of
The aformentioned boldness lay in her use of metaphors. The
brain, in reality, is clearly not wider than the sky. Here she uses
contradictory statements to enforce the theme of the verse. Her
willingness to stretch the potential of the brain reinforces the concept
that there are simply no limits.
The one exception to her theory of this potential is God. God,
although more a force than an exception, is on a higher level of
understanding. Contemplation is an endless journey that is baffled by the
mysteries of time and creation. God is the one being that stands before
the mind, and they differ as "sight from sound". Just as the syllable is
a product of sound, so too the mind is a product of God. It is almost a
separation of church and state, where Dickinson has drawn the line. For
the mind is open to contemplation, but there will always be questions to
which only God has an answer.
Dickinson puts nature, as well as God, against the brain.
Although in this case, the mind is the consuming force. It is wider than
sky and deeper than sea. In this portrayal, she represents the mind as a
force to be reckoned with, dominating all aspects of earthly existence.
Dickinson compresses so many ideas into such brief verse. The
message is positive, and ground in by her powerful metaphors, comparisons,
and imagery. These factors do great justice to her convictions and
beliefs. But the foundation of this work is that the poem in and of
itself is a living testament that the brain is truly wider than the sky.
The origin of the game of billiards has been
disputed over the years, as its generally accepted rules seem to have been
adapted from many different countries. However, there is enough evidence
to show that it clearly descended from Europe. The influence, however, of
the sportís development in America has given it a different image, some
might argue for the better, others for the worse. Put a few drinks down,
and some dollars while your at it, and youíve got a competition as intense
as any found on a field, a court, or a diamond.
It was the hustling mentality found in pool halls and bars from coast
to coast that gave the sport its somewhat trashy image. In the 1960ís,
for instance, the pool hall was the place you didnít want your folks to
catch you. They were associated with drug dealers and swindlers. During
the 60ís the only women youíd see hanging around the pool halls were
hookers. Nowadays you see families playing together. This can be
attributed to the fact that you have an entire generation of hustlers, the
guys that really began to push the limits of trick shooting, and whatís
possible, that has grown up. These men have settled down, and those that
were good enough have been able to make a career out of it.
ďI never thought, sitting in a dingy, smoke filled, dive of a pool
hall in 1967, playing for my next beer, that one day it would be paying my
mortgage. Today we face the possibility of seeing pool turn into an
Olympic sport.Ē(Smith, Bill)
The sport has indeed been through some rebellious times, but it has
matured into a televised event, with numerous national and international
leagues, not to mention the endless corporate sponsors. Not all billiard
patrons, however, are necessarily happy with the direction it is headed.
As pool reaches a greater range of players each year, more and more
places are cracking down on the gambling that goes down. A former regular
at Boston Billiards relates,
ďA week or so back an old lady ratted me out for betting when I won
all her sonís cash. 10 years ago sheíd a been chased off with a stick.
Now Iím banned from the hall I been hustliní at for 15 years.Ē
There is something to be said for this manís anger at the sport
attracting new crowds. After all, in any professional competition, there
is money on the line. Team owners invest millions, and the more they win,
the greater the return. Many would argue that the only difference between
professional game and a 20 dollar game of eight ball is that the 20
dollars isnít taxed.
The issue of money is not a new one to a sport on the rise. It can
be a blessing, and at the same time an obstacle. Weíve seen it cause
strikes in other professional level leagues. At the same time, more money
going into the sport means a higher level of study and skill for the next
generation of players. Regardless of where poolís expanding nature may
take it, it is certain that this is an American characteristic.
Therefore, whether the sportís future means more money, more problems, or
a rebirth of the hustler that changed it forever, one thing is for sure.
The American pool hall is here to stay, a trademark of our culture, a
piece of American pass time, and breeding grounds for hustlers.