Keeping up with The Jones

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

I didn't dress up today, nor will I. I did however dress up last Friday for our Harvest Party. As you can see, my costume was a low-budget production, but it did get some laughs and won me the prize for best adult costume. Considering I was pitted against four other people who also spent nothing or next to it, this was quite a prestigious award.

I also carved a pumpkin today, a tradition I consider absolutely indispensible. There are very few simple joys that bring greater pleasure and fulfillment than cleaning out and carving a pumpkin, and of course baking the seeds (mine were promptly devoured by the teens in the drop-in center).

My only real question is, what else would you ever do with a pumpkin? I know they have limited use as food, but really, they seem almost entirely dedicated to this pupose. Every year you see vegetable stands loaded with these things and I don't know anyone who buys one for any other reason. Have pumpkin farmers just been reinforcing this tradition to boost sales? Did they invent all the stories about its supposed origin? Or are they just really lucky?

Monday, October 30, 2006

White men can't jump

There is a park about four blocks from my house where I go to play basketball and meet kids from my neighborhood. I've been trying to develop relationships in my community and one easy place for me to do that is on the basketball court. The guys there all know me and it's often a chance for me to invite them to special events the church is putting on as well as to witness through my actions. A lot of times I'm just trying to play peace-maker.

The guys I play with are primarily ages 13-16 and live in the projects. Almost without exception, I'm the only white guy who plays there. From day one, I have never felt racial antipathy from anyone. If anything, I have been more conscious of my age than my race, as I am usually the old man on the court. Even with that, on the court all anyone really cares about is if you can play, and if they can beat you.

Being the only white guy doesn't phase me. What does get my attention is when there are two of us. Today was one of those times, only the third to my recollection. He was older, late 30's, at least part Italian and clearly a native New Yorker, complete with the accent and a certain hardness. He was really nothing like me at all. But he was white like me.

"Is that your brother?" The boy who asked me actually knows me a little and has met my sister.

I laughed and shook my head.

"What, you don't know him or anything?" He was somewhat incredulous. In fairness, the only other white people I've seen there were with me: my sister Shannon and Steve Maxon, my former roommate who was visiting. (They had assumed Steve had been my brother at first as well. Then they somehow got the idea that he was Dirk Nowitzki's brother, a notion we perhaps were delinquent in dispelling).

All white people must be related, or at least know each other. It makes me laugh, but it also makes me think. Part of what I hope my presence in my neighborhood can do is help dispell stereotypes and misunderstandings that are the root of much more troublesome racial tension.

You know, like thinking white guys can't ball.

Here we go

I have been meaning to start a blog for a while. I don't honestly know exactly what direction this will take. In fact, those that know me well will join with me in suspecting that I may slack a bit in the posting department. This is primarily because I hate typing, which is primarily because I am the slowest typest in the known universe (with the notable exception of my father, but I don't think you can even call that typing). I just can't get the thoughts from my head to the screen quick enough, so we'll see how many make the blog.