Friday, June 27, 2008

The Battle For Central Park.

Gabriel Sherman of the New Yorker wrote an article last week that definitely made my head turn. The subject? The tug of war over who is most righteous in using the park. Central Park that is. The article focused on how a not enough of a good thing can become a bad thing. Central Park, the largest park in New York City, is also IMHO, perhaps the most beautiful park in the United States. It is also becoming over taxed with too many riders, runners, bladers and dog owners. And they are all getting on each other's nerves.

Now I don't even have to paraphrase or quote any of his article. No need to. Been there many times to know that it's all unfortunately true. Bikers are aggravated by runners that don't stay in one spot, and wear earphones, while Runners are threatened by the prospect of having Cyclists bear down on them at 40 MPH. Roller bladers are yet another faction to contend with, and they weren't even mentioned in his article. As a runner, I can't tell you how infuriating it is to have one of these bladerunners come right up from behind me, whizz around and cut right across me at top speed. Since when did I become a plastic orange cone?

A few months back our team was leaving Cental Park from the Run As One run to head for breakfast. As we crossed the East Side Drive, there was this cyclist, who had to be going at least 30-40mph. He saw a walker several hundred yards ahead of him, and started to scream at him. "STAY OFF THE FUCKING ROAD!!!" the cyclist yelled at top decibel to him. How fucking rude right? did the walker do, anyway? He was walking a straight line!

Not too long ago, when Jack and I had volunteered for the Women's only "Mini" Race, tensions flared up again. An entire boy's baseball league team was walking along Central Park drive. Since the race was already taking up half of Central Park Drive, the boys and their coaches were already tight. And that was before the cyclists came. All I can tell you is that there was a lot of cussin' and yelling between the baseball team and the five or six cyclists that had passed by.

But to me the biggest surprise of the article was about another "faction" known as the "dog owners". I've seen plenty of dogs out there, but I was shocked to hear that dogs needs not leashed before 8a or after 9p? That has got to be a cyclists' worst nightmare.

Actually, and in my past life, I used to make documentaries in my "off-time". No, seriously! I did one about my family, and decided to be a bit humorous. Once upon a time, a Long-Island-Suffolk-County-Time, that is, my father used to cycle between his house and his two brothers homes. Dad lived in Ridge, Alejandro in Coram, and Antonio in Shirley. Anyway, here's a little video I did about my father's wonderful cycling experience:

scene from "Generations 3: The Boy From Queens"

I used Pinnacle Systems to edit and add the special effects (like the man's face on the dog. That was my dad's best friend, Alfonso Mulas, whom all joking aside, is a dear man, a great artist, and has a wonderful sense of humor). And as for my father's low voice? Well, that was actually me imitating him on the voice over tracks I did....."Hollywood....I'm waiting.....".. Anyway, his low voice and stern rigidity of his demeanor is why I make the all-too-often references about him as Lord Darth of Southern Florida. But I digress...

Perhaps the best example, though motivated for other reasons by the assailant, was my own experience in Forest Park last year, when I was cold-cocked by a punk on a bicycle as I was running (read it here --->

Image composed from the loop in Central Park.
(Photo: Peter Funch) - This is an awesome photo!!!
Central Park is indeed a neutral zone where anything goes. No laws. No enforcement. It's like the Wild Wild West but with speed. The only thing missing is drag racing (well, I have seen some drag queens run there, But that's another story altogether). Runners are upset with the Cyclists who are upset by the Dogs and their Owners, who are upset by the Roller Bladers who are upset by the Walkers who are upset by the...oh shit. You get the point. And as the summer is already upon us the problem is only going to get worse.

Anyway, you owe it to yourselves, to jump outta here for a few, by clicking on the link at the bottom of this blogpost. The article he wrote is very well written. You'll not only get a sense of proprietorship amongst the various groups, but also how they think the others are just out-of-control maniacs. LOL! Even the comments posted to his article are incredible. It's as if they're still fighting over it, online now instead of in the park. Something has got to be done about this. I mean....
.....Can't We's Alls Jus Git Along?

Gabriel Sherman link --->

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