YASIR'S MILLIONS: HOW TO BOWL YOUR CONSCIENCE
Bowling for Peace
When I was in camp, there was this guy (I already forgot his name but I wanna say it was Chet or Len or something like that) who taught this song at campfires, and the chorus went:
"Take the skinheads bowling, take them bowling..."
I don't remember any of the other words. And I'm really not sure what the message was; perhaps that bowling is a sport that corrects racist thinking, maybe through taking us all through the gutter at various points. Or maybe there's something about piles of suddenly ownerless shoes that reminds us of something awful in our cultural memory. But now that Yasir Arafat's invested in Bowlmor Lanes, I suppose skinheads bowling isn't so outrageous.
For those of you who do not live in NYC, there are three main places (that I'm aware of) you can go bowling in the Big Apple. In the past several months I've been to two out of three. The third one, located at Port Authority Bus Terminal, is the most convenient, and purportedly the least safe. So when Jewish friends bowl, they opt for one of the other two:
This purported repository of Yasir's millions and much-touted homeland of downtown NY hipsters (a term I loathe, but that's another post) is very challenging to get to (especially from the Upper West Side), and a little sketchy going in. You arrive, and are carded by enormous bouncers even if you're in your thirties. Then they escort you into a steel elevator operated by a guy who looks like he's right out of the Sopranos. You hope you're going to the right floor and try not to make any eye contact with anyone. Then, the doors open to the sound of EARDRUM-BUSTING LATIN EXPLOSION music. Think Ricky Martin's gone? Not here, kids.
Two floors of bowling, one floor that's a night club and shares space with several pool tables. If you have great shoes to show off, it's nightclub city for you. If you're wearing sensible shoes to begin with, might as well trade 'em in for a pair of eminently fashionable bowling shoes that have undoubtedly been recently misted with a magical bacteria-and-odor-killing spray. (Mmm. If only it were also a dessert topping!!) And keep an eye out for those cheesy videos that re-enact your frame in animation...
You know where this place is, right? 23rd Street and the river. The M23's a nice bus if you can get it, but that really depends on how lucky you are. ("Do you feel lucky, punk? Do you?") Suffice it to say, I usually end up walking from Seventh Avenue.
I believe they refer to their bowling center as a "Rock-and-Bowl," which aside from being puntastically cringeworthy, I suspect was inspired by "We're Gonna Sco-o-ore Tonight," an unfortunate song in the grosstastically-excellent parody of Grease--Grease 2, starring a burger-and-gum-chomping Michelle Pfeiffer (in love with apparent Cary Elwes progenitor Maxwell Caulfield). Also, the alley is extremely dark. I was just there last Saturday night for a friend's birthday, and while it was fun after my first (and only) beer, I could barely see anyone, and that was in the company of others nearly as glow-in-the-dark as I am. On the way in, my friend asked me why there were so many religious Jews there. Maybe they sensed that no PLO money was involved in that alley...or maybe it's because they just "don't roll on Shabbos."* Just keep an eye out for those cheesy videos that re-enact your frame in animation...
What's my point? Firstly, perhaps the Arab Israeli conflict is destined to be solved via a bowling tournament. The initiative could be called "Bowl for Peace." I'm sure it's not any less likely to succeed than any other initiative...
Secondly, Bowlmor has issued a statement that they're returning the Yasir money, so Jews of NYC can continue to bowl, consciences clear. Of course, most of us will continue to not be good at it, but that's a complicated issue.
When I was a ten-year-old kid, I'd break 100 consistently. These days, I'm lucky to hit 70. Is it my vision? Is it the fact that certain puberty-era developments have tilted my center of balance askew? Was it beer? I'm sure there's a physics explanation to why my performance is so erratic. I'm sure someone will write me and tell me that the force exerted = quantum torque times pi. And then I'll call that person a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie. (Or maybe just "geek." I haven't decided yet.)
Right now, I'm baffled. All I know is that I don't inherently trust a game where you approach your target with a heavy ball, wearing unsanitary shoes, while all your friends stare at your ass and then chortle when you bowl a 7-10 split. That's gotta be some sort of PLO plot. No, I don't have proof. But the first three letters of the word "plot" are P, L and O...
*Judaism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century is bound to be defined by two pop culture moments:
1. MADONNA ADOPTS KABBALAH
2. JOHN GOODMAN'S CHARACTER IN "THE GREAT LEBOWSKI" ANNOUNCES THAT HE "DOESN'T ROLL ON SHABBOS"