“In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do.” – Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys)
Back during my grade school years it was nicknamed the ‘Upper East Side toilet bowl’. Not that it was trashy or dirty looking, but because it was shaped like a toilet bowl. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is literally spitting distance from my grade school, The St. David’s School, on East 89th Street in Manhattan. I saw the museum everyday, and took it for granted, at times. But on some “FREE-Fridays” after the school dismissal, I ventured into the museum to peruse the many great pieces of art, not knowing that I would also be inspired to do another thing, that was totally non-art-related — Wall-Ball, baby! :o)
Wall-Ball and tennis balls.
In 4th grade, I was just a bit into my first introductory year playing youth lacrosse on a extremely novice level on the weekends in nearby Long Island. I just plain sucked at catching and throwing! Nobody else played “lax” in NYC, at least, I did not know of anybody who did. But there’s concrete all over in NYC and I remembered hearing the term “Wall-Ball” from our coach, back then, and how it can increase your skills.
It just happened that there was a massive addition being done to the Guggenheim and the corner of East 89th St. and 5th Ave. was a total construction zone. A thought to one day, try a ‘wall-ball’ session after school came to mind and I brought with me, my Brine Superlight 2 and a tennis ball. Yes, a tennis ball because I couldn’t find a place that sold lacrosse balls, plus tennis balls were/are cheaper and safer.
I didn’t know what was being built to the Guggenheim but I saw A TON of concrete wall space and decided to give it a go on a Friday after school. Amidst orange cones and a few pieces of raw material, I threw the tennis ball against the massive concrete block. After a few catches and misses, the doorman of the building adjacent to the construction of the Guggenheim warned and told me, in his own words, to “stop defacing private property”. As a 4th grader, I freaked out and immediately stopped and quickly headed back into the safety of my grade school on the same block.
A few weeks later, I tried again to be discreet but the same doorman recognized me and said that he would tell the school about my doings. Fearing that I may get kicked out if he told the school, I never did it again. But I did find a handball court a few blocks up north, which worked out well.
The Art of Lax?
I don’t know if the lesson is to be resilient and creative to “find your wall”. What I really find funny, looking back, is that early attempt to do ‘wall-ball’ on the property of one of the world’s most famous museums, may have well been an early combination of doing what I’m known for today:
‘Art’ and ‘Lacrosse’ aka ‘The Art of Lax‘.