Yesterday we did the grand tour of the premier public swimming pools in Brooklyn and Queens. We started at the Astoria Pool, which I believe is the first in the New York Parks system. There is a good passage on it in The Power Broker, and it figures prominently in Salk’s search for the Polio Vaccination also, though I don’t exactly remember how. The pool is huge and well maintained, with the exception of the diving platform and pool, which are closed with a hurricane fence around it that sports a sign, “danger thin ice.” In many ways the pool is still like is was when it was built in the 1930s, huge locker rooms, a grand pool, great views of the Triborough and Hellgate bridges straddling the East River, and the two platforms for the Olympic flames from when the pool was used for tryouts once upon a time. They even had a snack bar. There were stadium-like benches on two sides wide enough to lay your towel out on, which is where I spent a lot of time reading Killing Pablo. I started reading the book about the US government assassination of Pablo Escobar. I had started it last summer, and thought I’d keep up with my Colombian Theme after Rosario Tijeras. Lennox was able to walk in and spent much of her time holding her nose and “swimming” underwater. She had a blast, and the gradual deepening made it so that she could get to the right depth and “swim.” Glorious!
Red Hook Pool was just about as crowded, though smaller, so there might have been fewer people. The entire pool is too deep for Lennox, and that presented a problem for her (& us) that had a nice resolution. The pool is chest deep (4 feet?) and is a bit cold, but you can swim anywhere in it. Red Hook pool has a part separated for lap swimmers, which is great. When I called Astoria pool larger, it might only be in surface area, not volume. Here in Brooklyn, in the shadow of the behemoth Park Slope, there were tattood hipsters aplenty. I wish that I was more cynical so that I could make a snarky comment about how “pure” Astoria was, with less Manhattanites, but it was really nice to have the mix at each pool. There seemed to be more young people (of the courtin’ and sparkin’ age) in Brooklyn, but the family vibe was strong at each pool. One negative note about Red Hook: the locker room is mostly taken up with a weight room and while my son, brother, 3-year-old niece and I got changed in the men’s Locker Room one of the workers (white guy, balding, in a Parks polo shirt) watched us from about 3 feet away behind the barricade that separates the weights from the lockers. As my brother said, “now I know what it must be like in prison.” Another Negative about the Brooklyn pool (are you reading Marty Markowitz) was that it closed 15 minutes earlier than the posted time (so that the workers could leave early. While the Astoria Pool asked to see the lining of my suit, to prove that it was hygienic, and did so brusquely, they did so professionally, without the sense of domination that the Red-Hook guard did. All-in-All, not Bad.
Bikes are fast. Holla at me. Here Kiko continues to re-meet Mike, which is how things start to happen in a linear way again. I want to speed up the pace. And of course, if you want to start from the beginning, go here.
Mike, who had been looking for Kiko for the month or so since he had first been passed by him, got up out of his saddle and chased him up the bridge in the dark. It was difficult to catch him, but once Kiko realized Flaco on the thin bike was trying to get his attention he eased up and let the North American catch up and ride astride him. As he caught his breath Mike looked at the bike Kiko was riding, “I don’t know how you go so fast on all of that junk.”
Puzzled Kiko responded with interest about Mike’s razor thin bike and its specifications: “that bike it no weigh much, how much?”
“Oh, about 20 Pounds,” mike responding humbly, and a bit embarrassed thinking about how much it must cost per pound: with two full water bottles, he thought.
“My bike maybe two of yours,” Kiko went on chatting for politeness sake.
“Yeah, and even if you didn’t have the basket, tape and –are those zip ties?- that erector set you’re riding would be heavy.”
Missing the put-down, “Señora Choi, my boss, she buy for me and let me ride it home,” explaining his gratitude, “save me $4 a day!”
“Where d’ya ride from?”
“Ha-May-Ee-Cah, by Suphin Boulevard”
After a few minutes of small talk, as they descended the bridge into Manhattan Mike got to the point, “So Kiko, I race bikes, and I think you’d be good at it, would you like to try?”
“Race? Me? On this?”
“Well, no, and you’d have to come learn how, and I could lend you a bike that you’d do better on,” like a teenager asking for his first dare he babbled on, “and there’d be all kinds of other things. Where do you work? What is your phone number? How can I reach you?”