Category Archives: Anthropology

Playgrounds: Out in the South Bronx Streets Back in the Day

Old school playgrounds 

Growing up in the South Bronx, there were not many playgrounds around.  Streets became de facto playgrounds. We would open the fire hydrants and blast the water until the cops came to close the hydrants. We would take a ball and hit it against the walls of empty lots.  Handball was a favorite past-time. Our palms showed the wear and tear for years thereafter.  There were times when children did get hit by passing cars. To this day, one girl still has hearing problems due to getting hit while playing tag in the middle of the street.  No matter what kids want to play when they are young. And whether there is a playground around or not, they will find a way to each other and find a way to play.   The sense of play is natural, and of course, needs to be encouraged. It is heartbreaking when kids do not have a playground outlet for to release their enormous levels of energy.

Now driving through the suburbs of present day, it is interesting to see how some playgrounds have morphed into full scale amusement parks with attached ponds, adventure paths and grilling areas.  If I had seen such a place growing up, I would have thought I was dreaming.

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There were a few playgrounds in the South Bronx growing up but it was not as if many of us felt very safe going to them. There is a movement now to have more playgrounds that are nicely manicured and that are safe. However, it seems that more and more we are turning to inside activities and places where we bury our heads blocking out the outside world. Can only hope that slowly we get kids back outside and exploring nature, play, and the environment in a safe way.

A Wishing Well: A window onto your mind

A Wishing Well: A window onto your mind

Traveling across the world, one can come across many fountains big and small. Most of the time, these fountains have throngs of tourists milling about, snapping away and digging deep into pockets to find some coins to toss in.  In Rome, hundreds of people surround the Trevi Fountain tossing in coin after coin. Some look thoughtful, while others are laughing and giggling as they toss in their found coins. If one were to interview all those tossing in coins you would find a cross-section of hopes, fears and a hint of what is to come for this world. Those wishes let you know where people are at psychologically. If you have only one cin, what is that one wish that is made? If you have three how do the three wishes vary?

You wonder what it is that is in your heart and mind?  Do you have a hard decision to make? Go toss a coin in a fountain, well or need be, a puddle. The first thing you wish for will help guide your thoughts and actions thereafter.

Of course, coin tossing need not be such a deep endeavor but it sure does serve as a window onto your mind. Go ahead and see what your mind is telling you.

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Leaving without a trace

Leaving without a trace

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What? She did not quite understand. How could it be that she had to go through this dark tunnel to get to her home? Had the life-long journey not been tedious enough? She just wanted to rest her legs and have a hot toddy. That was not to be. She welcomes varied experiences. However, they should not be laced with danger and panic. She knew what she had to do.

She picked up the phone, made arrangements, gathered her clothes from the floor and left without a word. Her mom had also escaped and so would she. No more fear.

Nuestros Muertos Seran Semillas: Our dead will be seeds

Nuestros Muertos Seran Semillas: Our dead will be seeds

When children come across street art and graffiti how do they process it?

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How does a six year old process a mural that notes our dead will be seeds? How do we as adults process such a statement and eventual reality?

Art, with its vibrancy, can awaken us to stark realities and it can jar us awake as we sleep walk through our environment.

Do the Dew

Do the Dew

When you see this billboard going cross country or on your way to work, do you get thirsty? Does such a billboard make you want to pull over and immediately find a vending machine? Does such a billboard make you want to go to the grocery store and find the soda pop aisle?

do the dew

When I was a young girl at a boarding school where an A- was seen as failure, anything with mega doses with caffeine in it was our friend. Mountain Dew was a staple in our dorm vending machine. Walk into any dorm at 3am and you would find a bleary-eyed student on the floor looking at some random history book while holding dearly to their mega-caffeinated soda.

That was back in the day. Now, I hold onto my venti -triple espresso- latte.

Where have all the used bookstores gone?

Where have all the used bookstores gone?

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During this weekend of historical significance, at least in the US and in Great Britain,  there are some matters of history to ponder.

This morning the first question of the day was “where have all the used bookstores gone”? Honestly, do not know. I suppose the online retailer Amazon made it so that there is less and less need of bookstores. Sadly so. However, is there still not a need for a store that is dusty, run amok with cats that has row upon row of used books that have been earmarked repeatedly holding a whole other layered story onto itself?

 

I remember a decade ago thoroughly enjoying a used books tore, rather warehouse, in the suburbs of Washington, DC.   I remember browsing the dollar racks at The Strand in New York.  The Strand is still there but with its myriad gift items including numerous tote bags bearing its name it has become more about being hip and holding that bag than really combing through old dusty book rows.

 

I recently tried to find an old, old book as a gift and could not really find anyplace that could get it for me.  Forget about used bookstores. Where are the old books going? Surely, it is not the top shelves of local libraries as those are becoming more and more select in their selections while going digital as well. Where are the old books going? Are they being donated to the thrift stores?  Are they being sent to the landfill? Are our dumps being filled not only with garbage, but with words of our past?

 

We are so focused on the here and now that our past is going to the dumps in droves.