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Irwin is 45 years old. Maybe 50. He has traveled to the courts on his three-speed bike, which he brings inside the chain-link fence and locks. He is wearing a camouflage hunter's cap. He also is wearing glasses. He carries his own racket and tennis ball.
I watch Irwin for a while. I watch paddle tennis. Who plays paddle tennis where I live? Paddle tennis?I would not even know where to buy a paddle in Boston. Ten courts, all filled. Early in the morning.
I watch the skaters on Ocean Front Walk. Haven't there been a thousand televised private-eye chases on this strip, the bad guy carrying the stolen goods and escaping on wheels? The skaters have their own lane in the middle of the sidewalk, SKATERS ONLY painted on the ground in block public-works printing. No age limit, no size limit on the skaters. I watch two middle-aged women skate their way toward the supermarket. Or at least they sound as if they are going to the supermarket, talking about bean sprout prices and detergent bargains.
I watch the weightlifting at Muscle Beach, a cement area, the giant weights brought from a concrete bunker, members only, day passes available. Outdoor weightlifting. Is there another park in America that has outdoor weightlifting? I watch two guys hit the heavy bag. Outdoors. I watch three more guys gathered around the speed bag. One middle-aged belter has his hands taped. He makes the speed bag sing a buzzing song. Isn't he too old to be a fighter? What does he do? Is he here every day? Are his hands always taped?
I watch basketball. I watch handball. I watch a father toss a Frisbee with his two daughters. I watch three high school kids play with a Hacky Sack. I watch gymnastics performed on some kind of outdoors iron apparatus. I watch a touch football game. I watch beach volleyball. I watch sailboats on the Pacific Ocean. I watch surfers ride some imperfect waves to the shore. I watch bikes and riders of all sizes and styles. I see a man walk past with an aluminum baseball bat. I see two kids—on bikes—carrying fishing poles. I watch a number of runners, a number of walkers, a number of eaters.
I see what I can see. By noon I see a total of 18 sports without moving-more than 100 steps. Who are these people? Don't any of them work? Don't any of them get tired or old or lazy? Is this their vacation? Doesn't anyone simply bring a book to the beach for vacation, simply sit down with Shogun for 800 pages, then return to work when the book is finished? Is this the way this place is every day? Or is this a one-day show for my eyes only?
"Busy?" I ask the woman at the parks department office.
"You should see the weekends," she replies.
Freeways. Driving. San Diego Freeway. Santa Monica Freeway. Santa Ana Freeway. Following the fat red lines across the nest of black lines. Thinking the great Southern California thoughts. Asking the great Southern California questions.
1) Tom Lasorda? Explain.