Friday, June 04, 2010

Damn, it feels good to be a gangster...

I like living in the city. Our neighborhood is full of cute bungalows and Victorians, tree-lined streets with sidewalks, parks and shops within easy walking distance, and neighbors that are uniformly cool and neighborly without being homogeneous. Gay, straight, black, white, families, singles, retirees, it runs the gamut. I dig it.

But we are also indisputably in an urban neighborhood. The liquor store up the street frequently has drunken homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk outside. There's a "lingerie" shop a few blocks away. About a month ago the cops knocked on my door to ask if I'd seen any suspicious types around, because a couple of guys were held up at gunpoint across the street from my house.

But I'll take that over the soul-crushing sameness of the suburbs.

Tonight we went to the "castle park," which is a playground on the west side of City Park, in the middle of Denver. It's a favorite of Zeke's because the jungle gym is huge, shaped like a castle with turrets and slides and funky walkways, plus swings and cool stuff to climb on. And there are kids from all walks of life, races, socio-economic strata, you name it. Which is great.

Except that based on the crowd tonight, I think the castle park has been taken over by the Latin Kings or something. All the parents were covered with tattoos and piercings and wearing t-shirts that looked suspiciously gang-like, with lots of black and gold lettering. The women were all squeezed into too-tight tank tops with their boobs spilling out and their neck tattoos well-displayed. A number of the guys had shaved heads with full skull tattoos.

Even the kids were decked out like little bangers. One kid, who couldn't have been more than 2, looked like he stepped out of a toddler production of West Side Story, complete with jeans with rolled cuffs, little baby Chucks, a tight t-shirt, and longish hair slicked back with gel. Another toddler had the low-riding shorts, a baggy t-shirt, and hair spiked up with plenty of gel.


Zeke, in his little preppy polo-type shirt and his madras shorts, Josie in her little Hanna Andersson romper, and me in my basic Gap t-shirt and capris -- well, we stood out like sore Yuppie thumbs.

But, everyone got along, the kids played nicely, and foul language was kept to a minimum. So I looked the other way at one couple sitting in the middle of the playground popping each other's back zits. I mean, who hasn't done that, right? Live and let live.

And if any of the other parents even choose to strike up conversation with me, I guess I could mention that a great-great-uncle of mine was part of the Jewish mafia in Baltimore back in the 1800s. Everyone's got a little thug in their background.


  1. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Sounds like a typical Saturday in Atlanta.

    You read about the fracas in Piedmont Park this past Thursday?


  2. I did hear about the Piedmont Park thing. Depressing. At least at the castle park, everyone was behaving themselves.

  3. I didn't hear about Piedmont Park, but goodness, what is wrong with people.

    Diversity can be a marvelous thing when the assholes keep their assholiness to a minimum. Glad to know things were cool in Castle Park!

  4. I'm posted to Mexico City, and know exactly what you're talking about. Overstyled hair on little boys is very common here, even among more affluent families. You go to the malls, and just about every little boy's sporting a crunchy faux-hawk. What can I say, Mexicans love their hair product!