Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Outlaw Instagrammer Of New York City

The Outlaw Instagrammers of New York City

The 17-year-old photographer Humza Deas spends so much time exploring the air above New York City that he’s begun to run into people he knows up there. On a recent balmy night he strolled across the Manhattan Bridge, snapping long exposures of FDR Drive from the pedestrian walkway. He was descending into Chinatown when, about 50 feet over Henry Street, his name wafted out.

Two backpack-laden figures ran laughing over the rooftop of a six-story building across the street, just a few feet above the walkway. They scurried up a ladder to an empty billboard and disappeared around its far side. “I think that was Last Suspect,” Deas told Junior, a friend who was carrying his tripod. “I can tell by the way he dresses.” Last Suspect is a well-known New York City street photographer, part of a community that specializes in combining picture-taking with urban exploration: a tribe of outlaw Instagrammers for whom, every night, New York City becomes a playground and battlefield. They compete to capture the gritty cityscape from unexpected — often aerial — angles while garnering as many likes and follows as possible in the process.  (Like Deas, Last Suspect is an elite of the group, called a “K,” which means he has more than 10,000 followers on Instagram so the last three digits of his follower count are replaced with the letter K.) They can be spotted by the distinctive humpback of their padded photographers’ backpacks and colorful lightweight Nikes, equally effective at gripping rusty ladder rungs and looking cool in a photograph hanging over the city from the edge of a skyscraper’s roof, as if all of Manhattan were just an ottoman.  For them, photography is more performance — or competition — than visual art.
There has long been a subculture of so-called “urban explorers” who have made a game of accessing off-limits places. But Deas and the other Instagrammers distinguish themselves from these mostly older, more cerebral trespassers. “They'll go to the top of the bridge and touch it and be like, Wow, this architecture!,” Deas says, a little dismissively. Urban explorers take photos mainly to document that they’ve been there, while for Deas the image is the whole point.  The outlaw Instagrammers have more in common with graffiti artists, another subculture of underground creatives who make their work in the cracks of the urban landscape. Many Instagrammers go by enigmatic handles that would look good scrawled on the side of a subway car, like Novess, Black_soap, Heavy Minds, and 13thwitness, aka Tim McGurr, an unofficial godfather of the scene. But the outlaw Instagrammers are better-positioned to thrive in post-Giuliani, post-Facebook New York than old-school graffiti writers: transgressive enough to be cool, but innocuous enough to amass a huge following without getting hunted down by the NYPD.
Even as individual Instagrammers have gained tens of thousands of followers, the community remained largely out of the mainstream, until last month, when Deas nearly blew up the scene. It started July 22, the morning some then-unknown party swapped the American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with big white flags. (A pair of German artists, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke claimed credit for the stunt this week and offered convincing proof to the New York Times.)
The best outlaw instagrammers have a specialty that sets them apart, and Deas’s is climbing bridges. In one photo he balances at night on a suspension cable at the top of the Manhattan Bridge as cars streak below him. In another, a friend sits on the sloping steel beam of what appears to be the Queensboro Bridge, his face lit by the glow of a smartphone he’s staring into. And so Deas woke the morning of the white-flag incident to find his Samsung pinging with Instagram notifications, texts, and emails from fans and friends who thought he’d officially staked his claim up there.I think this guy did the white flagNice job, man! Was it you? He posted a note on Instagram to his more than 22,000 followers, declaring that he did not do the bridge. Then his friend Neil, a barber who cuts a WPIX camerman’s hair, told him the station was looking to interview someone about bridge-climbing and Deas, intending to clear his name, instead got himself in trouble.
In the resulting video, Deas walks the Manhattan Bridge with a reporter while spilling the secrets of the outlaw Instagrammer. He explains that the best time to climb bridges is in the very early morning, right after they shut the lights off. He even drags Last Suspect into it: Last Suspect had claimed responsibility for the flags as a joke, and Deas tut-tuts that "you shouldn't take credit for someone else's work," over a screenshot of Last Suspect’s Instagram page. When the report aired, other outlaw Instagrammers were horrified. Deas received death threats, and Last Suspect proposed a Humza Deas “boycott”.
Even sympathetic outlaw Instagrammers thought Deas was trying to pull up the ladder after climbing it to fame. “It just awoke New York to like, there are these kids, these grown-ass men, even women up on our bridges and our roofs so we gotta watch out,” says a 17-year-old Instagrammer who goes by Kostennn (51k followers). “Of course Humza wouldn’t care because he’s already hit everything so he’s just like, Whatever I’m gonna do the interview. And that made us mad because it’s like, Wow, that’s pretty selfish. What if I wanted to hit the bridge this Friday night?”
Deas is a handsome kid with a babyface and a marathon runner’s frame clad head to toe in cutting-edge streetwear. (Unless he’s trying to sneak onto the roof a Times Square hotel, in which case he’ll dress up a bit in some nice pants and a button-down and Stacy Adams pinto shoes since, as a young black man, he’s likely going to get a second look from the doorman at a luxury hotel.) He’s has been skateboarding since he was 8 years old and is good enough at that to be sponsored by the Belief Skateshop in Queens, where he grew up before moving to Bushwick with his aunt. He got the idea to start climbing earlier this year, while watching a viral videoof two Russian daredevils scaling the 2,073-foot Shanghai Tower, still under construction in China. The first-person video was so intense that his hands began to sweat as he held his phone. “I was like, damn, this is so dangerous,” he says. Then he saw the otherworldly scenes they captured while clinging to a crane at the top, where skyscrapers poked out of a sea of clouds. “I’m thinking, Hey, they’re in China, they’re not in New York,” Deas says. “I can show New York this kind of photography.”  So one night in April, Deas climbed the Brooklyn-side tower of the Williamsburg Bridge. He found it was easier than he’d expected. It took just 15 minutes, although, having learned something from the WPIX fiasco, he swears me to secrecy when he tells me how he did it. The resulting photos were more popular than the well-composed shots of subway tracks and DUMBO sunsets he had posted in the eight months he’d been on Instagram. He then scaled the Queensboro Bridge, Hell Gate Bridge, and the Manhattan Bridge. He hit the Williamsburg bridge six more times, late at night or early in the morning, often with a small crew of fellow photographers. At the same time he began hitting skyscrapers.
His Instagram feed over the past four months seems to belong to someone who bounds across Manhattan from rooftop to rooftop, rarely touching the sidewalk. Some Instagrammers use Google maps to scan the city for juicy targets but Deas’s method is largely spontaneous. If he comes across a space in the city he thinks would look good from above, he’ll hit the roof of a nearby building after looping around the block a few times to get a sense of security.
Deas’s rising notoriety has made climbing a bridge a sort of badge of honor among other Instagrammers. If you click around certain accounts — like night.shift, demidism and 7expresstrain — you’ll see photos from the tops of New York’s bridges have proliferated like selfies. Deas was recently up on the Randalls Island tower of the Hell Gate Bridge with some friends when another group of Instagrammers in town from San Francisco climbed up. After a brief moment of panic — each group thinking they’d just been busted — they realized they knew each other and ended up clambering over the beams to Queens together.
If he does get caught, Deas’s only hope is to talk his way out of trouble, which has worked out so far — he’s never been arrested. The building manager and his teenage son once caught Deas photographing a girl against the sunset on the roof of the 53-story Eventi skyscraper on Seventh Avenue. As they waited for the cops, Deas chatted with the son about high school and the upcoming New York State Regents exam, which, Deas casually mentioned, he had to take the next day. When the cops came the guy decided not to press charges.

“I knew he wouldn't arrest me because I had a test in the morning,” Deas says with a grin. “He's a dad.”
But Deas has been keeping a lower profile since the white-flag incident. He’s convinced that he’s now on the NYPD’s radar because of the WPIX interview, and when a cop ambles past on the Manhattan Bridge, he and Junior visibly tense up until he’s out of sight. The blue lights glitter tantalizingly along the suspension cables above. But tonight Deas is heading to Long Island City to shoot the graffiti mecca 5 Pointz before it’s demolished this month. As if to make up for being physically grounded, Deas maintains his high-flying swagger until the moment he disappears into the subway at Canal Street. “If I really wanted to, I could do it,” he says, of scaling the bridge even in the face of ramped-up security. “The NYPD is not superhuman.” — Adrien Chen | New York Magazine

Floria Guei's Remarkable Finish 4 x 400m Relay European Championships 2014

Floria Guei is a French sprint athlete best known for her remarkable last leg in the 2014 European Championships 4 x 400m relay, when she went from fourth to first in the last 50 metres of the race.

Floria Guei

Who Is Zach LaVine?

Zach LaVine — Mile High Club

Who Is Zach LaVine?

A one-and-done product from UCLA became the Minnesota Timberwolves' 13th overall selection from the 2014 NBA Draft — high-flying guard Zach LaVine (6' 5" 187 lbs) wasted little time electrifying & wowing the Las Vegas Summer League crowds.

Questions about his abilities will soon be answered — as the team that drafted him recently made a monumental mega-trade for the ages. Minnesota Timberwolves sent their superstar power forward — Kevin Love, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for a package headlined by 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick: Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick: Anthony Bennett & forward Thaddeus Young. While the Philadelphia 76ers receives Miami's 2015 first-round pick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute & Alexey Shved.

Only time will tell if this trade pans-out for all those involved. What surely is a definite outcome is that Minnesota Timberwolves may very well become their own version of Los Angeles Clippers' Lob City ala Ricky Rubio's behind-the-head, no-look lobs to Wiggins' high-flying and LaVine's high-soaring dunks.

Check out some of Zach LaVine's best, high-flying highlights from 2014 Las Vegas Summer League!
Prospect Analysis
  • Good size for his position
  • Can play either guard spot
  • Big-time athlete
  • Spectacular dunker 
  • Length
  • Good 3-point shooter
  • Young with great upside

  • Has to get bigger and stronger
  • Needs to refine playmaking skills
  • Shot selection needs tightening

NBA projection: LaVine has been projected as a lottery pick by some draft analysts. Others see him falling farther into the first round

2013-14 Season
LaVine started out the season scoring in double figures in nine of his first 10 games. His production tapered off a bit in Pac-12 play, but he still made the league’s all-freshman team. He ranked fourth among Pac-12 freshman in scoring and 3-point percentage.

Key statistics: 9.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.1 tpg, 24.4 mpg, .441 FG, .375 3PT, .691 FT

Cool statistic: Only one freshman in UCLA history made more 3-pointers than LaVine’s 48. That was Jason Kapono, who made 82 in 1999-00.

Reminds me of: Russell Westbrook

What Insiders Say
UCLA coach Steve Alford
“He is so explosive on offense that he can stretch [an] entire defense. He is very confident and fun to coach.”

What Outsiders Say
Atlantic Division executive
"He's a very good passer, but he just doesn't have the body right now, the strength levels, physically, to compete against stronger guards. He's got real quick twitch muscles. He can get his shot off against just about anybody, and that includes our league.”

David Aldridge's Big Board 2014: Point Guards | Rank: No. 5
TNT Analyst David Aldridge breaks down the top prospects at each position
Freshman Zach LaVine plays the two for UCLA, with the 6-foot-9 Anderson doing a lot of the ballhanding, but projects as a point guard in the pros. Scouts think at least one more year in college would do him a lot of good, though the expectation is that he'll come out when UCLA's NCAA run is over.

"He's a very good passer," an Atlantic Division man said, of LaVine, "but he just doesn't have the body right now, the strength levels, physically, to compete against stronger guards. He's got real quick twitch muscles. He can get his shot off against just about anybody, and that includes our league. But you don't know if he's going to shoot off his back leg, or shoot it coming down. Reckless is what I would say. He can get it off effortlessly, but he's very sloppy in how he does it." —

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Wolverine Whisperers

The Wolverine Whisperers

The wolverine is one of North America’s most formidable animal mountaineers. The largest member of the weasel family, the wolverine is stocky and muscular and looks like a small bear. It is perfectly equipped to live in snowy and mountainous regions with large five-towed paws that make it easy to move through deep snow and a thick, dark, oily fur that is resistant to frost.

They have been spotted crossing high altitude passes at thirteen thousand feet (3,962 m). And they eat anything they can find — even if it’s frozen solid. They have a powerful sense of smell that can find a carcass buried twenty feet (6.1 m) beneath the snow, powerful jaws, and a special upper molar tooth in the back of the mouth, rotated ninety degrees toward the inside of the mouth, which allows them to tear off meat from prey that has been frozen.
The wolverine is powerfully built and has short legs with wide feet for traveling across the snow.

American Beaver — Nature's Architects, Constructioneers, Designers, Engineers, Lumberjacks, Repairmen, Swimmers

National Geographic   Beavers work around the clock to get their lodge built before winter sets in. Timber!

Beaver Biology

The beaver (Castor Canadensis) is North America's largest rodent. Adult beavers typically weigh 45 to 60 pounds, but have been known to grow to 100 pounds. Native Americans greatly respected beavers, calling them "Little People". Beavers and humans are alike in their ability to greatly alter their habitats to suit their own needs.
To obtain food and building materials, beavers are well known for their ability to topple large trees using nothing but their specially adapted incisor teeth and powerful lower jaw muscles.

Beaver teeth never stop growing, so they do not become too worn despite years of chewing hardwoods. Their four front teeth (incisors) are self-sharpening due to hard orange enamel on the front of the tooth and a softer dentin on the back. Therefore as beavers chew wood the softer backside of the tooth wears faster, creating a chisel-like cutting surface.

The beaver's most distinctive feature is their large flat tail, which serves as a rudder when swimming, a prop when sitting or standing upright, and a storehouse of fat for the winter. Beavers will also slap their tail on the surface of the water as a danger warning to other beavers or sometimes in play. They do not use it to carry mud.

American Beaver's are nature's version of architects, designers, engineers, lumberjacks, swimmers

Shadowgate (2014) — 25 Years Later

Shadowgate (2014)
Shadowgate (2014)
Shadowgate is unapologetically retro, bringing the difficulty of the original Shadowgate into 2014 and barely softening the blow in the process. It's fantastic.
"You have chosen poorly, young Jair," says the screen, flashing an image of grinning Death. I hate him. I hate his bony little skeleton face so much. I've seen it at least ten times in the last hour and a half, each time listening to his snide comment about my demise.
I've been burned to a crisp by a dragon. I've been shot by an arrow from the dark. I've had a rickety wooden bridge burned from under me. Even nonlethal occurrences might as well be—I've heard the screams of a banshee and come under a curse, I've seen an enormous spider frozen to the ceiling, I've gazed upon the face of a demon.
And ever Death mocks me. "Tis a sad thing that your adventures have ended here," he says, laughing.
Shadowgate (2014)
But they haven't ended. Not really. I load my latest quicksave again and try something new. Maybe this time I won't die. Maybe I'll solve another piece of the massive puzzle that is Castle Shadowgate.
Unlikely, though.

You died

Shadowgate is impossibly hard, and I mean that as a compliment (I think).
For the uninitiated, Shadowgate is a remake of—you guessed it—Shadowgate, a 1987 point-and-click adventure designed for the Apple Macintosh and ported to basically every extant platform at the time: the Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, DOS, and even the NES. You're an adventurer named Jair, and you've been called by the wizard Lakmir to free Castle Shadowgate, which has fallen to an unspeakable evil named Talimar the Black. It's a fantasy-style dungeon crawler of an adventure game, with you exploring old tombs and wielding swords and the like.
And it's hard, in the way that only late-80s/early-90s adventure games can be hard. Shadowgate doesn't even try to hide it, wrapping itself in delightfully obtuse holdovers from the olden days of adventure games.
Shadowgate (2014)
Contextual commands? Get out of here with your newfangled ways—Shadowgate uses the antiquated "Look," "Go," "Eat," "Use," et cetera system that fell out of favor years ago. Using an item is entirely different from Looking at an item is entirely different from Eating said item, and Shadowgate expects you to know when to use each command appropriately—or it kills you.
I'm not joking. One of the most famous encounters in Shadowgate brings you face-to-face with a dragon. You have one turn—one—to notice the shield lying on the ground and Use The Shield On Yourself or else the dragon breathes fire and you die. That's it.
Shadowgate has tuned the difficulty a bit by adding easier tiers, but even these just allow you to futz your way through some of those puzzles for a few more turns. The middle difficulty tier, for instance? You have two turns to equip the shield instead of one before the dragon roasts and (presumably) eats you.
How magnanimous.
Shadowgate (2014)
It's hard. I cannot repeat that enough. There are going to be people who get stuck after playing the game for less than half an hour, clicking everything because the game doesn't highlight what items you can interact with.
And yet for all that old-school clunkiness, for all the torture it puts you through, I genuinely enjoyed Shadowgate. Puzzles tend to make sense in a fantastical Dungeons & Dragons manner, with few notable instances of Adventure Game Logic. The game forces you to pixel-hunt a bit too much, maybe, but it's in keeping with its retro roots—this is the absurdly difficult, painful adventure game that fans of Shadowgate Kickstarted.
The pain of pixel-hunting is somewhat assuaged by the fact that Shadowgate isabsolutely gorgeous. Each new room in Shadowgate is a treat. A treat that's trying to kill you, like a poisoned lollipop or something. From damp dungeons to dusty tombs and lavish towers, the hand-painted art style implies as much as it shows and would look at home in a Dungeons & Dragons manual. It's perfect for conveying Castle Shadowgate and its often-strange trappings.
Shadowgate (2014)
Recognizing the strength of the artwork, the developers have included my new favorite adventure game feature—Immersive Mode. Press the default toggle key, F11, and the entire UI fades out—the miscellaneous clutter, the list of commands, the flavor text. You get an unobstructed view of the artwork, while mousing over any of the invisible UI elements will bring it back momentarily. It's a fantastic way to play the game once you've memorized the various command hotkeys and want to appreciate the spectacular views Castle Shadowgate provides.
The game also includes a "Retro Mode" that attempts to (playfully) emulate some aspects of the NES Shadowgate—like, for instance, the ability to swap the (fantastic) modern score to the original NES music, done by Hiroyuki Masuno.

Bottom line

One last time, in case you missed it: Shadowgate is hard. There's no getting around it. Even if you're a veteran of the original, you'll most likely get stuck occasionally considering the developers switched or tweaked most of the puzzles. You're going to die. You're going to be frustrated. You're going to have no clue what you should be doing, wandering at random between rooms.
If that doesn't sound like fun? That's fine! Give this one a wide berth.
This is exactly what fans of the original wanted, though. This 2014 version of Shadowgate is really just the original Shadowgate with prettier graphics—it's unapologetically difficult and occasionally clunky, but all the more charming as a result. — Haydom Dingman | PC World

Object Of Interest: The Vocoder

Object Of Interest: The Vocoder

The vocoder—part military technology, part musical instrumenthas had quite a history. In our new Object of Interest video, we explore the vocoder in settings ranging from the Second World War to Kraftwerk parties, featuring interviews with Laurie Anderson, Cozmo D, Dave Tompkins, and Frank Gentges. 

A Brief Vocoder History

You may be surprised to learn that the voder and vocoder date back to 1939 and 1940, respectively.
Homer Dudley, a research physicist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, developed the Voice Operated reCOrDER as a research machine. It was originally designed to test compression schemes for the secure transmission of voice signals over copper phone lines.
It was a composite device consisting of an analyzer and an artificial voice synthesizer, as follows:
  • Parallel bandpass vocoder: A speech analyzer and resynthesizer, invented in 1940.
  • Vocoder speech synthesizer: A voice modeler, invented in 1939. This valve-driven machine was played by a human operator. It had two keyboards, buttons to recreate consonants, a pedal for oscillator frequency control, and a wrist-bar to switch vowel sounds on and off.
The analyzer detected the energy levels of successive sound samples, measured over the entire audio frequency spectrum via a series of narrow band filters. The results of this analysis could be viewed graphically as functions of frequency against time.
The synthesizer reversed the process by scanning the data from the analyzer and supplying the results to a number of analytical filters, hooked up to a noise generator. This combination produced sounds.
The Voder was demonstrated at the 1939 World Fair, where it caused quite a stir. In World War II, the vocoder (known then as the VOice enCODER) proved to be of crucial importance, scrambling the transoceanic conversations between Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Werner Meyer-Eppler, the director of Phonetics at Bonn University, recognized the relevance of the machines to electronic music—following a visit by Dudley in 1948. Meyer-Eppler used the vocoder as a basis for his future writings which, in turn, became the inspiration for the German “Elektronische Musik” movement.
In the 1950s, a handful of recordings ensued.
In 1960, the Siemens Synthesizer was developed in Munich. Among its many oscillators and filters, it included a valve-based vocoding circuit.
In 1967, a company called Sylvania created a number of digital machines that used time-based analysis of input signals, rather than bandpass filter analysis.
In 1971, after studying Dudley’s unit, Bob Moog and Wendy Carlos modified a number of synthesizer modules to create their own vocoder for the Clockwork Orange sound track.
Peter Zinovieff’s London-based company EMS developed a standalone—and altogether more portable—vocoder. EMS is probably best known for the Synthi AKS and VCS3 synthesizers. The EMS Studio Vocoder was the world’s first commercially available machine, released in 1976. It was later renamed the EMS 5000. Among its users were Stevie Wonder and Kraftwerk. Stockhausen, the German “Elektronische Musik” pioneer, also used an EMS vocoder.
Sennheiser released the VMS 201 in 1977, and EMS released the EMS 2000, which was a cut-down version of its older sibling.
1978 saw the beginning of mainstream vocoder use, riding on the back of popularity created through the music of Herbie Hancock, Kraftwerk, and a handful of other artists. Among the manufacturers who jumped into vocoder production at this time are Synton/Bode, Electro-Harmonix, and Korg, with the VC-10.
In 1979, Roland released the VP 330 ensemble/vocoder keyboard.
The late 1970s and early 1980s were the heyday of the vocoder. Artists who used them included ELO, Pink Floyd, Eurythmics, Tangerine Dream, Telex, David Bowie, Kate Bush, and many more.
On the production side, vocoders could—and can still—be picked up cheaply in the form of kits from electronics stores.
From 1980 to the present, EMS in the UK, Synton in Holland, and PAiA in the USA have been—and remain—the main flyers of the vocoding flag.
In 1996, Doepfer in Germany and Music and More joined the vocoder-producing fraternity.
From the late 1990s to the present, a number of standalone and integrated software-based vocoders—like the EVOC 20—have appeared.

Liz Wahl — Anchorwoman Quits on Air

News anchor Liz Wahl said she could no longer be "part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin."

"I quit!"

Chinatown’s Renegade Sport — Nine-Man Street Volleyball

On the eastern edge of Manhattan’s Chinatown on a recent Saturday morning, Mike Fan waited as a group of women with gray-tinged hair maneuvered through their tai chi poses on an asphalt volleyball court with a thick yellow outline. Mr. Fan, 31, kept one eye on the slow-moving choreography over the rough ground as he adjusted his knee-high black socks.

“This is the only court in the United States with nine-man regulation lines painted in,” he said. “But we don’t kick them off until enough folks get here.”

A modicum of patience is necessary, even for a game known for its unrestrained speed and swagger.

Summer in this neighborhood has never been about sand and sun and beach games. Since the late 1930s, Chinese men have been playing nine-man, their own intense and dynamic variation of volleyball, in the streets, alleys and parking lots of Chinatown. What began as a way for restaurant and laundry workers to escape backbreaking work and broader social hostility has turned into a cult sport played by Americans and Canadians of Chinese descent celebrating the grit of their roots.

The game, which features nine players per side, allows for more participation and specialization (players do not rotate) than conventional volleyball. It is spontaneous and chaotic. The court, while proudly permanent in Seward Park, is often a makeshift playing surface littered with divots and debris and outlined in chalk.

On this Saturday, after a quorum of nine-man players had assembled and taken over the court, volleyballs dark with soot were soon tracing arcs in the air between the pairs of men warming up.

As the men began to run drills, Allen Wong, a telecom technician with a high-and-tight fade and carefully matched athletic wear, wrapped his fingers, thumb and a palm with white athletic tape. At 52, he plays the position called suicide, an aptly named defensive specialty that bears the brunt of the opposition’s firepower, using hand passes that resemble either underhand scoops or the Hadouken attack from the Street Fighter video game.

Mr. Wong has been playing the sport since he was 16. “Nine-man was the one thing that kept me out of trouble,” he said as he approached the blacktop with a limping gait borne of attitude, not trauma. “Now I’m trying to fish them out of the ghetto,” he added, gesturing toward the young men on his team, a ragtag group of 19- to 22-year-olds wearing muscle-baring tanks and two or three partially exposed back tattoos.

The intensity on the court picked up as teams began to scrimmage. Mr. Wong moved swiftly, chasing down attacks with the speed of someone significantly younger. He lifted one ball to a robust teammate on the front line who pushed it with one hand into the net and then set it to an attacker who carried the ball and dunked it on the other side for a point. It was the kind of nine-man sequence that would make a six-man volleyball referee blow his whistle. For some, part of the delight of playing the game is a feeling of lawlessness, the jolt of doing things that six-man players can’t.

“Nine-man is a lot faster and anything can happen,” said Bob Lee, 52, who started playing in 1986. “The offense is more explosive and there is a lot more action. It’s more exciting to watch.”
By 11 a.m. they had drawn a small crowd, some of whom shouted their comments in Toisanese, a dialect based in southern China, where nine-man has ancestral roots. Three older men lined a green park bench, their arms crossed, watching. A young Chinese-American boy followed one of the players, echoing his moves as he stretched on the sideline. A few of the girls who had been practicing standard volleyball on a neighboring court were perched on a low fence courtside.

“That last one was a pike, just so you know,” one of the girls on the fence called, spying an illegal move.

“Watch the hook! Watch the two ball!” a player yelled out, warning of an attack from the middle.
The practice was preparation for this weekend’s tournament, the New York Mini, which will pit teams from Chinatowns in Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and New York against each other. The most competitive of the teams with players in their 20s and 30s will be battling for a trophy, and the more community-oriented clubs, like Mr. Wong’s, will be combining competition with some serious hanging out.

As the light yellowed and the afternoon grew long, Mr. Wong corralled a group near a brass drinking fountain where players were washing dirt off their forearms. He laid out the summer schedule and asked who planned to play in the New York Mini.

“How many millions of dollars am I getting?” Jeff Yuen, 22, asked with a big smile, as he put on a post-practice T-shirt that read Problem Boy. But he shrugged and turned, knowing full well that he would show up. “You know in your heart you want to be there. That’s why I make it out.” — New York Times
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...