August 7, 2009

IF YOU AREN'T PLAYING JARTS YOU MAY AS WELL SUMMER ON FIRE ISLAND:

Quoits? Nah! It's ladder ball: This summer's hot beach game. (Amy S. Rosenberg, 8/07/09, Philadelphia Inquirer)

On the beach late one recent afternoon, as the tide worked its way in and the sun started its downward arc over their shoulders, the Gallo group of family and friends was knee-, head- and Miller-Lite-deep into flinging balls around ladder rungs.

"Middle is the hardest to hit," Jarrod Holzman, 27, of South Philly, was saying, explaining why - unlike some versions of the game, in which if your two balls at each end of a string wraps around the top rung, you get the highest score (3) - these guys were scoring the middle rung highest. (The goal is to reach 21 without going over. They scored the top rung 1 point, the bottom 2.)

"Didn't a philosopher say that?" Holzman, a shark-tooth-necklace-wearing federal correctional officer asked, suddenly going deep. "Find the medium."

Broyles, standing next to him but on the other team, tried to be helpful: "It was a South Philly philosopher - Rizzo."

"It was Fumo," Holzman replied.

Actually, it was Aristotle, who counseled, "Everything in moderation."

So, ladder ball has deep philosophical resonance for you, Jarrod?

"Absolutely," he said. "This is how I meditate, actually."

An Aristotle-quoting correctional officer from 13th and Wolf finding his inner zen flinging balls underhand on a Jersey beach as the sun headed for the horizon? This game may have more going for it than purists clinging to their quoits give it credit for.




Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2009 7:43 AM
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