Posts by author: Hugh McNally
Baron Ambrosia Plays Handball
| 02/14/2010 | 2:52 pm | Bronx, fun, handball, video | No comments

Careful readers of this blog may remember an earlier post about Baron Ambrosia, whose brilliant food review TV series Bronx Flavor seems to be an on-again/off-again affair.  Well, I found recent signs of life from the elusive Baron on his YouTube Channel… and he’s no longer off-topic for us.  The video below depicts The Baron playing handball against what appears to a second coming of Divine from Pink Flamingos, watched by two old-school real handball players.

We have no idea of the context of this video–if it’s just for fun, or part of a past or future Bronx Flavor episode–but it’s great nonetheless.  If anyone involved in this video–from the “real” handball guys to Divine’s love child to even The Baron himself–reads this post, please contact us at Streetplay, if just to say hello, or even if you want us to help with any street-game-themed upcoming episodes of Bronx Flavor!

Unstructured play: It’s not just nostalgia

Many of our loyal readers are directed toward Streetplay because of nostalgia, wanting to recapture memories of the good old days, the simpler times.  In fact, a lot of people adopt a crotchety, self-anointing attitude in this regard, a rejection of what “these kids today are doing” in terms of their personal time and entertainment.

A thought provoking piece was posted on LiveScience.com yesterday that has some significance and overlap with these sentiments.  While mainly concerned with recent science and studies concerning the phenomenon of children who are bullied, a phrase stuck out in terms of Streetplay sensibility:

Unstructured playtime — that is, when children interact without the guidance of an authority figure — is when children experiment with the relationship styles they will have as adults.

Bullying is a serious issue that is becoming more apparent and reported in the mass media, and may actually reflect an increase in its occurrence in American society (instead of being the media’s “flavor of the day”).  It begs the question: is the combination of hysterical, overscheduling, overprotective parenting (witness Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids blog, sane reportage of the problem), combined with the rampant, time-sucking, physically isolating use of electronic media (witness the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest report on children’s media usage) a formula for creating socially dysfunctional, ready-to-be-bullied children?

All this just leads me to restate the Streetplay mantra: Get out and play.

Studies Reveal Why Kids Get Bullied and Rejected | LiveScience

He Still Got Love for the Streets: It’s the A.L.F.
| 11/19/2009 | 1:42 pm | site news, video | 1 Comment

Our original Streetplay.com graphic designer, Alf Brand, is kicking it West Coast style nowadays working for the e-mail marketing firm Vertical Response.  Of course, Alf brought his street sensibilities to the table, and they’re featuring him in an ad campaign (seen at left), with the moniker of “The Furious ALF.”  Part Chubb Rock, part Curtis Sliwa: so 1992 your can almost taste it!

Don’t miss the accompanying video, below, pushing VR’s iPhone app.  I’m hoping the sequel is pattered after Word Up.

Follow-up: Yankees visit St. Simon Stock
| 09/29/2009 | 9:38 am | Bronx | No comments

Looks like a trend: as reported in the New York Daily News today, Yankees Alex Rodriguez, Ian Kennedy, Michael Dunn, Ramiro Pena, Damaso Marte, Francisco Cervelli and Alfredo Aceves all visited visited St. Simon Stock, a Catholic grammar school in the Bronx on Monday.  Here’s video:

The principal’s statement that the kids “got to see their role models” might be a little cringe-worthy in light of A-Rod’s recent past, but it’s easy to understand getting caught up in the excitement. Let’s give some due credit: the day before, the team clinched first place; many players probably did some celebrating, especially the B-list players just up from AAA ball. They could have cancelled, or worse, shown up looking like bums. But they didn’t just “show up”: it looks like they interacted, and A-Rod gave a nice little speech about respect and teamwork. Nice. Too bad they didn’t close the street outside the school and play some stickball!

Even if this visit was more publicity-driven than what we recently saw on the JR Sport Brief, it’s a nice gesture nonetheless.  I grew up about a mile from this school in the 1970s and I assure you: we never saw the likes of Thurman, Catfish, or Reggie outside the ballpark.

A-Rod: Shades of Willie Mays with Bronx kids
| 09/27/2009 | 2:44 pm | Bronx, stickball, video | 2 Comments

Maybe the snide comments we’ve made about today’s baseball players are having a positive effect: we just learned via self-styled Bronx sports reporter “JR” of the “JR Sport Brief” [links on YouTube and Twitter] that Alex Rodriguez recently spent some time in an honest-to-goodness Bronx backlot (along with less-renowned but equally applaudable Jerry Hairston Jr.).

The normal sports news gathering apparatus didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight: just JR, a couple of Yankees, and kids.  I do wish that they were using actual stickball bats, but I’m sure the kids didn’t mind.  Kudos to both players.

Earlier this season, Yankee Mark Teixeira was seen playing some stickball down in Florida during spring training (see a local TV news report below).  Let’s hope this is the start of a trend!


Streetplay.org has been secured!
| 09/22/2009 | 9:09 am | site news | 1 Comment
Streetplay.org

We now own the domain name "Streetplay.org"

Ten years ago, Streetplay started modestly using the domain name “Streetplay.com”. As our success grew, so did that of the Internet, and by the time we realized that we’d maybe like to be known as Streetplay.org (we make no money and our mission is definitely dot-org-ish), the world of domain name brokering had come into being. Long story short, since 2003, Streetplay.org had been squatted upon by overseas entities with no plans but to resell the name–probably to us.

All that has changed.   The previous owner of the name Streetplay.org let the name lapse and our all-out assault to claim it worked (a $64 bid on a domain name backorder service).  So now, it’s official: we own Streetplay.org.  Go ahead… try this link:

http://www.streetplay.org/

We haven’t changed anything about the site itself yet, but just knowing we have the new name is reassuring.

Neither Mick nor myself know what we’re going to do with this name right now.  While we’ve been doing less development of site content in the past years, our recent dabbling into blogging, Facebook, and Twitter have been pretty fun.  It’s nice to know we still have an audience.

So… stay tuned here to keep up on the news of the site… and if anyone has some good ideas on what we should do, please comment on this blog posting below.

Zoe Elizabeth Brand was born 8:17am. 20″ tall, 7lb 9oz.
| 09/14/2009 | 1:36 pm | congratulations, site news | No comments

Great news via Facebook: Streetplay emeritus Alf Brand and his wife Trish have added to their family today (that’s Pacific Time in the title, folks).  Congrats!  We’re sure she’ll be jumping rope in no time.

In memoriam: Steve Mercado, FDNY

Steve was a good man and a friend to Streetplay. His absence is still sorely missed.  His name and memory lives in our hearts and minds at Streetplay as well as legions of people in the NYC stickball community.

Steve Mercado (click for more photos)

Steve Mercado (click for more photos)

Videogame: Go Play City Sports

The ongoing newsfeed search for “stickball” has turned up this gem today: a suite of “street games” for your Wii gaming console!

Go Play City Sports by Majesco Entertainment


Video courtesy of NintendoWorldReport.com; read their review of the game

I’m not sure whether this is great–keeping the games alive for future generations–or whether it’s just more fodder for the oft-heard argument that videogames keep kids indoors getting fat sitting on the couch.  And it’s true: this is at least the second street game-based videogame available (MLB Stickball is the first I know of). I don’t know my take on this yet: maybe this will encourage kids to go outside and play the games they rehearse on the Wii. And I love my Wii, so it would be a little duplicitous to say an ill word against it.  But I do wish that the “handball” depicted here were the Ace-King-Queen version, though (where the ball hits the ground before hitting the wall).  And where’s skully?

I mainly wish the milieu depicted by publisher Majesco Entertainment weren’t so shabby; it’s an insult to people who actually lived (or live) in the city as a child.  The implication is that the street is a dirty, ragtag place that (thankfully) the shiny white Wii box is saving you from having to experience firsthand.  Hey, when I grew up, that setting was my home, and it was the greatest place to be in the world.

Off Topic: Baron Ambrosia / Bronx Flavor
| 08/27/2009 | 2:27 pm | Bronx, fun | 2 Comments
Baron Ambrosia at An Beal Bocht in The Bronx

Baron Ambrosia at An Beal Bocht in The Bronx, in the episode "Corned Beef Confidential"

In much the same way that Streetplay has documented the real-deal of sports in New York for the past ten years, underground filmmaker Justin Fornal, a.k.a. Baron Ambrosia, is documenting the culinary landscape of The Bronx with his hilarious drama/comedy/restaurant review series, Bronx Flavor.  For those like myself not lucky enough to get BronxNet on cable, all the episodes are on The Baron’s site for your viewing pleasure.

According to a story in the NY Times, The Baron grew up in Killingworth, CT.  The irony that now he’s in The Bronx and I’m in CT is not lost… still, it’s great to see The Baron go to all corners of the borough and review all the great food you can find.  And if you’re a Bronx native, it’s fun to try and figure out exactly where all the locales are!

Like Streetplay, The Baron focuses on the real-deal of urban life: just like you won’t read stickball reports on ESPN.com, you probably won’t find most restaurants he visits in your Zagat Guide.