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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Red Hook swimming pool, the Park Slope Food Co-Op; Hilarious bureaucracies...

Tuesday afternoon, I spent the most amount of time on my bike since I had it brought up here. I biked all the way down (or rather, all the way up and down) to Red Hook from South Park Slope to meet a friend at the Red Hook swimming pool. The route was a little circuitous, taking me all the way north along 5th Avenue to 3rd Street (one of four streets that crosses the Gowanus Canal, not counting the expressway) before cutting west and then down again on Court Street to Bay Street. I saw very little of the Red Hook neighborhood while down that way but I did get a nice little breezy tour through Carroll Gardens' main section along the way on Court Street. Breezy because it was downhill the whole way.

The pool in Red Hook was great fun, but we probably spent barely twice the amount of time in the pool that it took us to get into the place. First, there are rules and very strict rules. Rules that need four to five people in blue New York City parks shirts to enforce. One needs a bathing suit first off. I'm assuming people have gone in in their clothes before or, I dunno, maybe naked, which might necessitate such a rule. Second, one needs a lock to lock your things up in one of their lockers. Okay, possibility of theft, I get it. But it can't be just any lock, for it must past muster with the aforementioned blue shirted gauntlet. My friend's Swiss Gear lock was deemed inadequate to the task of protecting our valuables...or as one of them put it our "values." I didn't know we had to lock up intangibles as well.

Anyway, this was the bulk of the reason for our delayed entry. There was much protest on our part that this lock was surely adequate enough: "No, they'll cut that right off", "Yeah, it's lock cutting season" (This was seriously uttered by one of them, as though it were a fact that none of them could change by perhaps exchanging their positions guarding the front door and parroting rules for actually policing the locker rooms!) One rather kind German lady in front of us offered to let us share a locker with her and her son but apparently there were rules against this as well. There wouldn't be enough room. They were intent on sending us around the corner to buy new locks. One of them though, offered to show the lock to her manager (these people were being managed?) to see if she would approve. Same response.

But we were in. We had penetrated the first layer. But rule three came upon us: No shoes allowed in the pool area (Funny. I thought this one seemed anti safety...probably, again, trying to protect us from the supposed inevitability of theft). So, feeling a mix of confusion and dismay coupled with the hesitance to make my poor friend carry every bit of my personal effects, except my towel, with her into the women's locker room (I had not brought a lock) and my own lack of desire to walk barefoot in the locker rooms, we stood sorting out details of our escape out into the pool area for some minutes before I reluctantly removed my shoes and told my friend I'd meet her "on the other side."

Before finally getting through the maze of the men's locker room I noticed a sign with, yes, even more rules. The only one I seemed to breaking was one about clothing. I'm assuming it meant clothing as in a change of clothes, but I didn't want to take my chances so, after rinsing off, I rolled my t-shirt in my towel, the one possession that I had been allowed to enter the pool with. My friend had been stopped with her tiny wallet bag ("Does she got a bag?", "Wait, stop her.","You can't go in there with that," was somewhat how the conversation went down from what I'm told).

Finally gazing upon the pool, I was quite pleased with the vast separation between the screaming splashing children and the serious lap swimmers. But we had to ask about the section in the middle some 50 meters wide and completely devoid of swimmers. Sure enough: closed. With no apparent reason, probably so the lifeguards would have fewer people to watch, for all I could guess.

Either way, it was really really nice to dip in the pool, which was a comfortable 15 or 20 degrees cooler than air temperature from my estimate. We swam a few leisuerly laps and then rode our bikes over to the Park Slope Food Co-Op on Union Street to pick up some groceries. My friend is a member and I'm thinking of becoming one soon-ish. I just have to sort out when I could work the required 2 3/4 hour monthly shift...that and sit through their orientation. I'm really psyched about it actually. Cheaper local organic groceries to boot but it's also a really great concept. The Co-op has been around for about 27 years and has always been member owned. All the food comes from within 500 miles, they recycle everything (including most of the plastics that NYC will not recycle) and there's even cooking classes available. It's real hippie stuff but if you're into it, it's great.

Anyway, the two times I've been in with my friend I liked what I saw. Despite the myriad rules they have in place to keep people from taking advantage of their system, it was far easier to get into than the Red Hook public pool. My friend showed her ID and signed a sheet on a clipboard, I showed ID and was handed a visitor's pass that was promptly ripped in half and discarded upon my entry (probably recycled actually). Much more streamlined. And that is all for now. As usual, I should be in bed. I only seem to write these entries late at night.

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