Two news items from recent weeks have led us to ask, with genuine concern: What the hell is going on over at Marine Park’s bocce ball courts? Because according to the Daily News and the New York Times, they’re awash in human feces and women who want to play bocce. And unfortunately, it’s a bit hard to tell which of these things is more upsetting to the old-timey gentlemen dominating the courts.
On June 25, the Daily News reported, with admirable and straight-faced professionalism, that the bocce ball courts are under “fecal attack” from people who use them as plein air bathrooms after the park’s regular facilities close at 8 p.m. The story is illustrated, delightfully, with a picture of one John Bourbakis, a Marine Park resident, squatting in some bushes and pointing at what appears to be a pile of poop.
We’ll direct our main question right to the anonymous people doing the alleged park-pooping: why aren’t you pooping in the water? There’s so much water surrounding Marine Park that you could relieve yourself into, and yet you’re opting to let go on bocce courts. Why? Why? (A quick Google search reveals that much of that water is actually an ecologically sensitive salt marsh. On second thought, please don’t poop there. You’ve never heard of Starbucks?)
And even as the Marine Park-ers struggle to come to grips with this blatant scatalogical misconduct, the ladies have arrived. The Times reported Monday, via the Brooklyn Daily, that the male players of the august Marine Park Bocce Club require a “refuge” in which they can practice their ancient sport without tiresome female intrusion.
“I want to play comfortable,” 65-year-old Ralph Florio told the paper. “I want to be able to scratch myself, curse and play like the barbarian I am. Give me one court and leave me alone.”
Good news, Ralph! You can scratch yourself like an uncouth lout who’s old enough to know better literally anywhere you are, no matter who’s around! Feminism is for everybody! Yet Florio and several others insist that allowing women in, perhaps from a nearby senior center, would ruin everything, especially if they were allowed to join the “advanced players,” which we assume is a reference to skill level, rather than age, although both are really showing here.
As the Times points out, the bocce courts, like the rest of the park, are public. The chivalrous dudes quoted in their story don’t have the power to keep anybody out, not really. Yet the best courts are largely dominated by the club and its 60-to-80-year-old cadre of men who are scared of women.
In a lovely bit of crossover, John Bourbakis from the Daily News‘ poop story makes a reappearance here to give a bit of context. Bourbakis, who’s running for the presidency of the bocce club, supports the inclusion of women. It’s become a central plank of his platform. And he suspects some of the opposing faction is mostly afraid of being shown up. At a tournament last year, he said, the women “kicked the butts out of the old-timers.”
There’s only one thing to do: The women of the nearby senior center need to rise up and resist. Elder ladies of Marine Park, we urge you to occupy the bocce courts en masse and play your hearts out. And if things really don’t work out, well, we suppose you could always poop there. But just to make a point.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 10, 2013