Archive for the ‘Bocce’ Category

Huge party on Sunday at Union Hall! Get your bocce on. Get your charity on. Get your charity bocce on.

New York City Charity Bocce Tournament
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Union Hall
702 Union Street
Park Slope, Brooklyn

For more information, click here!


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There is a bar that is very near and dear to our hearts here at Brooklyn Skeptic. This bar is Floyd. Located on Atlantic Avenue between Henry and Clinton street, Floyd is a wonderful little bar for a plethora of reasons. It has cheap drinks, friendly bartenders, a good juke box, a lot of sports playing on the television, interesting bathroom graffiti and comfortable couches. It also has a great indoor bocce court and a league that meets every weekend.

And now The Village Voice has recognized the bar for all it’s ball-busting brilliance. The reputable New York paper has listed their 2007 “best of” list and the winner of “Best Non-contact Sport” was “Bocce Ball Empire at Floyd, NY.” They even go on to mention the glorious (and pun-tastic) bocce team-names that are so common in the league.

If you’re interested in learning more about the bar or the bocce league, I strongly suggest coming this Sunday afternoon during the bocce finals. You’ll have a ball.

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Before this blog morphs into Bocce Enthusiast Weekly, I figured I’d just do a quick post about where to find all the public bocce courts in Brooklyn. Sadly, Prospect Park, which literally has every other type of amusement has no court. But where Prospect Park fails us, Bay Ridge rises up! That neighborhood has more bocce courts than I can even handle. Well done, Bay Ridge.

Places to play in Brooklyn – totally free and all ages! The neighborhoods are my approximation, so if you know I’ve labeled one wrong, let me know so I can fix it.

Bridge Park – Brooklyn Heights
Carroll Park – Carroll Gardens
Maria Hernandez Park – Bushwick
JJ Byrne Park – Bay Ridge
Dyker Park – Bay Ridge
Bath Beach Playground – Bay Ridge
Gravesend Park – Borough Park
Drier-Offerman Park – Bensonhurst
Marine Park – Marine Park

So I’ll see you all next weekend for bocce in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge at Bridge Park. Hotness!

Matisse loves bocce, too.

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As many of you already know, Brooklyn Skeptic is chock-full of rabid bocce enthusiasts. This means that we like to get down with the balls & court several times per week. We’ve got needs, you know?

Up until recently, our bocce playing arenas were limited to two bars – Floyd NY and Union Hall. But what happens when a normally free game ends up costing like $50 in beer money? Or when the bartender knows you better than your own family? Or when there are seas of douchebags teeming over the court, their high heels and guido-boots pockmarking the delicate surface? Or when it’s like 6:00 in the morning?

Well, in that case, you haul your ass to Target, pick up your very own set of bocce balls and head over to Carroll Park. The park has two regulation size bocce courts which are like twice as wide and another 20 feet longer than the indoor courts. The extra space and the inability for the balls to roll lead to some creative hurling methods. Additionally, the courts are filled with STD-infected sand, not dissimilar to what you might find on the banks of the mighty Gowanus. You’ll love it.

After we played in the lower STD court, we realized that there is a really nice, fenced-in court just above it. It’s all smooth and raked. Maybe you should try that one out. I’m still picking syringes out of my flip-flops from the other one.

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After a lovely Sunday afternoon of walking around the neighborhood, drinking outside and playing Scrabble at Abilene (Jonathan, I apologize, “wino” is actually in the OED), I returned home, put on my pajamas and opened up a fresh Netflick. My roommate was on the way to his shift at the Park Slope Coop, and I was all set to sit back, relax and enjoy some non-Food Network programming. But before I saw Coming Attraction #1, I got a phone call informing me that Michael Showalter, Eugene Mirman and some guys from Upright Citizens Brigade would be performing later on that evening at Union Hall. My roommate has just recently started enjoying Michael Showalter’s comedy, and was eager to attend. So I took my pajamas back off, put down my Netflick and once again vanished into the bustling Brooklyn biosphere.

Here at Brooklyn Skeptic, a lot has been written about Union Hall, as it is home to two bocce courts, and, according to some, a lot of assholes. Despite all of this, it can not be denied that Union Hall’s basement is a great place to see a live show. The way it is set up is kind of like your childhood neighbor’s basement. A small, old, room with folding chairs and comfy couches, it is truly an intimate and comfortable setting. I spent half the time I was down there waiting for my old neighbor’s mom to walk in with a bowl of cheese doodles and soda (what’s up Mrs. Stirparo?). We were there only about fifteen minutes early, but managed to get seats in the front row, looking at a small stage on which we could literally rest our feet.

The show was fun and relaxed. Michael Showalter came on first and warmed up the crowd, talking about his weekend and making fart jokes. He introduced a British comedian who I am pretty sure was funny, but I might have just been charmed by her accent. Eugene Mirman was really drunk and quite humorous as he went off on rants about how he hates various things. And the guys from UCB were there to plug their new show Human Giant, which is unfortunately airing on MTv, right between Pimp My Ride and My Sweet 16, I believe they said.

At one point, Michael Showalter was crouched down watching the show right next to my roommate, who nerdily kept poking me and smiling. The place is so casual that the comedians usually hang out there afterwards, talking with fans and drinking. This friendly atmosphere worked equally well when I saw Zach Galifianakis at the same venue. He was allowed to get close to his audience, which is essentially half of his show, as he frequently runs around berating people. Although I have never seen live music performed at Union Hall, I can only imagine that the area works well, allowing the audience to truly feel like their favorite band is playing at their basement party.

So for all of the nay-saying that seems to go on about Union Hall, don’t judge a bar by its cover (there is no cover, mind you). There may be some annoying people and some bocce hostility, but there aren’t many bars in Manhattan or Brooklyn that can stir such happy, warm and intimate feelings. And isn’t that what drinking on a Sunday is all about? No? Oh right. I’m just an alcoholic.

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Pool is passé.

I’m going to break it to you, there are no longer guys in fedoras tapping their wingtips to the jukebox, with a cigarette between their fingers. It’s been replaced by frat boys in polo shirts & baseball caps, or suits with loosened ties. All the romance is gone and has been replaced by a certain banality.

Bocce doesn’t need to get people to pay for it. They know they’ve created a group of individuals who will come to the only bars in Brooklyn (owned by the same person) to get their bocce fix. They’ve created a subculture who crave their hands around their large balls. They will come week after week, set up leagues, and practically live at these bars. Do we need it in more places? No. And I like it that way. Pool you can go almost anywhere. I can barely walk down the street without running into a pool table.

And I’m sorry, something is wrong if you think handling a small stick and delicately hitting small balls is somehow tough. All that green felt is simply bourgeois. Bocce requires you to get down in the dirty court, pick up balls with your bare hands, and throw it down a court. You really learn to channel a more primal energy. You call that cute? Obviously you also haven’t heard the smack talk that goes on.

You have to accept that bocce is the new hotness, while pool is the old hotness…which can’t be anything but lukewarm.

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I don’t think the word ethereal has ever been used in relation to a game where you lob large circular objects onto a court in an effort to knock other balls out of the way. However my point was not that Bocce is ugly. More that Bocce is, in a word, cute. Bocce is billiards’ cute indy-rock girlfriend who is a little more shy and less overtly sexy. Billiards, on the other hand, is slightly more out of one’s league (pun sooo intended). Billiards has a series of shiny, colorful balls and a beautiful green felt table with six evenly placed leather pockets. And you use a looonng, shiny, aerodynamic, wooden stick that you know you just want to wrap your hands around and….. Ahem. Chalk.

Anyway, again, bocce is definitely hot. Its balls just aren’t as polished.

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Bocce is, perhaps, the hottest game in the history of bar sports. It doesn’t have to hit you over the head with its overtly sexual equipment (cue, balls, holes, etc.) – it’s a demure game with dignity, class, and a regal aura. Sure it’s easy to look sexy while splayed out on a table, man-handling a huge stick. That’s some rookie shit. All of the sexiness in bocce emanates from a player alone on the court, the envy of the entire bar. That player in untouchable. And as we all know, the hottest person in the room is the one you can’t even get close to.

Where billiards is carnal, bocce is ethereal. Though your feet are on a court made of earth, your spirit hovers above near the pressed tin ceilings. Your body becomes a vessel for the, um, balls and thousands of years of Italian history course through your veins, like so many Brooklyn Lagers. If there is anything sexier than the spiritually superior and historically inclined, I don’t want to know what it is.

This sport is so fucking hot, even the pope plays.


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I am a pool player living in Brooklyn, and was recently introduced to the small world of bocce. Featured at a few bars in my neighborhood, some of my friends have recently taken an interest, and I have been more than happy to come along for the ride.

A lot has been said on this blog about the game of bocce. It’s been around for centuries. Charlemagne played it between orgies and fighting wars against the Saracens. Mussolini threw the balls around while drinking tea and reading Il Popolo D’Italia. I myself used to watch the old French men in my neighborhood stand around, chomping on cigars and getting their shoes dusty while playing the very similar game of petanque. And now it has gone so far as to reach the Brooklyn bar scene.

I enjoy playing bocce, even though I suck. And I have to say that of the two bars I have been two with bocce courts, they don’t fuck around. People seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and I have heard that leagues have been established and are quite popular. I know for a fact that one of the editors of this blog happens to be an avid bocce player. My question is this: does the concept of playing bocce in bars have any staying power? Will this catch on? Will bars start to sprout up all over the country with long, rectangular courts and large balls in every corner?

The answer, is no. And the reasons are simple. For starters, you have to have a pretty big establishment to host even one bocce court. Floyd already feels a little cramped with the one they have in there. Secondly, no one will ever pay for bocce. And this is for the simple, but incredibly stupid reason that there is too little involved in the sport. Would you honesly want to pay to throw little balls on the ground? No. Thirdly, and I am not denigrating the talent involved in playing this sport in the slightest, but it is not a sexy sport.

Pool, on the other hand, is a popular sport worldwide to pay for and play in bars. Men and women alike are drawn to the long phallic shape of the cue, and know that they don’t have the money to purchase a pool table of their own. You can pack a bunch of them into a room, and charge people two dollars a game to cross their fingers and hope that they can make that bank shot and look cool in front of the sexy person standing next to them. Why does this look cool? I’m not really sure. Ask Paul Newman.

Even if there are only two bars that I know of (although I’m assuming there are a few more) that have indoor bocce courts, I hope it stays that way. While it may not have the sex appeal of the aforementioned billiards, there is something comforting about sitting in a dimly lit bar, clutching a nicely poured micro-brewed beer and listening to the sweet cracking of two heavy, hard balls. I’ll always have pool, but it’s nice to know that there’s an alternative past-time in Brooklyn.

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Let me tell you a little story about douchebags per square foot, RK.

One time at Union Hall, a Brooklyn Skeptic contributor was minding her own business, playin’ a little bocce, sippin’ a little vodka tonic. Some thirty-five-year-old man came up to her in his $700 artfully ripped jeans and cashmere sweater and asked if he could play against her. Being the incredibly kind, sweet, gregarious girl that this Brooklyn Skeptic contributor was, of course she agreed.

This man, however, had been watching the young lady play for a while, surmised that she was an excellent bocce player, and had decided that that meant that she was worth neither dignity nor human kindness. When the Brooklyn Skeptic contributor went up for her turn, she carefully lined up her shot, wound up and…

“Booogedy boogedy!” screamed the 35-year-old as he jumped on the court beside her. This obviously scared the fuck out of her and her shot rolled astray.

“Why did you do that?” asked the emotionally traumatized young lady.

“What’s the matter? Can’t handle a little pressure?”

The young lady, understanding that the man could have been intellectually impaired, drunk, or perhaps the spawn of Satan, decided to just let it go. He was clearly terrified by her awesome bocce skills. So the rest of that round goes by and the evil, old man doesn’t pull any more garbage.

When the next round begins, the young lady lines up her first shot again and sees the man ready himself to jump on the court again. She looks over to him.

“Stop being a dick, man. You’re no fun to play with at all.”

He whines for a little while and she vows to always bring pepper spray with her to Union Hall for the rest of time.

Now the moral of this story is: never put that many over-indulged thirty-somethings who fear middle age like the fucking bird flu in the same room with a bunch of liquor and kitschy furnishings.

I’ll stick to Floyd, thank you very much.

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