The last line of this ad is actually pretty funny:

ZHU ZHU PETS PIPSQUEAK! New in Box - $35 (San Diego)

"Oh, hi, little Susie? Your mother bought you a Christmas present, but she doesn't want to give it to you anymore. Would you take $30?"

Once again, Perennial Powerhouse Poster and local craigslist celebrity "frogtoes" brings the knowledge:

Basket of used screwdrivers - $25 (Kensington -Normal Heights)

Seriously, 50 screwdrivers, just like that. Boo-Yah! Comes with basket. Can't beat that with a monkey wrench. And it's a truly epic assortment of screwdrivers, too. Going to give the big prize to this post, though:

Play ground equipment - $1750 (Normal Heights-Hillcrest)

Oh-Em-Eff-Gee. Far and away the most intense kiddie toy I have ever seen in all my life. That is nearly as involved as some public playgrounds, yet it's private property. Check out the models on the Rainbow Play Systems website. They go way beyond the one for sale in the advertisement. Crazy! Did you see Metropolis (no. 85)? It's like a small town made out of rope ladders and slides. Excellent.

And yet, I can't help but think that this--like any other toy bought for or owned by children--the personal playground will fall by the wayside and be forgotten, ignored by the terrifically fleeting interests of kids. It's within their nature as children to play with something once or twice and then move one. It's not their fault--it's how they tear through a whole world of stimuli and information, processing everything they need to know and find out. They toys themselves aren't necessarily at fault, either. True, lots of toys are made to cater to short, childish attention spans, but even ones that are clearly built with the intention of giving "years of enjoyment" (or whatever promise of protracted fun the manufacturers make) are doomed at their very genesis. Nothing offers kids lasting entertainment--that's the province of boring grown-ups like us.

Which brings me to my point: why can't I have a playground? Seriously, where is it written that the Parks Dept. can't erect adult sized playgrounds in addition to (instead of? asking too much?) the kid-oriented affairs that polka dot our urban landscape. After all, anyone knows that kids really need nothing more than a pointy stick and a field to swing it in. Us adults are the ones who would really put the playground to use. The closest thing we get to a playground in this world is the gym, which, in addition to being always indoors (and therefore stuffy and perpetually tinged with the delightful olfactory cocktail of sweaty bodies in extremis) is corrupted by the overarching requirement that all the fun be stripped away in the name of "fitness." Blah.

What I want is huge monkey bars, gigantic rope bridges, climbing walls, and high-velocity slides; all of which will be built to a scale that challenges an adult physicality. I say, bring it on! Let's let the grown-ups play, since they're the ones who can actually appreciate engineering and public spaces on more than a surface level for more than a few moments. I don't know what's inappropriate about adults pretending to be a combination Ninja-Indiana Jones--I just know that it's time to lift that particular injunction. I once worked with a guy who had a particularly rambunctious daughter. He and I got to talking once about how it would be a better world if adults learned to live a little more like kids every now and again. Maybe the ten-year-old's vision of the world as a playground would be of enormous benefit for some adults to hold.

Comments

CuddleFish Dec. 12, 2009 @ 6:01 p.m.

You kidding? Who do you think got in that ball pit with my son?

And the slide, and the kiddie pool, and the Merry-Go-Round.

If I had a lawn here, we'd be flying down that Slip-N-Slide every summer!

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antigeekess Dec. 12, 2009 @ 8:02 p.m.

The world is one big piece of playground equipment for some guys.


Knock yourself out, Pikey.

:)

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FullFlavorPike Dec. 13, 2009 @ 12:30 a.m.

I have actually gone freerunning with PKCali in the park on weekends. Got hurt like WHOA and now no longer do it!

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Adam92102 Dec. 13, 2009 @ 12:43 a.m.

Re: #1 regarding CF's Slip-N-Slide. I think this one really encompasses exactly how I feel about them and why I will never go on another one of these evil, fun-deceiving bastards ever again.

As for the blog itself, can there be another rule that allows adults to take their shirts off and scream and flail their arms while running down aisle #7 at the Rite-Aid? I mean, if we're going to erect adult-size playgrounds, let's go big. Let's be allowed to pick our noses in public without scrutiny or comments like, "Digging for gold?" Let's wear our clothes inside out without people thinking we're trying to start a terrible fashion trend. And if we like someone of the opposite sex, let's kick them in the shins or send them notes with boxes for them to check so they know we want them to go steady with us.

I have an 8 year old inside me that's screaming to get out so I'm really pulling for these new rules to be enacted.

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SDaniels Dec. 13, 2009 @ 1:46 a.m.

Forget the housing crisis! I'm going to buy #84, the "Jhon E Cash Resort and Country Club" model, and live in it! Did ya see it? It's like a swank restau or alpine cabin!

Now: Just need to find a vacant lot and kick off the bums!

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SDaniels Dec. 13, 2009 @ 1:48 a.m.

re: #2: Why are they calling it free running now? It is called parcours, isn't it? Started in France, used to see guys doing it in the banlieues (project buildings)...

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FullFlavorPike Dec. 13, 2009 @ 7:50 a.m.

Parkour (with 'k') and freerunning do be inextricably intertwined. Think of Parkour as a set of moves, and freerunning as putting them into practice.

Is it me or is the "Jhon E Cash" maybe related to Jhoyti Bihanga's vegetarian restaucult on Adams Ave?

As for slip and slides, they can be extended with a series of tarps. Although, much as the case with the rocks, hitting an unexpectedly dry section of tarpaulin at umpteen-bazillion miles an hour can be nipple-abradingly-shocking.

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SDaniels Dec. 13, 2009 @ 6:41 p.m.

As far as I know, it is "parcours," invented by a French dude, who amassed quite a following--in the 90s, I think. The British started calling it "parkour" with a "k," and either is acceptable. I have never heard of a distinction between parcours as a set of moves, and "free running" as putting them in action, but then, I haven't been around it for at least a decade.

I can well imagine you'd be injured doing this, Pike--so many moves seem to be bone-jarringly, muscle-tearingly, and ass-bruisingly difficult. There was, btw, a great little documentary on the inventor--AG will doubtless pop in and post it with her usual magical haste. ;)

Oooh, yeah. Hitting the dry areas and rocks. The days of slip-n-slide are sadly over.

Pike ventured:

"Is it me or is the "Jhon E Cash" maybe related to Jhoyti Bihanga's vegetarian restaucult on Adams Ave?"

P'haps. I was thinking only of the pun on "Johnny Cash." What he, or the Easternization of his name have to do with an outdoor swing set/play center? Beats me :)

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antigeekess Dec. 13, 2009 @ 7:13 p.m.

Re #8:

Was it this guy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXxYCk... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WG_q5zS-rA&NR=1

I'll bet the documentary was this one, though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVj2F9...

About Belle's friend, this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A9b...

I see that documentary cites Foucan as the inventor, but other sources say Belle.

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antigeekess Dec. 13, 2009 @ 7:23 p.m.

Okay, looking a little deeper, here's what Foucan's website says:

"Sébastien Foucan is the founder of Freerunning and co-founder of Parkour..."

His Background & History page provides more info on "Parcours" vs "Parkours" vs "Freerunning." Concpicuously absent is any reference to David Belle, although the group Yamakasi, of which they were both members, is mentioned.

David Belle's website is not up.

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SDaniels Dec. 13, 2009 @ 10:48 p.m.

Sébastien Foucan. Yeah, that's the guy! Also heard the name David Belle--guess they are cofounders of the concept. And the docu was the one I believe I saw, looking it jp a The French "par cours" = "parcours" got bastardized to "parkour" somewhere along the line.

It is interesting to find out that freerunning is considered the body of moves, and parkour the "philosophy" behind it, as one commenter noted on the docu page. I think that you hit it, AG, with the idea that the world becomes the practitioner of parkour's literal playground, but there is also this idea of refusing obstacles, and of becoming intimate with architecture in a way that seems to bespeak concepts of quantum physics. With the latter, I'm not entirely sure what I mean, but am thinking that the parkourist (?) or freerunner challenges the idea of displacement of one's physicality in relation to objects around him, and can create/trace paths that don't seem to exist for the rest of us. There is also the idea of allowing problems and solutions to set up intuitively and fluidly, as the freerunner negotiates each obstacle as an aesthetic problem or puzzle, each with its own set of possible moves. Clearly, that idea about physics needs some more development ;)

Anyway, it seems that parkour can be considered aesthetically in any number of ways. I wonder if we should consider it to be a form of dance, or a way of 'reading' architecture. What is created is fleeting in time, but makes the most of space--much more dynamically than dance...I love it!

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FullFlavorPike Dec. 14, 2009 @ 8:01 a.m.

It's pretty rad--though they don't tell you that you blow your knees to smithereens and twist your shoulders into mincemeat! I had to quickly disinvolve myself with parkour because I'd be a pretty crumby cyclist without functional knees.

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SDaniels Dec. 14, 2009 @ 7:52 p.m.

Well, what were you doing? What kinds of structures did you interact with/scale?

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antigeekess Dec. 15, 2009 @ 9:20 a.m.

"I think that you hit it, AG, with the idea that the world becomes the practitioner of parkour's literal playground, but there is also this idea of refusing obstacles, and of becoming intimate with architecture in a way that seems to bespeak concepts of quantum physics. With the latter, I'm not entirely sure what I mean, but am thinking that the parkourist (?) or freerunner challenges the idea of displacement of one's physicality in relation to objects around him, and can create/trace paths that don't seem to exist for the rest of us. There is also the idea of allowing problems and solutions to set up intuitively and fluidly, as the freerunner negotiates each obstacle as an aesthetic problem or puzzle, each with its own set of possible moves. Clearly, that idea about physics needs some more development ;)"

It puts me in mind of the whole Ninja concept of immediate analysis of what is at your disposal, of using what is in your environment.

The quantum physics angle -- which goes along nicely with that -- could be expanded indefinitely. I mean, the subject matter guarantees it. :)

This: "...challenges the idea of displacement of one's physicality in relation to objects around him..." is exactly it, because in reality (according to QP) there IS no boundary. Throw Schrodinger's cat into the mix and employ a little solipsism, and things get REALLY start to get interesting. :)

"...and can create/trace paths that don't seem to exist for the rest of us."

Well, my second impression is I 'think' you're referring to the physical path the Freerunner takes, here, and that's true. But...

The way I read the statement at first was still in terms of the lack of boundary between the runner and the objects he negotiates, which put my brain in a hizzyloop for a moment. And even after 2 cups of coffee this morning, I'm not sure I can satisfactorily articulate what took place during my first impression. It had to do with the notion of the type of individually unique "path" that is forged by transcendentalists, who (IMO) are both accurate and deluded in terms of their weltenschauung. And THAT is quite the can of existential worms, because (IMO) it's one of those pesky little truths that is both real and unreal. Or realities that is both true and untrue. Take your pick. :)

Anyway...

What a great metaphor for life Freerunning/Parkour is. Perfect, really. Sports have often been used in this way for storytelling purposes, but I think this may be the most perfect example we could cite.

This is beginning to sound like a terrific original screenplay, actually...

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