This has to be one of the greatest moments in my life as a photographer. I mean, just look at the photo above with these two adorable looking boyz with theri go-cart medals!! This picture truly conveys beyond a thousand words the excitement of this event photographed. Coney Island which is at the edge of south Brooklyn (by the water) where I live had our 1st Annual Coney Island Generation Gap - Stop Da Violence Go-Cart Race. Man on Saturday, September 5th, 2009 at Kaiser Park. I tell you, it was so great to see all these young Black children and parents out there and doing something positive, affirming and FUN!
FLASHBACK: This event totally took me back and reminded me of the late 1970s/early 1980s (yeah, I know... I'm "dating" myself) when I remember me and my friend Charles (I think it was him) found this long slender and very thick wood board. while we were playing after school or on the weekend. We came up with the idea to use the wood to build a make-shift go-cart out of it.
Because Coney Island back then had a lot of empty, abandoned and desolate lots with weeds in them (ah, the old freaky deaky days in the make-shift clubs houses... ummm, that's another coming of age story which is rated "R" or "NC-17", LOL! ), it was easy to find some old broken down folding shopping carts. that were all medal including the spoke in the wheels. We needed two shopping carts so we could strip the metal axles with wheels from them. Man, just thinking about it, I remember that it was a FUCKING BITCH to pry the metals rods holding the shopping cart together from the axles with our hands hurting and all. We prevailed though and got two sets of axles/wheels for the front and for the back of the cart.
Next we either found some old nails laying around, or we may have gotten a hammer and nails from my Mom's toolbox or from Charles' house and nailed the axles to one side of the wood slab. I can't quite remember if we used one method where we may have used long nails to hammer them in halfway into the wood and then we'd bang and curve the other half of the nails to secure the axles in place; or if we used "U" nails as a second method to hold the axles in place. I think it was the first method which is not as robust as the "U" nails (pictured). Or maybe the "U" nails didn't work out because they weren't wide enough to fit around the circumference of the axle rod. The front axle needed special attention and we did something special where we had less nails because we needed to be able to steer the go-cart. We found some twine and attached each end to the left and right ends of the front axle. GOSH! This is FUN remembering and blogging about this!! LOL!
Anyway, the next and last step was to paint this go-cart so that it looked really qool. It was my idea to paint the go-cart orange and blue. Why orange and blue? Well, because I was a huge, huge FAN of the Dukes of Hazard tv series back then (again "dating" myself, LOL!) and Charles and I agreed that would be some dope colors for our own General Lee! (Of course, with what I know now, I'd never sanction that choice because of the General Lee's confederate flag on the top of the car and it's abrasive history as it relates to African-Americans in the Unites States).
But now this is where my memory is a little sketchy. I wanna say it was just dumb luck or whatever because I believe we found an old can of orange spray paint in the bushes which was still good and had a little paint left in it. Doesn't get any better than that. I felt someone was watching over us so that we did complete our task at building this General Lee go-cart. But I think the dilemma was coming up with a couple of bucks to buy some blue spray paint. Back then my allowance was something like 50-cents or a ducket (buck) per week, so we had to dig deep in our already empty pockets and forgo any candy or comic books (Marvel Comics were 35 and 40-cents back then) for a week or two! LOL! And then the other challenge was if the store was going to sell us the spray paint. Charles and I were rather young (somewhere between 12 and 14 years old, I guess) and back then the law was stringent about selling minors spray paint because of the graffiti craze all over the place especially with New York City Transit trains being tagged like crazy and nothing like today. So, ultimately I think I may have (honestly I forgot) gotten questioned by the store, but we got the spray paint and we went to work and had our own General Lee. This whole process took place over some days I think so we had to hide our go-cart so that none of ht other kids in the neighborhood would find it and steal or just plain trash it to pieces. I would go out after school every day to check on it to see if it was safe.
In closing, I'll say that I did most of pushing while Charles did most of the riding. Though I was always tall for my age and skinny (see me pictured on the right here with my Mom in 1984), I weighed more than Charles, and so it made more sense to push him. (The go-cart didn't hold my weight too well if I remember correctly). And hey, I'm a nice person even to this day, so in retrospect I guess it's my natively nice and sunny disposition for the most part! LOL!
Also, the axles weren't particularly strong because they were meant to hold food or laundry in those folding shopping carts and NOT the weight of two heavier 12 to 14 year old skinny kids! And YES, the axles did cave in and bend and completely take out our go-carts. We'd either have to bend and straighten the axles back (which wasn't too so good because the integrity of the metal was compromised from the first bend) or we would find more shopping carts and strip the axel and wheel assemblies. Though I will say I did get to ride our General Lee Go-Cart with Charles pushing me a couple of times. Man, those were the FUN ol' days!!
As a side bar, we the kids in the neighborhood used to also open those johnny pumps (that's fire hydrants for you folks not in the know, LOL!) and use aluminum soda cans in which we scrapped the tops and bottom plates off against the concrete floor, and use the cans to propel the water like 25 feet in the air. But yo, YOU had to be real, real careful and hold the cans steady and securely because the pressure from the water would send the can flying and the jagged edges from scrapping off the plates could slice your hand or fingers. Not cute, but FUN nonetheless.
FLASH FORWARD TO THE PRESENT: I took a bunch of pics of this 1st Annual Coney Island Generation Gap Stop Da Violence Go-Cart Race. I selected a few pics to show here for this blog entry below. The go-carts I'm told are pre-fabricated (and not crude like ME/Charles' was, but we get a DAYUM "A" for effort all around, LOL!) and cost like $275 each and comes with the wheels, too. The money was raised through sponsorships such as NYPD, politicians and such. Check out the pics...
See much more of the Coney Island Go-Cart event with music by going here ---> Coney Island Generation Gap - Stop Da Violence Go-Cart Race Photo Album