#459 Culver City West

This is the first time I drove my car to a court since the quest began four months ago. Driving by myself feels like planet murder most of the time; however, there is only one court at Culver City West and if it was full and we had to go somewhere else, I didn’t want to be to my partner like, oops, I rode my bike, sorry. Our statements of ecological awareness shouldn’t come before common courtesy.

Besides, this park is just a mile and a half from my house. I didn’t melt any glaciers on the way. Also, I have to admit it was nice getting there early for a change and have time to stretch and watch pick-up basketball and pickleball and picnicking going on all around this one massive pine tree. On this sunny over-70 degree Sunday after Thanksgiving, Culver City West had it going on.

I played against a guy who had a groovy homemade corkscrew serve. We did a festive amount of scampering and I hit more balls in than out. Practicing with my daughter these past few days helped me play more consistently, although I noticed I was still plopping more balls than ideal smack dab in the middle of the court. Something to work on in the weeks ahead: angles and corners. This is another thing I like about tennis: always something to work on.

Besides the giant pine tree, the thing that especially caught my eye at Culver West was the mural on the backboard, commemorating a park clean-up by nearby Sony Studio back in the 1990s.

The park is still tidy so they must have done a great job! The mural shows a grandstand of colorfully attired people who look like they’re watching your game, right now, cheering you on even though you do plop balls down right in the middle of the court, so what, you’re out there meeting new people and experiencing new places and showing love for your adopted hometown.

Yes, I am receptive to even the suggestion of positive reinforcement. It really is a great mural. The simple-yet-specific renderings of all the tennis fans reminded me of two art exhibits I visited with my wife and daughter over the weekend — Bob Thompson at the Hammer and Henry Taylor at MOCA. Both of those guys share a sometimes cartoon-y, less-is-more approach to portraiture, letting color and pattern do most of the talking. I was glad to dip my mind into their art and felt life returning the favor by bringing all those imaginary fans out on the mural to watch me and my partner galavanting in the late afternoon, late autumn sun.

I drove right by Ginger’s Ice Cream on the way home and kept right on going even though Ginger’s is the best. This guy I played with last Saturday told me after the game — stop me if you’ve heard this already, I’ve been telling everyone — he said, “Your game is really good. The only thing that’s stopping you is your weight.”

Daannnng. I hadn’t asked for tips. But there it was and here it remains, in the form of my #1 New Year’s Resolution: 187. Down from somewhere around 210 — I haven’t gotten on the scale recently. I couldn’t decide between 186 (for the ’86 Mets) and 188 (for 1988, the year my wife and I moved to Austin) so I decided to split the difference.

187 seems very doable since I get lotsa exercise and generally don’t eat dessert and also have recently discovered non-alcoholic beer. I tried it on a whim one day and y’know what? Tastes just like beer, but without the subsequent wooziness. I sleep better too. Non-alcoholic beer is a serendipitous win here towards the end of 2022. I’m optimistic about getting into really good shape and I also appreciate you reading this because I think sharing fitness goals with people is a good way to help them come true.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

2 thoughts on “#459 Culver City West

  1. Good to know that
    1) You did not melt any glaciers on your way to play tennis
    2) You appreciate letting color and pattern do most of the talking in portraiture
    3) sharing fitness goals with people is a good way to help them come true.

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