Sunday, January 4, 2009

Miami Bowl, Winter Blowdown

Well, I've been promising Bob I'd tell the Miami Bowl story for about a year now, and as of this weekend, I have a new reader who stopped by after reading my July post on Storytellers Unplugged, "The Ghosts of 32nd Street." An expatriate Chicagoan fan letter for me, yay! So I'll kill two birds with one stone, making at least two people happy, some baffled, maybe a few dyspeptic. Here goes. Back in the winter of 2004, they tore the Miami Bowl down at Archer & Pulaski, "they" being the Demolition Bastards Who Tear Everything Good Down. Marzano's Miami Bowl was well known because it was open 24/7. You all know I don't drive, and there were times I'd be taking the Archer Avenue bus in the false dawn, then play pinball at Miami until the first Pulaski bus around 5:40 AM. Man, that was decades back. Well, I wanted souvenirs. I took bowling pins and shoved them into snow drifts. Walking back from the drift, I saw an opening, I pushed a toppled door aside and discovered what other scroungers did not, the basement. I jumped down and heard my right knee crack against the basement tile. There is no more a lonely sound than one of your own bones making a cracking sound in the dead of winter with no one around to hear it. I stood up, wobbly, thinking, OK, I'm invisible from sight, no one knows I'm here, and I can't see the outside. The first photo shows the elevated train, I was that close, but no one would see me. I had my empty backpack for my plunder. I cadged a box of squat green pencils, a plaque from 1989 with a bunch of polak names on it, and the photo that made it all worthwhile, the 1977 Marzano Rat Pack photo. It took me another hour to get back to ground level, as a lot of surfaces had a thin sheen of ice, finally I was back in the real world, the sky colored horseradish, the trains rumbling overhead. I grabbed two pins from the pile and took the others over the next few weeks. My right knee had popped, that's the side with my cerebral palsy so I could probably have a gunshot wound there and not notice it. I screwed it up worse the following year, not so ironically, at Bubbly Creek, taking winter photos. Again that forlorn crack of bone on ice that echoes everywhere. I'm proud of that photo of the guys in polyester, and I got it by jumping down ten feet into an unstable hole in the ground. It's Chicago history that was swiped away--its still an empty lot--and it was one of the better adrenaline rushes of my adult life.


HemlockMan said...

Great Jove, Wayne!!!

Sad how they destroy the cool places. And for what? So that it could still fallow because they destroyed it right on the cusp of the new Depression.


Charles Gramlich said...

I remember when my shoulder blade broke when I went down on the last bike wreck. I was all wrapped up in a leather jacket and there was no sound, only a soft...give. that was scary enough, without the sound effects.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Wayne: this is Rich Chwedyk here "anonymously." So, you ARE the Richard Nickle of demolished bowling alleys! Yes! Marzano's Miami Bowl -- I used to bowl there at all hours with friends and relations. Newspaper people working graveyard shifts used to go bowling all the time -- especially if the bar was operating too. Even if you were a lousy bowler -- like me -- bowling on the southwest side was an important rite of passage.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Glad you were able to post, Rich. I had thought of discussingb the innards of the place, but I put it off, because the photos were of the demolition, still an empty lot, as I mentioned to HemlockMan. If I post about the things you bring up, I'd also write about the Petersen Classic, our odd little bowling alley on the second floor of a building.

Charles, an interesting meme might be sounds/sensations us writers get from our various bone breaks and brushes with death.

Capcom said...

Another architectural tragedy -- the bowling alley's and yours. Ouch. glad you got out OK.

Concerning biological sounds, when I tore my calf muscle in the living room, I actually heard it rip. It sounded like fabric tearing. :-p