Hoop dreams



The other night while I was watching the Warriors game at this sports bar, this guy sidled over to my table.

“We should get back out there on the court, bro,” he said with a smile. It was Kenyati, a guy I used to hoop with at Ohlone Park back in the day.

“I’m a little too old for that now,” I said.

“How old were you when you stopped hooping?” said Kenyati.

“Man, I musta’ been around 35, 36,” I said.

“I remember the last time you were out there,” he said. “I was there that day.”

“And you were a teenager back then,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. Kenyati was in his 40s now.

“It goes by so fast,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

We gave each other wistful looks. And then went back to watching the Warriors game.

Those days running full court with the brothers were some of the best days of my life. And probably Kenyati’s, too.



Bench One and Bench Two

Hate Man, 1994
Bench One and Bench Two on the Berkeley campus.   That’s what we used to call them because they were the first two benches when you hit the campus.  This was Hate Man’s main hang-out spot in the 1990s.  And you’d find Hate Man there most every day, all day long, holding court, usually surrounded by 10 or 20 people hanging around him.  “Hate Camp” as it was called.

And Hate Camp was a pretty eclectic bunch of people.  Street people, artists, writers, painters, musicians, philosophers, druggies, complete lunatics, college students,  high school kids, teenage runaways, gangbangers, blacks, whites, latinos, young, old. . . Just about anybody and everybody would drift into the stew.

Hate Camp was sort of part street party, part art happening.  It was a salon, basically.  This non-stop conversation that went on for decades.  And the talk ran the gamut from the latest gossip of the day, to debating the great philosophical and spiritual issues of humanity.  Hate Man primarily saw himself as a philosopher.  A self-styled street guru.  And a therapist.  He dubbed his philosophy “Oppositionality.”  As therapy it was part Primal Scream, and part Gestalt Therapy.  Involving endless arguments and confrontations and screaming back and forth about any and every disagreement.  Until the disagreements were either resolved, or considered “at an impasse.”  At which point we’d revert back to talking about the gossip of the day.

Over the years, there was always a “second in command” at Hate Camp.  A series of different “Hate Boys” as they were called.  Who emulated Hate Man’s philosophy and lifestyle.  Often exactly.  And acted as sort of Sancho Panchez to Hate Man’s Don Quixote.

Krash, 1994


12631531_1310071182343755_1758488201285964696_n.jpgOne of the most prominent and long-lasting of the Hate Boys was a guy named Krash.   Krash had graduated from Yale and was a post-graduate student at Cal  majoring in Rabbinical studies (to give you an idea of the eclectic nature of the Hate Campers).  When he happened to notice the Hate crew on Bench One one day while he was on his way to class.  Krash joined the party.  Dropped out of school.  And hung around for the next 20 years.