July 7, 2006 - No Kidding Around
Today’s article is the revisit to a Daily Edhat from December 2003. If you look back at the archives, the first 50 Edhat articles were the low hanging fruit. They were chosen from Ed’s repertoire of rants and raves that many of his friends (yes Ed has friends) had heard over the years. In fact, that was how the website started in the first place. Over drinks at Dargan’s one night, Ed was in rare form, complaining about how people pay too much attention to Michael Jackson and practically ignore the stuff in their own backyard. Then he started complaining about cell phones. Then he started complaining about people who complain about cell phones. He also talked about open-toed shoes, real estate signs, and kids not playing outside.
When a couple-in-love shows too much affection in public, they are often told to “get a room!” (or “get a cage!”). That night, people told Ed,
“get a website!” And, he did. Well, actually, he hired the dedicated staff, and they got the website. Same thing.
One of Ed’s favorite rants in the pre-Edhat days was the one that says that kids aren’t meeting up with their neighborhood friends in the street out in front of their houses to ride bikes, play kickball, or just mess around anymore. Instead, they just stay inside the house playing video games. Or, maybe they’re involved in organized activities where the grownups make the rules and facilitate the transportation.
Yesterday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com drove through the neighborhoods of Goleta looking for children out front in their yards,
enjoying summer vacation. On our drive, we realized why so many Goletians support slow growth. Life in these neighborhoods, it turns out, does not move very fast. Many of these streets are as empty as the editor’s room at the News Press this morning.
The only signs of life we saw were gardeners – some homeowners hosing the parkway, but mostly paid-for-hire pruners with rakes and blowers to boot. The homeowners were mostly older folks, probably retired. However, we saw no children, no kickballs, and no parents ringing cowbells to signal for their kids to come in for lunch.
One dedicated staff member speculated that maybe there are no children living in these neighborhoods. Maybe the homes are empty nests,
or nests with children all grown-up, but without the means to pay the high rents being charged in town these days.
This was a good theory, but the proof was against the pudding. As we drove through the super-quiet neighborhood streets of Goleta looking for wee ones frolicking along the sidewalk, what we found most of all were basketball hoops. Standing tall in driveways or along the streets, they served as billboards advertising to the few passersby that children lived there. Their tattered nets and unadjusted leans told a story of hope and anguish.
Once upon a time, optimistic parents came back from a trip to Sport Mart with an easy-to-assemble reason for kids to play outside with their friends. Maybe at first there were some games of horse or one-on-one, but the draw of youth group, YFL, Yugi-Oh, and Super Smash Brothers was too great. In 50 blocks of Goleta, we saw 35 hoops, but not a single basketball.
In fact in the 50 blocks we drove through, we only saw 1 child. She was riding her bike on the sidewalk. Edhat subscriber Mud won yesterday’s contest with the pessimistic guess of zero. Mud will receive an Edhat t-shirt – something for nothing, you might say.
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