Part II: Lucy, Nostradamus: Ping Pong to Table Tennis (Editor’s note: More flapdoodle and screwy hooey from Lao Du) (Lao Du: I object to that characterization)
Just to refresh your memories, in Part I we learned that some age-old original ping pong paddles used stretched vellum attached to a handle. This was, in fact, a primitive form of a sandpaper bat. It was also revealed that soon after life began in the sea, some restless ping pong-hungry prehistoric fish with limbs suitable for grasping objects, crawled out of the water onto a garbage landfill (which is now called Flushing), and after making their way to a dim sum restaurant (presumably, because why else would anyone go to Flushing?), they met up with some aboriginal types already playing ping pong underground (basement players). Together they chose sandpaper as the exclusive racket with which to play the game (because it afforded them the opportunity to have long rallies – duh!). Soon the sport prospered and spread inland, toward other dump sites, Jamaica and Elmhurst (also created atop garbage heaps), with sandpaper emerging there as the dominant paddle, as well, and where it remained number one for eons … until, that is, the ITTF came along. This event, the encroachment by this global interloping “Federation” backed by Fortune 500 paddle manufacturers, sounded the death bell for the simple, unadulterated, pristine and glorious game of ping pong. It was hastily renamed ‘table tennis’ and shortly thereafter lost its soul and it’s feasibility of ever being a TV sport (the rallies are short and the balls are hit so fast, you can’t even see them). Sandpaper had embodied the best of ping pong, and now its life force had been brutally extinguished – exactly as Nostradamus had predicted. Yes, Mr. N. had declared that darkness would rule once Satan forcibly changed the paddle rules. Alas.
The Evolutionary History of Ping Pong – Part I (Editor’s note: This is not a fluff piece; this is a piece of fluff)
Prologue: In the beginning it was called just “ping,” but for our purposes in this historical account, I will be referring to it as “ping pong” just to make sure some of our readers don’t confuse it for the sound your car makes when it’s out of tune or when you use cheap gas.
Recently I have experienced a rather depressing phenomenon, something extraordinary for me in that I had not been through something like this that keeps on repeating. It’s this: I find myself ahead in a game, maybe 8-3 or 9-3 – in other words, way ahead – and then all of a sudden the score is 10-9 or even deuce. My big lead has vanished, wiped out, and then, low and behold, the other guy is ahead! This nightmare keeps on happening … and I lose most of these games. What is going on here? Am I in the Twilight Zone, or what? (Righteous people want to know.)
Maybe I live in another world, another time. I got a friend who has started calling me Retro Man, but I don’t care. I know I can’t bring back Whitney Reed (and amateur tennis from the late 50’s), but I can’t identify with any of these keh-zillionaires on those grass courts at Wimbledon. I frankly don’t care about them and don’t have much interest in watching the stuff on TV. You wanna know why? I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you what really gets me sick: It’s the camera panning in on celebrities who have nothing to do with the match. It’s just more celebrity worship and gossipy TV. I can’t take it. I want to kill the director, and I can’t help screaming when a camera checks out the bloodsucking wife of one of the players and the various stooges in the entourage perched next to her. When Whitney Reed once played in Wimbledon, they told him to bow to the royal hangers-on, those blue-blooded parasites in their imperial seats. He bowed, all right, to the stands in the opposite direction, giving the royal leeches a good look at his behind. Yep, I’d rather be in 1959, sneak into the Forest Hills Stadium (I did sneak in once; the fence was broken behind the bleacher seats) and watch an inebriated Whitney Reed – bringing his 6 pack with him on court – play Manuel Santana. And they weren’t paid zilch (maybe Reed got the beers for nothing). Which is how much I’d pay to go to Flushing Meadows and watch the new batch of keh-zillionaires in September. Lao Du