Now that the Thanksgiving feast has passed and the winter is racing towards us, the devotees of flying plastic are, in most of the country, relegated to indoor spaces and telling tall tales of hot jams past. I am here to tell ya a story about not just one heinous gathering of smokin’ Freestylers, but a summer full of amazing feats of Frisbee derring-do.
There are some folks that believe that New York City is the center of the world and as a native ‘New Yawkuh’, who am I to disagree?* (see below) The cognoscenti will tell you Freestyle Frisbee had its genesis in Washington Square Park and in Central Park around the Bandshell and Frisbee Hill by most accounts.** (see below) It really found a home on the Sheeps Meadow when it reopened in the Spring of 1981. Any nice day, there were Jammers (and Heavers, our long tossing brethren) out for hours at a time over the last 20+ years. During warm weather months with their loooong days, after work was easy since life was without strings attached for the most part. As the time went by we all aged a little bit and gained sponsibilities like kids, real jobs etc. and the after-work crowd started to thin out.
Early in the Spring of 2004 on consecutive Thursdays, we were joined by a former regular, one Ted Oberhaus (with the lovely Chrissy riding shotgun) where some seriously amazing jams occurred. On that second Thursday Ted, Doug E. Fresh, Joey Hudocklin and Rob Fried combined to just set the place on fire. Coincidentally, Joey had told me earlier that week that while he and Ted had played together before, they never really shredded. Well, this foursome sure made up for it that day – the disc never hit the friggin ground and each combo and co-op was better than the last. I’m not the best when it comes to specific nomenclature but I can tell you that the disc always being turned over from U-D to standard and back. Nobody cared which spin was thrown, brushed, or kicked and there was much vertical work (Freak Me Out, Frank! is now a name of a crazy-assed throw). Of course, there were numerous double-spinning Gitis (sic?) seals, and Ted might have hit a triple to go with Joey hitting a Bodonkadonk (a UD Lairbs kick to the delay) – really twisted stuff. Afterwards, Chrissy, Bill Doobs, Ted and I were talking and she said You know we should pick a day maybe a Wednesday or a Thursday to get everyone to come out and play. I replied, Well you already picked the day, it has to be Thursday. With the special guest Jammers around, Ted chimed in that it was like having the All-Star game. Chrissy’s response was All*Star Thursdays! and we all had a chuckle. Joey added his too saying “And ya gotta show up, otherwise yer gonna be yella”, to raucous laughter. And then the plot thickened.
The following Thursday, my boy Fearless (Lou to the rest o you), myself (Tall Paul) and a couple of early birds were at the Meadow when Ted and Chrissy arrived with a huge black duffel bag and even bigger smiles. Homeboy breaks open the bag and pulls out brand spankin new Sky Stylers with a pinwheel logo along with “All*Star Thursdays” and “Don’t Be Yella” emblazoned upon them. Then he breaks out a medium-sized yellow T-shirt inscribed with “I Was Yella” on the front, and “Don’t Be Yella” on the back–the dreaded Yella Jersey! Unlike in the Tour de France where the leader gets to put it on, if you missed an A*ST you would have to wear the Yella Jersey. Anyone who came to consecutive A*STs was eligible for the jersey depending on the decision of judges (us). The jams that day were incredible and it was decided that Joey, who managed to miss that one, would be the first to put on that ugly yellow rag the following week, and a tradition was born.
As word got around, Jammers from all over the place started to show up. As you all know, there is nothing like having fresh blood coming in to join the circle of players. No matter how talented a given group may be, having new faces with their different styles changes the flavor of the Jam, which is a good thing! There was one day where there was an unbelievable 5-man Jam with a Wham-o 100 mold featuring Joe, Rob, Doug, Pat and Ted. It was special because the conditions in NYC (We dont need no stinking breeze!) are not always conducive to many players on one disc, but the flow among these gents was awesome to behold. My favorite time of each week was when the sun went behind the buildings and dusk began to settle in because folks were already hot and they knew time was short. Thats when the call of Beer! would arise, so each man would dig down deeper and want it just a little bit more than the next guy, thus summoning the Frisbee Gods to anoint them with the blessed nectar of hops n barley. It is tough to recall the actual moves but calls for Beer frequently involved upside down brushing co-ops. We have a couple of folks who were inspired to start jamming more seriously (Kevin & Jesse) because of the awesome level of play and the willingness of the crew to share their time and knowledge. And if you think that inclement weather slowed us down, the hardcore shifted over to the band-shell and played on the hard concrete like in the old days.
Here’s a listing of the Regulars, the Irregulars, and the Special Guest Jammers who graced our hometown. If there are any Guests who have special memories of their All-Star Thursday experience, or if there is anyone who showed that I have missed, please let me know.
Regulars: Ted Oberhaus, Doug E. Fresh, Rob Fried, Joey Hudoklin, Brad Keller, Tall Paul Mondesire, Fearless Lou, Danzo, Trevor Brown, Roger Meier, Spencer, Kevin, Jesse
Irregulars: Bill Dubilier, Pat Rabdau, Quinn O’Neill, Richie Regensberg
Special Guests: Gary Auerbach, Todd Broduer, Alan Caplin, Scott Sailor, Tommy Leitner, the Brothers Cooksey from Virginia, Jonathan Willet, Ryan Vinoski
Yella Jersey Designees: Joey, Doug, Fearless Lou (Double Yella), Roger, Brad, Trevor, Tall Paul, Bill Doobs (1/2 day), Spencer, Ted
Truth be told, there are a couple of folks who, along with Ted & Chrissy, deserve special mention for their contributions to our good times. The return of Joey Hudoklin to NYC from the Left Coast, really got folks here jacked up a notch and he discovered Malachys, home of the post-Jam hangout. Then there is Mr. Doug E. fresh who week after week sent out e-notifications to make sure that people were out there and psyched:
Sunset tomorrow at 6:51. Let’s not dilly dally. All Hein-No bail!! 80 degrees and sunny! The National Weather service has issued an All*Star Thursday Jam Advisory: THERE WILL BE COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF CUFFING; GITIS WILL OCCUR IN GREAT NUMBERS; SKIDS AND AGAINST MOVES ARE HIGHLY PROBABLE; SOME ACTION MAY OCCUR ON CONCRETE. BULGOGI IS MARINATING.
U know u r an all-star when:
1. U get inane emails from Fresh on Wednesday 2. U think u know what the move “malachy” looks like
3. U are wondering who the guest all-star will be this week.
4. U ARE NOT YELLA.
Come on Pete!
Thursday looks All-Starry.
Finally there is Rob Fried who made our NYC born tradition internationally known. When the intrepid Mr. Fried went to play in AmsterJam, he spread the word to our European brethren, so they too know that they should not be yella. Therefore in closing, Noo Yawk is throwing down the gauntlet to all the Jammers out there. Its tough to get folks together during the week after work, so why not institute All*Star Thursdays in your neighborhood? It doesn’t matter how many folks get out there, as long as you bust your behind upon arrival. It would be nice to know that no matter where in the world you play, there is one day that you can find your peeps and get your plastic inspired groove on, no frontin! All Hein No Bail!!! Rob also wants to let everybody know that All*Star Thursdays are continuing through the winter under the lights at the Washington Square.
* About the author – Actually, most serious Jammers (tournament types) from outside of the metropolitan area may ask, :Yeah, who are you anyway?” Well, I’m Tall Paul the Jammin’ Heaveror, the Heavin Jammer depending on your perspective. I was moved to put together this piece on All*Star Thursdays because of a deep abiding love and respect for a sport that almost everyone will watch (at least until there’s a drop) but not too many folk outside our circle understand.
I’ve been coming out to the Sheeps Meadow since it reopened in 1981 and became the destination for devotees of many eclectic sports, but especially those with a hankering for flying plastic. Like many of us, I learned to delay while playing Ultimate in college (SUNNY Binghamton Whippets 78-79) and can still recall coming into the Meadow for the first time–it was from the Southeast corner by The Rock. I saw what must have been 50 discs in the air and knew I had found my own slice of heaven. I was (and still am) enamored by the flight of the disc and came out religiously. I was friends with original Washington Square Wizard Jeff Felberbaum from before he started Jamming so I knew a few of the Freestylers by sight. The ageless Trevor Augustus Brown and Eddie Bennett were the first guys that let me bust their jam– I had no nails but plenty of moxie. Roger Meier later convinced me to put on nails circa 1985 and I was hooked. I learned to throw strikes with Zs by playing with Richie Regensberg and Bill Dubilier and learned a boatload about flow when I went to LA on vacation and played on the Venice Green (many thanks to Z/Dreamer) and when Angel was here for a spell in the 90s. Personally, I have to say many thanks to Ted, Rob, Joey, and Doug because they have on many occasions let me bust their Jams. I may have, relatively speaking, a limited set of moves but I have been inspired to do things I never would have tried before and I have learned to be a flow masterplaying point guard just as Angel taught me while he was here in NYC.
** – What follows here are some memories culled from the cranium of Roger Meier of the early days and the move uptown to Sheeps Meadow from the Washington Square Park…
The early days had two separate groups of Jammers, the Washington Square Wizards and the dudes from Central Park. The wizards were centered by Joey Hudoklin, Richie Smits, John Dwork and Jeff Felberbaum roughly from 1974 – 1980. The Central Park crew was comprised of Krae Van Sickle, Kerry Kolmar, Mountain, Brian Eure and Clarence Braithwaite, Gerry Lynas – who put out a newsletter, and a few others. The Central Park Jammers had a number of locations, one being in front of the Bandshell and another being “Frisbee Hill” just north of the Sheeps Meadow. The Meadow was a dust bowl used as a ball field for baseball, ultimate, football and was nothing like the Green Beach that we are blessed with today. There wasn’t any real jamming going on in the Meadow in those days.
The re-sodding of the Sheeps Meadow was a practically a religious experience. Watching them roll out the grass over the meadow was a sight I will never forget. It was at this point (circa 1981) that jamming really started to migrate uptown, though during the early 80’s there was still plenty of activity in Washington Square as many of us lived downtown. During the first few years, the Meadow was closed on alternate week-days forcing Jammers to other spots. I remember the gang used some types of smoke signals (Gub?) to spread the word if it was going to be a W-Square day or Meadow day, since this was in the pre-Internet/cell phone Dark Ages. During the mid 80s our knees started to age (just the knees mind you) and a few of us moved Uptown, the jamming became almost exclusively in the Meadow, with the exception of scheduled Square jams that continue to this day.