Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Walk in the Park

At 2,772 acres, Pelham Bay Park is the largest in NYC. Its name derives from that of Thomas Pell, who bought the land in 1654 and ham, the Old English for home. Presently home to tracks, trails, and trees–as well as the Robert Moses-finagled Orchard Beach–Pelham Bay Park is best known to posterity as the sight of the Battle of Pell's Point, in which American Colonel John Glover by a brilliant series of ambush, holding, and withdrawal, delayed General Howe's British forces long enough for Washington to lead the Continental Army safely north. Allegedly the stone walls behind which Glover and his men withstood the canon fire remain, now subject to golf instead of cannon balls. Some day I'll see if I can get on the course to find them, without having to pay for tee-off.

At the war memorial–optimistically called the World War Memorial–someone made an additional inscription. There's a lesson in it, though: if you are literally going to put something in stone, be sure about it.

Sorry for the quality there, but I didn't bring a zoom lens.

Of course sureness is no guarantee of wisdom. Take the plaque below another statue, that of a youth.

I've often said to those despairing of today's progressivism to imagine the shock of the days when it was in full flower. It's fitting to remember that bloom on a cloudy autumnal day like today. Of course I can't resist a little of the deconstruction of which the left is usually so fond. (Hey, turnabout is fair play.)

First, either the engraver missed a period on the first line or the author missed punctuation day at his progressive school. Speaking of which, exactly why is the period of youth entitled to freedom and untrammelled happiness? Who has less freedom and children, who must be constrained as they learn the ways of the world? Who is often less happy than children, who don't even know what happiness is, and how it is distinct from whim? Third, what does the author mean by "stultified happiness?" How can you render happiness futile? Fourth, how is it possible that "the proper spirit of play... is the natural instinct of the young?" That's mighty convenient. Born just perfect for play, are we?

Finally, was this translated? Because it doesn't really read so much like...English.

Healthy clean mind in a strong clean body is the idea for which we should strive.
It reads like the label on a bottle of Chinese laxative. Is this really engraved on an American monument?

Seemingly like all progressive documents, this inscription could be interpreted moderately, but it is so vague that you could easily drive a society-steamrolling truck of change right through its hazy, lazy, feel-good sentiments.

Still, a splendid afternoon walk in the park, untrammeled by progressive gobbledygook.

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