IN THE COURTYARD outside Unit 667, Michael Vick's childhood home in the notorious Ridley Circle housing project of Newport News, Va., residents remain tortured by any number of inaccessible escape routes. Buses roar past on Ivy Avenue without stopping. The sky is filled with jets leaving Norfolk Airport. A nearby canal used by fishing boats to reach Chesapeake Bay is protected by barbed wire and no-trespassing signs. Even spiritual escape appears unavailable: Access to the abandoned Zion Church, a block over on Marshall Avenue, has been blocked by a long 2-by-4 nailed haphazardly across the ornate doors of the sanctuary.
Ridley's collection of narrow two-story buildings, each packed with eight units, has been painted light blue over the original brown. There's less grass, replaced by mostly sand and dirt, cigarette butts, bottle caps and broken shards of glass that sparkle in the sunlight. Other than that, the Circle remains nearly identical to the place where an 8-year-old Vick first picked up a football with escape on his mind and, instead, started a revolution.
Behind each Ridley unit are cement patios where, Vick says, the drunks and old-timers would hang out. When he needed cash, Vick would wander into the courtyard, football in hand, and bet the men that he could throw the pigskin over any one of the 120-foot-long buildings they chose. They would laugh, right up until the football left his hand.
And this reminds me that certain Englishmen, who long ago were accidentally left in Greenland by a whaling vessel-that these men actually lived for several months on the mouldy scraps of whales which had been left ashore after trying out the blubber. Among the Dutch whalemen these scraps are called "fritters"; which, indeed, they greatly resemble, being brown and crisp, and smelling something like old Amsterdam housewives' dough-nuts or oly-cooks, when fresh. They have such an eatable look that the most self-denying stranger can hardly keep his hands off.—Herman Melville, Moby Dick
—Herman Melville, Moby Dick
What if Michael Vick were white?
Are you really comparing rape to dogfighting?
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