Sunday, August 29, 2010

Snookersearch 2010 - Part 9: "Fast Larry"

Made it to Kelly's and watched some of the Tony's. I had seen "The Royal Family" and it was awful so I was surprised it was nominated. It's funny when someone wins and around eleventyseven people get up onstage to be part of the acceptance speech.
That night I was very worried I would have insomnia, since my muscles in my shoulder and arms had the pins-and-needles feeling, which can throw me into a panic, but I was so tired I fell asleep after only half-waking up once.
In the morning Kelly took me to a coffee shop in Decatur that was pretty cool. She had a couple of sips of my coffee, she doesn't drink coffee because it doesn't agree with her, but she likes just a little bit of it. I love having coffee in the morning.
She took me on a short tour of Atlanta. The neighborhood where she and Heather live, Clarkstown(Clarkston, Ed.) is the most diverse neighborhood in the most diverse county in the US. Sorry you yankees in Queens NY. Apparently there are a lot of refugees there. It is the type of neighborhood I love: not suburban but instead mixed-urban, with some light industrial, some old houses, small houses, and strange businesses. I can see myself living someplace like this someday. It's not boring, but you get peace and quiet and a sense of place. You can have a garden.
Kelly brought me back and I saddled up to go meet Fast Larry. Fast Larry is Larry Grindinger, a former pro player and a trick shot artist who is in the Guiness Book of World Records for various shots. He used to have a traveling show with his Jack Russell terrier "Jake the Wonder Dog".

He is a controversial figure since he has views that go outside the standard pool establishment, and he is very free about speaking his mind about them. Apparently he has made some enemies in the pool world, but so what? I have heard so much ill-informed advice from so-called experts that I don't have any respect for the pool world. Case in point is my contention that pool cues should not all be 57 or 58 inches. When you are tall with a long armspan, like me, it only makes sense to use a stick that is in proportion. But a lot of people (hello Blatt billiards) will tell you that one size fits all.
I met Larry at a "Dave and Busters" in a mall in Duluth, GA. For those of you fellow Northerners who don't know what a "Dave and Busters" is, it's a batshit garganto amusement emporium that's like Vegas without the slot machines. They have tons of pool tables, a bowling alley, all sorts of video games, those basketball free-throw games, everything. I think people go there to get away from their families. You just hand everybody game card and go to the bar.
Larry had brought a complete arsenal of pool equipment, including around 50 cues, his own pool balls, and a giant aluminum stroke-trainer device that weighed about 50 pounds.
For a pool nut like me this is another Mecca - to have all this great stuff around, and get to pick the brain of someone who has that amount of knowledge and ability is a real privilege. Larry showed me some of the things he teaches: using a downward stroke rather than a level stroke for draw, how deflection really only seems to become an issue when you are hitting above center on the cue ball (this is huge, there is a whole industry devoted to low-deflection shafts), and his 'wave" method of stroking the cue ball. This is similar to a way I had been thinking about it: I think of delivering the cue like bowling with a bowling ball, where the tip actually comes up a bit on the follow-through. The BCA instructors tell you to keep the tip down. Fools!
We played a long time. Larry told me about his pool library where he has books going back to the 1800's, he has almost every book written on pool and billiards know to man. Wow, I would love to see those sometime.
I finally had to go, it was getting late and I was still thinking about heading out to Savannah. When I got on the bike though, I realized how unlikely that was, given how late it was and how tired I was from trying to absorb all this pool info. I had also gone to the WRONG "Dave and Busters" originally, and that delayed me from getting to the second, correct one.
On the way back I saw this truckful of recycling containers:

Probably off to be recycled.
I went back to Kelly and Heathers, they were out getting dinner. I took the scoot out to a little Ethiopian restaurant which was like a bar with some formica tables. It was kept very dark inside and men smoked flavored cigarettes inside. I ordered some spicy beef which was "meh" (came back to haunt me).
This Bhutanese kid came up and talked to me. He said he came to this bar to drink and smoke because if he did either at home, his friends would come around and everybody would want to drink or smoke and he just wanted to do it in peace. It was a lot of fun to be in a crazy little Ethiopian pub with the Georgia sun setting on all the warm green grass outside.
I went back to Kelly's and we watched "Bruno", which I think is hilarious, no matter what the critics say.
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