“Three WhirlyBall courts—Webster, Elston, and Damen, named after the Chicago streets their windows look out upon—serve as the centers of attention; groups congregate outside the Webster and Elston floors, looking on as their friends/coworkers/fellow WhirlyBall players do their things; an announcer/referee provides the soundtrack. People are enjoying themselves, clearly, but also what the hell even is this?
WhirlyBall is equal parts basketball, lacrosse, and polo, and is touted by Flo-Tron Enterprises, the OEM and sole manufacturer of WhirlyBall equipment, as “the world’s only totally mechanized team sport.” Two teams of five take to the WhirlyBall court—a roughly 4,000 square-foot box with electrified floor panels, bumper rails along the walls, and backboards, hung like hoops, with a target in their center—on motorized WhirlyBugs. They use plastic, cesta-esque scoops (jai alai seems the preferred analogue, but in reality they are more closely related to the scoop-ball implements you played with as a child) to fling a softball-sized wiffle ball at the targets.”
“Fifteen pairs of shoes—their exteriors a gleaming bronze, their guts redacted, black giraffe tongues and the faintest maker’s marks like lingering scars on their insides—line the wall atop white shelves, each with a silver dog-tag bearing the name of the shoe’s owner, an indelibly sexy display, a message couched in and enchanted by the visual merchandizer’s art. Although obliquely uniform in their brilliant armor, they represent a panoply of styles—from muscular sneakers with toe caps like cuirasses to chic heels, reptilian loafers to porous trainers—and come from an array of owners.”
Carried as if Cleopatra atop the strapping bodies of her personal attendants, wreathed in shimmering brumes of crimson and ash, she is lofted upward from the cold floor. She is sidereal, high and brilliant, the hearts and eyes and minds, lungs and tongues, diaphragms and voices and empty palms of the hundreds arranged on writhing, screaming steps of the stadia for her—for her!They coalesce around their star, becoming a beast that she controls, via her strength and volume, the flexing of an alabaster bicep, the vibrating of the only vocal cords they listen to, not merely hear.”