Friday, February 12, 2016
Amsterdam, NY ,



Every nitpicking detail

Saturday, February 23, 2013 - Updated: 5:09 PM

Are you familiar with the word "nitpick?" The word is pretty much one that usually ends up having a negative response especially when one accuses the other of being a "nitpicker." It's really not what most people like to hear. Without getting too meticulous or detailed about it I would like to show how such a word can be used so effectively for those having any type of control or power. Also keep in mind how nitpicking is an important part of the political game that continues to exist in our city. I must warn you, however, never use this word during a public comment session at one of our Common Council meetings. If you happen to use it be prepared for an exit from the stage.

My suggestion is to say it as many times possible within the allotted time of five minutes before the escort service arrives. Let's remember folks from this day forward according to our mayor a new and improved decorum will be put in place to bring about harmony within the council chambers. If you're brave enough to use the word nitpick in describing your feelings toward any issue I commend you for it. However, beware also of the mighty machine to silence you.

In my strange and skewed observation of what has happened recently I feel obligated to use the word nitpick throughout most of this column. Therefore if you feel I'm being too nitpicky throughout my column feel free to email me as to whether or not the issue was worthwhile to nitpick about. In fact the word nitpick has turned out to be one of my favorite descriptive forms for political arguments. Actually, the word nitpicking in itself "is the act of removing (the eggs of lice, generally head lice known as nits) from the host's hair." As the nits settle into individual hairs it becomes difficult to remove them.

Therefore, the only other options would be to either use a chemical or shave one's hair to pick them free one by one. It's a slow process that calls for meticulous attention to detail. I'm sorry folks to present such an unpleasant description but it's important you understand the real term as opposed to using it in other ways such as within our local government.

In order to understand whether the issue I'm about to mention is trivial or not we need to look at the big picture. Here we have a pope retiring which has not happened in 600 years, a meteor landing somewhere in Siberia, unfriendly countries going nuclear, and a local bocce club needing a permit to sell alcoholic beverages. That's right, a local bocce club needing a permit to sell alcoholic beverages has become big news and should be immediately addressed. Forget about building permits, parking permits, a permit to speak about the city budget, or any other issues swirling in our city such as what word to use when it comes to winter parking regulations. The big news remains as to if the bocce club "shall" or "may" sell alcoholic beverages. Suddenly a place that has been existence for many years is now under the microscope for lack of not following the rules for a permit.

Now I think we are all familiar with the importance of rules and permits. We all know rules are put in place to maintain some form of order while permits are put in place to generate money. For example, depending on the measurements of a fence around your yard for privacy and protection a permit may be required. Another example is handicapped parking whereas a permit is needed to park in that specific area. As for the Port Jackson Bocce Club lacking a permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages appears to have become the poster child of alcohol use in city parks.

The game of bocce has been played for many years on the South Side beginning with the first Italian immigrants who not only played bocce but shared a true social bonding while also sharing a good glass of homemade wine. Of course this was before our politicians invented all those permits.

Bocce is an Italian sport going as far back as to the Roman Empire. The game is traditionally played on either a natural soil or asphalt court. A permit is not required to play the game but there are specific rules one must follow. A game can be played between two players or two teams of two, three or four. A match is started when a small ball (called a boccino or pallino) is tossed underhand within a certain area. The next step is for each team or individual to toss a larger size ball as close as possible to the pallino. Points are determined by closest distance to the pallino. Sometimes there are measurements needed and the games can get intense. There are other tactics to the game such as knocking the opponent's ball away from the pallino to either prevent or add points.

Today one of the last remaining cultural identities is now under the watchful eyes of those who always follow the rules. After all, folks, we know politicians are always straight forward and honest when it comes to following rules ... right? My guess is a nitpicker on the same nitpicking side of the political fence should never have to worry about permits. Call me a nitpicking fool but I only nitpick where I see fit without having to worry about a permit.

I'd suggest visiting the Port Jackson Bocce Club and appreciate the well maintained grounds which are under a peaceful setting for all ages to enjoy.

Until next time -- hold that thought.

MIKE LAZAROU is an Amsterdam native and a regular columnist. Contact him at


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