A young filmmaker dives into a derring-do documentary
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By Adam Wisnieski
The name of the rock has changed over generations, from “The Cut,” “Columbia Rock” or “The Rock,” to what kids now call “C-Rock.” The names jumpers give to each height from which they can catapult themselves into the Spuyten Duyvil Creek — ranging from 15- to what is estimated to be 80-foot peaks — have also changed with the times.
Kingsbridge resident Denis O’Flynn, 45, remembers “Al Capone’s Chair,” “Little Jazz,” “High Jazz,” “High Cables,” “Medium Cables,” “Low Cables,” “The Point of No Return” and the “Jungle.” He said the highest jumping point was called the “Hump.” He jumped that with friends in the late 1970s.
“Jungle” is still in use. “The Wheel” and “Basketball Diaries,” named after the 1995 movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio that made the rock famous, are used today.
Please, be careful
“You play stickball, go for a swim and come back and play stickball again,” Mr. O’Flynn said. He said he loves that kids still jump, but added the cautionary note that is probably a symptom of his non-teenage years: please be careful.
Jim Carroll’s 1978 memoir The Basketball Diaries (which the film was based on) talks about the Upper Manhattan teen tradition, describing the end goal of jumping from the highest point called “Hell’s Angel.”
Nowadays, Mr. Roth said almost all of the kids he encountered during filming last summer were from the Bronx. This newest crop of jumpers call the highest peak, “The Top.”
North Riverdalian James Gallo, 15, described it as something that has to be done.
“It’s the kind of thing that’s been around forever and it’s the kind of the thing you say, ‘Oh it’s my time to experience it,’ so you do so,” he said.
James was interviewed for the film and said competition is part of what fuels him to jump from the rock’s heights. “It’s a constant feud,” he said.
Recently, some trash talking between South and North Riverdale kids was on display on the documentary’s Facebook page.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, Jordan Roth, filmmaker, C-Rock, Harlem River Ship Canal, Metro North's tracks, Denis O'Flynn, James Carroll.