>After an hour, the subway train finally pulled into the Bay Ridge station in Brooklyn. I ambled up the stairs and decided to check the large area map on the mezzanine level of the station to make sure that I really knew how to get to John Paul Jones Park. Turns out that the crappy park map that I printed was correct, and as I turned to leave the station I noticed that the map indicated that the Harbor Defense Museum was in a green area adjacent to the one I planned to see. Score!

John Paul Jones Park is known colloquially as Cannonball Park because of the enormous black cannon pointed at the Verrazano Bridge. "Stay out, Staten Islanders, or suffer the consequences!" I laughed to myself when I saw the cannon's position. Surrounding the monster weapon are 29 cannonballs, each one the size (although not weight) of a beach ball. Of course, there are no signs explaining what the cannon and its ammo is doing in the park pointing at Staten Island, so my theory seems as reasonable as any.

I studied the scene for approximately 2.5 minutes before moving on and noticing a strange monument to Giovanni da Verrazano, "the first European" to stop by, and some random Italian-American man who spent his life promoting the humanitarian contributions of Italians. Chuckling, I continued toward the Harbor Defense Museum. Let me say that it strikes me as hard to randomly find oneself on an Army base, but as fate would have it, that's where the museum was. Huh. Who even knew that there were active Army bases in the City? You learn something new every day.

Lesson #2 of the day: regular folks can't buy things from stores on Army bases. I was pretty hungry after Irwin, an eager World War II veteran ("I invaded Sicily," he announced when I walked into the museum), "showed" me around. Mainly, he liked making fun of early Americans, noting that the Continental Army at first consisted of illiterate farmers, bums, and drunks. "The British couldn't understand how these rednecks managed to kill any of their soldiers," he confided. Thirty minutes later, Irwin hustled me out and I headed to the base store, where my attempt to purchase a 69 cent pack of Fig Newtons was smacked down when I could not produce proper ID.

I settled for a vending machine (which didn't discriminate against civilian money) and wolfed down a 3 Musketeers bar as I headed back into society. As I passed by a large rock with a plaque placed by the traitorous organization known as the New York Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy noting that General Robert E. Lee lived on the base from 1841-1846, it took all my willpower not to spit on it. Instead, I made faces at the rock, shook my head, and muttered a lot about how utterly fucked up the US is that we honor traitors at our military bases. Given our national history, it almost makes sense that we are at a point where we send the people who live on this base to die in Iraq so that our leaders and their cronies can enrich their pockets.

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