The Times Discovers Bowling!

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"O.K., maybe this trend isn't big enough to lift the entire city, but it's something." The New York Times suggests bowling as a recession funtime activity.

And it's glamorous too! While old-school alleys around town are closing, jacked-up, full-bar venues like Bowlmor and Williamsburg's Gutter Bar bring in trend-conscious crowds, and Strike Holdings, which owns Bowlmor, has a ten-pin pleasure palace planned for Times Square with "themed" areas, such as a "Chinatown section" which "will feature a gong to bang when you get a strike."

And to think, less than five years ago Bowlmor was at the center of a terrorism controversy.

Lest you worry about grotty old Ralph Kramden types lowering the tone, the Times assures you that "the upscale alleys typically shun leagues. They don't want guys who show up with bowling outfits and excessive stomachs and their own equipment and want to pay $1.95 a game." They want people who will order Leisure Time's "signature drink... the beer tower, a tube that holds 11 pints of beer," and maybe some filet mignon.

If you're not up to that, you can still get the retro experience in Queens, where amid the "scuffed linoleum" graybeards complain that "disco bowling" is for "the younger generation that wants instant gratification."

So, see -- something for everyone, trendoids and old grouches alike. And we needn't worry about the game fading when the next big thing (like maybe archery) comes in -- the Bowling Centers USA ("America's bowling Alley Directory") lists thousands of lanes, with New York State the nation's leader with 410 centers. The industry recently raised more than $1 million for a new International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame which opens this month in Arlington, Texas.

And here's perhaps the most conclusive proof of the health of the bowling business: Sarah Palin has agreed to serve as keynote speaker at this summer's International Bowl Expo 2010.


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