When I was working on The Names I devised a new method — new to me, anyway. When I finished a paragraph, even a three-line paragraph, I automatically went to a fresh page to start the new paragraph. No crowded pages. This enabled me to see a given set of sentences more clearly. It made rewriting easier and more effective. The white space on the page helped me concentrate more deeply on what I’d written.
“Smokin” Joe Frazier January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011
I wanted to meet this man guy so fuckin’ bad…
This is sad… RIP Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the former Heavyweight Champ. If you don’t know much about the man:
He was born into severe poverty in Beaufort County, South Carolina. No electricity, no running water. His mother worked odd jobs, picking vegetables and canning crab. His father bootlegged clear corn liquor… Joe, as a child, would accompany his father on deliveries. Tired of the racist south, Frazier left home at 15 and eventually found his way to Philadelphia. (He had made the right decision to leave - when he came back as champion, the local bank wouldn’t cash his checks.)
Frazier went on to work for a slaughterhouse where he practiced his combinations on hanging sides of beef in the refrigerated lockup. (There is no Rocky Balboa, there is only Joe Frazier.) It was there he started to develop his left hook, the greatest left hook in the history of boxing. The crushing left hook – which floored Ali at Madison Square Garden in the “Fight of the Century” – was perfected by necessity as Frazier started to lose sight in his left eye. For part of his career he was a one-eyed fighter.
He wasn’t a big heavyweight. He was shorter than Muhammad Ali, and much shorter than George Foreman. He didn’t have a long reach. But he had a style that played to his physical abilities: short leveraged punches combined with inside work that punished the body. He’d bob and weave to get close. Then he’d unleash hell. That style allowed him to defeat Ali in his defense of his title at MSG, but caused him to get murdered by George Foreman.
Frazier eventually retired and operated a boxing gym in a black Philadelphia neighborhood. While other fighters moved to the suburbs or to gated communities, Smokin’ Joe never left. He was the forgotten heavyweight champion. While others made millions – Ali by licensing his image and Foreman by selling shitty grills – Frazier slept in a room above his gym.
But he was just as great of a champion as any of them.
for the gentlemen
I bought a beautiful leather journal last month. I’ve yet to write anything in it. The longer I wait, the more pressure there is to make the first entry something meaningful.
And so it sits in my drawer, undisturbed by my thoughts and silent in the dark.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers