Thursday, July 30, 2009

I close my eyes and hear thunder

A while back I wrote this in my other blog, but I felt the need to post it here for memento sake.


In the world of boxing, becoming a belt holder has quickly become immaterial to a certain degree. Sanctioning bodies have done their best to work against a sport I love but in the last year and a half, catch weights and fighters deciding to fight the best and only the best have returned to the scene. Fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are fighting the best of the best and beating them. Titles are being ignored and immortality is the gold on everyone's mind.

In a sport that is beautiful in its brutality though, few people made me love boxing more than Arturo 'Thunder' Gatti. He showed the value of resolve, courage, and sheer heart. His defense? Forgettable. His offense? Anything but. Proclaimed as the Blood and Guts champion, Gatti did things almost alien to many of the flashier fighters of the sport: He spoke with his fists much more than he did with his mouth. His idea of showboating was taking brutal punishment only to flash out a perfect left hook that had his opponent wondering who the current president was. He was the type of boxer that makes you appreciate the sweet science just as much as his fights showed what mountains could be climbed out of sheer will.

Was Gatti the greatest boxer in the world? No. Of course not. He was simply one of the greatest boxers to watch. Plain and simple. Hittable, vulnerable and brave to a fault. If ever there was a boxer to always go out on his shield and never on his stool, look no further. He was the guy with the lacking skillset but the tenacity to take five shots to give you one of those perfect left hooks.

In a career that transitioned from the 90's to the 2000's, Gatti fought like it was 1950 and looked the part, having slick hair, suits and a face that wouldn't have been out of place next to the likes of Al Capone.

On May 2002, I was fortunate enough to have my tv on HBO and saw that the card would have a guy named Arturo Gatti face off another guy named Micky Ward. The names were familiar since Micky had already been in fight of the year winners or candidates. SO I thought I was going to see a great fight. I simply had no pre-conception that I was about to watch history in the making and a fight I'd be telling my grand children about. If I had to pick my top five fights in my life off the top of my head, you'd see: Leonard VS Hagler, Marquez VS Pacquiao 1, Trinidad VS Vargas, Marquez VS Diaz, and Gatti VS Ward 1. After I start thinking I remember Foreman VS Ali, Ali VS Frazier 1, Barrera VS Morales 1 and 3, Morales VS Pacquiao 1, Judah VS Cotto, Argueyo VS Pryor, Chavez VS Taylor, Hagler VS Hearns, and countless others. But off the top of my head, those five fights jump out because it was anyone's match until they ended.

Gatti VS Ward 1 has the distinction of being considered fight of the century simply because it was a power punch bonanza and the fact that neither man got knocked out in ANY of the three fights is beyond comprehension, but that first fight... it was something special, and in my room, thousands of miles away, I was a part of that... and I felt special for it.

I've watched the fight in its entirety nine times, the most I've ever watched any fight and I'm still amazed. Much credit also has to go to Frank Cappucino for letting history be made. When people thought the fight had been stopped, you could clearly hear Frank Cappucino say "The fight ain't over". But the sheer grit of both Ward and Gatti are something to behold. In round 4, Gatti connected a low blow that would have made Andrew Golotta proud. After miscommunication, Ward did not get the five minutes a boxer is allowed to recover, the bell rings, he goes to the corner and when asked what to do, he replies by saying, I'm good to go. Gatti for his part took Ward's signature left hook about twenty times too often and finally took a knee. He didn't crumble, he didn't wilt, he just took a knee, beat the 8 count and proceeded to offer up more punishment. I have truly NEVER seen a tug of war battle as fierce as this fight and momentum changed at a dizzying pace.

It's the type of fight I wish I could have shared with my grandfather. In round 9, heralded by many present as the round of the century (although round five is amazing as well), over 100 power punches were connected and how any of the two fighters could continue or even want to continue, is baffling. In a time where some people quit because they broke their hand, or they got hit low, or they're tired, these two men had the audacity to come back for another round and two follow-up fights that cemented their place in boxing history.

Earlier today I found out Arturo Gatti was found dead in brazil.

That sentence alone forced me to almost take a knee. I've felt the urge to cry but haven't. After all, if people could weep over Michael Jackson, I could shed a tear in the name of one of my favorite boxers of all time. But that would be a disservice to one of the fiercest warriors ever to enter a squared circle, so I've held out. I've held out because that's what he would have done. He would have taken it. He would recognize that it hurt. That it hurt a lot and that it could make him go down, but he wouldn't as long as his will and his body could hold out. That's because that's the type of boxer he was. He was a fan favorite because yes he fought for fame and money, but the way he fought was exclusively for the fans and in the world of boxing, we were all champions and had a taste of gold every time he laced his gloves, started to walk to the ring, and we could hear the immortal riff from AC/DC with Brian Johnson calling out his real name. Not the one he was given when he was a baby. Not a nickname from his teens. His real name. His warrior name.


I close my eyes... and in my memories and in my heart, I hear thunder... and I take a knee.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life is too short to go this fast

If you think about the rate at which we live at, well you'd realize that there are no first or second gears. Everything is third on up, everything is on turbo and life is squandered day by day by being in a constant state of rush. That we survive every day is a miracle in itself, that we do it, living, reacting, acting, deciding and multitasking at the speed we do is just beyond comprehension.

In an average day we see at least 400 attempts at someone selling us something. Think that number is overblown, then just count the outdoor media you come in contact with and realize that the real number is probably twice as much. We get assaulted with messages from all sides, at all times and it won't be long before air conditioners come equipped with discount models that offer adverts while you sleep. From cars to margarine and anything in between, before and after, we are being pitched at non-stop.

Add to that the amount of tasks we accomplish in a week and if you break it down task by task you realize that you're just one little machine pumping instant tasks like some hot dog machine. It gets to a point where we almost seem automated. Before long we start forgetting random things because we're so hellbent on doing things faster and faster that we're not even sure if we registered correctly. Don't quite get where I'm getting at? Well let's have a quiz. Answer the following 20 questions and below you will see a point scale that will correllate to your supposed level of disconnection with your life. Don't look for answers, don't double check, just answer or try to answer the questions. If you can, that's a point in your favor, if you find yourself struggling to answer any of these questions, well you don't earn anything. Give yourself five to ten seconds to answer the question, if you take more, it doesn't count. Let's see how you do.

1. What did you have for lunch?

2. What color socks did you have on during the day?

3. When was the last time you cut your toenails?

4. What's your social security number?

5. Do you question if you closed your house door, garage door or stove on at least three times a week?

6. Have you woken up on, showered, gotten dressed and ready for work only to realize it's Saturday?

7. When was the last time you spoke to your parents?

8. When is your mother's birthday?

9. When is your anniversary?

10. Off the top of your head, what were the last five movies you saw in the theater?

11. What songs have you listened to today?

12. What did you watch on tv last time you sat in front of the tube?

13. Do you watch tv, listen to music, facebook and skype at the same time?

14. When is your own birthday?

15. When was the last time you washed your car?

16. What do you weigh?

17. What size shoe are you?

18. What shampoo do you use?

19. When was the last time you changed your tooth brush?

20. How many times have you dialed your extension or your ATM card number into your microwave?


20-17 points: You are fairly well grounded. You don't believe in the zodiac horoscope and you're aware of your surroundings.

16-12 points: Might have a little pecadillo regarding multitasking, but you are still functional.

11-7 points: You were an overachieving C student that got B's based on luck, cramming and cosmic energies unknown to you.

6-3 points: You can barely tie your own shoes, your life is the lost remote control in the sofa.

2-1 points: You manage to stay alive because lady luck is generous.

0 points: how did you even get to the end of this post.

So next time someone insists on being in a hurry, let them pass and take the time to realize life can really let you pass it by.


Eating Old School: Hostess TMNT Turtle Pies

So the rap sucks. So it was a jingle. So it looked like the aborted fetus of Mrs. Green Giant. That's beyond the point. What IS the point is that if you lived in the 80's and missed out on eating this toxic delight, you missed out. Plain and simple.

There's just something in most Hostess products that just beg the question, is it derivated from heroin. You could easily down these pies in pairs and invite diabetes for dinner, but the sheer gooey delight of biting into one of these pies still brings back memories, because you know that forever fake, synthetic and noxious these things could be for you, you didn't care. Your palette screamed adulation, your taste buds had a luau and your metabolism had better be prepared to take it on.

Delightlyfully delicious? You bet your shell. And that icing? Mondo tubular Cowadelicious. It was so unappealing visually that it made it that more delicious to eat because you saw people gagging while you were in carb & fat bliss. I've been wishing for a return of these pies, even if only riding a nostalgia wave of four months but as of yet, I still haven't gotten my wish. But the inner child in me beats strong, and that's one sugar loaded dream I'm not keen on giving up on.