Posts Tagged ‘Muhammad Ali’

It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . . .

–The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

I came across the bit above and immediately knew that I was going to use it to illustrate the effect of the current president***, someone who has crashed every aspect of his  life with reckless abandon and carelessness. He always leaves behind a trail of destruction — and now, death– in his wake and like Tom and Daisy Buchanan, lets other people clean up the mess he has made.

This sense of hubris and selfishness was in clear focus yesterday as the covid-19 virus swept through their ranks, finally taking hold in the Oval Office.

He** and those around him have known the risks longer than any of us, even as they tried to downplay the danger of it as over 210,000 Americans died from it in a little over 6 months. They have been told by the highest authorities how to best combat the spread of this virus. They have incredible access to information and resources– medical equipment, testing, doctors and treatments– that would be unavailable to almost all of us. They have the ability to control their environment and reduce risk factors in a way most of us cannot.

Yet, with all of this, they practically thumbed their nose at it all. They refused to wear masks. Refused to stop gathering in groups or maintain any social distancing. Many refuse to quarantine properly. And with the virus running through their ranks, they continued to go out among the voters.

The sheer selfish disregard for others and the willingness with which they put others in peril is astonishing.

As one Secret Service agent who has put their lives on the line in protecting this person** stated, “He’s never cared about us.”

That’s a quote that should remain in the minds of the voters when they go to their polling places or mark their mail-in vote.

He’s never cared about us.”

Like Tom and Daisy and others like them, he** only sees people as resources to be used for his own benefit and pleasure.

Folks are seen as either as steps to climb up or obstacles to be kicked out of the way.

Kindling to be burnt to keep him warm.

So, as he** remains in Walter Reed getting better care than any of us could ever expect, excuse me if I don’t show a great deal of compassion for his plight. If our situations were reversed, he wouldn’t go out one inch out of his way to express concern.

If I were on fire on the side of the road, he** wouldn’t stop to piss on me to put it out. That is, unless there was something in it for him.

And you know why? 

He’s never cared about us.”

So, don’t ask me to care about his health now.

Maybe that sounds a little bitter this morning. Well, it probably is. My dad’s death and how our response to it has been tempered by the virus, the sheer folly of the covid outbreak at the white house, the recent surge of covid cases in my local area– these things and so many more have me a little on edge. Plus, the first thing I saw this morning was an announcement of the death of my greatest childhood hero, Bob Gibson, at age 84.

A legendary pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Gibby was it for me. He was always the toughest guy out there on any field, a smoldering force whose competitive fire bordered on sheer hostility toward any opponent. With Gibby, it wasn’t that you were trying to best him a game. It was more like you were trying to take something from him. Every inning was an existential exercise. And he most often prevailed. He was so dominating as a pitcher that baseball changed the mound height because they felt the hitters needed help since he was practically unhittable.  I read his early autobiography, From Ghetto to Glory, numerous times and that made him an even bigger hero to me. He was eloquent and college-educated, a rarity for ballplayers of that era, and his story was compelling. He spoke out about issues of the day with intelligence and passion, like two of my other great childhood heroes, Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali.

And as the case with these three, Bob Gibson remains a hero.

Rest in Peace, Gibby. And say Hey! to my dad if you see him around. He’s new there, as well.

Have a good day.

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2016 Principle Gallery Wall shot aHad a very nice visit in Alexandria.  On Friday the weather always seemed on the verge of a huge thunderstorm, which had me a little apprehensive– even more than I normally be on the day of a show– about prospects for the opening reception of this year’s show, Part of the Pattern,  at the Principle Gallery on that evening.  However the storm never really hit with much force and the reception turned out well.

It was a really nice evening with a great crowd that kept me completely engaged throughout.  It was good catching up with folks who have been coming to the shows for many years now as well as greeting many new faces.  I can’t say “Thank You” enough to those who were able to come out on Friday and to our friends at the Principle Gallery–Michele, Clint, Pam, Haley, Pierre and Megan— who made it all possible. Oh, and special thanks to my canine friends at the gallery, Asher and Chase.

Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell

Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell

Word came out during our time there that Muhammad Ali had passed away.  Ali was a huge hero of mine when I was a child, part of what I consider the Holy Quartet of Heroes– Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Bob Gibson– who had much in common.  They were all dominant legends in their respective sports, the greatest winners of their times.

They were all strong and smart black men who were not afraid to go against the grain, to take a stand outside the world world of sports and say things that were not always popular nor politically correct.  They seemed to understand that that their sports were secondary to the state of the world.  They all transcended their sports and became cultural heroes and symbols, something more than mere performers on the athletic stage.

Ali was certainly a standout in that last category.  He was arguably the most widely recognized person on earth, a sports figure whose image was widely known throughout the world  decades after his time as an athlete had ended.  I remember reading, I think it was in Wilfrid Sheed‘s biography of Ali, about Ali’s picture hanging in mud huts in Africa.

He was so  much more than a boxer.   I have a hard time watching boxing today but I watched a lot of it when I was a kid and it was mainly because of Ali.  It was no less brutal a sport then but Ali made it seem like there was an air of poetry and gracefulness in it.  In my mind, I can still see his seemingly effortless movements around the ring, dancing lightly on the toes of his white shoes around plodding opponents.  It was a thing of beauty to see this big man move like he was being carried by the breeze as the other man would dive at him, often flailing away at a target that was there then gone in a flash.

He was the rarest of birds.  Style and substance.

Sorry to see him go.

Well, this song doesn’t have a lot to say about Ali but it is about a boxer and it is a beautiful song.  Below is a version of the great Simon and Garfunkel song as perfomed by Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin and dobro-master Jerry Douglas.

Thanks for stopping in today and have a great Sunday.

PS:  TODAY IS THE LAST FULL DAY — this event ends MONDAY, June 6, promptly at 12 noon–to take part in the event to raise funds for the Soarway Foundation‘s efforts in Nepal.   Your donation, which will help immensely, also gets you a chance at winning a painting of mine valued at $5000 plus a signed poster.  What more can you ask?  You get the pleasure from helping others, a tax deduction and a chance to win something fairly valuable.


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ali in  irelandSaw this in the paper yesterday, about Muhammad Ali making a trip to visit the home of one of his great-grandfathers in Ireland.  It turns out that Ali’s ancestor emigrated from Ennis in County Clare to the States around 1860 and settled in Kentucky, where he married a freed slave, Ali’s great-grandmother.

muhammad_ali_versus_sonny_listonI only mention this because Ali has been one of my idols since I was a very small child.  I grew up watching his fights, seeing his wonderful combination of speed, grace and power that made him seem different than the other fighters who entered the ring against him.  There  was something very beautiful in the way he glided around the ring, feet barely touching the ring as he circled.  It belied the brutish, ugly aspect of the sport, gave him an almost ethereal quality, especially in the early part of his career.

Then there was his personality that absolutely glowed from the TV screens in those years.  His float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, rat-at-tat poetry and his over the top mugging before and after his bouts were candy to the kid I was at that time.    There was a level of intelligence at play with Ali that seemed so unusual for a boxer.  I remember reading Wilfrid Sheed’s early biography of Ali (a beautifully photographed book I bought when I was a kid and still get shivers when I open it today) where he wrote that Ali had been tested and found to have a very low IQ in standardized tests of the time.  Knowing Ali, the author deduced that the tests were deeply flawed and couldn’t measure the natural brilliance and innate  intelligence that Ali possessed.

There is so much to say about Ali, who may possibly be the most recognizable man on the planet, his photos hanging in mud huts in Africa and thousands filling the streets in Ireland to see the aging king.  The controversies over the name change from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali upon his conversion to Islam and his subsequent refusal to enter the armed services made him a polarizing figure but never quieted his voice.  And that trueness to his beliefs, agree with or not, made him even larger than life.

Even his last fight, his tragic struggle with Parkinson’s, has grown his myth as this man who was truly a beautiful creature in his youth has somehow gracefully made his fight public, raising awareness for the disease.

And now, he adds the luck of the Irish to the myth.  Good for you, Ali O;Grady.

ali with crowd in ennis

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climbing-in-the-tourIt’s that time of the year again and I’m always surprised at how interested I can become in the Tour de France bicycle race.

I realized this today when I came into the studio and remembered that this was an off day on the Tour so I wouldn’t have the race on the television in the background here in the studio.  I found myself I little disappointed, much to my surprise.  

I’ve always been a sports fan since I was a kid but primarily the big sports like baseball, football and basketball.   Boxing, a staple of the Wide World of Sports, was also a favorite although over the years I have lost all interest.  But when I was a kid, boxing held more prominence in the public eye and Muhammad Ali was at his peak.  I remember even wanting to be a writer for Ring magazine when I was 12 years old.

But bicycle racing never got a lot of coverage here and the idea of it as a watchable sport seemed kind of far-fetched.  I mean, guys on bikes pedaling in big packs for a hundred miles at a clip through all kinds of terrain, going over the highest passable peaks?  It seemed kind of slow paced and didn’t have a lot of action even though the racers sometimes flew down steep precipices at crazy speeds.  The coverage never really captured the spirit of the competition.  Besides, we didn’t know the stars of the sport, who were almost always European.  We didn’t have our own horse in the race, at least anyone who could contend and pull in our interest.

American Greg LeMond changed that a bit in the late 80’s when he won three Tours.  He drew the initial glance from the American public and created a slight sensation.  But his name sounded so, so- how do I say this- French.  The casual fan was never quite sure if he was American.  There wasn’t the same level of of coverage and technology didn’t provide for the instant worldwide dispersal of information that it does today on the web.  

No, it took Lance Armstrong to pull us in.  No wondering about that name.  We now knew we had a horse in the race.  And what a horse he was.  He brought drama to the race, from his unlikely return after his battle with cancer to the way he dominated Tour after Tour in his cool, methodic manner.  The French press and bike racing establishment despised him and that only elevated him in our eyes.

So his victories made us finally watch and the coverage became better and more comprehensive, allowing us to see the real drama and beauty of the race.  To see how truly epic were the efforts of these athletes.  I ache just watching these guys struggle over these impossibly steep mountain passes day after day.  I am amazed at the level of dedication it must take to compete at this level.

So, it has become one of my habits in July to flip on the tube as I work and have the Tour there.  Skinny men with huge legs.  I would have never imagined.

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