October 30, 2009

Thirty-five years ago today

June 05, 2007
Rocky I – VI

Sechs Mal alles geben, jedes Mal bis nichts mehr geht. Quälen. Bis alle Muskeln brennen. Sich nach Pausen sehnen. Von unten ins aggressive Scheinwerferlicht geboxt.
Mit der Stärke eines Tigers. Killerinstinkte. Pranken prächtig platzieren.
Ein furchtloses Großmaul, das immer wieder auf die Fresse bekommt. Dafür geht er in die Seile. Runde um Runde. Der Mann gibt, ihm wird gegeben. Ladies and Gentlemen, Rocky Balboa.

Read more »

October 31, 2006
Fighting My Inner Pig-Dog

Most Americans have heard the German expression Schweinehund as an all-purpose cuss word used by cliché Nazi characters in cheesy World War II movies. Ach Scheisse, Du Schweinehund, screeches the creepy-looking Nazi. Hitler ist eine Schweinhund, taunts the Anglo-Saxon hero, driving a platoon of creepy Nazis into an insane rage, provoking them to shoot around in a deranged frenzy, completely missing the hero, who then craftily stages his heroic escape.

Actually, I've only ever heard the word Schweinehund (which translates literally to Pig-Dog) in one specific phrase: den Schweinehund bekämpfen -- "fight against my Pig-Dog". You usually have to fight against your Schweinehund while playing a sport or working out, late in the game when you're nearly exhausted but still have to perform. Your inner Schweinehund is the part of you that wants to give up, quit, go home and let the other guy win. The inner Schweinehund can't take it any more, doesn't care about winning or losing, so if you don't want to be a quitter, you have to fight back and beat it.

Last week I had an encounter with my inner Pig-Dog, but it was a glorious occasion. Finally, after a five month break due to my knee injury, the doctors said I was good to go and I went back to my first full hour of training at the boxing school. And goddamn if it wasn't fucking geil to be back, just as intense and exhilarating as it ever was, the moment I've waiting for all this time.

And it also almost did me in. After I got injured, I tried to stay in shape, and did pretty well with that for a few months, but after a while I slacked off. I've also been trying to stop smoking, but it never quite goes away (I'll quit once and for all tomorrow, I swear). Near the end of the hour I was dizzy with exhaustion, panting like a dog, struggling against my Schweinehund, and I must admit that it got the better of me a few times. But I hung in there, kept hitting harder, and my partner was impressed that I was still in it as much as I was. I went again tonight and it's already getting better. I'm back, I'm ready to go, and I'm gonna beat the piss out of the Pig-Dog.

June 07, 2006
Knock-Kneed, Part 2

(... continued from Part 1.)

One evening in early February in the hotel where I often lived during the week at the time (still working on my project in Hannover), I called up a woman I had been seeing for a while, long enough that it was starting to Get Serious. And dear gawd, I was head over heels, hardly able to think straight, but she had been iffy about the relationship the entire time, always leaving me guessing about where I stood. So we spoke on the phone for a good while, sharing our thoughts and troubles as people will do, and then about two or three hours into this conversation she announced that she wasn't ready and couldn't go on any further and would be breaking it off with me, right then and there, a decision that apparently came to her on a whim while we were talking. I sure as hell must have said something wrong.

And that settled it for me. I needed to let out my aggressions, wanted to beat the crap out of the punching bag, but I had already used up my two trial workouts at the boxing school, so if I wanted to go again I had to join. But it wasn't just that -- I knew then that this was a calling, it was something that I must do.

Read more »

June 06, 2006
Knock-Kneed, Part 1

My friend Michael had been coming around every once in a while during the winter, the two of us daddies re-living our days of bachelor decadence whenever we could get a "night off". So between watching pornos and debating about the existence of an immortal soul, he would occasionally get up and start shadow boxing. Jab, jab, jab; block, duck; jab, hook, uppercut, body shot; "you've gotta do this," he panted to me out of the midst of a combination, "this is geil!" And then he'd go into his own variation on the Ali shuffle. Michael had been going to a boxing school for a while and he couldn't quit raving about it. "You've gotta know what this feels like, there's nothing else like it," he puffed, jab jab jabbing and shuffling, "one hour of training and you've gotta give it everything you've got, your T-shirt is soaked and the room stinks of everybody's sweat," shuffle, body shot, uppercut, "you use up every bit of your strength, and when it's over you've got an endorphine high that lasts you the rest of the night, there's nothing geiler in the world!"

All of my life I had thought of boxing as the stupidest sport anyone could imagine. Two people hitting each other in the head until one of them is unconscious, I would have been hard-pressed to come up with anything that seemed more ridiculous. I thought about Butch Coolidge finding out from Esmeralda Villalobos that he'd killed his opponent in the ring while I watched Michael put on his preposterous spectacle, trying to project all the contempt I could muster. "Come on, get up," he said, "let me show you some of the stuff we do." "No fuckin' way," I answered without moving, "I'll just watch." "Just try it," he insisted, "you gotta understand, this is like being re-born, it's a revelation, it's enlightenment! Look, just stand in front of me and hold your hands up, we use punch mitts for this in training but I'll just hit your open palms. This is called a pyramid; I start with one jab, then two, and work my way up to five, and then back down to one. Come on, I'll show you, and then you do it." And so I relented; there was no stopping him, resistance was futile. I stood up and took his punches in my hand; jab; jab, jab; jab, jab, jab; jab, jab, jab, jab; jab, jab, jab, jab, jab; "and now I count back down to one"; jab, jab, jab, jab; jab, jab, jab; jab, jab; JAB! "Now you try it," he said, holding up his open palms, and so feeling like a fool I started punching -- jab; jab, jab; jab, jab, jab ...

Read more »