The new Threepenny Review is out! I'm very proud of my essay Colorless, Odorless, Tasteless, about the miserable year I spent peddling vodka.
The new Threepenny Review is out! I'm very proud of my essay Colorless, Odorless, Tasteless, about the miserable year I spent peddling vodka.
All photos courtesy of Raquel Ruiz, except where noted
Congratulations to all the 2014 champions, and thank you to the boxers, trainers, fathers, refs, judges, bartenders, pit bulls, labrador retrievers, ice-covered pine trees, and friendly people of Spokane. At the bottom of this post, I acknowledge some people who have been especially kind and inspirational.
This was a light year, perhaps because of the lack of headgear for the men, the decline of regional programs, or just because everyone is too broke to schlep to Spokane.
Here's a recap of my tournament coverage for Stiff Jab:
DAY ONE: The Headgear Issue
It might be a while before I get out to another tournament. There's a way in which the story I was following - the Olympic debut of women's amateur boxing - is over. Now we go back to the perennial tale of women athletes trying to make it work in an often indifferent world. Mark Ortega's nice piece on Mikaela Mayer highlights this struggle. Kind of gives you the blues.
Pro boxing gives you the blues, too, but it's more of an aesthetic, impersonal depression. At pro fights, you aren't helping trainers with the spit bucket, dancing with the refs in the disco, and giving the boxers lifts to the airport. The experience of covering amateur tournaments is at times confusingly intimate. Sometimes I feel like I need headgear, too.
I am there as a witness, not a judge.
Amateur boxing has now moved to a pro-style, 10-point must system, which is a good move. Although I prefer boxers to sluggers, I do think the weight of blows needs to be considered, as does willingness to engage. The 10-point must system won't stop superior boxers from triumphing, any more than it kept Sweet Pea or Willie Pep down.
If a boxer is moving laterally, she should be scoring much more often than her opponent. As Naazim Richardson once said to me, "If you have to stop to throw a punch, you're not a boxer." The onus is on the stick-and-move boxer to prove that she has control of the rhythm of the bout and to display excellent defense in the exchanges.
Defense is still sadly lacking in the women’s game. Defense is what makes boxing beautiful and gives fighters long careers.
One thing to note about the new rules is that, of five judges at ringside, two cards are randomly thrown out. Thus it is quite possible to lose a fight by a 2-1 split decision but win it 3-2 had all the cards had been considered. (This system was put in place to make it harder to bribe judges, although it just means you would have to pay off four judges instead of three. Azerbaijan should find the cash somewhere.)
Using the figures from the USA Boxing press releases, I count 144 bouts that went to the judges. A third of these, 49 bouts, were split decisions. This percentage was lower in the preliminaries, when there were many mismatches, but it climbed to as high as 50% in the semis and quarters!
No one likes being judged. Although I agreed with the wins for Queen Underwood and Malik Jackson, does Mikaela Mayer deserve a simple “L” for her disciplined boxing, or Shawn Simpson for his slick counterpunching? The more hoops AIBA jumps through to produce a fool-proof judging system, the more we reveal judging's essential emptiness.
This reminds me of what W.G. Sebald wrote in Austerlitz about castles. I'm going to type out this long passage, because typing out the work of masters is good for a writer in the same way that watching tapes of the greats is good for a fighter:
Yet, he said, it is often our mightiest projects that most obviously betray the degree of our insecurity. The construction of fortifications, for instance - and Antwerp was an outstanding example of that craft - clearly showed how we feel obliged to keep surrounding ourselves with defenses, built in successive phases as a precaution against any incursion by enemy powers, until the idea of concentric rings making their way steadily outward comes up against its natural limits. If we study the development of fortifications from Floriani, da Capri, and Sanmicheli, by way of Rusenstein, Burgsdorff, Coehoorn, and Klengel, and so to Vauban and Montalembert, it is amazing, said Austerlitz, the persistence with which generations of masters of the art of military architecture, for all their undoubtedly outstanding gifts, clung to what we can easily see today was a fundamentally wrong-headed idea: the notion that by designing an ideal trace' with blunt bastions and ravelins projecting well beyond it, allowing the cannon of the fortress to cover the entire operational area outside the walls, you could make a city as secure as anything in the world can ever be. No one today, said Austerlitz, has the faintest idea of the boundless amount of theoretical writings on the building of fortifications, of the fantastic nature of the geometric, trigonometric, and logistical calculations they record, of the inflated excesses of the professional vocabulary of fortification and seigecraft, no one now understands its simplest terms, escarpe and courtine, faussebraie, reduit, and glacis, yet even from our present standpoint we can see that towards the end of the seventeenth century the star-shaped dodecagon behind trenches had finally crystallized, out of the various available systems, as the preferred ground plan:
a kind of ideal typical pattern derived from the Golden Section, which indeed, as study of the intricately sketched plans of such fortified complexes as those of Coevorden, Neuf-Brisach, and Saarlouis will show, immediately stikes the layman as an emblem of both absolute power and of the ingenuity the engineers put to the service of that power. In the practice of warfare, however, the star-shaped fortresses which were being built and improved everywhere during the eighteenth century did not answer their purpose, for intent as everyone was on that pattern, it had been forgotten that the largest fortifications will naturally attract the largest enemy forces, and that the more you entrench yourself the more you must remain on the defensive, so that in the end you might find yourself in a place fortified in every possible way, watching helplessly while enemy troops, moving on to their own choice of terrain elsewhere, simply ignored their adversaries' fortresses, which had become positive arsenals of weaponry, bristling with cannon and overcrowded with men. The frequent result, said Austerlitz, of resorting to measures of fortification marked in general by a tendency towards paranoid elaboration was that you drew attention to your weakest point, practically inviting the enemy to attack it, not to mention the fact that as architectural plans for fortifications became increasingly complex, the time it took to build them increased as well, and with it the probability that as soon as they were finished, if not before, they would have been overtaken by further developments, both in artillery and in strategic planning, which took account of the growing realization that everything was decided in movement, not in a state of rest.
(translation by Anthea Bell)
Covering all these tournaments has been more educational than grad school and slightly less expensive. I would like to thank some of my professors...
Photo by Sue Jaye Johnson
THE BOXERS: Thank you for risking your bodies for our enjoyment, and thank you for showing us what strength looks like in a woman. Christina Cruz was the first boxer I interviewed, and it is thanks to her that I got into coaching again at Atlas Cops and Kids. Champions Marlen Esparza and Queen Underwood are great ambassadors of the sport who have not stopped pushing themselves to improve.
Thanks to Pat Manuel for the ride to Oxnard and all the laughs. I wish him luck on his quest to make the men's team for Rio, not only because it takes great courage to be a trans athlete but because he is a very good boxer, pure and simple. What happens outside the ring is only interesting if what happens inside the ring is beautiful.
On that note, I am grateful for the inspiration of Tiara Brown, Claressa Shields, and Mikaela Mayer, the three US women whose boxing I most admire.
Christy Halbert knows more than anyone else about women's boxing, and she has been a great mentor to me. I have learned so much from watching Al Mitchell and Jason Crutchfield corner: in addition to their technical knowledge of the sport, these men love their fighters like sons and daughters. I wish I spoke Spanish so I could chill more with Coach Pedro; I think he is good for our program and I hope he stays and helps us rebuild it. And I am blessed to be in the gym every day with Aureliano Sosa, who is steadily churning out champions at Atlas Cops and Kids.
I took this picture of little Reuben at one of our club shows
THE BOXING FAMILY:
It takes a village to throw a tournament. I first met Rowdy Welch when he was working the glove table at the Trials, and he has steadily fed me hysterical pull quotes and old school boxing wisdom. Delilah Rico is a warm, motherly presence who tells it like it is. Vivi and the crew at the Spokane Quality Inn Valley Suites were incredibly kind and made this trip financially feasible. And the love David Esparza, Mark Mayer, and Hazzauna Underwood show for their fighting girls is a beautiful thing to witness.
I never imagined I would meet so many great writers on this road. What a pleasure to watch Ariel Levy work. Like most boxers, she is far more dangerous than she appears. Sue Jaye Johnson is a profound storyteller who works equally well with images and words and noticed Claressa before anyone else. I am grateful every day to work with Gautham Nagesh and Anna John of Stiff Jab, a blog whose high literary standards I admired long before I was invited to contribute. And what can I say about Raquel Ruiz, except that she is a miracle. Save up for bail money when I come to Sacramento.
Autumn is in the air!
I'll be at the Village Vanguard every night through Sunday, soaking up the sounds of Tootie Heath with my husband Ethan on piano and Ben Street on drums. Their new album is my favorite in a long, long time. Nate Chinen got it right.
My husband's blog has an incredible interview with the Vanguard's manager Jed, the power behind the throne. Some legendary backstage stories in there.
Manwhile, I've been hard at work on profiles of two badass Japanese ladies.
Misato Kamegawa, three-time NYC Golden Gloves champ, took time to chat with me for Stiff Jab.
And Kelly Shibari is a BBW pornstar I'm profiling for Penthouse Forum. The research for this one has been fun...
I began my thirty-ninth birthday with some roadwork, just to make room for the impending debauchery. Cardiovascular conditioning has never been my strong point, and I had to stop and walk about nine times during the three-mile loop. Oh well, I thought, it's my birthday and I'll walk if I want to.
Kelly was in my neighborhood after a successful job interview, and we celebrated our twin triumphs with the all-you-can-drink brunch at El Pollito. I held at two bloody Marias, for fear of peaking early and losing steam in the late rounds. My breakfast burrito was yummy.
When I got home, Ethan had some Veuve Clicquot on ice, which saw us through the rest of the afternoon. Alicia arrived at 5PM with assorted cheeses, and Julie did a drive-by with a key lime pie.
The only fly in the ointment at this point was that, due to my insistence on playing Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" on repeat for like an hour, we didn't hear Fresh Direct arriving with the groceries for my wine group's dinner the following night, and I had to ask my landlady to take delivery later that evening. The theme of the wine group was to be rieslings, and I was a little afraid for the unrefrigerated safety of all those sausages and pork chops, but it all worked out.
Wine group would be cancelled due to Nemo. Ethan, Debi, and I valiantly ate all the choucroute garnie.
Ethan went off to the Vanguard to play with Chris Potter; Alicia and I headed out to St. Patrick's High School with a key lime pie in my gym bag.
Three of my team's boxers were due to compete that evening in the 141 pound open class, but two drew byes. In retrospect I think this was lucky. Kareem Walters, who got matched, was the only one who was really in peak condition and hadn't struggled to make weight.
"What should I do in the corner?" I asked Quiro.
"The first round I go in and talk to him," he said, "The second round you are going in."
This was a surprise. Going inside the ring to give instructions is the head trainer's job. I had thought I would just be the peon with the spit bucket. It was very generous of Quiro to put me forward, but was it wise? Taleggio, herbed brie, and drunken goat cheese swirled in my stomach.
As my old trainer Mike used to say, "The anticipation of an ass-whooping is worse than the actual ass-whooping." The lead-up to a boxing match was always the worst part for me: stripping to my underwear in front of my future opponent in order to weigh in, eyeing her across the room while waiting for our bout, making the walk through the crowd to the ring.
The young men I coach are so much calmer and more confident than I ever was. Kareem looked loose and dangerous as he climbed the ring stairs. I followed with Quiro, glad I had opted for sensible shoes. The champagne buzz was now entirely gone, but it would have been in character for me to topple down the stairs. Just last week I tried to walk laterally across a moving treadmill and took a truly spectacular fall.
I thought Kareem's opponent looked small for the weight. He was fighting unattached and appeared to be there solo, without a trainer. I got a sort of sanguine-ish feeling.
The first round was a good one, although Kareem wasn't letting his hands go enough. Quiro was stern during the round break. I successfully held the spit bucket and once again avoided tripping on the stairs.
The second round was more of the same. Kareem dominated, although he was still too tentative for my taste. Quiro and I agreed that he could stop his opponent if he would just keep the pressure on. At the bell, I stepped between the ropes and knelt on the ring floor.
"What are you waiting for?" I asked Kareem. "Get this guy out of there."
I miss fighting so much. I still hit the bags and stuff, but nothing compares to the mind state you enter during sparring or - better yet - a competitive match. But here it was again! That one-minute round break possessed the same simultaneously infinite and accelerated quality I remembered from my fighting days.
Kareem was damp with sweat but did not seem overly winded. I spoke to him with the gently nagging tone of an aggrieved aunt. Every trainer has her own style. Was this mine? Was it effective and highly motivating?
I'll never know. Out of the corner of my ear, I heard people yelling my name and saying something about stopping. I assumed they were exhorting me to tell Kareem to finish things. But the fight was already over. Kareem's opponent had resigned on his stool after the second round, and so my corner instructions were purely rhetorical.
Photo: Kareem Walters. The winner with coaches Aureliano Sosa and Hilergio "Quiro" Bracero.
I'm blessed to be part of the best team in New York. Atlas Cops and Kids has won the NYC Golden Gloves team trophy three years running, and this year looks to be no different.
Aureliano Sosa, one of the main factors behind our competitive success, congratulated me on, as he put it, popping my cherry.
"But you should have hit him," he said. "He would have stopped that kid sooner."
I'm not sure I have it in me to hit my boxers. It's probably a good thing I'm just the conditioning coach. I gratefully rejoined my birthday entourage, and we carved up the key lime pie.
It must be said, speaking objectively, that my birthday entourage consisted of the four best-looking people in the room. Alicia, speed skating champion and Pilates instructor, has long been my fitness role model. Debi is mid-sabbatical and looks like a bronzed surf goddess. And what can I say about Oona and husband that is not already captured on her magnificent blog?
The best and most embarrassing part of the night was when the boxers and their families sang Happy Birthday to me during a round break in one of the later matches. The decibel level was impressive.
Photo: Debi Cornwall
Certain of my yuppie-oriented acquaintances have expressed distaste for the pugilistic arts. I always tell them that, by and large, the people I've met in boxing are kinder, wiser, and more peaceful than the people I've met as a yoga teacher.
I think it's because, in the ring, primitive emotions are fully experienced and exorcised. In yoga, you might imagine you have mastered things (anger, fear, disappointment) that you've really only repressed. I call this condition "premature transcendence," and it's responsible for a lot of the passive aggressive behavior you see at juice bars and vegan restaurants. Boxers are never passive aggressive. They're too tired out from all that real aggression.
After the Gloves wrapped up, my birthday entourage headed out into the snowy evening. We located a nearby bar using advanced Internet techmology.
The joint was called The Wicked Monk, and initial signs were inauspicious. The interior was styled like a church, the music was set to ear-shattering volume, all the customers were tubby frat boys, and my hopes and dreams of getting an order of mozzarella sticks were shattered by the dire news that the kitchen had closed.
If I was known for one thing as an amateur boxer, it was my refusal to quit, even when getting my ass handed to me. I dug deep over the next seven rounds, and The Wicked Monk soon became my favorite bar. DJ Andy, although impossibly young, was spinning all the hits of our high school years. The depression I had been feeling about the first wave of memoir rejections faded. I felt swaddled with love. I also felt a little woozy.
(Was it really seven rounds? Debi claims it was, submitting as evidence the fact that she took two rounds off and still managed to taste all five flavors in the "Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set" that was my birthday gift from Mr. and Mrs. Oona.)
In a spectacular, eleventh-hour act of menschy-ness, Mr. Oona now disappeared for fifteen minutes, reappearing with hot mozzarella sticks from the diner down the block. Sadly, it was too late for such cautionary measures. Although I am forever exhorting my fighters to stay hydrated and eat properly, I'd just consumed seven shots of Maker's Mark, neat, after a dinner of key lime pie. The damage was done.
The next day Mr. Oona submitted the following multiple choice question to the group:
Alicia, Debi, and I took a car service to various points in Brooklyn. Our driver was actually named Lancelot, and he let me feel his hair. Lancelot rolled down the windows because he claimed that the alcohol fumes rising off our three bodies were enough to skew the results of his breathalizer test should he be stopped by the police. I'm pretty sure I could have talked down any patrolman who stopped us, though, seeing as how every item of clothing I wore read "Cops and Kids." Lancelot tried to get each of us, in turn, to either kiss or date him, but we demurred.
Back home, I was overjoyed to find that Ethan had taken in the Fresh Direct boxes and put the perishables in the frig, thus freeing me up to lie on the shag rug and watch the ceiling rotate. He'd been waiting up for me after his gig. He looked tired and a little bit worried about my shag rug technique.
"Can I do anything for you?" asked my adorable fellow Aquarian, who turns 40 on Monday.
I told him to go to sleep. There are some wounds that only time can heal.
After a traumatic day of major reversals, I decided to spring for a car service so I could bring my (very heavy) harmonium to the yoga class I teach on the Upper East Side. This might have been my last class, because nobody ever shows up. I can't tell if I've lost my touch, yoga-wise, or if it's just a dry streak.
There were four people in the class, one of whom had to leave early.
"I have a special treat for you!" I told them. "Chanting!"
"We hate chanting," they said.
So we didn't chant, and after this I felt very depressed and went out for a veggie burger and some red wine. I walked six blocks with the dark star of a harmonium, only to find that the veggie burger place had a 30-minute wait.
I was about to go home in a fog of gloom when I saw a red neon sign that read, "Turkish Cuisine."
Turkish places always have good vegetarian food. I sat at the bar, and that's when the night started looking up. My Georgian bartendress was poured into her sweaterdress and turned out to be a great fan of erotic literature. The imam bayaldi was superb, as was the homemade hot sauce, which I poured over the hummus and steamed vegetables. I sat next to the owner, Suleiman, who gave me free eggplant salad and plied me with a third glass of pinot noir. I staggered back into the evening, groaning beneath the weight of my harmonium.
"The world is an okay place, after all," I thought, hailing a cab.
The best was yet to come.
When I opened the door of the cab, magical music oozed out. It was like the music they play in the land of elves and unicorns. The cabbie turned it off immediately.
"What was that?" I asked. "Chanting?"
"It is Bengali music," he said.
"Oh," I said, deciding to free associate. "I love Rabindranath Tagore."
The great Nobel Laureate is the only thing I know about Bengali culture. I'm obssessed with his devotional poetry. My copy of Gitanjali, with its magnificent WB Yeats intro, is dogeared and stained with shrimp juice.
"That was a song of Rabindranath Tagore," said the driver. "Do you want me to turn it back on?"
So began the best cab ride I have ever had. I think my driver might be the East Coast authority on Rabindranath Tagore. On the ride back to Brooklyn, he played me a carefully curated selection of songs, interspersed with biographical notes. It was hard to make myself get out at Park Slope.
"One more," he said. "This is about the rainy season. I think it is from Gitanjali."
I wonder if it was #40:
The rain has held back for days and days, my God, in my arid heart. The horizon is fiercely naked -- not the thinnest cover of a soft cloud, not the vaguest hint of a distant cool shower.
Send thy angry storm, dark with death, if it is thy wish, and with lashes of lightning startle the sky from end to end.
But call back, my lord, call back this pervading silent heat, still and keen and cruel, burning the heart with dire despair.
Let the cloud of grace bend low from above like the tearful look of the mother on the day of the father's wrath.
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who came out to support me and my mom. We had a fabulous turnout and raised about $3,000! Mom has a party report on her blog.
Sunday, December 30
8 p.m. Cocktails and Snacks
Suggested Donation: $20
ABOUT THE DONATION: If you can afford more, please give more. All donations are fully tax deductible and benefit New Directions Support Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
BONUSES FOR BIG SPENDERS: I'm offering the same reward tiers as I did for my Kickstarter supporters: $100 gets you a private personal training or yoga/massage session. $500 gets you a catered dinner party (5-course tasting menu for up to 10 guests or buffet party for 30. You pay for ingredients, I shop, cook, and clean).
ABOUT THE CAUSE: When I was nine years old and my brother was seven, our single mother had a psychotic episode and was committed to a state mental hospital. This terrifying ordeal might have destroyed us, but my mother used it as an inspiration to heal herself and help others. She got her master's degree in group therapy and started a support group to help those in danger of falling through the cracks.
Twenty-six years later, New Directions is the largest support group in the Philadelphia area and has helped thousands of people suffering from bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, Asperger's, AIDS, and other illnesses. My mother is a loud voice in the media and with elected officials, working to combat stigma and make life better for those who suffer from mental illness.
Two years after I gave her my kidney (renal failure is a side effect of lithium), Mom is still going strong. Every dollar of your donation helps give her a living wage and supports the life-saving programming of New Directions.
For more information, or to make a Paypal gift online, see:
The dog days of summer have been busy ones here at the Spiral Staircase. I'll be working for NBC for the Olympics and will be offline until it's over.
A week ago we got terrible news at the gym. One of our kids had been shot to death on a stoop in Brownsville, victim of a street beef that had nothing to do with him. At twenty years old, Tray had his whole life ahead of him. It's been hard to shake this off and keep going, and I can't imagine what Tray's family are going through.
He was one of the first kids I got to know at the gym, because he was applying for a scholarship and needed help on his application essay. Most of these kids think that when you write essays you should sound phony, which makes me mad at their teachers. It takes a while to convince them to tell entertaining stories in their own words.
Maria brought me into the tiny office where Tray was sitting before the computer. He wore a crimson shirt and wooden rosary. He glowed with youth and strength and innate good vibes.
I hid the first draft of his essay, because I didn't want to use any of it. Instead we looked through Muhammed Ali quotes online as I tried to get Tray talking about his life. He opened up when we got to the subject of his fights, describing his advance through the opening rounds of the Golden Gloves and his loss after getting the flu before his third match. He'd also gotten some kind of chronic injury from basketball but trained through it.
"You seem like someone who has overcome a lot of obstacles," I said. "That could be the theme of your essay. Have there been any things at home, like in your family, that have been hard?"
He was silent for a moment. Then he said, "When I was five, my dad got killed."
His father died the same way Tray would: four bullets in the chest. At first Tray didn't want to write about it, because he thought it sounded like complaining and he was an optimistic person who didn't like to dwell on suffering, but I convinced him. It is sometimes my job to be less pure than these kids. Tray won a thousand dollars, but he won't get the chance to spend it.
Here I am with my favorite writer, Daniel Pinkwater, after a delicious lunch at the Eveready Diner in Hyde Park. The French apple pie was particularly good. They say that if you meet the Buddha on the road you should kill him, but I did not kill Daniel Pinkwater because I want him to write more books. His latest, Bushman Lives, is being serialized here.
Ethan and I both had our moral compasses set to Pinkwater at an early age. My favorite was the picture book The Big Orange Splot. Ethan's was the novel Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, available in 5 Novels, a great omnibus that also includes Slaves of Spiegel. Here's some vintage Pinkwater from the latter:
The reason the Magic Moscow is an interesting place is that everybody in Hoboken comes in there at least once a week. There are some very weird people in Hoboken. In fact, most of the people in Hoboken are weird in some way or other. For example, today someone finally ordered a Day of Wrath. Steve has been waiting for this for six months. The Day of Wrath is a special sundae.
Some of Steve's other specials include the Moron's Delight and the Nuclear Meltdown. To give an idea of what they're like, the Moron's Delight is served in a shoebox lined with plastic. The Nuclear Meltdown is served in one of those cardboard buckets, the kind you get chicken from the colonel in. The Day of Wrath is served in a knapsack.
This guy came in and ordered one. Steve has had signs up all over the place advertising the Day of Wrath for months. Nobody has shown any interest. Even our Moron's Delight and Nuclear Meltdown customers have shown no interest in it. It costs fourteen ninety-five.
The guy was nothing special - just a regular middle-class guy in a leisure suit, overweight like a lot of our customers. He walked in, read the signs taped to our walls, and ordered a Day of Wrath, the same way anyone would ask for an ice-cream cone.
Steve went right to work, making up the Day of Wrath. It has a whole eggplant, two slabs of whole wheat pizza dough, all sixteen flavors of ice cream, fresh figs, pistachio nuts, a lobster, and assorted garden vegetables and fruit. The whole thing goes into a freshly laundered regulation army knapsack, and Steve shoves it into the microwave oven. Two minutes later, out it comes, piping hot. Steve put on a certain record of music by Franz Liszt, and served it to the customer.
"This is for a real gourmet," Steve said.
The last time Ethan came to the boxing gym, he sat on the ring apron reading 5 Novels, which has a picture of Pinkwater's beatific mug on the cover. Two different boys came up to Ethan and asked if that was him on the cover. At the time I thought this was racial profiling, but the kids were right. It is kind of eerie how much they look alike.
My husband's chunky black glasses are mass-produced plastic and have two silver dots in the corners of the frames. Daniel's chunky black glasses are handmade wood from a mysterious man in China and have three silver dots in the corners of the frames. It was kind of like a two-star general meeting a three-star general.
Ethan and I had big plans to tape an interview wth the Pinkwaters about their art and life, but things turned out differently. Daniel seemed creeped out by our fandom and uninterested in getting the usual star author treatment. Instead I imbibed another kind of lesson from him, something about pleasing myself and not letting the bastards get me down. He also said I need to be more prolific: In the words of his father, "Make extra for the bandits."
I don't even want to write too much about it. As Pearl's mother tells her in The Scarlet Letter, "We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest."
We finally got the news today, and it was good. The three London "wild card" slots for women boxers from the Americas will go to Canada's Mary Spencer (middleweight), the US's Queen Underwood (lightweight), and Brazil's Erica Matos (flyweight).
Historically the tripartite selections have been used to ensure greater diversity, going to athletes from underrepresented nations. I never like to root against diversty, but I was hoping that in this case they would go to the best fighters, and that's what happened.
Mary Spencer is a calm, technical boxer who has been slumping lately but deserves the chance to fight it out in London. Queen Underwood also comes off a streak of poor showings, but her conditioning is excellent and if she can get her head in the game I believe she can be a medal contender. Southpaw Erica Matos has a lovely style and will be a great representative of our sport.
With these selections, the US and Brazil will now send full three-women squads. Spencer will be the only Canadian woman in the Games. Given Canada's excellent coaching and their important role in the development of women's boxing, it's great to see one of their women included.
In other news, my descent into obesity and financial ruin continued today as I shopped and ate my way through Magazine Street. In New Orleans, they let you order cocktails to go. My day began with the purchase of a vintage metal-studded jean miniskirt and went downhill from there.
I had a pretty good oyster po' boy from Mahoney's. Sesame seed bun. Pickles. Unsweetened iced tea. Six napkins. The tripartite news came in while I was eating and soon my iPhone was covered with remoulade.
I thought I might go for a jog but ate a snowball instead. A snowball is like an Italian ice but better and served in a Chinese food takeout container. I got praline with whipped cream. If you take the time to breathe and relax, the urge to exercise generally passes.