Friday, May 1, 2009

Brilliant Disguise

I remember vividly the “Mike Tyson’s Punchout” game that made its home to the left of the salad bar at the local Pizza Hut growing up. As my brother poured quarters into its little red coin slot, I watched from the table through a fog of ranch dressing. If only I’d known then what I know now the video game’s namesake, maybe I would have spent more time battling alongside my brother and less eating my way through an entire meat lovers pizza.

I was a fat little kid, that’s beside the point. So was Mike Tyson! He says so himself in James Toback’s new “Tyson” documentary, which has helped me refine in another small way why I have become so obsessed with boxing of late. I used to think I couldn’t really tell what distinguishes an incredible fighter from a good one, but watching footage of Tyson before he was Iron Mike, back when he was just starting out with Cus D’Amato, back when he was dealing eight second knock-outs in the Junior Olympics, you realize what a fierce creature he once was. I say “creature” because he was too fast to be human. Watching him shadow box around the ring as a young man makes you wonder if someone accidently knocked film reel into high speed. I’m just so moved by it. It’s the most naked kind of grace, not like dancing or gymnastics or ice skating. It’s grace without the presentation, which to me is the most enviable kind of beauty.

The movie walked me through Tyson’s failed marriage to Robin Givens, his rape conviction, his relationship with Don King, and the only thing I really knew about him before the movie, his taste for ear. But seeing him so calm and candid, angry without all the “I’ll fuck you til you love me faggot” abandon, made me able to recognize the guy behind the caricature. Even with the lisp he wasn’t a caricature. People are just really complex.

On an unrelated note, now that Souter is stepping down from the Supreme Court, I’d like you all to join me in lobbying for the appointment of my dad, Norman Dean Haglund. Judge Haglund could really teach those old bags a thing or two.

No comments:

Post a Comment