Billy Babcock, aged 12
Charming Billy (and the rest of my less-than-charming readership),
Recall the column of last week , in which I detailed the great history of Squid-Cetacean Relations and my introducing to the sweet science of pugilistic fisticuffs, and find below the completion of my answer to Billy-Boy-Billyboy's seemingly simple interrogative.
The Sweet Science as Taught to Me by the Fine Jews of Eng-Landia
Now, Billy, I am sure you know that between the death of pink Atrokolos and the present hour, I had participated in many and surface and sub-sea adventure. Civilizations rose and fell, and several wars between my kind and the hated Order Cetacea had been waged. And in the end, by the age of the The Georges and the time of the Enlightenment, I must confess I had not only given up on my quest for a mutually beneficial mode of conflict resolution that could bring peace to my squidkind and the Whale-Beasts of the deadly upspace, but I had engaged in many strange pacts and bargains that would do no less than bring about their ultimate destruction. My heart has blackened into a coal these many centuries, and I confess that I would answer their impending genocidal feelings against the squid of the underspace with a race-death of my own concoct ion!
Who commissioned the first harpoon of fair Vulcan? I, my Billy boy, did so.
Who encouraged the replacement of tallow with the reduced fat of the sperm whale, drained as it was from so symbolic a place as their hated ramming forehead? I again did so!
And what creature, whether surreptitious or not, has lead more whaling vessels to safe shores and happy hunting waves then any other? Architeuthis Dux!
And so, on finely fashioned but spindly legs crafted by Leonardo himself many years before, I found myself tip-toeing through the darkened streets of London in search of a new ape-beast to do my bidding and betray his own mammalian kind for the profit of the ages that I might bestow upon him. And I was certain to find one again, as I did every time I lurked in the darker alleys of your surface world, but at this time an advertising broadside caught my dish-sized eye. It advertised a bout for the following sunday, and images of old, of my first years on the surface, and of the sweet smell of apes in combat all rushed back and I was distracted.
It was 1791. Mozart had just wasted away and the French Revolution (one of many minor skirmishes waged in the great worldwide war between squidkind and whalekind) was fully flush in the blooding and beheading of the overlords empowered by that inbred imbecilic Sun King. And in a field, by a dairy, while I lurked disguised as a red and white striped changing tent, I watched as Daniel "The Lion" Mendoza thoroughly scourged the mayonnaise out of Richard Humphreys, the "gentleman boxer."
Daniel Mendoza (1764-1836), the first Jewish heavyweight boxing champion, held the title 1792-1795. Mendoza went on to great social success and did much to enhance the reputation of Jews in Britain. Richard Humphreys was known as the "gentleman" boxer.
Daniel, named for that youthful Old Testament prophet and lion-trainer, whispering his secrets into the goyim ear of Nebudchadnezzar, was a two-fisted powerhouse on the Spitalsfield lawn. He was a breathtaking, beak-clacking, tentacle-curling beauty as he flattened Dick Humphreys in two rounds.
It was as though I saw a battalion of squid rise up, vicious and powerful, beneath an unsuspecting pod of whitebread whales, with their fancy champagne and their monocle!
Glory be to the little Jew and his meaty paws!
After that my love of the sweet science, the world-war in four corners, the dancing battle between the ropes, the Living Hell 12 Foot Square, was completely rekindled and established firm.
The Jew and the Gentleman, like Jacob and Esau, Beowulf and Grendel, Lycaon and Atroklos, could pair off in the ring and step beyond the social strictures of the day. For the space between ringing the round in and ringing the round out, class, religion, even species could be overcome. They were beings in conflict, equal and glorious together, circularized and made one!
Samuel "Dutch Sam" Elias (1776-1816) was a prominent Jewish boxer. He is said to have invented the uppercut.
I was addicted. Pretty Pugilism was my only love. The vicarious triumphs renewed my hope, the tragic defeats, while horrible, were mitigated by the after-bout parties where both victor and vanquished could continue the sparring of words in preparation for the next fight.
Tom Molyneaux, the first American heavyweight boxing champion, began as a Virginia slave. He fought British heavyweight champion Tom Cribb at Thistleton Gap, Rutland.
I found myself lurking in the entry-way to synagogues and outside slave villages. The Jewish quarters of London's east end, the slave trader pits of the Ivory Coast and deepest Georgia, the Irish slums of Belfast and the Polish ghettos of Michigan were all one to me as I sought out the next great colored fighter and learned more the deft dodges and secret jabs of the underclass in their continued and renewed struggle against the overlords.
The legendary fighter Jack Randall is here matched against champion Abie Belasco, the most accomplished of the four Belasco brothers, prominent Jewish boxers.
Dutch Sam taught me the metaphoric power of the upper cut, rising as it does with the lower fighter from the sewers and the gutters so feared by the white overlords.
Tom Molyneaux gave me his special VoDoun recipes for pre-bout sacrifices, as well as teaching me the spiritual songs that he sings to himself as he fists slicken with the pale blood of his white opponents.
And it took all four of the Belasco brothers to teach me the many secret names of god called upon while a fighter dances around the ring.
My education for those 100 years was rich and deep and full pretty odors from the food and the sweaty leather and the heavy canvas mats. But it was not yet enough. I had learned how to fight the whales to a standstill in my mind. I had reached a perfect ten round dance with their image in my memory. But it was not yet enough.
Joe "The Brown Bomber" Louis Gives it to the Krauts, and I am Finally Inspired
In the spring of 1914, I was in the south. I had my many operatives upon the land, forging their dark compacts, changing the world. We had already forced the new "income tax" through committee, and we were feeling flush and excited with the New War we had architected. The Cursˇd Germans had sided with the Whale Lords, and while I had a special place in my heart for that silly Kaiser— he being my nephew— it was clear that shifting sides to the British was inevitable. Those upper class Oxford-Exeter pantywaists were most certainly no better than common urinal-scum, but the issues rising up in the Fatherland could not go unanswered.
While I was deep in the south planning a series of disturbances along the Gulf Coast, I could not have known what wonder was being born just north of me in Lexington, Alabama to a fine lady named Lilly Brooks.
It's said that Joe Louis cried out from the cradle just like Old John Henry: "Bring me Them flapjacks or I gonna cry and break the whole house down!"
And though Lilly did not approve at first of a teenaged Joey fighting for money in the school yard, when she saw him come home again and again unhurt and flush with cash, she finally relented.
I witnessed Louis' first professional bout July 4, 1934, against Jack Kracken. I had decided to attend because the name of the challenged was so ludicrously rich with portent that I couldn't resist. I fully intended to support Kracken on the namesake issue alone, but then I discovered that Kracken was Chicago's top white heavyweight at the time he fought Louis. Shame. If only he, like his namesake, might shift his hue as the occasion demands? Do you dirt monkeys ever truly consider the ramifications of statichromatisim?
My loyalties were split between the great name, and the obvious import of Louis and his heavy chocolate paws. Louis knocked out Kracken in less than two minutes and my love was clear and complete.
Louis became my sporting avatar. I saw in him all of my desire and rage and want.
He won three of the first four fights with sudden knockouts.
I wept with joy.
But then the Schmeling Affair rose up and it was as though the Whales had chosen an Aryan Adonis, a White Whale Loving Atroklos to lay low my beautiful Browned Bomber.
On June 19, 1936, after rain postponed the fight a day, the undefeated Louis was knocked out by Germany's Max Schmeling.
German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels proclaimed Schmeling's victory a triumph for Germany and Hitlerism. The Nazi weekly journal Das Schwarze Korps (The Black Corps) commented: "Schmeling's victory was not only sport. It was a question of prestige for our race."
I was devastated.
Not even the great victory of the following year could help.
On June 22, 1937, Joe Louis defeated James Braddock to become the heavyweight champion of the world. But the attitudes of the racist American public toward this living god did nothing but embitter me to the whole country:
"Joe was the first black American of any endeavor to enjoy the overwhelming good feeling, sometimes idolatry, of all Americans regardless of color. He was groomed for this, particularly as a result of Jack Johnson's legacy. Joe Louis was told in no uncertain terms, 'You're not supposed to gloat after your victories. Never take a photograph alone with a white woman.' He was taught how to use a knife and fork correctly. He was given elocution and very simple English lessons. He was told to be kind and generous to people."How, how this flood my form with Rage! If you ever chance to wonder why it is that Nanking burned, bled and wept at the hands of the Japanese in November of that year, now that it was because I had wept in June. It was as though I lived, yet still, in a country of Whale Lovers and Nazis!
But then . . .
In a 1938 rematch, Louis defeated Schmeling in one round.
It was, finally, that Lycaonic moment. Oh, Billy-boy-Billy, I was soft and young and in the hot, sultry embrace of the tube worm sea vent again. My hope was full and I felt that I was ready. My time on the surface world had re-invigorated me. I was young. And so I established the Cephalopod-Cetacean Puglistic Associaton (CCPA) and, starting in 1950, an annual bout is scheduled between the two champion fighters, one from each species. We meet in the middle depths south of Hawaii off the coast of southern Chile. Beneath a maw of absolute abyssal blackness, floating and fresh faced, a squid and whale face off and it is attempted, however falsely, to seek peace in the ring. Peace and honor. And I have fought in the ring several times. And I have defeated five whales there: two in one round apiece, standard knockouts, and two by endurance, fair and honorable TKO.
We whales and squid still fight, and our legions are across the earth even now, movement to counter-movement in every possible theater of operation from Beijing to Tacoma, but to fight on equal ground in the righting sphere, it is a thing of beauty to behold, and within it lie the seeds of hope for some new and lasting peace.
So, the short answer: 5 whales. I have beat up five whales in the ring. Outside the ring, the savagery is countless, endless and forever.
The Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson