David Bruce: Fights Anecdotes

 

Through a fight, Pablo Neruda learned that his poetry was becoming popular. Two young men were arguing on a dance floor, so Mr. Neruda told them to stop arguing and let the other people enjoy themselves. As the first young man turned and listened to Mr. Neruda, the second young man hit the first young man and knocked him unconscious. Later, as Mr. Neruda left the dance club, the second young man was waiting for him. Mr. Neruda thought that he would be beaten up, but the young man suddenly recognized him and asked, “Are you the poet Pablo Neruda?” Mr. Neruda admitted that he was, and the young man said that he and his girlfriend had memorized much of Mr. Neruda’s poetry — the poetry was keeping them together. When Mr. Neruda’s friends came out of the dance club soon afterward, they found the young man reciting Mr. Neruda’s poetry. In 1971, Mr. Neruda received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Singer Avril Lavigne was born and raised in Canada, and like most or all Canadians, she likes hockey. As a 10- and 11-year-old, she was the only girl on her hockey team, and she could take care of herself in a hockey fight. In fact, on occasion, she started fights. In one case, she started a fight with an opposing player who had insulted one of her teammates. In another fight, the goalie was someone who had picked on her at school, so she took the opportunity of the hockey game to fight him. Her father recorded this fight — in the background fans can be heard cheering her on in the fight: “Avril! Avril!” When Avril turned 18, her record company, Arista, gave her an ice hockey birthday party at an indoor skating rink. She played with so much passion that she knocked down an Arista executive.

Chico Marx of the famous Marx Brothers married a woman named Betty, who traveled with the comedy troupe to be with her husband during their vaudeville days. One day, the usually mild-tempered Gummo Marx (who left entertainment to go into business before the Marx Brothers started making movies) got into an argument with a train brakeman, and the brakeman got so angry that he lifted a wrench and was going to hit Gummo with it. Although Betty was seven months pregnant, she grabbed the brakeman’s hand and held on long enough for Gummo’s brothers to come to the rescue. Chico proudly claimed afterward that Betty was not afraid of anyone.

Jimmy Carter remembers that back when African-American fighter Joe Louis was defeating white boxers with ease and regularity, black neighbors of the Carters would visit so that they could listen to the fights on the radio. The blacks were always very polite, and they were always very quiet, and they would thank the Carter family for allowing them to listen to the radio. Then they would walk about 100 yards away and enter a house in which lived a black family. At that time the Carters could hear yells of jubilation over Mr. Louis’ most recent victory.

Movie director Steven Spielberg teased his younger sisters a lot while they were growing up, and when sister Anne grew old enough, she helped Steven torture the other sisters. Sometimes, Steven would fight with sister Sue. His arms were longer, and he would keep her away from him as she struggled to get close enough to fight him. Eventually, he would shout, “Anne! Quick! She’s hysterical!” That was Anne’s cue to rush in with a glass filled with water and throw the water in Sue’s face. Sue says, “That was how the fights would usually end.”

Henry Kumler, Sr., a pioneer bishop of the United Brethren Church, once traveled a while with a man he had met only to have the man pull a gun on him and attempt to rob him. The bishop was not a man to attempt to rob. He grabbed the gun from the man, who told him that he was only joking and that the gun was not even loaded; therefore, Bishop Kumler contented himself with lecturing the man on ethics and religion and among other things told him, “I can’t beat you because I am a bishop.”

Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges had a strong sense of honor. In 1971, he lectured at Columbia University. Some Puerto Rican students protested Columbia University, which was a landlord in some impoverished areas. One of the Puerto Rican students insulted Mr. Borges, who invited him to step outside and fight. The Puerto Rican student was approximately 20 years old, while Mr. Borges was 72 years old and needed a cane to steady himself while walking.

Joe Louis defeated Max Baer after Mr. Baer was counted out after getting up on one knee. Mr. Baer retained a sense of humor about his loss. When someone asked how he felt about being counted out when he was on one knee, he said, “I could have struggled up once more, but when I get executed, people are going to have to pay more than $25 a seat to watch it.”

Conductor Serge Koussevitzky sometimes got very angry at his musicians. In one case, he yelled at a musician who stayed silent. Enraged, Mr. Koussevitzky stormed with his Russian accent, “Vy don’t you spik? Vy don’t you say something?” Before the musician could reply, Mr. Koussevitzky stormed, “Silence! I vill have no opposition!”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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Isaac Rosenberg: Returning, We Hear the Larks

Sombre the night is: 
And, though we have our lives, we know
What sinister threat lurks there.
 
Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
This poison-blasted track opens on our camp—
On a little safe sleep.
 
But hark! Joy—joy—strange joy.
Lo! Heights of night ringing with unseen larks:
Music showering on our upturned listening faces.
 
Death could drop from the dark
As easily as song—
But song only dropped,
Like a blind man’s dreams on the sand
By dangerous tides;
Like a girl’s dark hair, for she dreams no ruin lies there,
Or her kisses where a serpent hides.
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Edgar Lee Masters: Petit, the Poet

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick, 
Tick, tick, tick, like mites in a quarrel— 
Faint iambics that the full breeze wakens— 
But the pine tree makes a symphony thereof. 
Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus, 
Ballades by the score with the same old thought: 
The snows and the roses of yesterday are vanished; 
And what is love but a rose that fades? 
Life all around me here in the village: 
Tragedy, comedy, valor and truth, 
Courage, constancy, heroism, failure— 
All in the loom, and oh what patterns! 
Woodlands, meadows, streams and rivers— 
Blind to all of it all my life long. 
Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus, 
Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick, 
Tick, tick, tick, what little iambics, 
While Homer and Whitman roared in the pines?