A shady, rotten, lowdown, jive-ass turkey.
Well, as some of you know, I'm an avid boxing fan. Of all the boxing books I've read, the most readable, no nonsense autobiography to me, was Smokin' Joe, The Autobiography (with Phil Berger). The story is, of course, of boxing great, Joe Frazier. A rare treat, this book was. Frazier has one odd writing quirk. Sometimes he uses hilariously outdated vocabulary as though he were still in the 70's. Using terms like jive and turkey in a way that, at times disoriented me as I thought I was reading the closed captioning on an episode of The Jeffersons. Oddest of all, was the every-other-page use of the word Scamboogah. Joe, born in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1944, grew up with this word and seems to use it whenever he really means S.O.B., or worse.
Caution: If you read this book, you might start using the word Scamboogah too.
This will cause people to look at you funny.
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Joe's book. I was right in the ring with him. This is a great read about one of boxing's most relentless heavyweight punchers and world champions. The story takes you from Frazier's perplexing early nemesis, Buster Mathis (Senior) and an unusual injury he says may've helped his boxing career, then, all the way to his bitter rivalry with 3 TIME OPPONENT, Muhammad Ali and his retirement due to the physical tolls he'd suffered on the job. Though often sucking you into Frazier's mercilessly competitive mind, there is not a lack of its own humor. The quotes I found the funniest are as follows:
1. During Joe's childhood, he recalls an agricultural mystery:
''In the woods near our house grew a leafy plant. Momma and some of us children would scavenge for this plant, which in those days we called ''musk''. . . don't ask me why. We'd collect the plant and then dry it in the sun. The stuff would crumble and the scent of it would be so strong you could get high on it if you inhaled. This musk, which I figure now must've been tobacco or marijuana, was a cash crop for us.''
~ . . . I'd bet on marijuana, Joe. I'd bet on marijuana.
2. Joe (nicknamed Billy Boy) was like the song, a mannish boy. He reflects on his early onset of manhood:
''Well, he'd be a long time getting that money, a damn long time. And lucky for me these women had daughters. They would spot me in the truck and signal to me. So while Daddy went in the front door to ''get the money,'' twelve-year-old Billy Boy went in the back door and had fun with those sweet country girls.''
~Come to think of it, he may be more like the other song, Back Door Man. Put 'em both together and you've got a Back Door, Mannish Boy and a killer blues number.
3. Without this book, I probably never would've known about this unique piece of twentieth century weaponry:
''I remember one club where a woman showed up with what we called ''a ten-cent pistol.'' That's a jug full of Red Devil Lye, human piss, and honey. She had heard her husband was messing around on her, and when she saw the evidence that he was, she started unloading that ten-cent pistol---slinging the stuff in his direction. That place cleared out in a New York minute.''
4. Though Frazier didn't really seem to dislike Buster Mathis, who was in notoriously unathletic shape, he wasn't afraid to be blunt about anyone he ever met. Describing his amateur match with him:
''...Buster had worn his trunks damn near up to his titties...''
5. Oscar ''Ringo'' Bonavena, the short, colorful, barrel-chested, fast-living, Argentinean heavyweight slugger of the 70's is mentioned several times, having fought Joe twice. As a foreigner getting to know an American city, it was a special time for Ringo. Frazier was there to help:
''When I first met him, Bonavena acted like he did not know much English, but years later, when I'd run into him in Las Vegas, he knew enough Ingles to ask me: ''Where's the p*ssy, Frazier?'' ''
~For those who don't know, Bonavena met his fate at the Mustang Bridge Ranch-a famous cathouse in Reno, Nevada. Apparently he found what he was looking for.
6. Frazier mentioned one instance that made him feel as stupid as Ali tried to make him look during the pre-fight hype.
''First time he called me an Uncle Tom, I didn't even know what that was. I thought it was someone who peeped in windows.''
7. But, Joe, what did you think of Ali, really? Don't hold back.
''The sucker had fifty-seven varieties of bullsh!t - and he needed it all.''
Boxing fan or not, I hope you got a laugh. . . I bet most of you are just now learning the definition of scamboogah and ''ten-cent pistol''.
You're welcome. : )