Saturday, June 18, 2011

philly comic con, tony atlas and how to fight like a girl

played hooky from my life yet again today and skipped off to be with my permanent boyfriend at the philly comic con -- a minor epicenter of sorts for freaks, geeks, nerds, gamers, trolls, stans, lolitas and other assorted socially inept wierdos. attending these events for his company -- booth display and all -- is a part of what he does so well. it's the same comic cons every year. after awhile, all of it swirls into one huge geek prom, replete with costumes, festooned with comic book seller's banners, layered with overpriced greasy food galore. sometimes i come with him, sometimes i don't. this time around, i wanted to get out of the city, make a last ditch effort to find some civilized way to howl at the moon before spring officially ended and sprung me into another season that i wasn't heavily anticipating.

i wasn't giddy about leaving town. don't get me wrong. one night in philly is exciting stuff. the food is fantastic. the museums are incredible. its ultra family friendly. the downtown area is accessible and walkable in an uncomplicated way that sort of hearkens back to another era, the way i can trip down the sidewalk and look down a side street paved in cobblestones and see perfectly preserved row houses. the old and the new are juxtaposed against each other so comfortably. and the vibe is grounded and soulful. i get a sense of history all around me, and i LOVE any city that embraces that.

apropos of nothing, mpb asked me if i wanted to move to philly as we were walking through the downtown area to dinner, just like that. it's easy to see us living here. not that we would, but that's just how cool this place is.

the night before i was to arrive, mpb told me that tony atlas was at the comic con. there were a slew of blaksploitation folk there, too. richard roundtree. pam grier. oh, and vivica fox! but they were all eclipsed by tony atlas. was he really there? i think i started yelling into the phone.

tony atlas was a huge part of my childhood. when i was a kid, my whole family would sit around and watch wwf wrestling matches, gleefully yelling at the tv screen and carrying on. i can remember daddy roaring at the screen when tony atlas came into the ring, because it was understood he was going to wreck the place. all those tag team matches were crazy! i can distinctly recall him wiping the floor -- quite literally -- with hulk hogan.

at that time in the state of georgia, mr. atlas dominated the sport, unquestionably. he had been mr. usa and was a bona fide strong man before he became a professional wrestler. now that i think about it, it was a really big deal that a black man was conquering the sport the way that he did. but in the moment, i wasn't thinking about any of that. all i could really think (besides wow, i hope he doesn't kill that guy) was, he's so astonishingly beautiful, i can hardly look at him.

. really, that's the only word that can truly describe him -- then and now. just so you can get an idea of what i was seeing as a kid, take a look at these videos.

here's hulk hogan starting a feud with tony atlas as he does a few poses for the crowd. (when hulk called tony atlas "boy", i was ready to put my foot through the tv!)

and here's a big fight they had at madison square garden.

needless to say, i wanted to be just like tony atlas when i grew up. strong. physically powerful. fearless. inexhaustable. relentless. aggressive. i quite liked the idea of physically running someone down and beating the snot out of them, and not going to prison for it. i honestly believed that fighting really did solve everything. actually, i still do. it's just that nowadays, i let God do my fighting for me. but i digress...

it didn't dawn on me that i couldn't have any of those abilities because i was a girl. i honestly didn't think that any of those things were exclusively male. estrogen? testosterone? meh. i figured it was mine if i wanted it when i grew up -- like everything else i could think of. the only thing that was holding me back as far as i could tell was bedtime. that, and my parents -- constantly telling me what to do.


so anyway, yeah. tony atlas.

when i got to the convention center, i was absolutely giddy. i wandered around until i found him, sitting at a booth. for a fee (which i was more than happy to fork over), he autographed a photo of himself as i remembered him, and we took a picture together. we had a nice little chat. and then i floated back to my hotel room because for some strange reason, i couldn't sleep a wink the night before. later when i examined the picture, i couldn't believe how big his arms were. don't i look blissed out?

not bad for a 67 year old.

i skipped back to mpb's booth and blurted, tony atlas called me sugar! needless to say, mpb thought that was hilarious.

what did we talk about? how gender is irrelevant when it comes to fighting. there's no such thing as fighting like a girl. fighting is technique. either you know how to fight or you don't. how strong black women are. how they had to be strong for themselves and for their children, because in some instances, black men were absent. how strong his mother was and how she knew how to fight, for all of them.

i wanted to get some of that on video, but when i came back the next day, he'd already left. dejected, i went to the eastern state penitentiary and wandered around amongst decay and ruin and ghosts.

mr. atlas has an autobiography out called atlas: too much, too soon on crowbar press. clearly, a must read. God only knows what happened to him...

No comments: