Monday, June 20, 2005

Ageing Bull

Watched Raging Bull last night. I've watched it now and then over the years, but it's been a while. What strikes me now is that the message I got from this film on previous viewings - that boxing (or rather "raging bulling", as opposed to boxing clever and fighting defensively) ruins you - financially, emotionally, physically.

The timeline of the movie, as we all know, ends with LaMotta in 1967 or so, washed up and fat, an aging, punch-drunk doughball doing a desperate "an evening with Jake LaMotta" caberet routine. It's one of the most depressing things on celluloid, especially after seeing everything that came before it.

Which is why I'm shocked to find that today - nearly forty years after that - the guy is still knocking about, getting ready to turn 84.

What's more, he's doing pretty much the same thing:

Today, LaMotta does many tours across the United States to banquets and lectures he holds, and a series of books about his life, his fights with Robinson and other matters about his life have been published. LaMotta is also an avid autograph signer.
Moving sideways slightly, but what is an "avid autograph signer"? How can signing autographs be something you do avidly? Does that involve going around soliciting people to ask for your autograph, and then giving it?

- Hey - I'm Jake LaMotta. I wonder if--
- Excuse me, but I'm in a bit of a--
- What? What? You don't got time for Jake LaMotta? What?
- No, I'm just--
- So what's the fuckin' problem? Gimme a piece of paper.
- Look, sir, I really--
- What is this? I'm Jake LaMotta, former middleweight champion of the world, the only man to knock down Sugar Ray Robinson. You want I give you a demonstration, son? Huh?
- Heh heh, no...
- You laughing at me now? You laughing at Jake LaMotta? How 'bout I knock you down right here? How you like that. Huh?
- There's no need to--
- Shut the fuck up. Gimme a fuckin' piece of paper.
- Alright. Here's your piece of paper.
- OK... What's your name, son?
- That's OK, just--
- I said what's your fuckin' name, son?
- Joe.
- Joe?
- Yeah, Joe.
- You shittin' me?
- No.
- You shittin' Jake LaMotta? How 'bout I knock you down and shit on your face, huh? How you like that?
- Not at all.
- Gimme another name.
- Alright. Tony.
- That's better. Tony. I like that. That's a good Italian name.
- I'm not Italian.
- You're not Italian?
- No.
- You shittin' me?
- Not at all. Actually I'm Jewish.
OK, I should stop there. I only meant that to last one or two lines anyway. I'll probably get sued now.

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