Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hey, Look Who It Is!

        


    
    We lost a pretty significant bit of our culture on Friday.

    Succumbing to septic shock, Muhammad Ali passed away on Friday in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    I won't pretend that he was a personal hero of mine, but I won't deny that he was to a whole lot of people. Neither will I launch into a detailed retelling of his life and career.  There's an awful lot to that, too.  A lot of it you know, some of it you don't.  

    And I sure as hell don't want to get into the whole political aspects of his life, either.  We have too much of that kinda crap going on as it is.
"CHINA!!!!"
    See what I mean?   

    I just would like to pass on a time when I saw him in person.

    In early 1998, my ship, the aircraft carrier, USS George
Jebel Ali...Muhammad Ali...relation?  Probably not.
Those names are about as common as Smith and Wang.
Still pretty freaky, huh?
Washington, was tied up to a pier in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.  A relatively short bus ride away from Dubai, it was one of the few places in the Persian Gulf where we felt fairly safe from being beheaded.  


    And, as it was the one of the very few places overseas which didn't require us to anchor offshore, we could drink beer on the pier (hey, that rhymes!  Take that, Pat Hatt).
"OMIGOD! OMIGOD! OMIGOD!
Someone said 'Wang!'"
    Anyway, as we were pierside and I didn't feel like taking the bus
Wrong Crane
into Dubai (all Jebel Ali had to offer were ships, piers, and those huge cranes), I decided to walk off the ship and purchase lunch from one of the many vendors which flocked to the ship like so many Middle East seagulls.


    Having bought some food and a drink from Abu Dhabi Fried Goat, I grabbed one of the chairs set up by the vendors and started reading a book.
"Hey, don't knock it 'til you tried it.
Tastes like chicken.
Which was sodomized by a goat.
Which is kinda our thing."
    After a few pages, I heard a commotion and saw a limousine 
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pull up at the foot of the brow  (aka 'gangplank'). 


    Evidently, some bigwig was visiting.  I figured it would be some Emirati muckety-muck wanting to trade a few barrels of oil for a George Washington ballcrap and some Monte Cristo sandwiches.

    Well, wouldn't you know it, it was Muhammad Ali.  He had some difficulty climbing the steps to the entryway and, even though I was close to fifty yards away, I could see him shaking slightly from Parkinsons.  Even so, it was a real hoot to see the man who is so adored by millions worldwide.

    Like I said before, he really wasn't a hero of mine.  Even so, I couldn't resist acting like a starstruck doofus and shouted, "Hey, Champ!"

    He halted for a moment, looked down at me, and shook his fist like he used to do to Howard Cosell.  I hope he was giving me a sincere greeting.

   And not berating me for not saving him any goat.
"Float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee.
That hideous Penwasser guy
didn't save any goat for me."
   In any event, that was my very small brush with greatness,

   Much better than when I met Phil McConkey from the New York Giants in 1989.
"Oh, yeah?  Well, how many Super Bowls have you played in?
That's what I thought.  Punk."

    Seems like a touchy-feely Facebook kind of a thing to write, but...
Rest in peace


42 comments:

  1. Some people you would think there might be an exemption for...

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  2. Not one of my heroes either, but he was an icon. Cool you saw him in person. I met Night Ranger. Not on the same level...

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  3. Good tribute. Indeed I might not appreciate his full impact, but it's been interesting to read reports. I enjoyed this blog post and no matter what it is cool to see a celebrity. Sounds like he had some spark. RIP indeed

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    1. At least I shook Phil McConkey's hand.
      Oh, I also saw the Pope at Easter Mass. John Paul II. I didn't shout, "You ROCK, Your Holiness!" Didn't think that was appropriate. Even though I'm Catholic.

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  4. Ali was a fair comedian, but Howard Cosell took all his jibes on the chin like a pro. It's a pity you didn't catch him in his prime, he might have put you on the payroll. I bet you could have written him better lines than that jackass Bundini.

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    1. Watching him and Cosell in their later years was a hoot.

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  5. How amazing that he acknowledged your greeting :) this post gave me chills just reading that. I would argue that he is the most famous athlete in the history of the world...

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    1. His raised fist was really neat. I knew it had nothing to do with the goat. More than likely.

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  6. Of all places to meet him! I can't say he was my hero at that time, but I admired him because he was willing to pay the price for what he believed.

    I also had an encounter with him in 1984. I used to work in Washington D.C. and lived there for about six months. One night a friend and I were walking down the street and were very surprised when we saw him walking right towards us. He stopped and said hello to us. He introduced himself (like we didn't already know who he was) and asked us our names. The three of us just stood there and shot-the-shit for about 15 minutes! I'd write more, but heck, this comment is turning into a blog post! Thanks Al!

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    1. How cool is that? Like you, I admire the fact he was man enough to take the consequences for his beliefs.

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  7. Awe that's really cool. I have to admit I was impressed with his life after listening to the tributes all weekend.

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    1. It felt like I was piling on with this kinda, sorta tribute. But, I thought it was pretty neat in a surreal way.

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  8. I'm not going to pretend to be a fan of him either. I don't even like boxing. But he was a major deal to many people, all of whom lost a hero. That's always going to be sad. Rest in peace Ali.

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  9. Yeah, well, I see what you mean.

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    1. It was really something. It was sad, in a way.

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  10. Aww, very cool that you saw him!

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    1. Being a slacker on a pier had its advantages.

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  11. Well at least he let you still float on your boat for not saving him any goat. Nice little rhyme note. haha Never a fan of boxing or him, but he did touch many indeed.

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    1. Very true.
      As far as your compliment?
      Thank you.

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  12. He lived a long time with Parkinson's. A lot of people with it end up dying from pneumonia. That's what my husband's grandmother had. He gave it a good go.

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    1. I read that he was hospitalized with pneumonia. Sad, very sad.

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  13. Ali and Cosell reminded me of a modern Laurel and Hardy and brought as much joy, but in a different way.

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    1. I know. I loved watching the two of them go at it.

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  14. I always thought it was cool that Mary Ann said Cassius Clay to Gilligan in an early episode. He is not one of my heroes and I hope he would be a poster boy for people who get too many beatings around the head which can develop into Parkinson's and dementia...but I doubt boxing will ever go away

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    1. Eventually, I'm sure boxing will be viewed as "namby pamby" as we slide inexorably back to gladiatorial combat.

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  15. Amazing how he was able to remain relevant in spite of his disease.

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    1. I know. I heard someone on the radio wonder who could have been a more popular sports figure worldwide. I'm thinking Pele, but I'd see Ali.

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  16. Hey Al,

    Wow, he shook his fist at you. That's some sort of honour, I guess. I remember Cosell and the banter between him and Ali. I also remember Cosell droning on and on and on, on Monday Night Football.

    I see that photo of Trump. Trump shall be over here in the UK on June 22. I'm making arrangements for him to be locked in a dungeon at the Tower of London, he will be sharing said dungeon with David Cameron.

    Anyway, love him or hate him, Ali impacted the world.

    Gary

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    1. Whatever you can do...greatly appreciated.

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  17. Along with Mike Tyson, the only Muslim Donald Trump apparently liked

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    1. As long as Tyson doesn't get anywhere near Trump's ears, I guess.

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  18. Interesting to see the number of people who don't necessarily co side themselves a fan but are okay with Muhammad Ali's place in history. We need more heroes! I'm thrilled to find out that people still look up to ANYONE. Find the flaw seems to be the national pastime.

    Of course, I'm a sucker for a celebrity sighting...well done (the encounter, not the goat...you don't want to overcook that).

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  19. Interesting to see the number of people who don't necessarily co side themselves a fan but are okay with Muhammad Ali's place in history. We need more heroes! I'm thrilled to find out that people still look up to ANYONE. Find the flaw seems to be the national pastime.

    Of course, I'm a sucker for a celebrity sighting...well done (the encounter, not the goat...you don't want to overcook that).

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  20. Your writing is heroic, as are you. Keep promoting it.
    As far as any of the others on here - meh.
    OMG, OMG, Richard Simmons came out for the first time in three years to find some wang.

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  21. Great story. And perfect time to share it. Not one of my heroes either, but I never wished him ill.

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    1. Thanks! One of the things I enjoyed about the Navy is that it gave me a chance to have things like this happen.

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  22. He was one of my sporting heroes when I was a kid. I can never forget his speed of movement in the ring, like watching a film on fast-forward.

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