Sunday, September 23, 2007
The Promise of Power
This morning I was out about 5:00 am, headed for the gym, trying to fat bust.
On the way back I spotted this empty newspaper machine. It was totally empty but for an old muscle advertisement lodged in the display window. I was already thinking about my cutting of the film, my structure of lack of structure. I stopped and looked at this isolated bit of vintage black and white and imagine how this idea sprang into John Keehan's head. The promise of power, seductive, mythic, a search for a magic potion, a talisman. A key to transformation, an appeal to the raging hormones of adolescent boys.
These advertisements remain a curiosity for me. I remember the advertisments in black publications when I was a child, especially black oriented romance magazines.The ads there promised transformation also. Lighter skin, straighter hair to make your life better, to help you feel more confident to win in the game of love. A pathway to acceptance by the dominant culture.
Media dictated and continues to dictate these standards in ways I still question in my full-blown media literacy. The medium is the message? I need you guys to help me on this. What do you think? Like I said, making a documentary is a journey of discovery.
I never ordered Dante's book because I did not believe he was the world's deadliest man. I had seen Gregory Jaco catch an arrow. I had seen unnamed martial artists in public park matches in fights that lasted 12 seconds or less. I had seen a lesbian neighbor of ours, I just knew her as Ms Jess, fight off 2 guys with a straight razor in front of a bar and left blood all over the street and got none on her suit.
I knew deadly.
I did not need a comic book to sell me deadly. It was a cool advertisement. I had my first experience with learning martial arts from Mas Oyama's book, This is Karate. It was a beautiful oversized hardback edition I got at the Public Library at Fort Benning, GA when my dad was an instructor at the Ranger School. I remember the smell, the beautiful black and white photography. It had a gold embossed zen brush stroke in the cloth cover. It was a beautiful book. And it was chock fill of information, easier to follow pictures. Lots of strobe photography movements. Oyama's book was the one to learn from it you had to do use a book.
I think the first edition was like 1965 or sometime around then. It is definitely a classic.
After seeing a book like that, I had no faith in mail order $3 deals by mail. But Dante's advert looked cool as hell and hell yeah I wanted one of the membership cards. But I held to discipline and did not got for the oki doke. I was surrounded by too many powerful guys then. And they were powerful because of working kata, attending Shiai, long workouts and street fighting.