Another Arnold Spectacular
March 6, 2003
one point I stood on a folding chair within our quadrangle of booths
to look out and over the heads of the churning crowd surrounding
us. We were located in an enviable central site of the vast expo
hall where the traffic is thick and energetic and curious. I witnessed
a sea upon which one could sail an arc to a distant shore upon the
winds of vigor, enthusiasm and good will.
didn’t leave; the colorful mobs came to you in a steady, slow-moving
ooze. They were a parade especially orchestrated for your viewing
pleasure, stopping by to say, “Hi. How ya doin?” and
shake your hand, take a picture, talk about yesterday and dreams
of tomorrow and then a warm goodbye. You hated to see them go, but
they were without loss of space and time replaced by endless more.
of the faces are the same. The world each represents is unique,
the hopes, plans, beliefs, perceptions, styles, rhythms, joys and
fears as individual as thumb prints. Yet one thing connects them
all and that’s their passion for musclebuilding, the need
to express themselves through muscle, might and training; the desire
to be lean and hard and shapely; the admiration for and identity
with those who have achieved the coveted muscular deed. The iron,
the steel and mounds of muscle turn them on, light them up and ignite
the fire within.
Give me muscles and give me peace. Without them and the process
by which they are attained, I will fret. Spare me the pain.
one afternoon I hugged with great sincerity Bev Francis, Cory Everson,
Ingrid Marcum and Dianna Dennis. Sparkling stars. I also hugged
with equal spirit Colleen, Lillian, Cheryl and Cindy, newly met
Queens all with power and delight. I’m in heaven. There’s
a lot of good looking people wandering -- jamming -- the aisles,
including families with small children, dads with their sons and
young moms pushing strollers, not an easy task. Everyone misses
Laree, the lady I hang with, but they know she navigates the dirigible
and cannot leave the controls.
years ago, a lifetime, I stood behind the limiting barrier of a
booth and engaged with the people -- the spectators, the illuminated
and illuminating fans. The milling crowd today was no different
at first glance, yet, as the day progressed, I noticed I was speaking
with more of the young audience as well as the mid-age folks my
generation naturally attracts, and the conversations carried a slightly
different tone. Another two years of bodybuilding evolution has
taken place and the views and perceptions of the flexing species
are continuing to adapt with the changes of time.
agreed that we were immensely impressed with the champions crossing
the stage today. Respect and admiration for the peaks they are achieving
was shared by all. The awe cannot be extinguished, but there is
a growing slice of bodybuilding aficionados who prefer the pre-monster
days when well-developed men and women looked like well-developed
men and women. Knowing the compromises they’ve made and the
rough road they travel make it clear that only a few will follow
their footsteps. The way is costly and strewn with land mines. What
appears to be today’s progress and development is unapproachable
to even the hardcore bomber.
need and desire to understand the advanced bodybuilding scene and
share it with bombers has been to redefine it as an extreme sport,
the cutting edge, X-generation product we see everywhere we look:
the snowboard, skateboard, dirt bike radicals who defy gravity and
dare impact with the earth’s hard surface; the cliff jumpers
and skydivers and monster wave surfers in search of the zone; the
bare-knuckle, cross-kick boxers, WWF wrestlers from hell and NFL
wilderbeasts playing really real hard to entertain. Today’s
bodybuilding is an extreme sport not to be confused with the musclebuilding
we do as health conscious, long-life seeking, no pain, no gain,
get huge, get ripped, protein-rich and disciplined sportsters.
big difference is one is crazy and the other is just nuts.
didn’t go to the Saturday evening competition. Fact is I didn’t
see one monster contender all weekend. Once we set up shop it was
work, work, work… if you call “work” talking to
the grandest bunch of people about things they love as much as you
do. I sold pictures for the first time in my life -- something about
selling pictures of yourself when you were a kid that is unpleasant
-- but knew from past experience that folks are disappointed when
I don’t. Both books, Brother Iron and Your Body Revival, were
sold and autographed most cheerfully and I autographed Stella’s
Kitchen next to my foreword. Those who had already purchased Stella’s
Kitchen over the internet raved (with mucho gusto) of the recipes
and the great flavors achieved with bodybuilding foods. Thanks,
Stella, you nutty musclebuilding animal.
Meredith, engineer extraordinaire, and his band of loyal followers
-- including Cindy, who is not a follower by the simple fact that
she’s his wife and, also, a quietly humming generator of energy
-- constructed the cluster of four booths through Thursday night.
It was a high, colorful and heavy duty affair to (1) display and
demonstrate clubbells and kettlebells (pieces of art in my opinion)
to the dynamic culture of club bell enthusiasts, (2) to offer T-shirts
bearing 18 different mad logos of monster-lifter artistry and wit
by Chuck of Warrior Graphics and, last but not least, (3) preview
the first stages of the Draper Dungeon and present the Top Squat
space was jammed with equipment, gear and activity. It was cooking
from start to finish. There were large people who wanted to buy
the very cool power rack built for gorillas and guys with shoulders
and traps like watermelons stacked for display at Costco who gave
the Top Squat two thumbs up.
Shortly after arriving on Saturday morning I found myself standing
before an expectant audience speaking boldly of the Top Squat’s
simple yet remarkable features. Odis was busily talking shop with
a fellow engineer behind me and I gently urged him without words
to move to the side. It was time for me to demonstrate the unique
apparatus and I needed plenty of room. As I spoke with instructions,
I assumed the proper position and lifted the bar on my back, stepped
back and set my stance. I gave the forward extending handles of
the Top Squat a brawny tug to demonstrate its robustness and the
left handle slipped out of its sleeve with the excruciating pop
of a bottle of cheap Champagne. I began rotating counter-clockwise
like a helicopter out of control until I hit the indestructible
uprights of the power cage and Odis and the guy with whom he was
didn’t need no stinking help but the whole crowd decided I
was going down for good. They came to my rescue and saved another
helicopter from crashing in the middle of the Arnold Expo. I handled
it well, being a Bomber who has had his share of near catastrophes.
It seems Odis had removed the large and efficient insert screw that
held the handle securely in place to show his friend how large and
efficient the screw really was. “Feel the weight of that thing.
That’s some rugged piece of steel, and those threads. You
ever see such thick threads before?”
experiences go on and on and they are priceless. And we were just
one little stir of energy amid the roiling sea. You’ve gotta
see it to believe it.
Jay Cutler won again. He instigated a posedown which took the competitors
into the audience and on a march up and down the aisles, and not
just briefly. The fans were standing and cheering and tearing the
house down. Like to have seen that.
are the final results for those of you who were betting:
good day to take to the skies and roll around on the wind. Keep
your eyes open, watch my back and I’ll watch yours.
always, God’s speed,
Draper, the Bomber
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