Bomber Bash 2004

New York, New York

Dave Draper, Mike Katz, Dr. Ken Leistner, September, 2004

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If you haven’t been to New York City, you haven’t been home. I’m not saying NYC is home; it is anything but, unless of course that’s where you live. I’m offering that you will only truly and accurately and completely understand your home when you’ve seen, heard and experienced New York. The city is startlingly tall, stunningly massive, exceedingly congested, vastly diverse, absolutely alive, extraordinarily fascinating, irreverently holy and unexplainably friendly, considering sharks swim its streets, hornets swarm its rooftops and troops of ants crawl prolifically about its neighborhoods. The place is wild, a jungle, a zoo, a circus, a pleasant catastrophe, a keg of dynamite and a mild and major explosion.

I was amazed at how many bombers were recording their very first visit to New York. No youngsters, though lovable and young at heart, the select gathering of new friends who have known life well for 35 to 65 years elsewhere, craned their necks, popped camera flashes, dared subways, mounted double-decker tour buses and climbed stairways to the sky. I suspect they know life better, more fully and more completely than a week ago. The Big Apple is at once a joy, a challenge, heaven and bedlam, enlightening and frightening, though the latter is a characteristic one must work upon to conjure up. Sirens, the city’s background music, frequently warn of danger, making one feel safe, ready and promptly in control… the enemy is obviously out-numbered.

So we happened upon each other, bombers wandering about the Times Square hotel and streets and recommended eateries and theatres and gyms. And what grand meetings we delighted in, spontaneous interludes between old-time friends who have never seen or touched each other, heard one another’s voice or witnessed their living, breathing visage. "You’re real, you take up space, emit a special sound... you’re warm... alive. It’s you. Wow!"

We’re all different, too. Way different. For example, Wicked Willie, a loyal IOL participant from Gainesville, Florida, described his meeting with Vicki Masterson, our San Francisco love-child blaster this way:

Somewhere between meeting Amazon Blonde and Stingo and starting my Mid-City Gym workout, I was assailed by the ball of energy known as Vicki Masterson. Our meeting went something like this:

Vicki, come over here, I want you to meet...

Vicki: Ohmigod,You'reWickedWillie!Irecognizedthemoustache
guythatworeacowboyhat tohideyourlackofhair.Inyourpictureyoulookskinny
butyou'rethick,Imeanyou'vegot somemusclesandhair,I justcan'tgetover

Each of us is some sort of crazy and thank God for that.

Once one is able to get past the bright-light, big-city impressions, there’s the energized workout at Mid-City, the large and classic food at Roxy Deli and the exuberant hanging out in the hotel lobby on the first day and evening of first encounters. Fatigue and worldly preoccupations give way to yakking, absorbing, fading shyness and collapsing self-doubts, eager sharing, growing and delighting. Pauses are few and the energy is too much for anyone to dictate. And tomorrow, after morning rompings in New York’s busy streets, there’s the seminar in the downstairs gym a block away. What will that be like? Who’ll be there? Will I learn anything? I’m tired. Should I ask a question? What would I say and would I sound dumb? I’m hungry. I’ll bet that’s the House from Denmark who just ducked into the elevator.

The seminar was my kind of seminar, a muscle-building conversation with a rather large bunch of training buddies in a real gym packed with equipment and atmosphere. No room for formalities, correctness and uncomfortable politeness -- honesty, thoughtfulness and a sense of humor only. Let’s be real. After all, how troublesome, difficult and stiff can sharing muscle stories and training logic be? Push that iron and eat right, brothers and sisters, and don’t stop. Next subject.

125 of us gathered in the corner of an appropriately funky gym above which some thirty stories of concrete, steel and glass rose into the sky -- truth is I never looked up to make the estimation, the surrounding mass just felt that hefty. The building was as modern and fancy as the downtown subways, and the subterranean space was outfitted with two miniature cubicles for toilets and a maze of pipes and electricity laced across the ceiling. One does not complain, does one? We felt as comfortable as clams, chattering clams, and at exactly 12 PM all clams were focused on me and the noise faded.

There was someone from every corner of the USA, Maine to Hawaii and Alaska to Florida. Some guy from Denmark sneaked across the border when no one was looking and Canada sent a few reps. Folks stood, leaned, clung and hung on equipment and the lucky ones sat on anything resembling a seat. This test of endurance went on for three hours; no one left and no one passed out, no one yawned, sneezed, smoked or complained. I didn’t even hear the interruptive chime of a cell phone throughout the entire afternoon -- some kind of global record no doubt -- only the voices of excited everlovin’ muscleheads above the din of fans and air conditioning and muted breathing.

I was the first to speak, giving my well-researched analysis of physical culture and its history since its inception in the late 19th century. I compared in detail the growing discontent between man, the intelligent species, and man, the primordial body. Further, I underlined emphatically man’s need, as a creature human being and, more so, as a society, to reconcile the growing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gaps prevailing in the musclebuilding culture of today. I was carried off in a plastic garbage bag and dumped in a nearby alley by a rebellious mob.

I managed to introduce Dr. Ken Leistner to the group, a lifelong New Yorker, who with his delicate words and subtle mannerisms offered his philosophy on life and animal weight training and ten ways to win friends, influence people and subdue enemies. His presentation of information is done in three dimensions, maybe four or five dimensions, and one leaves knowing more than one knew upon coming, though they are unsure of what that might be. It’s guttural, I think.

Mike Katz, an old friend, as is Dr. Ken, was ostensibly invited to say hi to everyone. When he was casually introduced to my friendly audience of bombers and welcomed with open and raised arms and vociferous voices, I stepped forward and implored the benevolent rascal to back me up as I sought to teach and entertain and enjoy the moment. What could he say? His voice was heard above the rest, as speaking to classrooms of learners is his profession of 35 years. He encourages, informs, warns, entreats and imparts, as a man who’s been there, and who cares very deeply that you understand where you’re going.

The three of us are true friends, come from distinct neighborhoods and backgrounds and move directly forward, traveling different, not differing, paths. We cherish respect and responsibility and are our own students. We are also within five years of each other and peer from wide open eyes. A total of 140 years of weightlifting experience has been logged between us, someone pointed out. We didn’t get into details, but managed to move large pieces of information around like pianos and refrigerators in spacious comfortable rooms. Vases and teacups were left to the girlymen who do exercise ball crunches, stretch a lot and eat soy nuts.

The most interesting conclusions:

~ Stick to the basics. Squats, deadlifts and presses rule.

~ Bench presses are murder on the shoulders. Dumbbell incline presses are better and safer shoulder and pec builders.

~ Aerobics are best achieved through your weight training regimen. A tight pace and intense output in each and every exercise will serve your heart and lung and vascular system most efficiently.

~ Layoffs are to be used sparingly and only after great consideration. Slumps and plateaus are common to all athletes and should be confronted with longsuffering and maturity. Only then will you proceed, overcome and become.

~ As you grow older, pursue your training with intelligent intensity. That is, take it to the edge if it’s in you, but don’t hang ten over the edge, as it’s a long way down. Injuries are costly, though injuries are excellent teachers. Beware, be alert, be strong, be wise, behave and blast it.

~ Protein is worth more than gold. Bomber Blend is the greatest and Brother Iron answers all the questions one might invent. The Top squat is for real lifters.

Sometimes you know all there is to know and need only to be affirmed rather than taught, encouraged rather than instructed, entertained rather than trained and caused to laugh rather than made to think. It’s in the doing, not in the questioning; the act, not the planning; the job well done, not the preparation. That’s what the message was all about from a trio of restless bandits who steal from the rich and give to the worthy.

Only in New York before a hungry band of ironheads can we get away with our escapades. Thanks for being there.

Next year, look out nuclear-free Santa Cruz.

The NY experience goes on and on. There was the amazing summertime weather with blue skies high overhead and warm short-sleeve nights, a box lunch in Central Park, the boat ride around Manhattan with a dozen bright-eyed IOLers, the first-run, must-see suspense movie "Cellular" on 42nd Street with the House late one night, juicy bacon cheeseburgers in dark taverns under the towering sun-drenched skyscrapers of Times Square, long walks and people-watching amid determined crowds whose ears are pressed against cell phones and bound for places unknown, yellow cabs underfoot, artists sketching and painting and making music on every corner of Broadway, clip-clopping horses drawing carriages of smiling faces to Central Park, howling fire trucks accompanied by squealing police cars ripping pathways through jam-packed avenues and aircraft passing overhead making you wonder. Crazy, man.

Bombers soar high and mightily. Bombers are forever.

God’s speed and strength, gang... Dave Draper

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