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We are weightlifters and musclebuilders, strongmen and women, fitness freaks and health nuts. We train, we lift, we work out, exercise, push the iron and lift the steel. We eat right and avoid the junk food most of the time or some of time. We could do better, but we do what we do and we do what we can.

We do better when we share our little journey and when we are encouraged. Basic information in training and eating and attitude go a long way in deepening our understanding of ourselves, our workouts and the world around us. A weekly reminder that what we do is important, beneficial and admirable is priceless and uplifting. It is in fact the reason we meet here each week.

Take me to the iron.

Something like 10 years ago Laree and I started this parade and you got in step one at a time. Let us at this time introduce you to a character, an old friend, who will share his experiences with us that we might continue to live, lift, learn and grow.

Rather, let him introduce himself.

The Bat and his bud have a lot to teach us.

******* ******* *******

The Booze and Cigs Have Got to Go

I took one more drag, a deep one, before I snubbed the butt in an ashtray I lifted from the Asbury Hilton. They’ll never miss it. The tray’s full and my pack of Camels is empty. Story of my life. Same with the bottle; the more I drink, the less I have. Jack Daniels has never been in such a hurry with no place to go.

Cigs and booze, this has gotta stop. I miss the gym and protein and a good pump. I leaned back in my swivel and put my feet up on the desk... something to contemplate.

The backdoor squeaked. It never squeaks unless someone is opening it. I was startled. I killed the gooseneck and reached for the drawer where I keep my revolver. The chair creaked. It never creaks unless I reach for my revolver. I began to perspire. I never perspire unless I’m nervous. I wasn’t nervous, but it was hot and the overhead fan was on the blink.

The backdoor was my secret exit leading to Y Street and known only to my friends. I didn’t have any friends, except Marlene and Crazy Joe, and Marlene was girl.

Crazy Joey Norton slipped into my office like he was playing hide ‘n seek with one of his nasty poolroom creditors, the ones who break pool sticks over the heads of hustlers who don’t pay their debts. I grabbed my bottle of JD and stashed it next to my pistol. Crazy was crazy and out of breath.

“Joey, are you nuts?” I said, “It’s 3 in the morning, only cats and crooks are crawling around.” He leaned tough against the door and took a deep breath of relief. I could feel the room empty of oxygen. Craze was 6’4,” 240 and built like a bomb with Howorth’s shoulders. He put his ear to the door and listened hard to still silence. “I gave them the slip,” he said.

Crazy backed away from the door and found a chair in front of my desk. I didn’t want to ask why, who or how many he slipped, but it seemed like a suitable inquiry. I retrieved my bottle from the gun ‘n bottle drawer and after a long swig I offered him a shot. He did not refuse my hospitality.

“Tell me,” I said.

“We’re okay till dawn,” he said.

Crazy and I go back to the ‘70s when we lifted weights together at the Y in downtown Manhattan. Lifters were loners in those days and the iron was an extraordinary friend, solid, bold and mighty.

That’s another way of saying honest and faithful. You got from the friendship what you put into it. It’s the same way today, only the tin tinkles and muscles are the fool’s gold crown of false glory.

We did what you needed to do when you grew up where the world lived on top of itself. Neither Joey nor I could hurt anyone unless they absolutely insisted on hurting us. We were good at protection.

Cops for 10 years, our dance with the NYPD came to an end when some stoners decided to feed junk to kids in the Y Street neighborhood. Any street was too close to home, but Y Street was where Crazy and me were born and our gnarly youths unfolded. Some people say unraveled, but I say unfolded, carefully, by the angels above. Not everybody believes in angels.

Six punks, like a pack of rabid dogs, roamed the alleys and edges of the school grounds grabbing 13- and 14-year-olds to introduce them to dope and easy money. The dope was wrong and the squirts knew it, but money was not in abundance, at home or on the street. They knew that, too. Hard choices were everywhere.

Crazy and me, good cops with ears to the ground, got word of the devil’s deeds and trapped the stinking little mob in their digs in the basement of a crumbling condemned tenement. What a treat. They yapped and snarled and tried to run during which time we dismantled a few teeth, relieved them of their weapons -- two small-caliber revolvers, knuckles and assorted knives -- and burned their baggy, smelly clothes in the archaic oil furnace.

Naked and tied together as they were with old clothesline, they wouldn’t get far. In the middle of the circle of boney tattooed and needle-marked bodies we heaped their weapons, and significant stash, paraphernalia and cash and IDs in a battered galvanized washbasin. Reaching the treasure trove or exit was not possible, guaranteed by the network of ropes and handy dandy duct tape.

Crazy’s muffled voice from a payphone across the street at Paco’s Liquors told police of the whereabouts of the wretched creatures, violent, salivating and bound tightly together in a huddle. It was our attempt to clean up some rubbish in less than 30 minutes without the muss and fuss of an entire police force and its attending bureaucracy. We’d seen that fuss happen over and over again.

Enough is enough, as they say in politics.

Justice sometimes comes in odd-shaped, hand-wrapped packages. There they sat in a circle, arms and legs entangled apparently by a bunch of hooded amateurs. Their escapades were undone. They were busted, shamed and sent away enduring withdrawals for a sufficient term at Riker’s Island.

The six creeps were not the first to receive our brand of justice. But this time Crazy and me got whacked. The precinct commander dug what we did, but did not dig our “flagrant vigilante tactics, ya dumb-ass muscleheads.” It was one of many questionable good deeds we performed in the shadows and behind closed doors that could undo the department. We pushed it. We were discharged without ceremony “before heads begin to roll, you oversized mugs.”

“See ya at the gym on Wednesday,” Marlene said as she escorted us from the rear exit of the precinct. Her voice was hushed, her lips did not move and she tapped her holstered Glock unconsciously. Her Captain’s badge was crooked.

About the booze and cigarettes. I lied. Promise I’ll never lie again. I confess I was a vegetarian for a month and Joey drinks beer with his Quiznos. I still eat vegetables... along with thick steaks and low-fat milk. Gotta be huge and ripped to fight crime. A 357 Magnum helps.

******* ******* *******

Well, bombers... that is, those of you who are still with me... I’ll let the rascals get back to their lives, such as they are. Sounds like they could use a good feed and a dose of iron to unwrap their heads. Maybe next week they join us and tell us how they bruise bad guys and stay in shape at the same time.

Both are fulltime projects.

Godspeed... the Bomber, AKA the Bat

TRAIN HARD, EAT RIGHT, BE STRONG

“I’ll pass on seconds, thanks.”

“It’s delicious, thank you, but no more apple pie.”

“Another Christmas party! How fun. Sorry, but I’ve got an appointment at The Weight Room.”

Rumors are going around the IOL newsroom there’s an End of Year Challenge underway. We in the biz call it the EOY Challenge and commend you, the hardy participants, for your courage and resolve. Though goals may differ and methods of achievement vary, the purposes are the same: to become better and more responsible people with bodies like Steve Reeves or Rachel McLish.

Several years ago I, gifted with a military disposition (hence, the Blond Bomber) submitted we unite forces in a similar mission, the Year’s Up Confrontation, or YUC. Participants were ordered to eat tuna and water, fast regularly and mix Bomber Blend into a paste for breakfast with crushed Super Spectrim Vitamin/Mineral tabs sprinkled on top.

Never got off the ground. Folks said it interfered with their festive spirits, Ho Ho and all that stuff. Humbug!

This is perfect, people: the perfect time to unite and share your story, seek and offer advice and, thus, multiply interest and encouragement. These are the prerequisites for us to alter our bodies and enhance our lives.

Soak yourself in a taste of bodybuilding’s Golden Era with Dick Tyler’s on-the-scene record, written in his easy-going, one-of-a-kind style, West Coast Bodybuilding Scene.

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