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Capturing a Gentler Side of Boxing

The sport of boxing hit the front pages last year when boxer Mike Tyson bit the ear of his opponent, Evander Holyfield. Photographer Larry Fink has captured many images of the sport which have been collected in his book, "Boxing" (Powerhouse Books). Sports writer Bert Sugar has written numerous works on sports and has served as senior vice-president of "The Ring" magazine, a magazine on boxing. He wrote the essay included in Fink's book. They'll talk about the often maligned sport. (REBROADCAST. ORIGINALLY AIRED 8/5/97.)

15:55

Other segments from the episode on August 14, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 14, 1998: Interview with David Calof; Interview with Larry Fink and Bert Sugar; Review of Marshall Crenshaw's album "The Nine Volt Years"; Review of the films "The…

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: AUGUST 14, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081401np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: David Calof
Sect: Medicine
Time: 12:06

MARTY MOSS-COANE, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Marty Moss-Coane in for Terry Gross.

Hypnosis has been used as a technique to stop smoking, improve athletic and academic performance, control pain, and quell anxiety. But hypnosis has had a murky reputation. It's also been used as a party trick or a form of entertainment with practitioners using hypnotic techniques to get members of their audience to embarrass themselves in front of others.
And it's been called into question as a method for uncovering memories of childhood abuse.

My guest, therapist David Calof, uses hypnosis in his private practice to explore and understand the world of the unconscious and as a potential stepping stone to mental health and healing. Calof is the co-author of "The Couple Who Became Each Other" about some of the families and couples he's treated.

I spoke with David Calof last year. Since hypnosis has been around for centuries, I wondered why it continues to be a questionable approach to therapy.

DAVID CALOF, HYPNOTHERAPIST; AUTHOR, "THE COUPLE WHO BECAME EACH OTHER": AND OTHER TALES OF HEALING FROM A HYPNOTHERAPIST'S CASEBOOK": Well, you're correct. It's always had a mixed reputation. Sometimes it's been more in favor; sometimes less. In particular, it came back into favor in modern history after the world wars, when it was used as a short-term solution for what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder, but what of course they called then "battle fatigue."

And so it gained favor. And then in the mid-50s, both the American and the British Medical Associations approved it as a bona-fide treatment modality. Then since then, it's come in and out of favor. And I think some of the reasons for that are that it sort of, in an archetypical kind of way reminds us all of the unknown. We think about hypnosis as probing the depths of the unconscious, and perhaps finding out things about ourselves that we'd rather not know or rather not experience. I think that's one of the reasons.

I think the other reason is that it has a bad rap in terms of kind of the modern connotation of it is that it's an operator doing something to a subject; that we're overpowering the subject. And of course, you know, no one would want to submit to something like that.

And then lastly, and I think this is a -- perhaps a reason in the professional community is that not everybody is trained in it. And I know that people in the professional community tend to eschew that which they're unfamiliar with. So I think all those factors probably conspire to some extent.

MOSS-COANE: Well, I think it's important for us to talk about how hypnosis works and how you can use hypnotic techniques to activate and get to the unconscious.

Let's begin at the beginning, and again this is probably from movies and television shows, what we see then is the hypnotherapist then telling their subject to think about something, or to focus on something. Why is that important to begin the hypnotic trance?

CALOF: Well, in general, inductions do begin with, almost always with some kind of focal point. And the only purpose of that really is to simply concentrate the attention so that there's less attention to extraneous things and more attention to simply the task at hand. In a therapeutic setting, that of course would be the objective to be achieved. And so all you're really doing is trying to reduce outside input.

MOSS-COANE: Well what happens, then, when you begin to focus? What happens to that outside world?

CALOF: Well, it tends to go away. The person in hypnosis will say, depending upon the depth of hypnosis, but generally will say: "You know, I knew there were things happening around me. I would hear the traffic noises. I could hear the sounds in the room. But they really didn't matter to me."

Really, in the same way that you and I are concentrating right now. We're really tuned into each other, into the questions and the responses, and less concerned with what's happening in the room around us. That kind of concentration is very much the same.

MOSS-COANE: Is it also the same kind of trance you can enter as a driver? You get into your car; you hop on the highway; and half an hour later, you arrive at your destination -- you have absolutely no conscious idea about how you got there.

CALOF: You've got it exactly.

LAUGHTER

As a matter of fact, that's been known as "highway hypnosis."

MOSS-COANE: And I guess the -- again, the question is: Where does your mind go, then, under those circumstances? We know where we aren't. Where are we?

CALOF: Well, I think what it does is it allows us access to sort of non-linear, non-conscious ways of thinking. It allows us access to, you know, past learnings; to past associations. The mind in the unconscious works in a more circular fashion so our logic isn't bound by straight lines. For example, if I asked you, as a conscious process, to tell me to name your most favorite piece of music in the world, and to only do that with your conscious mind, it would literally be impossible because the computing task would be enormous. You'd have to compare every piece of music you'd ever heard to every other piece of music you'd ever heard. It would take forever.

Unconsciously, you can tell me in the flash of an eye. And the reason is is because it isn't bound by linear kinds of logic. We can synthesize an awful lot of data unconsciously, almost instantaneously. So it's sort of -- the answer is where do we go -- it's kind of like if you're quiet, then you're more able to hear that still voice inside, those intuitions, that imagery that floats through your mind, more or less the products of the unconscious.

MOSS-COANE: Why, though, is there this division? Why is certain material then in the unconscious that we can only get through -- either through perhaps dreams or hypnosis or daydreaming or, you know, a piece of music that can take you back to the '60s when you heard it for the first time?

CALOF: Exactly. Well, there's probably two major reasons for that bifurcation. One is that some information in there we simply don't need to have. And if I can just tell you a brief little story to illustrate that -- you may have heard the story of the frog and the centipede. And the frog had watched the centipede for years walking, and he was marveled by this. He couldn't understand how this creature could coordinate the movement of 100 legs all at once. He felt so inadequate with his four legs.

So one day he approached the centipede and he says: You know, I've been watching you. And he says I have no idea how you walk. How is it that you know which legs to pick up and which ones to put down and which ones to swing at which times? And the centipede said: You know, that's a great question. No one's ever asked me that before. Let me think on it.

So he strained and he strained and he strained, and he finally says: You know, I don't know. And with that, he turned to walk away and fell over.

MOSS-COANE: Right.

CALOF: And so the idea there is that some things are simply left better at the unconscious -- how we walk, when to take a breath, you know, when the body needs sleep. Many things are simply best left to that computer, if you will. That's one of the reasons.

MOSS-COANE: Well, if we're talking then about hypnosis, and we've gotten that person, then, to focus on something, make that outside world go away. How then does a hypnotherapist work with a subject? With a patient?

CALOF: Well, there's many different ways to do that, obviously. In general, the kind of orientation that I have, and really very much the orientation of modern hypnotherapy, is different than the old notion. The old notion was that somehow or another, you were deficient in certain kinds of suggestions, or you had too many of a kind of suggestion. So we would figuratively speaking open your head up, take out the bad suggestions, and put in good ones.

Now, on occasion we still do that. We might do that for performance issues -- for example the person whose constantly telling themselves "I'm terrible at math" and then true to form, you know, flunks the test.

MOSS-COANE: Right.

CALOF: We might simply point out in hypnosis that they're already doing bad self-hypnosis, and literally help them change that input. That's one way of working. But in modern hypnotherapy, we're really more interested in accessing the client's own problem-solving resources.

I'll give you maybe more of an example of that. A woman once came to see me who had just been elected to the presidency of a club. And she said: "I can't do this because I can't speak in public." Well, it turned out that she was a performer in the arts. She was in fact a dancer and was a very skilled dancer.

So in hypnosis, I didn't tell her she wouldn't be afraid of public speaking. I simply reminded her she already knew how to perform in front of an audience and how to put her nervousness aside. So she simply translated those skills to the skills of being a speaker, and it worked.

So in a sense, that was her problem-solving. I didn't add something that wasn't already there. I just helped her evoke a potential she had.

MOSS-COANE: But if you're speaking to someone's unconscious through hypnosis, you have to figure out, then, what the language, what the metaphors, what the poetry of that -- of their unconscious world is.

CALOF: That's really well-put, and we do a lot of that. We listen very carefully for, you know, phrases and words that are repeated; for certain kind of personality values. So we're constantly looking for what we call the "entry point." What way of talking will they be able to process that will mean something to them and be able to effect change?

MOSS-COANE: But how do you know that you're tapping into their unconscious mind? Or maybe they're just faking?

CALOF: Well, that's always a possibility, and in fact that's one of the recognized defenses against hypnosis. And there's ways of telling, you know, to a trained observer, whether someone is actually simulating or not. There's -- I'll give you an example. If someone in a deep trance is told that they don't see a chair in front of them, and they're told to walk forward, they will, but they'll walk around the chair. Now, someone simulating will walk into the chair. So there's a number of ways of telling.

MOSS-COANE: Are some people, though, more hypnotizable than other people?

CALOF: Well, let me answer that question in two parts. Let me break it down. Are there some people who -- when we say "hypnotizable" generally speaking we're talking about somebody doing it to them. If we say: "Can everybody go into a state of hypnosis?" The answer is "yes." And you gave a beautiful example of that -- you know, the highway hypnosis example or the twilight state of sleep at night, you know, when we're sort of half between awake and asleep. And that's a time, by the way, when we're very suggestible. If we say that tomorrow's going to be a rotten day, generally it is.

So anybody can enter into that state. But when you put it into what we call a "hetero-hypnosis" context -- that is, the context of working with another person -- then you put all kinds of other relationship dynamics on top of that. So then you're working with more than just the inherent ability of that subject to experience hypnosis; then you're working with all of the dimensions of an interpersonal relationship. And of course, there can be trust issues; there can be transference issues; there can be any kinds of issues that stand in the way.

So it's very possible that someone who has the capacity of going into hypnosis might not work well with me, for a variety of reasons. Maybe my voice reminds them of a cousin or something they didn't like. But they could walk down the hall and work with someone else and do just fine.

So -- and then also you asked if there are some people that sort of do this a little bit better.

MOSS-COANE: Yeah.

CALOF: The more -- in terms of personality characteristics, the greater the ability to become absorbed in something, you know, like that highway hypnosis experience, generally speaking that's a good predictor of a good candidate for hypnosis. On a scale of artist to engineer, although this is an over-generalization, artists do a little bit better. People -- this is not actually technically correct, but people who use a lot of right-brain kind of thinking -- non-linear, artistic, spatial -- tend to do better.

And then lastly, people who had to dissociate as children, either because of some kind of trauma or you know, low -- traumatic demand -- or sometimes like characteristically, the only child who didn't have a lot of external input, so had to create a rich inner-world -- sometimes that person will also be very adept.

MOSS-COANE: Now how do you then bring this person out of a hypnotic trance? And how much do they actually then consciously remember what went on?

CALOF: Well, there's any number of ways of bringing them out. Sometimes you just reorient them to the conversation before the induction of hypnosis. They -- sometimes we use a count to bring them out. Generally speaking, after the first induction, if we're going to work with the person more than once, then we put in a suggestion that makes future inductions easier. So for example, in the future when I count from one to five, you go right back into this state. And it just -- that means we can spend more of the time in the session doing the therapy.

MOSS-COANE: And they literally can learn to do that -- one, two, three, four, five -- and there they are?

CALOF: Oh sure. If you don't -- that's just simple conditioning. I mean, if you -- if you see an eight-sided red sign, chances are your foot wants to go to the brake pedal without any conscious mediation.

MOSS-COANE: Right. We're talking about Skinner here, I guess.

CALOF: Exactly. Now, do they remember, you ask? Well, in general yes. In general, they do. Most hypnotherapy is done not at the deepest state of hypnosis, what is called the somnambulistic state -- somnambulism, which comes from sleepwalking. Most hypnotherapy is not at that state, and doesn't need to be. And one of the characteristics of that deep state is spontaneous amnesia.

Typically, you don't find that in the more moderate levels of trance, which most hypnotherapy is done in. Now, it's more like when you come out of it, it's -- you know, if anyone was rambling on to you for 20 minutes, it would probably be somewhat dream-like. And so the people say: "Yeah, I can remember it, but I don't really need to or want to. It's just kind of in the back of my mind; kind of dream-like."

Sometimes, the more they focus on it, the more it goes away. And in general, the orientation is to just sort of let it cook in the back of your mind. Don't bring it up and look at it critically.

MOSS-COANE: My guest is therapist David Calof. We're talking about hypnosis, the subject of his book "The Couple Who Became Each Other." We'll talk more after a short break.

This is FRESH AIR.

David Calof is our guest. He's a family therapist; uses hypnosis in his private practice and he's also the author of a book called "The Couple Who Became Each Other."

Is all hypnosis, in the end, self-hypnosis?

CALOF: That's very well-put. And as a matter of fact, I've said that myself over the years. I really believe that's the case. I think that at best, we're facilitators. At worst, we get in people's ways of accessing their own inner resources. But ultimately, the state of hypnosis belongs to the subject. It's a naturalistic state. We go in and out of it our entire lives.

All we hypnotherapists learn how to do is to be able to guide someone into that state, stabilize it, and then operate as something of a guide in that state to direct them to their own resources. But I think the best way to think about that is literally that all self-hypnosis -- all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. I think that's a very well-put idea.

MOSS-COANE: The way you talk about the unconscious makes it sound like it's smarter than our conscious life. Is that true? Is that really where some of our important wisdom is?

CALOF: Yes. It can also be, in its wisdom, it can also be incredibly stupid. And I'll explain what I mean by that. But yes, it's very different than the Freudian notion of the unconscious, which sort of holds it as this amoral, anti-social, you know, has to be herded and controlled kind of force.

Our notion of the unconscious is more as this creative resource. Sometimes, the creativity, though, can be somewhat silly. An example of that -- I remember once a woman consulted me who had horrible pain in her shoulders, and these knots of muscles in her shoulders that just wouldn't go away, despite many kinds of medical treatments. And when we, in hypnosis, when we finally got to the source of it, she literally said: "You know, my boss likes to lump work on me; likes to lump work on my shoulders."

Now, so that was a brilliant metaphor, so it was a way for the unconscious to say to her: "Look, get what's happening here" -- what we refer to as "organ" language -- language that references organs of the body. "Understand that you're taking lumps here." That was brilliant. What was not brilliant, although from the point of view of the unconscious, it was smart, because of this she couldn't do her job. She couldn't type.
So the unconscious was protecting her from this kind of tyrant of a boss.

Well, in an adult mind, when she could reexamine that decision, of course she had other ways of dealing with his stress. She set better limits and negotiated better. So sometimes the unconscious takes these extreme measures.

MOSS-COANE: What's curious, too, is why then it becomes therapeutic and healing to make that unconscious conscious; that somehow putting words to a conflict or words to some kind of emotions, brings about some kind of change for the better.

CALOF: It doesn't always. In fact, sometimes insight does not produce change. When it does work, it's because we can reexamine an earlier decision and we can examine it with the point of view and with the resources that we've garnered in the time since that experience. In other words, a childhood experience can be examined in adult -- with adult wisdom. In that way, we can change the unconscious 'cause it has new input.

But sometimes we don't need to bring that to a conscious level. Let me give you an example of that. I worked with a woman once for six months of therapy who had a variety of issues with her father, who had been to some extent abusive with her, and a mother who'd been alcoholic. And we never -- we talked about that just to get the information. But the way I worked with her was very much in symbolism.

We would basically in the session induce a state of hypnosis, and then tell her to have a dream that would be relevant to the issues at hand. Well, she had a series of dreams and they were all of a similar theme. They were of doing laundry. And they went in a progression from going to her backyard and seeing all these dirty clothes hanging on her laundry line. That was the first dream. And they're not washed and she's wondering what they're doing there.

As the dreams progress over time, this transmogrifies into a dream in which she sees that her father's dirty underwear is mixed in with hers. Now, it would have been very tempting at that point to interpret that. I would have been tempting to say: "Well, this is the dirtiness from, you know, the molestation and you're trying to separate out your identity from your father's." And that would have been correct, but it probably wouldn't have done anything.

What we did instead was in hypnosis she simply rescripted the dreams. She -- in the dream, she took down her father's clothes. She washed it; gave it back to him. She took her own clothes down; separated them. And in this process of six months of therapy, a very profound depression lifted. We did very little insight.

MOSS-COANE: When you're working with a whole family, do you sometimes hypnotize the whole group?

CALOF: It can either happen that way or individual members. But yes, I'll sometimes do the whole group. But it does several things. It can be a means of stress management for everybody. It's also a very intimate experience. You have a -- I'll put them in a rapport with each other so they're aware of each other's presence in the room. And it can be a tremendous experience of intimacy.

You know, it's very -- like, if you're with a loved one and you're having a wonderful day and there's very few words exchanged, but you feel like there's this rich communication between you nevertheless. It takes on that kind of quality. So yes, it's possible to do that, as well as working with individual members.

MOSS-COANE: And sometimes in this family session, do you ask one member of the family to be another member of the family and have them talk to each other?

LAUGHTER

CALOF: Well, in some cases I've done that with siblings before, where they've actually exchanged identities and renegotiated their differences. And then I've also done that, and there's actually the title chapter of the book "The Couple Who Became Each Other," was in fact a couple that had been at horrible loggerheads in their marriage for five years; had been to a number of marriage therapists; had failed miserably. And came to see me, and fortunately both were excellent hypnotic subjects with some experience.

And so I, in essence, had them become each other. And in that deep trance of being each other, they could call upon their unconscious knowledge of each other and in the exchange of identities, renegotiated their differences and were very successful.

MOSS-COANE: I'm curious what a whole family in hypnosis looks like.

LAUGHTER

CALOF: Basically, it looks like a bunch of people taking a nap, is what it -- it's not very ...

LAUGHTER

MOSS-COANE: You get paid for this stuff, right?

CALOF: And I get paid for this stuff. Actually, I'll tell you, it's interesting because there is sort of the loneliness, sometimes of the hypnotherapist. Please understand, that's not all that I do, but for me sometimes it's more interesting when I'm more engaged with someone at a more conscious level. It's more, you know, rather than my just simply drolling (ph) and their eyes are closed, I sometimes feel lonely in those moments.

MOSS-COANE: Well David Calof, we are out of time, and I thank you very much for joining us on FRESH AIR today. Thank you.

CALOF: It's been my pleasure. Thank you.

MOSS-COANE: Therapist David Calof, co-author of "The Couple Who Became Each Other." He'll be giving a lecture on hypnosis and memory at the Exploratorium Science Museum in San Francisco on Saturday, August 29.

I'm Marty Moss-Coane and this is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
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Dateline: Marty Moss-Coane, Philadelphia
Guest: David Calof
High: Hypnotherapist David Calof has been using hypnosis for 20 years to help clients discover - -through their own subconscious -- the way to solve their emotional problems. He's written a book about his work, "The Couple Who Became Each Other: And Other Tales of Healing from a Hypnotherapist's Casebook" (Bantam Books). Calof practices family therapy and hypnotherapy in Seattle.
Spec: Lifestyle; Culture; Medicine; David Calof
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: David Calof
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: AUGUST 14, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081402NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Boxing News
Sect: Sports
Time: 12:30

MARTY MOSS-COANE, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Marty Moss-Coane in for Terry Gross.

There's some boxing news today. Mike Tyson withdrew his application for a boxing license in New Jersey and has instead applied for a license to fight in Nevada. You'll remember it was last year in Nevada when Tyson lost that license after he bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear during a match.

My guest, photographer Larry Fink, was first introduced to the world of boxing more than a decade ago when he was assigned to photograph Jimmy Jacobs, Tyson's former manager. He's been obsessed with the sport ever since.

His book of black and white photographs, called "Boxing," captures the gentler side of the sport. Fink went to training gyms, many of them in Philadelphia, and shot what goes on behind the scenes -- the hard work of training, the relationship between the boxer and the trainer, the dingy settings, and the fans.

My other guest, Bert Sugar, is well known to boxing fans as a writer and commentator, and one of the most passionate authorities on the sport. He wrote an essay on the history of boxing in Larry Fink's book. He's also got a new bi-monthly magazine called "Bert Sugar's Fight Game."

They both join us today on FRESH AIR to talk about boxing.

Let me just say I'm very struck by the contrast from the photographs that I see, the kind of intimacy that you've been able to capture in the gym -- the tenderness, the touching, which I think does contradict and contrast what most people are familiar with with boxing, which is what you see in the ring -- two guys beating each other up.

LARRY FINK, PHOTOGRAPHER; AUTHOR "BOXING": And that's what it's for and what it's about. It's about a symbolic, you know, conquest of another man's territory, to inflict some sort of doom on him. But in the gym, albeit for territorial divides and rights, there's a good deal of caring and a good deal of paternal tenderness amongst the trainer and the fighter and the various people who are part of the coterie.

It was that that really, really stimulated my interest. It was the fact that gladiators could be mothered by their own father.

MOSS-COANE: Hmmm. Larry Fink, how would you describe the sounds, the smells of a boxing gym?

FINK: Well that could be a very, very long story, start to describe smells. But there's the smells of body, which are sometimes acid and sometimes sweet. There's certainly the sound of -- there's a certain kind of gesture that they do -- (SPITTING SOUND) -- when they look out to, you know, to shadow box and punch. There's a (EXHALING SOUND) -- it's kind of a concentrating of your breath, and you know, so it becomes in alignment with your body and the striking, you know, pose of your fist.

The smells are also of the dank wood; of the spit on the floor; and of the ages and ages and ages of bad and good intentions.

MOSS-COANE: Larry Fink, when you're photographing, do you try to be invisible? If you come into a gymnasium, do you introduce yourself to some of the boxers and the trainers that are there? Or do you try to just work like a fly on the wall?

FINK: Much more hygienically so than the fly on the wall.

LAUGHTER

That is, no -- I ...

LAUGHTER

... I -- it's a, you know, it's a ripe place.

MOSS-COANE: I understand.

LAUGHTER

FINK: At any rate, I do introduce myself. I come into the gym. I mean, indeed, I'm not one of those guys who hangs around and hangs around and becomes part of the kind of the network, so I'm not a known factor. And when I do come in, it's a special event and I do introduce myself. And many of the guys and kids who are boxing and training and stuff come up and want their picture taken in the traditional way, and I do that. And yet then, I explain that I would rather work in a candid fashion.

And then I become invisible. But the only way to become invisible in my sport of photographing is to be absolutely and utterly visible, which is to say to photograph with real freedom, with real direction, with real drive, with utter confidence.

MOSS-COANE: What I find looking through your photographs is just this portrait of backs and shoulders and skin. We see the sweat. We see the pores -- a sensuality that I found really very touching, very moving, very beautiful.

FINK: Thank you very much.

BERT SUGAR, SPORTS WRITER; SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, "THE RING" MAGAZINE: Let me say something about Larry's photos.

MOSS-COANE: Yeah, go ahead, Bert Sugar.

SUGAR: They are as untraditional as you can get, and I think that's what makes them rare. They are not "X" hitting "Y" and "Y's" face contorted. They're everything almost but that traditional -- and I don't say "classic" 'cause I think Larry's are; they aren't -- traditional photo of the hitting. These are everything in and around and leading up to, but it is the people. And as you pointed out very aptly, the sensuality of these people in this sport, this machismatic (ph) sport, who are, I think, the interest, and what really is Larry's forte.

MOSS-COANE: I want to talk a little bit more about the relationship between the boxer and the trainer. And Larry Fink, you said what you saw were fathers mothering these young men. I mean, that's the kind of, I guess, outsider looking at this relationship. What does it mean when a father "mothers" a boxer?

FINK: Well, in our culture, very, very often men don't have the license to touch one another. And somehow or another, when guys put on gloves, first of all they can't even go to the bathroom by themselves. So they have to be cared for by the men who surround them; who wipe down their ears and get the sweat off their face and so on and so forth.

So what it does is it brings -- it brings to bear a new license of physical immersion, if you will. So the mothering is just simply touching.

SUGAR: If I may, Marty ...

MOSS-COANE: Go ahead, Bert Sugar -- yeah.

SUGAR: ... insert again -- you'll excuse the pun, or two-thirds of a pun -- P-U (ph) -- but in talking about touching, there is a touching act at the end of boxing that you ever see -- never see in other sports, with maybe the exception after the final Stanley Cup game, where they line up all the hockey players and they shake hands. There is more hugging and appreciation by boxers who have fought each other in the ring after they've just taken all these rounds to try to do whatever they can and beat the bejabbers (ph) out of each other ...

MOSS-COANE: You say box ...

SUGAR: ... than I've ever seen in any sport.

MOSS-COANE: ... boxers hugging boxers.

SUGAR: After -- after 10 rounds or 12 rounds or how many rounds it is, hugging each other in appreciation and respect for what they have stood for, and as long as they've stood.

FINK: Over and over again, it happens. It's really -- it's a real act of majesty.

MOSS-COANE: An act of majesty?

FINK: Yeah.

MOSS-COANE: And to go from this combat, then, to this very caring, tender affection.

SUGAR: And an appreciation of another person, which is rare in sports where everything seems dominated by a seek and destroy approach, no matter what the sport.

MOSS-COANE: More with photographer Larry Fink and sportswriter Bert Sugar after this short break. This is FRESH AIR.

Well, we're talking about boxing today, and our guests are photographer Larry Fink and he has a book of photographs called "Boxing." And in that book is an essay by Bert Sugar, a boxing commentator; has written many, many books about boxing, and a former editor of Ring magazine and Boxing Illustrated.

Reading your essay, Bert Sugar, about boxing and looking some at the history and looking some at the sociology, it is a lens, I think, to understand certain parts of this country's history. Certainly, it's an urban sport -- one that has, I guess, took root and really stayed in cities. Right?

SUGAR: In the main, that's right, Marty. There are exceptions, but those exceptions more than anything make the rule. It's kids who are raised in very crowded atmospheres; had to fight for survival; fight for their way up; fight for pride; fight for territory, turf, as Larry said. Anything, going all the way back to the Irish tenements of the 1840s, through the ghettos of the early Jewish settlers of the first decade of the 20th century; to the Italians, the African Americans, then called blacks, in the now-projects; the Latinos in the barrios -- whatever. They had to do this to survive, and in many cases were able to translate and channel this into boxing itself.

MOSS-COANE: And do you think boxing is a way of then, and I guess I'm speaking metaphorically here, though, way of fighting your way into society? And thinking about these various immigrant groups, they all had their boxing champs who fought for them.

SUGAR: Fought for them; fought for their pride; fought for their identification. And they all vicariously, and not every -- not every Irishman fought, but they identified with John L. Sullivan. And not every Jewish immigrant on the lower east side fought, but they identified with Benny Leonard; and the Italians with Rocky Marciano and the blacks with Joe Louis and the Latinos with Roberto Duran and others.

It's a -- you know, he's theirs. He's their symbol. And through his success, their success grows. It's a major thing in the growth of this country.

MOSS-COANE: Has a boxer, and perhaps even a good boxer, ever come from the upper classes?

SUGAR: The closest -- and I was asked that recently -- the closest that we can ever -- I mean, there have been -- Anthony Biddle Duke fought Philadelphia Jack O'Brien and got his head handed to him in sparring matches. I mean, boxing does not get its recruits at the debutante line at the country club. But there have been borderline middle class kids -- Gene Tunney having been one. He studied Shakespeare.

And you know what? The fight crowd didn't appreciate him because he was not one of them.

MOSS-COANE: Hmmm.

SUGAR: These kids are scrappers. They're scrapping for a piece of life; a piece of success; a piece, if you will, of history, even momentary history, by being called "champion." And it's a wonderful thing to see. But upper class, no -- let them play polo is the thought.

LAUGHTER

MOSS-COANE: Well, Larry Fink, is that also what interests you in boxing -- because it's about perhaps class struggle? It's about racial and ethnic issues which are still very, very raw today?

FINK: Extremely raw.

MOSS-COANE: Do you see that -- I mean, do you see that?

FINK: I -- yeah, I mean my -- I have a slight political history in this of -- about class struggle. And certainly the underclass moving its way up through his fist; through individuated victories is certainly part of my interest, for sure. Yeah.

MOSS-COANE: Because you've also taken photographs of society people.

FINK: Oh, yeah. Over the years, I mean, a long time ago I was on this program with a book called "Social Graces," which was a group of pictures from rural Pennsylvania, real working class, pithy, you know -- funky types; and then people from the debutante balls -- not the boxing recruits, though.

LAUGHTER

So I've always -- my work has always been involved with aspects of power and how it doesn't actually fulfill you, even though you think it might.

MOSS-COANE: Well it's interesting, Larry Fink, to think about, I guess, the power of the fist in boxing and the kind of economic, political, social power associated with the upper classes. How do you photograph that? What's the visual difference?

FINK: The visual difference is profound. I mean, the boxers are half-naked. They're full of their bodies. They're full of a certain kind of sensuality and thrust. And they're full of a primary, individuated kind of, you know, competitiveness.

Whereas in the Wall Street, in the debutantes, there's a tremendous amount of tittering and self-consciousness and vanity of a different order, where people are much more prone to neurotic tremulos than, you know, basic fisticuffs.

SUGAR: Boxing, if I may just jump in here, Marty.

MOSS-COANE: Go ahead, Bert Sugar.

SUGAR: Why boxing appeals to me is in this era of homogenization, where everything is big business and big this and big that, one of the last -- really, one of the last refuge of individual entrepreneurialship and individualism is boxing.

MOSS-COANE: Hmmm.

SUGAR: It's boxing. This is a single sport by a single man against another single man. It's not one of 11 or one of nine or one of five in the world of sports; or one of millions getting downsized in that big firm in the sky. This is one man, and he's going to make his way as one man.

FINK: The family farm.

MOSS-COANE: What do you make of the fans, Larry Fink, and they certainly -- you have photographs in them. They're watching very carefully, and then there are moments when of course they're exploding with either delight or horror. What's the kind of texture you get from them?
What do they bring to the game -- the sport?

FINK: Well, since I'm in the front row, most of the texture that I get is sort of steamy.

LAUGHTER

And projectiles, you know, this ...

SUGAR: I've seen Larry. He always looks like a Sunday school teacher turning around, looking like he's waiting for the next spitball to hit him.

LAUGHTER

FINK: Really -- one-eyed Larry here.

LAUGHTER

But what I make of them -- I mean, its -- it depends on what section of the gym you go into, whether it be the lawyers or the street thugs, on what kind of -- you know, delivery do they give you, the photographer. But the photographer being in the front row, a fine artist of some repute, you know, some kind of reputation -- has no reputation whatsoever to a fight fan, which says "down in front" and when they say it, they mean it, and you better get down.

LAUGHTER

SUGAR: I've seen that act. This -- while they are, and I think there is more, if you will, comradeship amongst boxing fans, even if you're on the other side of the coin from them, and you think "X" is going to win and they think "Y" is going to win. You're sharing more with them than I ever have at anything except a college football game.

There is a camaraderie there. You're there to see a fight, and you are talking to them and I enjoy these people, and no, I'm not taking them home for dinner, but yes, I am taking them to the corner pub to analyze a fight because that is our milieu and that's where we met and that's what we have in common.

FINK: You know, it's interesting. In traveling around the country as a photographer, I'll be in airports where -- only too long periods of time -- and I'll see a guy with a boxing magazine. And I'll go up to him or they'll -- and we'll start talking. And immediately, we have a kind of fraternity which is unusual to this world. It's -- for me, it's brought an entirely new vista into my life.

MOSS-COANE: I want to thank both of you both so much for joining us today on the show. I'm sorry we're out of time. Thank you very much.

SUGAR: Thank you, Marty.

FINK: Thank you.

MOSS-COANE: Photographer Larry Fink and sports writer Bert Sugar. Their book is "Boxing."

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

TO PURCHASE AN AUDIOTAPE OF THIS PIECE, PLEASE CALL 888-NPR-NEWS

Dateline: Marty Moss-Coane, Philadelphia
Guest: Larry Fink; Bert Sugar
High: The sport of boxing his the front pages last year when boxer Mike Tyson bit the ear of his opponent, Evander Holyfield. Nevada suspended the former world champion's boxing license as a result. Now, Tyson is going back to Nevada to fight for his right to step back in the ring. Photographer Larry Fink has captured many images of boxing which have been collected in his book, "Boxing" (Powerhouse books). And sports writer Bert Sugar has written numerous works on sports and has served as senior vice president of "The Ring" magazine, a magazine on boxing. He wrote the essay included in Fink's book. They'll talk about the maligned sport.
Spec: Sports; Boxing; Mike Tyson; Evander Holyfield; New Jersey; Nevada; Entertainment
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Boxing News
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: AUGUST 14, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081403NP.217
Type: REVIEW
Head: Marshall Crenshaw
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:50

MARTY MOSS-COANE: Marshall Crenshaw put out his first album in 1982. It received rave reviews for its effervescent pop rock, like most of Crenshaw's subsequent releases. But he's remained a cult artist.

It's a measure of the interest Crenshaw still inspires that there's a new release called "The Nine Volt Years" that consists mostly of demos Crenshaw made alone in his apartment between 1979 and 1981.

Rock critic Ken Tucker says the music can hold its place with Crenshaw's most polished work.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- ROCK MUSICIAN MARSHALL CRENSHAW PERFORMING)

MARSHALL CRENSHAW, SINGER: (SINGING)

I'm suddenly the wrong place in time
I hear an echo in the back of my mind
Of all the tears that I've wasted on you
And all of the things that you used to do

I'll go on ...

KEN TUCKER, ROCK CRITIC: The key to Marshall Crenshaw's appeal is that for him, the music of the '50s and '60s isn't the stuff of nostalgia, but a continuing source of nourishment and fresh inspiration.

Crenshaw's stubbornly retro sound has kept him from becoming a star. This despite the fact that his best songs have an emotional immediacy and that rare quality of being endlessly listenable.

Here's one of Crenshaw's classic songs, "You're My Favorite Waste of Time," cut in 1979 in Crenshaw's apartment in Pelham, New York, with him playing all the instruments. If you're familiar with it from the polished studio recording Crenshaw made of this song a few years later, you'll be interested in the way the tempo is slowed down slightly here, and made more booming, more Phil Specterish (ph).

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- ROCK MUSICIAN MARSHALL CRENSHAW PERFORMING "YOU'RE MY FAVORITE WASTE OF TIME")

MARSHALL CRENSHAW, SINGER: (SINGING)

You're my ...
But you're my favorite waste of time

Here I am
I'm playing day dreams with you again
My favorite game
And you are the one
Who's got my head in the clouds of love
You're the one that I love
And you're my ...

TUCKER: Crenshaw says that the inspiration for that song came to him backstage at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh in 1979 where he was playing John Lennon in a production of "Beatlemania." Crenshaw also played Buddy Holly in the 1987 film "La Bamba." In one sense, he's always been, if not exactly stuck in the past, obsessed with it.

Here's a song he wrote with his brother Robert. It's what he calls in the liner notes, his "tribute to Burt Bacharach."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- ROCK MUSICIAN MARSHALL CRENSHAW PERFORMING)

MARSHALL CRENSHAW, SINGER: (SINGING)

All around this old town
You offer news that's going 'round
Everyone's in love with you
Everyone's in love with you

My friends and I we're in a world
We're all obsessed with the very same girl
We all are in love with you
Now everyone's in love with you

Now I suppose that I
Have got to try to outlast all the other guys
And I've got my (unintelligible)
Let's see now, pick up the pieces and say good-bye

We all are in love with you
Oh, and everyone's in love with you

TUCKER: That brother of Marshall's, Robert, has his own knack with a song. Here's one he knocked out that jumps and crackles with energy.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- ROCK MUSICIAN MARSHALL CRENSHAW PERFORMING SONG COMPOSED BY ROBERT CRENSHAW)

MARSHALL CRENSHAW, SINGER: (SINGING)

My girl Betty, she's always in something new
She says laying here beside me on (unintelligible)
She's got a secret, but I could never find it (unintelligible)
She's got everything I need and I want, but she's not you.

Well, a downtown lady now she really gets around
She says she's gonna take me with her
And we're going around tearing up the town
She's don't mind living in daydreams
I've never seen her blue

She's got everything I need and I want, but she's not you.
She's not you ...
She's not you ...
You know, she's not you ...

TUCKER: Most often, Marshall Crenshaw's music has a tart, astringent quality to it. He takes everyday phrases and situations and transforms them into heartfelt work. Drawing on prototypical rock and roll sources from Bo Diddly to early Beatles, he crafts songs that take unexpected turns, with snaking guitar lines and bridges that veer off from the melody, in ways that can make your pulse leap.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- ROCK MUSICIAN MARSHALL CRENSHAW PERFORMING)

MARSHALL CRENSHAW, SINGER: (SINGING)

It's an echo from your past
A memory you didn't know would last
You drive along with the radio on
And suddenly you're singing your old song

Oh, where can she be tonight
You're hoping that she's all right
No one ever can forget
Their first love

TUCKER: I think it's Crenshaw's greatest achievement that he never sounds like an overgrown adolescent. Rather, he taps into what is lasting in adolescence -- elements of yearning, ambition and joy, and recasts them as the work of a clear-headed adult.

And this collection, The Nine Volt Years, proves he was doing it even before he landed a major label contract.

MOSS-COANE: Ken Tucker is critic-at-large for Entertainment Weekly. He reviewed Marshall Crenshaw's new release, The Nine Volt Years, on the Razor and Tie Label.

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

TO PURCHASE AN AUDIOTAPE OF THIS PIECE, PLEASE CALL 888-NPR-NEWS

Dateline: Kent Tucker; Marty Moss-Coane, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: Ken Tucker reviews Marshall Crenshaw's latest CD, "The Nine Volt Years."
Spec: Entertainment; Music Industry; Marshall Crenshaw; Nine Volt Years
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Marshall Crenshaw
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: AUGUST 14, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081404NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: The Slums of Beverly Hills
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:56

MARTY MOSS-COANE: The big movie opening this week is "The Avengers." But since it wasn't screened beforehand for critics, John Powers reviews a small new film, and the re-release of a classic.

JOHN POWERS, FILM CRITIC: At one time or another, nearly all filmmakers are tempted by autobiography, but it's a tricky thing to pull off. Most attempts fail from a lack of perspective. The filmmaker can't distinguish what's genuinely alive about the past from what remains vivid only to them.

That's part of the problem with Tamara Jenkins' (ph) debut, "The Slums of Beverly Hills" -- a semi-autobiographical comedy that premiered at Cannes earlier this year. It's 1976 -- the great year of change for 15-year-old Vivian Abramowitz (ph), played by Natasha Leone (ph). Her breasts are growing like melons. She has her first love affair. And she bonds with an older cousin, played by Marisa Tomei, whose druggy man-driven life is an ongoing cautionary tale.

Even as her inner life's going berserk, Vivian and her two brothers are dragged between dingy apartments by their struggling father Murray, beautifully played by Alan Arkin -- a divorced car dealer who insists on living in the poor section of Beverly Hills so his kids can go to good public schools.

In telling the story, Jenkins clearly aims to show how a teenaged girl has to deal with her changing body, both physically and psychologically. Unfortunately, Jenkins' handling of this theme never gets much deeper than jocular scenes of about emerging womanhood, such as the one when Vivian and her dad go to buy her first brassiere.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- SCENE FROM "THE SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS")

ACTRESS PORTRAYING SALES CLERK IN LINGERIE STORE: She needs more than a training bra, I can tell you that.

ALAN ARKIN, ACTOR, PORTRAYING MURRAY ABRAMOWITZ: It happened, I tell you, overnight. She got stacked just like her mother.

NATASHA LEONE, ACTRESS, PORTRAYING VIVIAN ABRAMOWITZ: God.

SALES CLERK: Does that feel secure? You're a perfect "C."

LEONE: Look at me. I'm like deformed.

SALES CLERK: What are you talking? You're healthy. Some girls have one breast one size and one another. You have to get them custom made, specialty stores. That's expensive. You've been blessed. Breasts are wonderful.

POWERS: Slums of Beverly Hills labors so desperately to be a wacky comedy about a girl's coming of age that Jenkins seems unaware that there's nothing especially compelling about the brassy Vivian. In fact, the one truly memorable character is her father Murray -- a man in his late 50s who's lonely, blustering, sexually needy, concerned for his kids, and clinging to the tatters of the American dream.

Each time he comes on screen, the movie takes on a new resonance, for it is bursting with Jenkins' deeply conflicted tenderness toward her old man. Her memory of her father is far sharper and more profound than her memories of her own earlier self.

Of course, memories deceive critics, too. I've spent years remembering Fellini's 1957 "Nights of Cabiria" as an OK movie with a great performance by his wife, Julieta Messina (ph). But after seeing the newly-restored print that's currently traveling around the country, I realize I've had it precisely backwards.

Messina plays Cabiria, a shabby prostitute with a shabby fur stole who lives and works on the shabby outskirts of Rome. A Chaplinesque innocent despite her profession, Cabiria wants nothing more than to transcend, if only a little, her fallen world.

Fellini portrays her destiny in a series of five episodes, which range from a comparatively cheerful encounter with a movie star to a hauntingly beautiful scene in which Cabiria, under the spell of a music hall hypnotist, acts out a romantic fantasy before a derisive audience. Time after time, she looks for something more in life, only to find the world slapping her down.

It's a beautiful film -- one of Fellini's finest. The great Federico hadn't yet grown into the gaudy mytho-maniac of the '60s and '70s. And he tells Cabiria's story with a buoyant touch and a wonderful feel for the stark, even ratty landscapes of an outsider's Rome. In fact, Fellini's only serious mistake is the way he indulges the clown-faced Messina, whose performance, far from being unabashedly great, is often pure ham. Each time she's supposed to be earthy, she telegraphs her emotion so nakedly that I felt I was watching an old TV skit starring Carol Burnett.

But in the second half of the film, Messina begins to mute her performance, and by the final unforgettable closeup, when Cabiria faces, then rises above, the true agony of her life, she achieves a moment of extraordinary purity and pathos. At the moment of her greatest heartbreak and betrayal, Messina's Cabiria achieves a miraculous state of existential grace. She proves her humanity, not by becoming wised up, but by accepting the hard truth of her life, and then heading down the road with her heart still open to the world.

MOSS-COANE: John Powers is film critic for Vogue.

"Nights of Cabiria" is currently showing in New York and San Francisco, and opens soon in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

TO PURCHASE AN AUDIOTAPE OF THIS PIECE, PLEASE CALL 888-NPR-NEWS

Dateline: John Powers; Marty Moss-Coane, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: John Powers reviews "The Slums of Beverly Hills," an independent film with Alan Arkin and Marisa Tomei, and the re-release of Federico Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria."
Spec: Lifestyle; Culture; Entertainment; Movie Industry; Federico Fellini; Slums of Beverly Hills; Nights of Cabiria; Tamara Jenkins
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story:
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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