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Unbelievable story on Joe Namath in the Village Voice (1969)

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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:49 PM
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Unbelievable story on Joe Namath in the Village Voice (1969)
July 17, 1969, Vol. XIV, No. 40

Making Contact With Broadway Joe
by Barbara Long

The masses forever fend for themselves as best they can, and, forever elitists, young writers go straight to political leaders for that love and attention needed most by young writers, most meaningful when bestowed blessing-like by rich and powerful elitist men, some sweet reassurances that the specific whences from which we came have given us some special edge on Truth and Beauty. Robert Kennedy, for example, taught my old buddy Jack Newfield the particular beauty of growing up poor in Bedford-Stuyvesant, an experience that a young writer might otherwise have regarded as a singular pain in the ass. Political wisdom may reside in Brooklyn Heights, then, but political soul definitely rests in the black-shoes breasts of white urban college-graduate slum kids.

Rural slum-kid credentials tend to be trickier, however, the influences and effects endlessly multiple; another political leader of a decidedly different ilk than the late Kennedy, possibly as rich, certainly more urbane, wanting nothing from our meeting except a pleasant lunch, showed me recently that growing up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, population 18,000, had taught me very little about Truth, merely a great deal about growing up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. He had asked me what I thought of Joe Namath.

Roots serve to define those concepts with which one has to deal, and those one grasps intuitively. I have not had to deal with Joe Namath, because Joe Namath comes from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and kids from P'burg automatically understand kids from Beaver Falls. Surrounded by farms, occupied by factories, the hometown of Robert B. Meyner and his mother Sadie, Phillipsburg sits on the Delaware River across from Easton, Pennsylvania, a town driven through to reach the Pennsylvania Dutch and coal-mining countries from New York. Our high school football team plays some of the "concrete kid" football teams that play Beaver Falls. Our towns share the same deadliness, except that the literary tragedy of coal mining towns makes them more glamorous. When you get out of school in either town, you either run away, go to college (something you have to fight your parents about because college education is not part of the lower-class white Protestant plan), get a job, get married, or live at home with your parents until you do get married. Conversations among adults dwell on remembering details, the who-was-theres and the exact days piling up until the insignificant event takes on historic importance. The bars are plentiful and all the same; the Sundays are suicide days; the need for cars is the same; and the "hanging out" is the same, a Beaver Falls predisposition to the hustler mentality, the factor now screwing Joe Namath.

"Joe Namath is a jerk," I said.

Wonderful writing puts the reader right into the place...It's just so strange to read in todays era of ESPN, image/PR managers and oh-so-perfectly crafted public lives...
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 05:33 PM
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1. That was Joe.
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 05:37 PM by trof
I was a student at the University of Alabama in 1964, Joe's last year there.
It was certainly magic time for him and Bear Bryant.

Joe was always a hot dog, and Bryant had a hard time keeping him 'somewhat' under control.

I shot pool with him and a few other guys one night.
(Long story)
Yeah, he was kind of a jerk.
He came from a dirt poor background and now was a celeb.
He knew the big bucks were on their way.
So it was understandable, if not laudable.

It's an old and familiar story, I guess.
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orion007 Donating Member (466 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 08:53 PM
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2. In the early 70s he would come to the Salty Dog which was located
close to the Nassau Coliseum and was the favorite local hang out of the athletes.
He was wearing his "white" fur coat and it was impressive at the time.
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chollybocker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 09:15 PM
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3. Your comment is right on, and not just in sports reporting.
I sometimes kill a few hours reading old magazine and newspaper articles on googlebooks and, while the agendas, in hindsight, seem obvious, the quality of the writing is head and shoulders above the current lot. The lucre of the agenda has superceded any attempt at quality and integrity. It's sad.
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