Apr 16, 2007

Review Time

'The Gangs of New York'
Novel - by Herbert Asbury (1928)

I recently finished this graphic tale of 19th century gang life in Manhattan. It's epic yet intimate at the same time. Better than the Scorsese movie in many ways, and if you're at all interested in the history of crime or New York, check it out. Did you know that executions occurred on (what would become) Liberty Island? Or what it means to 'shanghai' someone? That thieves actually held skeletons ransom (successfully)? That there used to be a large lake in lower Manhattan? That there were two rival police forces who often fought each other? Or that one of the most notorious gangsters in American history became a celebrated soldier in World War I? Anyway, I love stuff like this. If you do also, pick up a copy today (or buy my copy - give me your best offer).

'Ali, the fighter (The Fighters)'
DVD - directed by William Greaves (1971)

A documentary recounting the historic first battle between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, it shows footage of the men training, trash-talking, praying, addressing the media and each other, fans reactions, and finally, the full 15-round fight itself. Frazier is one of my all-time favorite boxers, and is sorely underrated when discussing the greats of boxing. He defeated Ali the first time, and lost on a decision and a TKO their next two fights. Frazier lost only four fights in his career (twice each to Ali and George Foreman, not exactly slouches). In others eras, he would have reigned the sport for years. It's a shame what's happened to boxing over the last decade. Because of bullshit pay-per-view, Mike Tyson's insanity, and the lack of great heavyweight fighters, boxing has become such a niche sport that you almost never hear or read about it anymore. 'The Fighters' shows boxing at the height of its popularity, and give us a glimpse of how electrifying it can be.

No comments: