Muhammad Ali died over the weekend. For decades, Ali had battled Parkinson’s Disease in the public eye. It robbed him of his ability to speak.
The Ali one sees in old footage won’t stop talking. And it was this Ali that agreed to do a story with Roger Ebert in 1979, two years before his final fight. The two got together to watch Rocky II.
The story is great. Ebert even rides with Ali to the screening, and sees the former champ surprise fellow drivers by sitting in the front seat and waving at them. “Not one person who saw Ali in the car failed to recognize him, to wave at him, to shout something,” Ebert writes. “Ali says he is the most famous person in the world. He may be right.” Read more »
Photograph by Steve Boyle
The Joltin’ Jabs gym on Sansom Street is just a few blocks away from Rittenhouse Square, but be forewarned, ye who enter — you won’t be pampered, coddled or comforted. You will sweat, and you will suffer.
The man responsible for your pain is sitting across from me on a folding chair, surrounded by heavy bags and speed bags hung from the ceiling — the tools of his trade. Joey DeMalavez — former pro boxer, current Philadelphia trainer du jour, future shoo-in for reality-TV stardom — wears red track pants, a white knit cap on his shaved head, and a Joltin’ Jabs long-sleeve shirt that doesn’t hide his ample biceps or the tattoos that run up his neck and down to his wrists. There’s a skull on his right hand, an open Bible with a heart on the left one, and a bold letter on each finger that together spell out JOLTIN’ JABS.
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Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer has an interview online today with the New York Times talking bars, rescuing them, and TV. The conversation takes a detour into his time managing a Philly bar during the early 1980s: Read more »
I wrote an article in 2013 titled, “How Far Did Rocky Go in His Training Run in ‘Rocky II’?” Connecting the various scenes of Rocky Balboa’s long training run in Rocky II, the route I drew had the Italian Stallion going nearly 30.61 miles in that one montage.
A lot of people read it! It was aggregated across the Internet. Rebecca Barber turned it into a real thing with the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run, now in its third year. I even wrote a spinoff, based on the ambulance route at the start of the film, last year.
Creed — where Rocky trains Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, for his first big fight — came out in November. It was pretty great: Director Ryan Coogler did a fantastic job inserting a new character into the Rocky franchise, Michael B. Jordan was a solid lead and Sylvester Stallone actually turned in the best acting performance of his career. There was also a little bit of running in it.
As such, I figured this article deserved a sequel: How far did Adonis run in Creed? Read more »
Yo, Adrian! Guess which Best Picture winner says its title in the movie more than any other?
At the 49th Academy Awards, Rocky beat All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory, Network and Taxi Driver for Best Picture. That’s pretty amazing in and of itself. That win allowed it to claim another title: Rocky is the Best Picture winner that says its title in the film more than any other. “Rocky” is said in Rocky 73 times, narrowly defeating 1982’s Gandhi (which says “Gandhi” 68 times).
The list was compiled this weekend by West Philadelphia resident Ryan Godfrey, who compiled a spreadsheet of every Best Picture winner — from 1927’s Wings to 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — in the order of times they say their title.
Read more »
Sylvester Stallone is now a three-time Academy Award nominee.
The actor was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his seventh portrayal of Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa in Creed. It was the second time he is up for an acting award. He was previously nominated for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for Rocky in 1976. He didn’t win either award, though Rocky won Best Picture that year.
Though the Oscars have different voters, Stallone already won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Balboa. Read more »
In case you missed it in the New Year’s Eve madness, the Wall Street Journal last week published an article about Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney’s habit of having his team break down film the day before its games. Nothing new in that. But Swinney isn’t screening footage of Clemson’s opponents. He’s showing his team the latest Hollywood flicks. And since his team is undefeated and ranked number one in the nation, his method must be working. Clemson plays Alabama in Monday’s national championship game. Read more »
I went and saw Creed last weekend. Reader, I cried.
I cried when Rocky Balboa got sick.
I cried when Creed put on his papa’s boxing trunks.
And the waterworks absolutely flowed when — after being held in abeyance all movie — the horns of the original Rocky theme finally sounded at a critical moment in Creed’s climactic big fight.
It was all very macho.
This weekend, my wife and I took my 7-year-old son to see the new Star Wars movie. I got a little misty at getting to repeat a ritual that my parents and family shared when I was a child; and yes, there were key points in the movie — I’ll not spoil them at this early date — when my eyes were so wet I could barely see the screen.
I mention this not just because I am exceedingly vulnerable to cinematic manipulation and nostalgia — though that is surely true — but because the two movies together made me realize this: Forty years after the modern blockbuster franchise movie era was born, with Jaws and Rocky and Star Wars and a blaze of both special effects and Roman numerals, corrupt old youth-obsessed Hollywood has been forced to give us something it usually tries to avoid:
Meditations on aging, loss, and death. Read more »
Have you ever had the eerie realization that you were being directly marketed to? Have you ever watched a commercial for light beer featuring 15 urban youths in knockoff flannels and Knockaround sunglasses dancing to the sounds of Los Campesinos and realize that an executive has looked into the zeitgeist and found your heart? When you heard about the Netflix and Chill button were you momentarily elated and then terrified at how your elation is because it’s being felt by millions of other 20/30 somethings?
Creed feels like that, after you let it sit in your brain for a couple of minutes. It’s not Rocky for millennials; it’s a millennial boxing movie, featuring Rocky Balboa. Let me explain:
For starters, Adonis himself is a light-heavyweight. Why? Well, aside from the fact that no one really knew how to make Michael B. Jordan beef up to the size of mahogany god Carl Weathers without destroying his endocrine system, heavyweights aren’t popular anymore. Today, heavyweight fights are one-sided, kind of boring, without a savior and, on top of it all, dominated by dudes who aren’t even from the Americas. We haven’t had a great, tyrannical heavyweight champ since Tyson; we haven’t had a likable, non-Ukrainian heavyweight since Lennox Lewis. The past years have been dominated by Wladimir Klitschko; the future is to be dominated by Chinese-Ivan-Drago Taishan Dong.
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Baby Rocky | Photo via Dana Stow
So, remember that baby who was named Rocky, not so much after Rocky the character, but after the Rocky 50K run? I’m not making this up, swear. If you need a refresher: Back in 2013, the first year of the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run, local runner Dana Stow ran the fun run — that’s 31 miles of fun, if you didn’t know — and soon after found out she was pregnant. The not-yet-born baby got nicknamed Rocky and the name stuck. Come August of 2014, Rocky Asa Noon was born, and Stow emailed Rocky 50K founder Rebecca Barber to let her know “the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run was what inspired us to name our boy Rocky.”
And I know it doesn’t sound like it could get any cuter, but it does. Read more »