the pugilist poet

Arthur Cravan (born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd on May 22, 1887) was known as a pugilist, a poet and a larger-than-life character.

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“Cravan was born and educated in Lausanne, Switzerland, then at an English military academy from which he was expelled after spanking a teacher

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He set out to promote himself as an eccentric and an art critic, though his interest was showing off a striking personal style rather than discussing art. To a degree, Cravan was a charlatan as well as a genius. He staged spectacles and stunts with himself at the centre, pulling down his pants in public and once acting on the front of a line of carts where he paraded his skills as a boxer and singer.

After the First World War began, Cravan left Paris to avoid being drafted into military service. On a stopover in the Canary Islands a boxing match was arranged between Cravan and the reigning world champion, Jack Johnson, to raise money for Cravan’s passage to the United States. Posters for the match touted him as “European champion.” Johnson, who didn’t know who he was, knocked Cravan out solidly, noting in his autobiography that Cravan must have been out of training.

Jack Johnson found here

His style involved continuous re-invention of his public persona, and outrageous statements and boasts. As the nephew of Oscar Wilde (his father’s sister, Constance Mary Lloyd, was married to Wilde) he even produced hoaxes—documents and poems—and then signed them “Oscar Wilde”. In 1913 he published an article claiming that his uncle was still alive and had visited him in Paris. The New York Times published the rumor, even though Cravan and Wilde never met.

On the page and in person, Cravan paraded himself as “the poet with the shortest haircut in the world.”  Penniless most of the time, he drank in dive sports bars in the Bronx and slept rough in Central Park. Marcel Duchamp invited Cravan to a conference at Grand Central Palace. His lecture caused a sensation: drunk and undressing, he cussed out an audience who called the cops, shocking the Greenwich Village avant-garde.

Marcel Duchamp found here

It was in New York that he fell in love with the poet Mina Loy. They moved to Mexico together and married in 1918. The couple planned a trip to Argentina but did not have enough money for both of them to book passage on the same vessel. Loy took the trip on a regular ship and Cravan set out alone on a sailboat. He never arrived in Argentina and it is presumed that he died, aged 31, in a storm at sea. Mina gave birth to their daughter, Fabienne, in April. She spent a year searching for him, and decades fantasizing his return. Although theories abound, the mystery of his disappearance has never been solved. 

Mina Loy found here

a shamrock the size of a dahlia

Jack Doyle was an Irish singer, actor and boxer also known as the Gorgeous Gael.

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“At the age of 19 he missed out on the British Heavyweight title to the holder, Welshman, Jack Petersen. Witnesses claim that he had done most of his warming up in a pub not far from the bout. Within the opening seconds he knew he was in trouble and decided to take the easy way out. He was disqualified for repeatedly punching low.

Shortly after, his singing voice was discovered and his soft tenor voice and handsome looks were selling out the London Palladium and the Royal in Dublin. But his love for the drink and generous nature soon started to take its toll on his health.

He returned to Ireland with his new girlfriend Movita Castaneda, a member of the Mexican aristocracy and Hollywood starlet who would later marry Marlon Brando. Following a celebrity wedding in Dublin’s Westland Row Church they toured both sides of the Irish Sea, selling out music halls and opera houses.

image of Movita with Clark Gable found here

Life changed again for Jack; Movita left him, he went down in the first round of a professional fight after turning up drunk, and then spent time in jail for punching out a Garda detective. Patrick Campbell tells here of his attempt at a comeback with a brand new fighting act.

“There was a skirl of bagpipes and six Irish laborers in saffron kilts marched in, blowing the martial air O’Donnell Abu. Behind them, gleaming in a white silk robe and a heavy coating of bottled suntan, tramped the Gorgeous Gael, with a shamrock the size of a dahlia embroidered over his heart. The procession made one circuit outside the ring and was about to embark upon another when a female fan in the front row put out her foot and tripped up the leading piper, who fell on his bag and burst it. Most of the other pipers fell on top of him. Unruffled as ever by adversity, the Gael stepped over them and climbed into the ring……

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He had a number of successful scuffles against elderly and mainly bald Hungarians, Greeks and Turks, causing many of them to retire by falling on them from his full height while he, and they, thought he was merely maneuvering for a wristlock.

Mr Campbell relates the thrilling tale of a fight with Two-Ton Tony Galento which ends badly for our hero. Or did it?

image of Galento found here

Galento, dressed in black fur and purple wool trunks, certainly did look extremely frightening. It might have been this that decided Jack to stake all on one desperate throw. He sprang forward and with a display of strength that brought gasps from the girls raised Two-Ton Tony about shoulder high.

We shall never know what he meant to do with him, because at this moment he ran out of steam. His legs buckled. He dropped his adversary from a height of about five feet. With a thud that shook the whole arena Galento fell like a stone onto his bald skull and lay at Jack’s feet, apparently dead. Jack disentangled himself fastidiously and was walking back to his corner when he heard a hoarse cry of warning from his seconds. He swung around to see Galento coming at him like a rhino. Our man acted with his usual resource. “Stop!” he cried, throwing up his left hand. “Rib’s gone,” he panted, grasping the injured part with the other hand. The fight was over.

Afterwards Galento was in his dressing room with the accessories of a top hat and a cigar added to his purple trunks and a showgirl sitting on his knee. But there were so many girls in the Doyle shrine down the corridor, all trying to massage the injured rib, that you couldn’t even open the door. Once again it was easy to see who was the real winner.

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Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 8:19 am  Comments (37)  
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beware the jack dempsey erection

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Lina Basquette was a prima ballerina and silent movie star who was married nine times. She also caught the attention of Adolf Hitler.

“The man repelled me so much” she recounted. “He had terrible body odour; he was flatulent. But he had a sweet smile, and above all, he had these strange penetrating eyes.”

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Her first husband,  Sam Warner, was 20 years older than his bride.

“He died two years later of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 40. She had one daughter, Lita, by this marriage. Husband No. 2 was cinematographer J. Peverell Marley and they divorced about a year later. She was also widowed by Husband No. 3, actor Ray Hallam, who married her in 1931 and died that same year at age 26. Husband No. 4 and 5 was Theodore Hayes, former boxing trainer to prizefighter Jack Dempsey. They married in December of 1931 but it was annulled when it was found he was a bigamist; they remarried in 1933 but divorced two years later after having one son, Edward. Marriages to Husband No. 6, British actor Henry Mollison, No. 7, Warner Gilmore, and No. 8, Frank Mancuso, ended in divorce.

She also had an affair with Jack Dempsey

Dempsey was a strong, powerful youth who quickly discovered he had a talent for fighting. With the help of his older brother Bernie Dempsey, he began training to be a professional boxer. His other brother, John Dempsey, shot his own wife, then killed himself in a murder-suicide in 1927

Dempsey was for a short time, a part-time bodyguard for Thomas F. Kearns, president of The Salt Lake Tribune. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Dempsey worked in a shipyard while continuing to box. After the war, he was accused by some boxing fans of being a draft dodger. It was not until 1920 that he was able to clear his name on that account, when evidence was produced showing he had attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army but had been turned down

But Jack Dempsey is not only the name of a famous boxer.

“It’s a cichlid fish that is widely distributed across North and Central America  Its common name refers to its aggressive nature and strong facial features, likened to that of the famous 1920s boxer.

In 1997 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a man had died when he put a Jack Dempsey into his mouth as a joke: the fish erected its fin spines to avoid being swallowed, a characteristic cichlid anti-predator response, and became wedged in the man’s throat.

In an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, a Jack Dempsey is recovered at the scene of a murder, and is taken home by an unsuspecting Detective John Munch, who intends to give it to his tropical fish-collecting girlfriend as a present. As a surprise, he places the fish in her aquarium, where it proceeds to devour $4,000 worth of her fish before being removed. Munch later refers to the fish as an “assassin who uses piranhas as toothpicks.”

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 7:11 am  Comments (34)  
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mary mary quite contrary

Let’s play 6 degrees of separation with Annie Besant, Charles Leadbetter, Charles Manson, Mary Ann MacLean, Mary Tyler Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson… the connections are diabetes, animal rights, cults and people who travel with an entourage.

Sugar Ray Robinson was the pioneer of boxing’s bigger-than-life entourages, including a secretary, barber, masseur, voice coach, a coterie of trainers, beautiful women, a dwarf mascot and lifelong manager George Gainford. When Robinson returned to Paris in 1962—where he was a national hero—to get him to cross the seas the French had to promise to bring over his masseur, his hairdresser, a guy who whistled while he trained, and his trademark pink Cadillac. In his later years he was diagnosed with diabetes and Alzheimer’s.”

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The actress Mary Tyler Moore is well known for her charity work and various political causes, particularly on behalf of Animal rights and Diabetes.  In the photo below she is shown with the editor of Process magazine.

The Process Church of the Final Judgement was founded by Mary Ann MacLean and Robert DeGrimston Moore. Several sources report her as having once been married to Sugar Ray Robinson, but an equal number refute this claim.

In 1965, Compulsions Analysis, a derivative of Scientology, became the Process Church of the Final Judgement. The following year, Mary Ann, Robert, about 30 of their entourage and six Alsatian dogs travelled to Mexico City and down the Yucatan coast to the hippie paradise of Xtul before returning to London. Processeans hit the streets asking for donations. Mary Ann was a fanatical anti-vivisectionist; cult members were told to say the money was going to ‘animal welfare,’ although most of it landed in the DeGrimstons’ pocket. They also set up a church in Cole Street, San Francisco where they were close neighbours with Charles Manson.

Charles Manson was interested in Scientology and the Church of the Final Judgement. Two Processeans visited Manson in jail; Manson later contributed a stream-of-unconsciousness rant for the Process “Death” issue, calling death “total awareness, closing the circle, bringing the soul to now.” DeGrimston wrote of Satan and Christ coming together; to those in the know, that was just another name for Charlie.

Annie Besant also lived in London where she supported humanitarian causes, mysteries and occult teachings. In 1902, she and six others journeyed to Paris where she became a member of the Theosophical Society and met Charles W Leadbeater who convinced her she was a clairvoyant.

“In 1906 Leadbeater suddenly became the centre of controversy when it emerged that he was sleeping with young boys and engaging in mutual masturbation with them — Leadbeater explained that he had been offering them advice and guidance in order to keep them from sleeping with women”

more images of Annie Besant and C W Leadbeater here

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 7:42 am  Comments (28)  
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