Friday, July 16, 2010

Ginzburg’s Gab

By Evan Ginzburg

Reprinted from Wrestling- Then & Now newsletter

Welcome to our 20th anniversary issue of Wrestling- Then & Now newsletter- WT&N if you will. Yes, 20 years. And that’s pretty much like dog years in the zine or sheet world if you will. There’s not a whole lot of us left with the Net pretty much killing us dead. But we’re still here doing what we do, albeit on a less frequent schedule.

You know I’m proud of what this sheet represents. It’s the sweat and blood of doing this for over two decades, 180 issues, multiple annuals, literally thousands of pages, and most importantly the pouring of our guts onto the printed page about a sport that’s been bastardized and practically destroyed. Yet we’re still somehow here and as always, with feeling.

You know, I don’t give a damn about Pay Per Views, which “sports entertainer” jumped from WWE to TNA, or the latest lowbrow wrestling angle or sad attempt at comedy. Never have, never will. This has always been a zine, a self-published exploration of something you are passionate about, It’s never been about the money or doing the most commercial publication possible. We leave that to the Wade Kellers who have spent their entire adult lives reviewing the latest Pay Per Views, giving them far more importance than they will ever truly warrant.

So 20 years into publishing this, life has taken some twists and turns, tragic and joyful since I first started this. We lost several columnists like Killer Kowalsk and Bill McCormack who I still say was the finest pure WRITER in the history of sheets. This is a medium where information is king, and the scoop is the all important criteria by which all else is judged. But this man could make you cry. He could touch you with his words. And it was an honor to showcase him to an unfortunately smaller audience than he deserved at the time, but hopefully a much larger one on my WT&N website. We also lost readers and occasional columnists like Joe Margosian and Randy Spotts- tragically both to suicides- and what more can I say that hasn’t been said already about them? All I can think of is if you have someone in your life who is talking suicide, take them seriously. Very seriously.

Most painful of all was the loss of my beloved brother, Tiger Khan, who passed 4 years ago this June and we always remember and keep his name alive. Let his death be a warning to anyone living “the wrestling lifestyle.” He was intelligent and knew the risks but was in denial like so many we lost before him and so many we’ll most likely lose after. “Don’t worry, Evan. I cycle on and off” he told me many times. “I don’t take the mega-doses like the other guys,.” Well, he went to sleep at age 33 and never woke up. And his father who just passed the other week never recovered, nor has his mother. These aren’t cartoon characters on a TV screen, they’re flesh and blood people who have a lot of folk who love them and still hurt that they’re gone. We’ll all never be the same. And like Trent Acid the other day, the body count keeps growing and growing.

Just recently, our sister sheet if you will, The Wrestling Chatterbox, saw it end with the passing of my dear friend Georgie, who remarkably was buried with a picture of her with Bruno and Buddy Rogers. Somehow that seems so fitting.

WT&N has gone from a primitive looking format to a slicker one under production ace Jeff Archer (who returns to do our cover this go round) and right back to more primitive in recent years which somehow seems to make sense considering wrestling and this newsletter peaked in popularity over 10 years ago. But I just don’t have the heart to pull the plug and maybe this will be a lifetime thing ala Georgie’s, only less regularly.

Like everything else, time will tell.

Time. And the passing of it. That’s pretty much been the theme of this sheet. Over the past 20 years we’ve been honored to have interviewed so many legends, to even have some of them write for us, to help preserve the history of this sport, even if the so called historians never quite respected what we do, waving their mighty hands and dismissing this as mere nostalgia. Noses entrenched in that microfiche, I don’t “get” what they do nor particularly enjoy it, but I respect the time and effort and passion with which they dig up those ancient results and articles and such. It is most definitely a service as pro wrestling is a sport that most people look down upon and the historians are among the ones keeping it alive. But I also truly believe that what we’ve done right here also matters in a sense. Telling just WHY this sport will always be in my heart, making the doubters understand, does count for something.

You know, I saw Ricky Steamboat wrestle Ric Flair live. And it was art. I saw The Midnight Express elevate tag team wrestling to a different level. I watched the 4 Horsemen live in Philly. I saw Bruno and SuperStar rock arenas. Tiger Mask took on Dynamite Kid and I sat in MSG transfixed. As did I when I saw Nigel McGuiness and Bryan Danielson put on the modern equivalent of Dory Funk, Jr. vs. Jack Brisco.

Art. All of it art. And maybe we helped people realize it.

And you know what, doing all of this led me to my position as Associate Producer on Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. That is art, too. 100 years from now people will enjoy that film and Mickey’s iconic performance. And I’ll be long buried, but there I’ll be acting ever so briefly with him in his Academy Award nominated performance and that’s my little piece of immortality.

Off Broadway in NYC recently had the play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity which was Pulitizer nominated. That too is art. And it’s about wrestling. You see, it doesn’t always have to be about the low brow and reaching the lowest common denominator. If I never saw 90% of the WWE and TNA crew again it would be too soon, and if I never saw another edition of Raw, Smackdown, and TNA I’d live my life quite well, thank you.

You know, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of my life involved in wrestling. Whether it’s reading about it, watching it, interviewing its stars, catching shoot interviews, etc. Thousands of live cards over 36 yeaars. Thousands of hours of TV. Countless pages and the hours writing, editing and proofreading them. Do I regret it? No. But do I feel the same way about a sport that helped result in the death of one of my closest friend and that spits on its own roots? Of course, not. Hey, they’re not wrestlers anymore, they’re sports entertainers. And we’re not fans- we’re part of the WWE universe.

Sure, we are. Keep your universe, Vince.

At times it actually makes me angry when I watch a Raw with HHH doing 20 minutes of Cro-Magnum speak or some D list celeb getting his ass kissed as he hosts the show and plugs some forgettable film or TV show. In fact, it more than angers me, it depresses me. You see, I grew up in a time when super heroes and super villains walked the Earth. Bruno and SuperStar and Kowalski and Arion and Von Ehrich and Nikolai and Blassie and The Wizard and Captain Lou and Koloff and so many others. It wasn’t real, but it was so very real to all of us.

It was a choice to turn it into a circus. A sad, tragic choice and there’s no turning back. ROH is like the little oasis out there that keeps the tradition. Support it. Support your local indie. And thanks for all your support of everything we have done and will continue to do here.

I reach more people now in a week on radio than in a year’s worth of this sporadically published sheet, and we continue to preserve history with the legends archived forever on the Net. So many of our radio guests have passed, but they’re there for your listening pleasure forever. Free and just a click of your mouse. And I think that counts for something, too.

It is with a sense of pride, joy and melancholy that each and every issue of this newsletter has been put into the mail for so many years. I sincerely hope there will be many more to come. I thank what’s left of my staff and of course the readers, many of whom have been with me since the beginning and whom I consider friends and even family. When I thought long and hard about what to put on the cover- which wrestler, which clip, it just hit me. These are my friends I’m sending this out to. Much like Georgie Makropolous did. Why not, “the wedding shot?” Share my joy. And that’s kind of like what we’ve done with this sheet for so many years- sharing the joy that this once great sport has given so many of us.

Ric Flair walking that aisle. Terry Funk. Sgt. Slaughter. Mr. Wonderful. Adrian Adonis. Eddie Guerrero. Sensational Sherri. Moolah. Eddie Gilbert. Mick Foley. Dean Malenko. The Fabulous Valiant Brothers- Jimmy and Johnny. Afa and Sika. The Iron Sheik. Superfly. Muraco. Pat Patterson. The Road Warriors. Abby and Brody and The Original Sheik. Saw them all. Live and in living color.
Yes, greatness. I have sat at the foot of greatness and the memories are with me forever. And it’s been an honor and a privilege to have shared them with you for oh so many years.

Thank you, my friends.
Thank you.

Wrestling- Then & Now is published several times a year at PO Box 640471 Oakland Gdns. Station Flushing NY 11364

Sample issues are $2.50. 6 issue subs available at $15.00 12 issue subs at $25. Add $1 per issue for overseas subs. Checks payable to Evan Ginzburg. The opinions and comments of other contributors not necessarily shared or endorsed by Evan Ginzburg.

Come down to Gizzis Coffee 16 W 8th Street NYC the first Friday of each month hosted by moi. Poets, lit readings, actors, musicians and such for a live 3 hour variety show 7-10PM. NO COVER

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