Fidel

castro744-copyTo all the ships at sea,

There are certain subjects (boy, do I dislike that word) that you’re not supposed to talk about. Religion is one of them. Sexual orientation is another. Politics, oh my god- you never talk about politics. That can definitely come up and bite you on the ass and many other parts of your body. I would like to believe that I do not see color.

So where am I going with this? What I’m about to say is my opinion and I’m aware that I could be wrong. A long, long time ago, I’m of the belief that in 1957, ’58,  and ’59, Fidel Castro was a true hero. Unfortunately, sometime after 1960, his relationship with the United States went to hell in a hand basket. (Again, keep in mind that this is my opinion and not a fact.) I believe if Fidel had been a little bit more flexible and if the USA, the biggest, richest, and strongest country in the world, had taken a different point of view, it would be a radically different world. This would at least be the case 90 miles off the shore of Florida and maybe, just maybe, the beautiful, wonderful, lovely Cuban people would have grown with all of the technological advances to become a better, more complete society. It wouldn’t be communism, it wouldn’t be socialism, and it wouldn’t be fascism- it would be old fashioned capitalism.

Two days after we left Cuba, Fidel Castro died. I wish we were there to record the feelings of the people, but that ship sailed. We’ll be back early next year. It’s very difficult for Americans to quite understand the concept of this type of socialism. They remind me that it is a lot like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. I understand while the Russians were there, their standard of living was one hundred times better than it was under Batista. Unfortunately for them, when the USSR folded, the Cuban economy went south very quickly and was unable to work its way out of that hole. Not true. Many people have signed on for private business through the Cuban government- a little bit of capitalism, and once they get a taste of it they really like it. When you dovetail their education, their ability to do very hard work, and their dreams of the future, you come up with quite the “reaching for the stars” kind of attitude. Pretty amazing stuff. I hope and pray that the 800 pound gorilla cuts them a little bit of slack. These are really beautiful people who I think deserve a shot at the golden ring. Attached you’ll see a photograph of the first private restaurant on the island. 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Dick Drew: A Great Shooter, Happy Birthday

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

I’ve been extremely fortunate in photographing several Olympics. The first Olympics I photographed I met a great photographer by the name of Dick Drew. For whatever reason that I do not recall, I think we were being punished and we had to photograph a soccer game in a monsoon. If I have it right Dick and I built a little tent, crawled in it, and shot through the tent. Wow… I hope that’s right. So, to my dear friend whom I don’t see very often, happy birthday. And for god’s sake, stay dry! Check out Dick Drew on the Internet- really a fine, fine photographer.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Ho, Ho, Ho… Five Stars

©Sam Garcia

©Sam Garcia

To all the ships at sea,

I love the holidays just like anybody else: Christmas, New Years, New Years One, New Years Two, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, Diwali… Invariably, I get hundreds of holiday cards. I very rarely get a card that totally turns me on. Mr. Sam Garcia sent this card and I absolutely love it, my partner JoAnne absolutely loves it, and my studio manager absolutely loves it. Okay, enough love – I am going to share his holiday spirit with you. I’m not even going to show you my card this year. Great job Sam!

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Kid Chocolate Alias Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

In all my previous trips to Cuba, we never put boxing on our people-to-people trips or our humanitarian trips. On this VIP trip (Joe and JoAnne) Havana was seen up close and personal. I asked where the boxing gym was and they all said Kid Chocolate. Not wanting to be argumentative, I said, “Si!” Of course I know Kid Chocolate as Peter Quillin, a middle weight from Chicago. Well, there was another Kid Chocolate and that Kid Chocolate had a total of 152 fights and 136 wins. Kid Chocolate is now the name of the boxing gym in Old Havana. Of course, not doing my research properly, I showed up at the gym on a Sunday. I go to Gleason’s on Sundays all the time… well Kid Chocolate is not open on Sundays, so two security people who spoke a little English said to come back mañana. Sure enough we returned mañana and the security people, recognizing us from the day before, took us through the back door. I have to tell you, this was the smallest, darkest, and most cramped boxing gym I’ve ever been in- and I’ve been in a lot of gyms, some in bars and even in private homes. They didn’t have a ring! I spoke to the manager of the gym. We talked a little bit and I gifted him a few of my boxing photographs. We also met all of the boxers that were going to work out that day (all boxing in Cuba is amateur and amateur only- it wasn’t that way in the 20s, 30s and 40s, but it is that way now). My initial reaction was, ”Wow, this venue is impossible to make a good photograph in.” As one of my old friends would say, it was “o’dark 30.” JoAnne stuck her head in and said she’d sit outside. Well, we walked two miles to the gym and I wasn’t ready to walk two miles back so I said, “Let’s make a few frames.” I switched to black and white, went to jpeg fine and shot everything with a 24mm lens. I looked at a few of the images and they seemed to be acceptable. When I went out to get a breath of fresh air, JoAnne was meditating; I asked her if she would like to come back in and she did. Being the seasoned pro that JoAnne is, she made sure she knew exactly where I was shooting and made sure to stay out of my frame as I made sure to stay out of her frame. The two of us danced around this extremely small, extremely hot, extremely  dark gym and guess what? The photos turned out to be just fine. Fast forward a week later (the first time we got to a computer) and I looked at JoAnne’s work and I have to tell you it was amazingly great.I loved her images, which shouldn’t surprise me. I’d like to share these images with you as well. There’s no doubt we are going to go back. As a matter of fact, I may look for an angel or two to see if we can go back and make a documentary on Cuban boxing. The number one trainer is Carlos Manuel Miranda La O and the associate trainer is Michell.

Please take some time to read this Wikapedia page on the real Kid Chocolate from the 1930s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kid_Chocolate 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

© JoAnne Kalish

Fun #4

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

I stopped by a yard sale last year and this old, red coffee can caught my eye. I put it near the studio outside, looked at it all winter, looked at it all spring until a couple of weeds decided to start growing in it. JoAnne walked past the can and saw these beautiful green weeds growing and thought she’d help me out by pulling them out. So much for green and red! I thought something was there- the red really caught my eye. A branch fell down next to it.The branch came from heaven. (If you don’t believe in heaven, I guess it came from the sky… and if you don’t believe in the sky then you’re going to fail Star Trek 1 – the TV show not the movie!)  I picked it up, stuck it inside, took it to the studio, took three frames and then my phone rang. The next day I looked at the frames. I’m not complaining, I’m just explaining! I’m having fun! It will not be entered in the NPPA year-end contest. Then again, I’m no longer a member of the National Press Photographers Association. Wow, now that I said that maybe I should send in my dues…

Thank God It’s Tuesday

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

You think you’ve seen everything? I personally haven’t seen everything. In a few days I’ll be at the American Embassy in Cuba and that evening, JoAnne and I will be going to see the ballet. The next night, we are going to listen to and photograph some of the greatest jazz available on the island- for that matter, the greatest jazz available in the world. This morning, I decided to get up early at my normal five o’clock time and, instead of going to the gym, I went to the Milford Bible Church to cast my vote. My one vote and it’s all mine. Should have gotten up at 4 o’clock. Today would have been a perfect day for a drone with a super wide 360 lens. That is the only way you could possibly understand what it possibly looked like in this very tiny town. To all the ships at sea, it should be an interesting ride. See you when I’m back in the country.

Joe D.

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© Joe DiMaggio

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© Joe DiMaggio

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© Joe DiMaggio

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© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

It’s About Time- Thank God!

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It was all worth it- even the 100 pesos from my friend Mark!

“If you are going to endure years — no, generations — of futility and heartbreak, when you do finally win a World Series championship, it may as well be a memorable one.

The Chicago Cubs did just that, shattering their 108-year championship drought in epic fashion: with an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7, which began on Wednesday night, carried into Thursday morning and seemed to end all too soon.”

© Matt Slocum

© Matt Slocum

Another Great Day at Gleason’s

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© Joe DiMaggio

The first time I walked into Gleason’s was in 1975. That was the old Gleason’s in Manhattan. The new-old Gleason’s has been around for about three decades. It has the same ambiance as the old Gleason’s. Not only does it have the same red walls but also the same smell that permeates Gleason’s. I’ve taken several hundred people there and they absolutely love it – as they should. It’s not only a piece of history but it’s also living history and, as we all know, a little bit of sweat equity never hurt anybody. Bruce Silverglade is the the current owner and his father before him was the previous owner. The original Bobby Gleason’s wasn’t Bobby Gleason’s at all- it was Bob Gagliardi. The reason Bob changed his name to Bobby Gleason is that the fight game back in those days was predominantly Irish. Wow, I wonder what Donald Trump would say about that?  The Irish were rapidly followed by the Italians, then African Americans, the Hispanics, oh my god- everybody! That’s why they call it a melting pot! Gleason’s remains the oldest boxing gym in the United States. Every time I leave Gleason’s, I feel younger, stronger, and that my focus is better. I absolutely love it. It’s like going home. The purpose of my visit was to interview Khalid Twaiti. We have been following Khalid for the last 12 years. Khalid is a brilliant young man who will be graduating LIU with a major in business and he’ll be having his first professional fight on December 10th. Khalid expects to have three championship belts in three different weight classes within the next four years; I genuinely believe he will attain his goal.

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© Joe DiMaggio

I also had a great surprise at Gleason’s. I met Bruce Silverglade’s son, David, and David is cut from the same cloth as his dad. Extremely bright, well read, well spoken, and a tough S.O.B. – and that’s a good thing! We had a great one-hour conversation. David opened my eyes to a few things- let’s call it a little bit more education. You know what? It’s all good.Last but not least, it was great to see some old friends (even though they like to beat up on me!)

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© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea, Gleason’s will be closing their doors in early December… not exactly! They’re moving to a new location just a few blocks away from the current location. I’m looking forward to photographing it before doors open. I understand Bruce got a great discount on some red paint; I can’t wait. A new era will be born at the new Gleason’s and it will be as great as those before it.

See you on the road again,

Joe D.

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© Joe DiMaggio

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© Dylan DiMaggio

Live, Laugh, Love and Be Happy

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Someday, maybe, I’ll write All About Boots. My mom was a very special human being in many ways. This morning I was at the Vallejo Public Library, and I walked past The Joseph Room, named for her. She was president of the Library Board when they built the “new” library in 1962. That’s only part of the story. To do it they had to commit numerous architectural and cultural crimes. They tore down the old Carnegie Library, which was a jewel and – and- and -and -oh my God – they demolished the Lower Two Blocks of Georgia Street, two blocks of bars, bordellos, saloons, bars, cafes, shoe shine parlors, bars, pool halls, and bars. The dirty rotten bastards (my mom and her uptight middle-class bourgeois ladies club witches – I say witches – and they built a nice, modern library with big (dirty) windows and open air spaces. Yuk! as we used to say. I was there this morning fetching more Lee Child novels about a maniac named Jack Reacher. They just made a movie with Tom Cruise as Reacher and his books are always on the Times best-seller list, so I figured I might check him out. I’ve read three so far, and have two more. That’s probably enough. Jack Reacher is part Rambo, part Dirty Harry, part Bourne and part Bond, because Child is a Brit, or all things. In every book Reacher will kill a dozen human beings, some with his bare hands, and every fancy martial art move you can imagine will be described in excruciating detail. Enough of the book review.

May the best team not lose the World Series.

Mark”