Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Joe Frazier School of Higher Education

It's the School of Hard Knocks

Professor Joe Frazier delivers a tutorial to the great Muhammad Ali.

You'll occasionally find a reference in this blog to something I call “The Joe Frazier School of Higher Education.” This is not an accredited institution -- indeed, it’s not an institution at all. A Google search will turn up no website, no lovely photos of ivy covered walls, no football stadium or sexy cheerleaders, nor photos of beaming young co-eds gliding serenely across a leafy campus on their way to class.

Your search might, however, turn up this, wherein you will learn something about Joe Frazier, aka: Smokin’ Joe, a heavyweight boxer legendary for his relentless attack, lethal left hook, and a willingness to take three punches so long as he could land one. It was Joe Frasier who dealt Muhammad Ali -- "The Greatest" himself -- his first professional loss in a heavyweight title fight back in 1971. Joe Frazier was a force of nature in the ring, where any fighter who made a mistake paid a truly awful price – and for most, that fateful mistake came the moment they signed a contract to fight Smokin’ Joe. The result was usually a foregone conclusion, with the only question being how bad the beating would be.

In boxing, however -- and Hollywood -- there’s always another lesson waiting to be learned. Joe Frazier’s turn came in 1973, when he was knocked down six times in the first two rounds – “smoked,” as it were -- by a younger, bigger, and much stronger George Foreman: the very same, seemingly invincible heavyweight champ who would later suffer his own soul-crushing defeat at the hands of a man the boxing world had all but dismissed as a spent and over-the-hill fighter -- Muhammad Ali.

See?  What goes around, comes around.

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out -- whoever you are, and whatever “it” might be -- life has a way of sending another lesson your way. The bill for every act of smugness or hubris will eventually come due, and sometimes that price will hit with the all the brutal force of Smokin’ Joe’s murderous left hook. Thus “The Joe Frazier School of Higher Education,” where the learning never stops, and the lessons always hurt.

Like it or not, every Hollywood free-lancer is enrolled on a continuing basis in Smokin' Joe's school of hard knocks -- and although none of us will ever graduate with a cap, gown, or diploma, the lessons learned there will never be forgotten.

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