Over the span of his decades putting thoughts into words, and presenting the results to readers, including you folks who log on to TSS, Thomas Hauser has found the boxing world to be a rich feeding-ground to bring his talents to the fore. His intense curiosity, at what makes people tick, how they react when pushed, or pulled, has resulted in a full bookshelf's worth of quality material.
The latest, which is sitting next to “Whitey Bulger,” by Cullen and Murphy, on the shelf in the living room, is called “Reflections.”
When it arrived in my mailbox, I tore open the packaging, and looked at the cover. Not a bent nose to be seen. Not a cascade of blood-tinged sweat being evicted from anyone's brow…no, I looked at Ringo, John, George and Paul staring back at me.
In case you didn't know, Hauser doesn't just do boxing. He began his career as the author of Missing, a politically-themed effort made into an Academy Award-winning film. Right now, he's moving a novel on Charles Dickens into the selling stage. In “Reflections,” the writer ponders the Beatles, and explores racism, religion, and the effort is dedicated to the people at Columbia in NYC, where he studied undergrad and in the law school.
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A reader might chuckle, as I did, discovering the first article Hauser wrote for publication, after leaving a career as a litigator for Wall St. firms, “The Crank-Call Caper.” Oh, and I do think the purchase price of the book is worth it to read about Hausers' introduction to coitus. Teaser: Someone ended up crying post-fling.
Another tease: did you know that Hauser has written under the pseudonym “Martin Bear” rather extensively?
I chatted with the TSS contributor about this book, and the state of the planet.
Question from Michael Woods: A non-boxing book…you getting tired of the sport?
Answer from Thomas Hauser: I've always tried to balance my life so that I'm involved creatively with a wide range of subjects. In the past, I've written books on subjects as diverse and Beethoven, Chernobyl, and moral values. This fall, Counterpoint is publishing a novel I wrote entitled “The Final Recollections of Charles Dickens.” “Reflections” reflects that pattern. It includes all of the articles I've written over the years that have nothing to do with sports.The book starts off with a look at the Beatles. There won't ever be anything like that and them again, will there? Is that disheartening? Or should we just enjoy the experience and not lament the passing of the era? Certain performing artists are special. Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley are two other examples. The first thing that separates them from their peers is their talent. The Beatles could sing, but three of them were also wonderful songwriters and all four played their instruments well. But another reason the Beatles stand out in history is that they helped shape the music of their time and the era in which they were at their creative peak (the 1960s). Muhammad Ali did that as an athlete. The Beatles did it as a rock band. Will there ever be a phenomenon like the Beatles again? Probably not. The world is different. In the 1960s, music was the lifeblood for the youth culture. That's no longer the case. But people can still enjoy the Beatles music the same way they enjoy great plays, great books, and great art from the past.
Q) You did a Q n A with Al Sharpton. A new scandal, of sorts, erupted after the book came out. It turns out Sharpton was a rat, you could argue, working to snare bad guys on behalf of the the FBI. Would that new info inform or change the essay in the book?
A) No. The recent reports regarding Al Sharpton were a rehash of old news. The Q&A with Sharpton (and also the negative thoughts about Sharpton expressed in the book by Roger Wilklns and Mary Frances Berry) stand on their own. Also, I have to say, the interview with Sharpton was quite revealing to me. At one point, I asked him what flaws he saw in himself, And he answered: “Vanity. A lack of discipline. Responding out of anger. Doing what I think is politically expedient. Saying something that I know will make a good sound bite on the evening news but isn't necessarily the best way to communicate the truth. Giving in to the temptation to seize the moment instead of working to define the hour, which is a much more difficult task. You know, part of being a good minister is to minister with yourself and deal honestly with your own flaws. And a lot of that for me was maturity and spiritually coming in tune with the idea that, if I'm going to be effective, I have to deal with my own sins. Real spiritual purity is learning that you can't have a ministry where you're feeding on the applause of the crowd. You have to feed the needs of the crowd. That might not always make the crowd happy. It might not make them applaud. It might not be the sound-bite that some guy who's looking for a story on the evening news wants from you. But I know the difference between saying something because it's cute and it's going to make the news, as opposed to saying something that needs to be said and is giving voice to something important that has been ignored and will give people a broader understanding of a good cause. You know that song they sing in church: “If I never reach perfection; Lord, I tried.” Well, I'm trying.” (EDITOR NOTE: Thanks to Hauser for highlighting that excerpt. What superb, insightful, self-reflective material from Sharpton. That he is cognizant of his flaws and voices that makes him rise in my estimation a tick. We should all be so cognizant, yes?)
Q) A chapter touches on homelessness. Do you reflect and became angry so many of those past problems don't get solved adequately, or are you able to summon optimism? The homeless rate in NYC is astounding for such a wealthy city…or maybe it isn't astounding…
A) I'm frustrated by the disparity of wealth in America today. But I'm also frustrated by the teaching of creationism as science, the lack of a serious effort to combat global warming, and a host of other problems. The political system is broken, and I'm not optimistic that it will be fixed in the near future.
Q) Finally, what is a desired takeaway for the reader of “Reflections?”
Some of the essays in “Reflections” deal with subjects like the origins of Christmas Carols and Santa Claus and are meant to be fun. Others (such as “A God to Hope For”) are on a deeper scale and meant to be thought-provoking. My hope is that readers will have a good time, smile a lot, and use the more serious essays as a starting point for expanding their own thoughts.