Monthly Archives: July 2011

Punching Bags

Jack Dempsey punching bag. (Image via Harry E. Winkler Collection of Boxing Photographs)

Jack Dempsey sporting small gloves for a big job. (Image via Harry E. Winkler Collection of Boxing Photographs)

A.J. Liebling, who wrote The Sweet Science in 1956, was nostalgic for a time when neighborhood boxing clubs were common, before they were overtaken by family circle TV. I won’t go that far but I do happen to believe in the value of neighborhood boxing clubs as a venue to learn and grow, and also as an outlet to explode and work out the jitters. The heavy bag and the speed bag are the iconic pieces of boxing paraphernalia, but there are others, and the intent here isn’t to hand hold or bury you in information, but give a little history and perhaps inspire you to try these tools of the sweet science. (Note that this isn’t an endorsement of professional boxing, which I see as a mismanaged and crooked beast.)


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A drawing from Merriweather Lewis' field journal from Fort Clatsop, Oregon. (Image from Brain Pickings)

Notes and a fish from the Clatsop, Oregon, field journal of Merriweather Lewis, February 24, 1806. (Image from Brain Pickings)

1. Cursive is dead: “That cursive-challenged class included Alex Heck, 22, who said she barely remembered how to read or write cursive. Ms. Heck and a cousin leafed through their grandmother’s journal shortly after she died, but could barely read her cursive handwriting.” The New York Times.

2. Handwriting shrinks as desperation builds: “To Whom It May Concern,” from Assorted Street Posters, Outsiders, UbuWeb. Collected in New York from 1985 to the present.


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A very large rope with a man's hand for scale.

A man’s hand dwarfed by the brawny girth of rope.

Rope is the wheel of the ocean. Man has used it to bind together and control materials for millennia, from raftsmen navigating the rabid waters of the Nile to nomadic whale hunters rolling over the dark fathoms of the sea. It is a tool that predates all but the most rudimentary instruments of survival — the sharpened stone, the blunt hand tool — and like these objects, versions of it are found in nature: the vine, the twisted branches of plants, even the muscle fiber beneath your skin.


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