Wednesday, April 29, 2020

the last book I ever read (The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling, excerpt ten)

from The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling:

I am reminded of Egan’s puff whenever I visit a bar at Eighth Avenue and 55th Street known as the Neutral Corner Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant, Steaks and Chops Our Specialty, Meet Your Favorite Fighters and Managers Here. The Neutral, as its familiars call it, is a few doors north of Stillman’s gymnasium and is patronized chiefly by fight managers, trainers, and boxers, who are locked out of Stillman’s between three and five o’clock every afternoon, and by ex-boxers, who favor a place where somebody is likely to recognize them. There are two training sessions a day at Stillman’s—from noon to three and from five-thirty to seven. The second one is a concession to the economic difficulties now afflicting the Sweet Science; an increasing number of boxers have to hold daytime jobs to keep going, and can work out only after hours. The boxers in the Neutral, being in training, do not drink; they eat on credit and occasionally, when their managers endow them with spending money, play Shuffle Alley, a table game in which one slides metal discs in the direction of electrically controlled ten-pins. Because they are temperate and of equable disposition, they seldom raise their voices. The trainers feel constrained to offer an example of sobriety; bottled beer and a cigar are about their speed. The managers are afraid to drink, lest some other manager outwit them, and the ex-boxers are usually too broke to tipple. Any unseemly words that may be heard in the place invariably emanate from some socially insecure sightseer without credentials in any record book. Otherwise, a Belcherian propriety reigns.

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