"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

February 19, 2008

Living Now Visits A Wrestling Match In Fall River

Hampshire College has a fantastic publication entitled Living Now. Check the archives here to see for yourself. Stories on such varied topics as Club Castoway in Whately, better known as the Whately Ballet, The Ludlow County Jail, and a photo essay on Mountain Park for instance, are just some of the great stories being told there.

"LIVING NOW was inspired by the epic documentary survey of the American people made by Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

In 2002, the writer and historian, Michael Lesy, and the photographer, Jacqueline Hayden, created a course at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts that used the FSA as a model for a fresh survey of people and places in their region...

Students enrolled in Lesy and Hayden’s course were given a semester long assignment: Go out into the world, meet people, listen and learn from them. Turn everything you’ve learned into stories and photo sequences.
Unsure if the site is still actively updated, as the stories are not dated, though I check back occasionally to see what is new, if anything. Visiting the site last night, and the following story caught my eye; Just Another Friday Night in Fall River, written by Joe Lindsay.
"I arrived at the Police Athletic League hall forty-five minutes late. There was nothing remarkable about the building, solid yellow brick, across the street from two big banks. I walked up the stairs to a pair of thick wooden doors. Three people stood on the stoop smoking cigarettes.

'Is this the entrance to the wrestling event?'

Behind the brick walls, I heard a heavy thump, then a chorus of cheers and applause.

'Yeah,' one of them said, taking a drag."
It is a unique and engaging look at a pro-wresting match put on Top Rope Promotions, "one of hundreds of small, independent wrestling organizations that conduct business just outside the city limits of Mainstream American Entertainment. Headquartered in Fall River, Top Rope puts on three or four shows a month, in towns like New Bedford, Oxford, and North Adams."

The wrestlers in the match attended by the writer included King Kong Bundy, [youtube] a wrestler who some might recall was a brand name in the WWF decades ago. Northamptonist has vivid memories of sitting in front of the TV with his father and siblings with excited anticipation of every minute of the WWF matches we watched regularly, as we stole glances at my father smiling and laughing at the absolutely enjoyable absurdity of it all.

You can read the full story from Joe Lindsay, Just Another Friday Night in Fall River, with pictures, here. Joe's account reminded me of a similar story which seems appropriate to share here, which was recently spied on the interwebs from a photographer and multimedia storyteller in Brooklyn NY, Bryan Derballa.

In late January Bryan wrote,
Thanks to Alex Porta for spotting a flyer on a telephone pool because we ended up spending Friday night at a bingo hall in Brooklyn watching a sold-out "professional" wrestling match. The event was sponsored by Boy Scout Troop #996 and sold hamburgers for $1.50. The air was heavy with greasy smoke, tension and jubliation.
The stunningly beautiful photos from that event, along with as an inspiring and moving video, can be found here.

Alternatively, you could click on the photo at the right to view the quicktime movie.

LABELS: arts and culture, massachusetts