On Fighters and Bullies, From Hope to Despair

This article was originally published on the No Depression dot com website a week before the American presidential elections, the one where Clinton beat Trump with popular votes but was trounced in the more more important Electoral College. The original title was ‘The Pivot from Warren Zevon to Maureen McGovern’ for reasons that will be clear if you choose to read it. The new title speaks for itself. God help us all.

I was thinking about the phrase “the long and the short of it” when I plugged “tall man and midget” into the Bing Image Search without regard for using an offensive term now considered to be perjorative. Pop culture aficionados and armchair athletes who still believe that professional wrestling is a sport will likely recognize Andre the Giant but might not know who the smaller man is.

By the smile on his face in that photo, you can probably figure out that this is a a staged photograph and Andre is not about to beat the little guy to a pulp. It’s a publicity stunt, and the shorter of the two men was a former champ and featherweight boxer by the name of Bobby Chacon, who was promoting a 1979 fight with world champion Alexis Arguello. He lost by a knockout in the seventh round.

Three years later, Chacon came back strong, winning five fights in a row, and was considered a serious title contender again. But his first wife, Valerie, wasn’t a fan of Bobby’s chosen profession, and pleaded with him to give up boxing. He refused, and the night before a big fight she used a rifle to kill herself. Choosing to move forward — and dedicating the fight to her memory — he beat his opponent. Over the next few years, he went on to hold two world titles.

Some may recall that Chacon makes an appearance in the 1987 Warren Zevon song, “Boom Boom Mancini.”

Chacon’s success continued throughout the early 1980s. He remarried, bought a large mansion, had over 40 horses, and collected Rolls Royces. And while his life appeared to be one of success, in 1984 he was convicted of beating his wife, and seven years later his son was killed in a gang shooting. By 2000, he’d remarried and divorced  three more times, lost most of his savings, was being cared for by a nurse, and suffered from dementia pugilistica. Valerie’s earlier fears came true, and last September Bobby Chacon passed away at age 64.

While there’s nothing quite like a feel-good story to put things into perspective, please allow me to pivot.

If you’ve been following my Broadside columns over the past few months, it should come as no surprise that I’m hoping the American people will turn their backs on the con man with hate in his heart and choose instead to elect a slightly flawed woman as our new president. I am not naive: regardless of the outcome, the cacophony of hate and rhetoric will continue, as will increasing economic inequality and political gridlock.

We’re living in dark times with only slivers of sunshine. Some days can feel like an episode of Walking Dead.

Wait … cut to Zevon again.


So, “the long and the short of it” is that while part of me feels as if we’re on a stinking, sinking ship, I’m a sucker for a great Hollywood ending. Which made me think of The Poseidon Adventure — one of the first big-budget disaster films ever made, back in 1972, about a cruise ship that drowns in the drink. It features that schlocky but beautiful theme song by the great Maureen McGovern.

There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on looking for the light

Just singing the first verse lifts the weight from my heart and, for the briefest of moments, I think I too can see the sunshine.

Oh, can’t you see the morning after?
It’s waiting right outside the storm
Why don’t we cross the bridge together
And find a place that’s safe and warm?

Yes. Yes — that’s what I want, too. Safe and warm.

Join me, America. Wake up on election day and vote for Hillary Clinton. And if, for some reason, it all goes crazy wacky bananas and the orange man gets the gig, hold someone you love close to you and sing:

It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time