Sort of riffing on the Bukowski line from Bar Fly here. You know where Mickey Rourke says of the Frank Stalone bartender character: that guy symbolizes everything that disgusts me... unoriginal macho energy.
Well I'm going to go out on a limb here and state for the record that the late Hector "Macho" Camacho, for all his crimes--and they were many--did not frequently dip his water bottle into the pool of "unoriginal macho energy." Lunatic, drug addled macho energy? Sure. Homo-erotic male dominance displays featuring Village People inspired wardrobe and a Pee Wee herman spit curl? Yes. Blood curdling feats of stamina wherein he took skull crushing blows from some of the fiercest, strongest and swiftest athletes of the later 20th century... yeah, that too.
To those of you who are recent viewers of this blog, be forewarned, I have on occasion been known to devote whole posts to prize fighters, baseball players, classic hollywood era leading ladies, and seminal figures from San Francisco's nefarious past--without so much as a single fleeting mention of a fish. So here we go.
Hector "Macho" Camacho died a few days ago. Shot in the face while sitting in a parked car outside a club in Puerto Rico. The kid from the 'hood could never quite shake it's worst elements. As I indicated above "Macho" has always seemed to me an ill-fitting moniker for Hector Camacho. Can't really think of any other macho guys that were so heavily into tassels, pink trunks and spit curls. Remember the Indian head dress? The weird Graeco-Roman loincloth against De La Hoya? Camacho always reminded me of that quote from Blood Meridian, where McCarthy describes the attacking Comanches materializing out of the dust (quoting from memory here so cut me some slack): "One in a stove pipe hat worn backwards and otherwise naked, one in a blood stained wedding veil... and all the horsemen's faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns... death hilarious."
That was Hector. Death hilarious. A punk kid from the projects who made it big, threw it all the way, got it back, abused the people he loved, surrounded himself with lowlifes and parasites, lost it all again and probably had a fair share of Jake Lamotta-punching-the-walls-of-his-jail-cell type evenings in his life. Oh yeah, did I mention the cocaine? There was a lot of cocaine involved in Hector Camacho's life.
You can read all about it in this article by Ring columnist Randy Gordon.
It may sound absurd but every time I saw Camacho interviewed a sort of innocence prevailed. To talk about innocence in connection to a person like Macho Camacho may seem silly, but check out this totally ridiculous video from the eighties (muscle beach speedo and all).
"I don't look humble but I am... just don't mess with me."
I just sat here and watched a bunch of his fights on YouTube and I was struck by two things: 1. The continuing relevance of the old Dylan song: Who Killed Davey Moore (yes I'm conflicted, so what). And 2. Hector Camacho was one tough little mother fucker. I mean you can say what you will. Call him a clown, an egotist or a pretty boy. (You won't get very far with this assessment if I'm around. The guy fought Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ray Mancini, Edwin Rosario--all in their primes. And what's more he went the distance in almost all these fights. And was never knocked out. Jake Lamotta bedamned. I just watched the De La Hoya fight--where he took 50 shots to the face and head, any one of which would've put an average macho man in traction for 6 months).
When the fishwife told me that Hector Camacho had been shot in the face, I said: "That's not the way to kill him." Guess I was wrong.
Back In The Eighties
Back in the eighties when I worked on the moving trucks in uptown Manhattan, I'd say about half of the
guys in the industry were from Spanish Harlem. Of these, a fair proportion aspired to be prize fighters. My favorite of the lot was a kid named Jay who had dollar sign etched into one of his gold incisors (Money Makin' Jay The Kick Ass Kid). Macho Camacho was Jay's white whale. He could maybe go 14 minutes at a time without mentioning how badly he wanted to kick Hector Camacho's ass. He'd rail on
and on and on about how Camacho had no respect, about how he was a terrible representative of Puerto Ricans, about how he was "a sissy" a sucka, etc etc etc. Jay obviously had a touch o' the ol' Ahab syndrome, but over the years I ran into a lot of Alpha male unoriginal macho energy types, all of whom felt intense antipathy for the so called "Macho Man." In a field where everyone from the lowest guy on a moving truck to the top challenger in the world, wants to beat the living shit out of you, it's incrrdible that anyone is able to rise to the top--and to this day never fails to amaze me.
But then to take all that hateful male-dominance energy in, and show up at the ring in a loin cloth, and spit curls... i dunno... I think that's pretty damned awesome. Sugar Ray Leonard may have said it best: "Hector Camacho is the Liberace of boxing."
When will there ever be another?
Looks like Hector Camacho's funeral will be in New York. There was some debate about whether they'd have it in Puerto Rico south (the island) or Puerto Rico north (Spanish Harlem). But Mama's will prevailed.
Anyway. Got some reports of herring in the south bay. Will report tomorrow.
Here's what Oscar De La Hoya recently said about Camacho:
"As I was walking up a hike, at the foothills here in Pasadena, Calif., and as I'm walking up, I'm a little tired because it's a steep mountain.
"I received a text from my wife that reads, 'RIP Macho Camacho, he has passed.' I started running faster up the mountain. I started walking and running faster. I just got this energy.
"That's what Camacho was all about. He motivated a lot of people. He was a rock. This guy was courageous. This guy was a warrior. I felt anger, and therefore, I ran up the mountain faster.
"I felt frustration because he's one of our own. I say that as a fighter and I say that as a man who is going through what I'm going through also. He's one of our own. So it hurts. This one really hurts. It hurts in your soul."