Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Tag Archives: Joe Gans

A Full Life Living Here… Letting Cats Out of Bags

English: Tex Rickard, American boxing promoter...

Tex Rickard, American boxing promoter and founder of the NHL’s New York Rangers.

Living here, there’s a certain sense of relaxation; maybe I’ve mentioned it: we’re all on Goldfield time here. It makes sense that country music, with its laid back style of verbalization, is popular in places like this. We just don’t give a fuck. We’re here because we’re independent, but here in Goldfield we’re working on our interdependence skills.

Having said that, there is no place like this: This IS Goldfield.

You do realize that I live in a small town that was once a very important city, right? There are plenty of books and links to describe, in detail for you, what this place once was, but let me say now,  it’s a new animal here at this point. We’re a tight knit community now.

Everywhere I look are familiar faces, whether I like that or not. I could paint them leery or friendly, my choice, but it’s a very small number of people living here in this remote, high desert town.

I was in the Goldfield Gift Shop today and saw an attractive female, a blond. She wore a blue tank top. I don’t even prefer blonds, but it was a rare event, in all honesty. Not to put anyone down; I’m just saying that seeing an attractive female that’s not taken (spoken for) is a rare event these days for me. Without the commuters that we’re all trying to turn into “tourists”, this place would suck, completely.. haha.. Fresh blood rolls through every minute of the day.

I’d like to get all Edward Abbey on you, wax on about the mustard sunset and the burnt umber rocks and venomous critters, but it’s not my focus to speak of th0se things. I’m more about people. I’m more about community. I’m more about what the Greeks termed ‘agora’, or market place. People, art, socializing, psyche.

There’s no reason to not let the cat out of the bag but my roommate, Zak, and I are considering opening a coffee shop/art gallery in the space beside said gift shop, between it and our radio station where I have a show, Radio Goldfield, http://www.KGFN.org, and across the street from the famous Goldfield Hotel (which was actually called ‘The Goldfield’ in its day, by the way.) It’s time to start wheeling and dealing with this building’s owner.

At this point, we’re thinking signage:

Joshua Tree
Coffee, Art, Books and Music
Goldfield, NV

 I’m probably gonna’ need an investor or two for our shop. (hint hint) Time to make some money now.

At this moment the Chamber of Commerce is having its meeting and I’m down the street typing on the radio station’s computer. I am happy to report, these days, I represent only myself. During my ‘rein’ we tripled membership; my job is done there.

More cats I might like to bring out of the bag are these:

Nevada Matters wants to interview me for their radio show on Fox News Radio about the current happenings in Goldfield and also there’s a cable TV network that’s interested in coming to our town, with my help. It seems someone, technologically adept is needed to make connection and I’m that guy. They really wanna’ film us burning a bus at the Car Forest. I can’t divulge more than that.

I’m interested in promoting a big boxing event in our town to commemorate the historically groundbreaking boxing match between Joe Gans and Oscar Nelson that happened here in 1906. Tex Rickard went on to found Madison Square Gardens, but before that, he promoted that match, here in Goldfield. Maybe in the future, someone will compare me and my co-conspirators to him and his. I recently interviewed, for my show, the president of Friends of Joe Gans and the author of a new book about that match, “The Longest Fight”.

The Car Forest gets visitors from all over the world every week. Our work seems to be done here. It’s an art installation and it will never be “finished”. It may be time to move on to other projects for me, though. Unfortunately the owner happens to be a prick and I’m interested in disassociating myself with him.

A friend of mine is promoting his event, a soap box derby competition for adults, and there’s a new BMX track in town for the kiddies. They have very big lights for night events. I can tell ya, the soap box derby guy’s name is James and I see that he’s never gonna’ stop workin’ it. His wife is president of the Firefighter’s Association, here, and between you and me, some cool things are in the works.

My friend, John Ekman, pres of the Historical Society, is employing me to paint an old train of theirs with the words The Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company. He’s one of the most intelligent Goldfielders I know; though another contender for that distinction would be a guy I helped to build a yurt with last weekend, Bill. Both divide their time between here and California cities.

Apparently there’s a big gold mine moving back into town. We’ll see how that turns out. Somebody from the community needs to get some serious money from their corporation, if this is true. I call it image laundering, and a multi-national like that needs to clean their appearance if they wanna cash in on this place where WE live. Dominic is a friend and our County Commissioner. My hope is that he understands how to play hard ball with these boardroom stiffs.

I went to the courthouse today to collect a couple applications for a couple job openings. I doubt I’ll pursue either job, really. One thing I’m sure of, though, is it’s time to make some money, here in my far away place.

Regarding all of this, you’ll just have to stay tuned. I’m gonna’ go grille some chicken breasts now for my roommate and his kid, Alison. She’s 5 and more adorable than you can imagine.

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Goldfield Chamber Presented with Joe Gans Banner, Labor Day, 2012

Goldfield NV 1900a

Goldfield NV 1900a (Photo credit: DB’s travels)

Life is full here in Goldfield. I fill my own time with working on the Car Forest, moving rocks, painting and burying cars, fixing up the house and hosting visitors that have come to see the cars. I also work on Chamber of Commerce projects such as our current community effort called Beautify Goldfield where our army of volunteers is hitting the streets. In a couple weeks we’ll be cleaning up the town together. Also, we’ve voted to make the town’s slogan official “World’s Greatest Gold Camp”.

A personal and creative outlet for me is producing my weekly radio show, Audio Sorgfield on KGFN. That one is all me, but today I got to use the radio show in the service of the Chamber of Commerce. I invited a special guest and we talked about an important historic Goldfield event.

The President of Friends of Joe Gans was in town this weekend. Kevin Grace is about 40 years old and full of zeal concerning all things Joe Gans. Grace formed his organization to promote the accomplishments of this historic boxer and bring his name back into prominence. Both are from Baltimore.

Obtained at http://www.antekprizering.com/01.1...

Obtained at http://www.antekprizering.com/01.14.04.html. Picture taken in 1899. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Out of the blue, at the Chamber office yesterday, Kevin showed up. It’s the second time he’s paid our town a visit and this time he wanted to be here on Labor Day, the fight’s 106th anniversary. Grace’s first visit was 8 months ago and he was by the Goldfield Chamber’s Vice President, Dominic Pappalardo. Angela Haag and Allen Metscher of our Historical Society showed Kevin around. We have a simple plaque in the fight’s historic location as well as a more prominent one outside the courthouse downtown.

Joe Gans was the lightweight champion of the world and back in 1906 he fought Oscar “Battling” Nelson and won the match after 42 rounds to defend his title. That was right here in Goldfield. To some, this was the most important fight of the century. 42 frickin’ rounds!?! It was one of the first sporting events ever to be filmed and gloves had been a recent introduction to the sport.

Joe Gans was the first black American sports super star and this fight was at the center of attention in the sporting world. Gans won his portion of the $30,000 purse-the biggest ever at the time-and with it he opened the Goldfield Hotel back in Baltimore. $11,000, he walked away with, invested that in building the Goldfield and is purported to be the first ever African American in Baltimore to own a car! The car’s price? $5,555.00.

Even in Gans’ hometown of Baltimore, MD he’s been practically erased from history. His historic Goldfield Hotel was demolished and replaced with a post office, which inhabits the spot today. This establishment was America’s first “Black & Tan” club. Whites and blacks dined and caroused together, enjoying ragtime music.

Eubie Blake, an important ragtime musician, got his start at the Goldfield. He has a famous tune called The Goldfield Rag.

Tex Rickard promoted the fight. He was the Don King of his day and lived here in Goldfield until he moved onward. He ended up being one of the founders of Madison Square Garden in New York City. His historic house is still standing, here, though in a shabby state of disrepair.

Talking with the owner of the land on which the Gans Nelson historic marker sits, we discussed possible future plans to name his pond, currently being constructed, after the boxing match. Grace and I would like to have a more substantial monument erected to mark the location as well.

Tomorrow, Grace will be presenting to the Chamber a beautiful banner commemorating the fight. Soon I’ll be painting a scene from the historic boxing match on one of our cars at the CarForest. I’m very interested in getting one of the artists I know commissioned to do a bronze commemorative sculpture on the site. If you saw the spot, you wouldn’t believe something so historic happened there. It deserves the most dignified marker.

I’m honored to be involved with this piece of historic significance.

Labor Day, 2012, Kevin Grace presents the Goldfield Chamber with a gorgeous banner commemorating the historic Gans Nelson fight that took place here 106 years ago to the day.

The Gans Nelson banner at the resting place of Joe Gans in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Baltimore Maryland, courtesy of Friends of Joe Gans.

In Search of the Historic Gans/Nelson Stadium

Obtained at http://www.antekprizering.com/01.1...

Joe Gans

You’ve seen the coming of age films & you’ve seen similar stories of “the times they are a changin’.” Well, this is one of those.

I’m making my way to the site of a historic boxing match. It was 1906 and this was one of the first sporting events ever to be filmed.

The sport, itself, was something new called Gloved Boxing. The match lasted 42 rounds. Joe Gans finally won by a technical foul. His opponent was “Battling” Nelson. The $30,000 purse made news around the world. They brought in extra train cars to sit on the tracks to house the huge audience in train cars. They built a stadium just for the event and today, on foot, I’m making my way to that location at the North edge of my town, Goldfield, Nevada. I know it was just beside the ruins of the old train station.

I sat down to scribble these words at a line of rocks. It appears this was a storefront at one time and I looked down at the dust around my boots to discover melted clumps of glass. I have to wonder if these are remains from the 1923 fire that was Goldfield’s second major death toll. A flash flood had hit the town in 1913 with a couple fires in 1905 and ’06.

I’ve found the ruins and they lie on private property, in what appears to be a junkyard with a crane and trucks and engines in various states of decay. This mostly fallen down plastered-over brick building has graffiti scratched into it. It’s really a very unremarkable site, other than how it sadly sits, forgotten, in the middle of this sagebrush industrial graveyard.

There is an aluminum plaque at the site that my friend Dominic, a county commissioner, later showed me there. I can’t get over how forgotten the location has been left. The current family that owns the land was headed by a maritime contractor, who’s now passed away.

To describe what I’m seeing: it’s a long gully, a wash, parceled with junk vehicles and the ubiquitous scatter of Goldfield rust bunnies. I see homes, on ridges, over looking this section, but here it seems pretty clear of population. I assume it tends to flood. I swear I just heard an ‘oogahh’ horn.

Not a trace here of that stadium that I’ve seen in historical pictures and a video clip on YouTube. I did find a cement framed box, standing all alone beside a dusty car path with cement barriers blocking entry. In a sea of sagebrush, I can tell this is not a related artifact. Someone has dumped trash into this box, with discolored plastic toys and a vinyl purse, some shoes, a phone and various rubbish scattered.

Later, I’m told that the wooden stadium was quickly dismantled and sent elsewhere. Wood is a hot commodity in this semi-barren desert town-always has been.

The aroma of sagebrush here is almost overpowering. I found a cool keychain on the ground from Nevada’s famed Mustang Ranch brothel. It’s brass and purports a ‘stud farm’ at the brothel and says “Ask for Dave”. I’m keeping it. I put the keys back on the ground that had been attached to it. I don’t know who Dave is. I hope he finds his keys. This place is a paradise for ground scores.

Anyone seeing me wandering around this site must be wondering why a man in work boots and jeans with a nice shirt and tie would be here. Earlier today, I just happened to be a witness in a court case concerning a man who wears a gun. The case was in our beautiful wild west courthouse at the center of town.

There was a time when a gun drawn and pointed at someone’s face was considered a “disagreement”. Today, a person simply wearing a firearm is considered a criminal. My friend is no criminal, he just loves guns. He was found innocent of false imprisonment with a deadly weapon and also coercion.

The times they are a changin’. Welcome to Goldfield where stories like these seem appropriate.

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