"I Am the Greatest"; Poker, Smoke (1907)
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Bapopik at AOL.COM
Fri Jan 11 02:41:59 UTC 2002
"I AM THE GREATEST"
From the NEW YORK PRESS, January 9-15, 2002, pg. 8, col. 4:
(Gary Belkin wrote for Sid Caesar, Carol Burnett, MAD magazine, others--ed.)
According to Belkin, he's also one of the world's most popular poets. Muhammad Ali just gets all the credit.
It's 1962, and Columbia Records hires Belkin to work on _I Am the Greatest_. The Cassius Clay album is set for release in '63, just in time to capitalize on Clay's upcoming championship bout against Sonny Liston. "The idea was that I would write 60 percent of the album," Belkin says, "but I ended up writing the whole thing. My poems pushed his image a little further. It wasn't 'I am the prettiest,' but more about 'I am the greatest.' I hated that they put in rim shots at the end of every joke, but I couldn't change that. I was just the ghostwriter."
(George Plimpton didn't believe Beklin was the ghost. David Remnick, the NEW YORKER editor who did a book on Ali, got it wrong--ed.)
"You know," Belkin adds, "writers are supposed to stay behind the scenes. It's part of my job. The only thing I really resent is the smugness of the literati. I don't mind when Muhammad Ali says he wrote my poems. I mind when David Remnick says I don't exist."
(The RHHDAS cites "the greatest" from Robert Gold's JAZZ TALK (1946)--ed.)
POKER, SMOKE AND OTHER THINGS
Designed by W. M. RHOADS
Fun by PERCY HAMMOND and GEORGE C. WHARTON
Abbetted in Pictures, by ALBERT OLSON
Rules of poker by the banker
Recipes by many friends
Toasts from everywhere
Mixed drinks by the bar-fan
The Reilly & Britton Co., Chicago
I looked for this book at the NYPL, which said it had it, but didn't have it.
So then I looked at the Library of Congress, which said it had it, but didn't have it.
So then some wag suggested that I buy it used on the internet, even though it would cost me MORE MONEY THAN I'VE EVER MADE FROM WRITING IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. (Which is, of course, about $100.)
So then I order it, and it's sent 3-day air, and it arrives FOUR WEEKS LATER.
"'Twenty-Three for you,' said the King." (Cartoon--ed.)
TECHNICAL TERMS: Age, Ante, Blind, Bluff, Call, Chips, Coming In, Draw, Foul Hand, Going Better, Going In, In the Pot, Jack Pot, Limit, Making Good, Open, Original Hand, Pat Hand, Pass, Pot, Raise, Say, See, Stay, Straddle.
"Four of a Kind." (Cartoon of a card of four black babies, or "spades"--ed.)
"Staying In." (Cartoon of a card of a man with a baby--ed.)
"Two Pair." (Cartoon of a card of a man and a woman--ed.)
"Calling for a Sight." (Cartoon of a card of a beautiful woman--ed.)
"Standing Pat." (Cartoon of a card of a policeman--Patrick?--with a "23" star on his chest--ed.)
SPANISH PEPPER SANDWICHES.
CHICKEN LIVER SANDWICHES.
CLUB HOUSE SANDWICHES.
APPLE AND CELERY SANDWICHES.
SWISS CHEESE SANDWICHES.
"Cold Feet." (Cartoon card--ed.)
"Sweetening the Pot." (Cartoon card--ed.)
OYSTERS AND CELERY.
"Feeding the Kitty." (Cartoon page--ed.)
CHICKEN HASH WITH MUSHROOMS.
"CHATHAM ARTILLERY PUNCH." Savannah, Ga.
BLUE GRASS PUNCH.
REGENT'S PUNCH. (Stansberry's Recipe.)
KENTUCKY MINT JULEP. Harry Hoffman, Louisville.
GEORGIA MINT JULEP. A. S. H.
NEW ORLEANS MINT JULEP.
OLD FASHIONED WHISKEY.
MAMIE TAYLOR. (A famous drink. Not in OED?--ed.)
"To smoke a cigar through a mouthpiece is equivalent to kissing a lady through a respirator."
"It's wrong to play poker--the way some men play it."
"One Jack pot doesn't make a winner."
"A loser has bad luck; a winner good judgment."
"Tell me how a man plays poker, and I will tell you what he is."
"May bad luck follow you all your days--and never overtake you."
"Here's to Man, God's First thought; Here's to Woman, God's second thought; And, as second thoughts are always best! Here's to Woman!"
"Here's to the three keys of friendship--Drink, Steal and Lie. When you drink, drink with friends; when you steal, steal away from bad company, and when you lie, lie to save trouble."
(This last, in varying forms, is famous. I saw it attributed to Jack London, but this is the earliest cite I have for it--ed.)
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