Keeping Kayfabe With Kareem

raycandy
Pro wrestler Kareem Muhammad in the camo tights, with Kevin Sullivan behind him.
In the lexicon of professional wrestling, kayfabe is the lost art of keeping the performance as authentic as humanly possible in all aspects of the business. It is not done as much now as it was decades ago, because travel, cable TV, and the Internet changed those aspects of the business. But, back in that era, when wrestlers traveled within regional circuits from city to city, “good guys” and “bad guys” would not usually travel together. If they did that, the public would figure out quicker that the business was staged, or “a work” as the industry calls it.

Back when I was 15 (not quite yet 16) in 1987, my first encounter with a pro wrestler was with a bad guy, better known in their terminology as a heel. That doesn’t mean of course that the performer is a bad guy in real life, but merely the role he plays to help his company draw, or in other words, make money for them and in turn, for himself.

I was roaming around the old Sunshine Mall in Clearwater at the JCPenneys. Most of the sets are tuned into Channel 10 on a Saturday afternoon, airing UWF wrestling, which was the old circuit that emanated from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas by that time. It was the first time I had seen the UWF on local TV, but I was a reader of the Bill Apter wrestling magazines, which is why I went to the mall to begin with, to stock up on magazines to read at the old Super X drugstore. In the era before the Internet, the mags kept a fan up to date what happened in the territories you didn’t see on local or cable TV. If you wanted to know what was going on in the WWF, you didn’t need the mags, because it was on TV everywhere via cable at the very least. If you wanted to know what was happening in the Northwest circuit based out of Portland, you’d need mags for that.

Watching the TV, I didn’t dawn on me immediately who was right next to me: a large African-American man dressed in a camo shirt and pants, chatting with a larger than average woman of color. Recognition dawned, but the name briefly escaped me. Pouring through the magazines covertly, I figure out who it is: it’s Kareem Muhammad, who got his start as Ray Candy before changing his moniker and becoming part of the tag team known as the Zambuie Express with Elijah Akeem, who used to be Bad Bad Leroy Brown. He’s working in the CWF circuit in Florida, which would wind up folding later in the year when Jim Crockett Promotions (the Mid-Atlantic circuit based in Charlotte, but by then rapidly expanding nationally to keep pace with the already expanded WWF) bought out the circuit, but then expanded too quickly. Ted Turner would buy the Crocketts out in late 1988.

(In the business, it’s not unusual for guys not well known to change names, gimmicks, homes, and go from being a good guy to a bad guy every so often. Remember, it’s all about the promotion finding the best matchups of good guys and bad guys that will get butts in the seats. Now a days, it’s not about getting fans to the local arenas, but getting ratings for the cable TV shows and the pay-per-view cards, the total opposite of the what it used to be.)

Figuring that out, we have a nice, respectful conversation. His tone is a bit gruff, probably because he’s got me figured for a mark (a fan who may or may not know the realities of the business). I wasn’t about to disrespect him, because while I’m a big kid, this dude TOWERED over me.  He’s easily got six inches of height on me, plus about 100 to 150 pounds.

I wasn’t about to razz him for being a bad guy, or to say wrestling is fake. I already KNEW wrestling was stage crafted, and it didn’t seem a good idea to confront someone MUCH bigger than me. Back then, if you questioned the credibility of pro wrestling, it was not uncommon for the one making the allegation, or anyone thinking they could take a pro wrestler, to get beat up or injured. (Hulk Hogan was one such wannabe at one time, who wound up with a broken leg when he first tried to break into the business.) I didn’t know that at the time, but I figured it’s best to keep a level head.

With that, I parted, with a story to tell my pals at Largo High School on Monday, though I don’t remember if I ever did tell it.

An Oldie But A Goodie


This is an old pic of me, going back to around 1975. I put this up to my Instagram page not too long ago, and friends loved it.

The pic was taken by an older couple named Steve and Margaret, whose last names I forget, other than it began with an O. They were co-workers with my mom and dad, who all worked at Publix Super Markets at the time, then a grocery store exclusively in Florida. I believe (though I may be incorrect) that they all worked at the store on Indian Rocks Road in Largo, Florida.

There was a time when both of my parents.worked in the late afternoons to the evenings, so “Steve O.” and his wife would babysit and generally keep me busy. I guess at one point, they wanted me to get out and play, but not get a sunburn.

That’s pretty much the story behind that pic, such as it is.

A Word From The ASPCA

It’s a slightly foggy morning where I live here in Florida. I’m waiting a couple of hours for the threat to die down completely before I take Harry to the local Petco for his quarterly nail trimming. 

Speaking of the devil…

I tend to watch Fox News if I’m at home during the day, and they sometimes run those ads for the ASPCA. There must be some philosophy that they have that those ads have to make everyone feel bad if they don’t own a pet or something

It’s always soft violin music, close ups of sad pets. I’m not saying that there are pet population problems in parts of the country. It’s logical it exists. 

I’m just saying they could make their ads a happier place. Show the happiness of pet ownership as opposed to the sadness of not being an owner. 

Next week, I will have owned Har for two years, taking care of him on and off since 2010. Generally, he improves my daily mood, making me feel better about myself. There are days he tries my patience, but you have to take the good with the bad in all of life’s elements. 

Not everyone can own a pet. If you can’t, that’s life I guess. No need to make everyone cry their eyes out over a commercial. 

Alternative Facts, You Say?


Well kids, this is going to be a bumpy ride, if the first two days of Trump’s administration are any indication of things. 

Kellyanne Conway just scared the bejesus of me, and I was a Trump voter! I saw a clip of her debating (for the lack of a better term) Chuck Todd on Meet The Press earlier today. 

Conway appears to have coined a new phrase that will likely be used repeatedly over the next few years: alternative facts. I wasn’t too pleased to hear that. 

A fact is something that can be proven beyond any doubt. As I type this blog, my heart beats. My fingers move across a cell phone technologically advanced enough to transmit these thoughts onto the Internet in blog form. Those are facts, things that can’t be in dispute. 

Tone of the argument aside, Mr. Todd is correct that alternate facts cannot exist by definition. Alternate opinions CAN exist. But Todd didn’t use that terminology.  Conway did. 

I found it all a bit embarrassing, and a bit of a blunder for the Trump team. Stay tuned. 

Morning Again


I choked up watching President Trump being sworn in. It’s a moment I’ve never experienced before watching a “transfer of power” from one President to the next. 

Trump’s inaugural speech was blustering against the profession of politics. Probably long overdue. 

Everything else I can say, I think I’ve already said in the past year or so. I think I will enjoy the rest of the day. 

There is promise once more in America. Let’s hope for the best. 

Computers And Dinosaurs

My computer desk, such as it is, January 16, 2017.
It dawns on me today that our cell phones are getting so powerful, it’s probably more likely than not they will eventually replace PC and Mac computers. I’m thinking within the next 10 years. 

I still remember when calculators were called computers. 

I still remember my first computer: one from Texas Instruments I got for Christmas in 1983. I don’t think it did all that much, though, didn’t even have BASIC on it if I remember right. The next year, I wound up getting a Commodore 64.

It had a game on it called Frog Master I’d play endlessly where frogs basically played football. They would be born, grow to adulthood, inch toward the goal line, have turf wars with each other, and disappear, which I assumed meant death. 

I’ve had a PC in my home for 20 years, minus a one year break in 2007 and 2008. Prices have come way down from when the one I got for Christmas at a Montgomery Ward store (remember those?) at the old Clearwater Mall in 1996. That was back when America Online was a big thing. 

The thing about technology seems to be its continuing evolution. Podcasts are slowly replacing radio, on-demand video eating away at TV’s industries. 

It’s a changing world, and all we do is change with it.

Beware Of Snowflakes

There were protests and demonstrations across the country last night, with a group calling themselves the “Snowflakes” ringleaders of the operation. They seem to be upset about Donald Trump being the new leader of our country, but exactly WHAT they were protesting was a bit of a mystery to me.

A lot of them cited the fact that Hillary Clinton got more actual votes than Donald Trump as their reason to protest, with Hillary holding a 200,000 vote plus lead as of this writing. Shouldn’t they (or maybe their parents) thought of that back in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush got more electoral votes?

Both parties agreed to the long standing constitutional rules of the Electoral College deciding the election. I’ve personally been a believer that the EC should be radically altered (maybe proportional disbursement of the votes as opposed to a winner take-all format) or abolished. But you can’t change the rules right after the “game” has been played. Life doesn’t work that way.

There are some logical reasons why people are upset Trump won, but this wasn’t one of them.