[posted 1/13/11 to http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com]
I just finished reading the chapter “A Sponsor for Alimany” in Mick Foley’s latest book, Countdown to Lockdown. It is reason enough to take a pause from my advocacy of reform and regulation of the pro wrestling industry.
Though Countdown to Lockdown is not Foley’s best book, I have to say in all candor that he’s probably a more intuitively natural writer than I. He’s an inveterate name-dropper, but what the heck, at least he name-drops down the social ladder as well as up.
As every reader has learned to expect from him, there’s a nonstop barrage of pop-culture references. I mean, I watch the new Hawaii Five-O, and I am smitten by Grace Park as the new-and-improved Kono and everything. But in comparison with Foley, I might as well be the finger-wagging author of The Closing of the American Mind.
So, yes, Foley is charming. Endlessly so, even annoyingly so. The cadence of his punch lines – inevitably a non sequitur or fantasy or falsity at the end of a list of examples – is so predictable and full of neurotic tics that he can come off as the WASP Woody Allen. And by the way, that’s not a compliment from me.
Like a lot of others, I didn’t like it when Foley endorsed Linda McMahon in the Connecticut Senate race last year, in what was obviously either an explicit or a tacit quid pro quo for a plug of his book on World Wrestling Entertainment television (an unprecedented use of WWE air time for talent currently affiliated with an opposition promotion).
But as I said, I just read “A Sponsor for Alimany,” about Foley’s work with ChildFund International, and I’m hooked. Cactus Jack/Mankind/Dude Love may be a world-class crackpot – literally – but what resides in his heart is not fool’s gold. Whatever I think of the model of Foley’s hardcore stuntman wrestling career or the specifics of his politics, he is someone who thinks and feels about the larger world, who believes in the power of his celebrity to improve it, and who acts on those beliefs, daily and concretely. These traits get him “over” with this reader.
In response, I’ve done two things. First, I gave Countdown to Lockdown to my older daughter and asked her to read “A Sponsor for Alimany.” (The book was actually a gift from the mother of my daughter’s best friend: thank you, Angela and Zooey.) Mara is a freshman at Berkeley High School and she is currently doing a unit on West Africa in one of her classes.
Second, I took up Mick Foley’s exhortation on page 191 and contributed to ChildFund International. I’m pretty broke right now and I can’t handle a full ongoing child sponsorship, but I made a one-time donation of $28 (the monthly cost of a sponsorship). I urge everyone reading this to do at least as much. You can call ChildFund International at 800-776-6767 or go to http://childfund.org. Be sure to earmark your funds for the Bombali area of Sierra Leone.
Good game, brother Mick.