See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me

By Robert Ecksel on August 25, 2013
See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me
When can a handshake be described as a bromance? Whenever it serves our agenda.

I’m no zoologist, but there are two things I know. No wild animal likes being caged and a leopard doesn’t change its spots…

Like Tommy, the Pinball Wizard, the “deaf, dumb and blind kid” from The Who’s rock opera of the same name, Mike Tyson has an ambiguous bond with his adoring fans and his own conflicted self. His turbocharged rise from obscurity and equally rapid fall from grace was more tragic than comic, but was never less than theatrical. Tabloid fodder for most of his 47 years, as much as he disgraced himself, with a little help from his friends, he disgraced the sport even more. But we Americans, simple and trusting in so many ways, gave the former baddest man on the planet a second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chance. There was no reason, aside from disappointment and gnawing doubt, not to be compassionate.

The most recent manifestation of Mike Tyson has been a good one. With his newfound sobriety, he is again in everyone’s good graces. Clean and sober, Mike has made amends, become a cultural icon, and found a modicum of peace in his once turbulent existence. Having recently morphed into a boxing promoter, which in some circles is considered the last refuge of scoundrels, he capped off this latest materialization by extending an olive branch to his longtime nemesis Teddy Atlas, live and on TV no less, as a prelude to ESPN Friday Night Fights. Tyson didn’t ask Atlas for forgiveness, which would have been appropriate under the circumstances. Instead, he said, “You’re not still mad at me are you?”

Much has been made of that 30-second tête-à-tête, too much as usual. I’m not sure when a handshake can be described as a bromance, but based on the evidence it’s whenever it serves our agenda.

Before Friday’s broadcast signed off on its season finale, ESPN anchor Todd Grisham interviewed Tyson. In addition having either forgotten or diminished what occurred between him an Atlas two hours earlier, what he said was garbled and chaotic. All that was clear was his megalomania. We are all self-involved to varying degrees, but Mike’s brand is off the charts. He described himself in the interview as a “vicious addict” who was “going to die.” Whose heart wouldn’t go out to a drug-addled former heavyweight champion on death’s doorstep? (And no, we’re not talking about Tommy Morrison.)

Less than an hour later at the post-fight presser, Mike described himself, using the same loaded adjective, as a “vicious alcoholic” who was “on the verge of dying.” Maybe in recovery-speak there’s no distinction between being an “addict” and “alcoholic.’ But in the real world, the world where words have meaning that is not elastic like rubber and fluid like water, they mean different things. What is Tyson suffering from? Is he an “addict”? Is he an “alcoholic”? Is he both? Is he neither? Is it possible he’s a pathological liar?

No one ever asks the hard questions, nor is there much need when the answers are at their fingertips. But can any of us claim to really and truly know the truth and nothing but the truth about the real Mike Tyson? He has pulled our strings and pushed our buttons with such facility for so long that he’s become the boy who cried wolf of the fight game. I’m not suggesting that he’s the reincarnation of Pinocchio, the magical marionette that plays fast and loose with the facts when it suits his purposes, despite admitting that “I’ve been lying to everybody that thinks I was sober.” But without incontrovertible proof, it’s fair to conclude that if there’s one thing he’s addicted to, aside from booze or whatever, it’s the sympathy of strangers. Is it just me, or does anybody else sense that we are being played for umpteenth time? What are we to make of the lies and incessant self-mythologizing?  What are we to make of the fictions he feeds us because of how he thinks they sound?

I’m no zoologist, but there are two things I know. The first is that no wild animal likes being caged. And the second is that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.

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  1. Joy Gross 07:51am, 08/27/2013

    Mike Tyson is a bleep in the story of my life (so far!)  My own “complete”  story has not been told - yet. My interest in Mike Tyson is connected to my association with his trainer, Cus D’Amato who I got to know very well. I know a couple of things about Cus that - as far as I know - no one else knows. Except the person who, way back in the early ‘60’s,  told me the story. His name is Joe Juliano. I met him at the boxing camp in Staatsburg where he spent some time with Cus who was buddies with my husband, Bob Gross. He told me that one night when he went up the flight of stairs to the door leading to the apartment, and turned the key in the lock, he was met by Cus who was pointing a shotgun in his face.
    “Cus, don’t shoot!  It’s me Joe!” That’s how I learned that Cus slept with a shotgun under his bed.
    I didn’t know about Cus’s connection to Fat Tony Salerno, who I also knew because he lived near Rhinebeck and used to, with his wife, dine in my son David Jacaruso’s restaurant.
    I need to clarify the statement in the above: “Cus was a raging fag”.
    My assesment would be, he was a-sexual. And I know the story of how it all happened, as told to me those many years ago, by Joe Juliano who was part of the neighborhood gang where Cus grew up -
    well, that will be told in my next book.

  2. kid vegas 04:30pm, 08/26/2013

    Thanks Mr Ecksel.

  3. Larry Link 02:29pm, 08/26/2013

  4. paul 01:43am, 08/26/2013

    He’s promoting his fights, right? It’s true, Tyson is still big. The things Tyson did to his body leading up to his peak certainly changed him physically, made him bigger, thicker, stronger - but to be a long-term alcoholic in later life, and somehow hold onto a lot of that lean, shapely muscle…..hmmmm. I think Tyson simply started to use his brain after it had really become possible to develop it anymore (he chose not to think to much, evidently, and got hit quite a lot at the end). But he had/has already cast his spell and people are still somehow mesmerized to some extent.

  5. Darrell 09:15pm, 08/25/2013

    I guess Mike just needs to go away to satisfy some people.  I’m glad he hasn’t, he is still colourful & popular.  Much of his life is “American Dream” & tragedy rolled into one.  He to some degree is obviously playing to it, and why not, it’s called making a living.

    Tall poppy syndrome is throbbing like a geiger counter at Bikini Atoll!

  6. Walter Wojtowicz 07:39pm, 08/25/2013

    Great article.  A true commentary on American culture and what we as a society put our interest towards.  Mike Tyson is not an alcoholic or an addict.  Why would we diminish such people and clump the big, goofy baby with them.  He might have drank too much in the recent past and involved himself with drugs at some point and like most alcoholics and addicts only they can identify themselves when they are willing to admit they have a problem.  But, the disease Iron Mike really suffers from is severe narcissism, immaturity, childishness, grandiosity.  I think if Mike stated in his next interview, “look alcohol and drugs aside I really am just immature and self-obsessed and I need to be more mature and emotionally stable”.. I doubt that would generate as much attention or sympathy.  He is the big baby who never takes personal responsibility for his behavior.  Always brings up the past and how others and the world have failed him.  There is ZERO argument Mike Tyson has had a tough go of it and has had incredibly tough things happen to him in his life.  But, he also was given the million dollar break and was for little more than 3 years the great athlete on the planet.  But, the reality is he and no one else threw it away.  Mike Tyson and his one man traveling carnival show is just plain horrible.  Horrible not because the show isn’t entertaining but because man is horrible and at 47 he has run out of excuses.

  7. Robert Ecksel 07:22pm, 08/25/2013

    My mistake Kid. Accept my apology.

  8. kid vegas 07:19pm, 08/25/2013

    I was not referring to you, Mr Ecksel, but I can point to a few posts that reflect some rather pointed comments. It’s just that I think our expectations are out of line with what the man is capable of delivering.

  9. Eric 05:43pm, 08/25/2013

    Healthiest looking middle-aged alcoholic/addict I’ve ever seen, and at least the healthiest looking “addict” since Lawrence Taylor in the Eighties.

  10. Robert Ecksel 05:36pm, 08/25/2013

    Hate is the one of the most overused words in the English language. I don’t hate Tyson. On the contrary. I’ve spent quality facetime with him, have always found him congenial, and frankly feel sorry for him. But to ignore the lying and manipulation is to ignore reality itself.

  11. kid vegas 04:53pm, 08/25/2013

    Who am I to judge another human being? I don’t get all this pent up hate.

  12. Darrell 03:39pm, 08/25/2013

    C’mon!  He’s done his time, in any sense that you want to put on it, and is doing as well as anyone could’ve expected.  The Iron one will get a pass from me if only due to the fact that he is a bereaved father…..that will & can, fuck up the best of us.  I would’ve expected to hear reports of him killing half his neighbourhood after that.  That it never happened can only be called….progress.

    He seems to be well aware that he was just about the most talented fistic prodigy subsumed into the life of a total scumbag.  Once again, to me, that’s progress.  He may make a decent human being in a decade or so….but then again he really doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, least of all me.

  13. peter 02:58pm, 08/25/2013

    I truly want to believe in Mike Tyson, but perhaps I’m cynical. Too many times I’ve fallen for Tyson’s old MO. As a young boy, Mike would ingratiate himself to old ladies shopping at the supermarket. These old women trusted Little Mike to carry their packages home for them for a small charge. But Mike would mug them once he got them alone in the elevator. Too many times Tyson has taken advantage of my trust and optimism and I’ve ended up feeling like one of those old ladies…I hope he proves me wrong.

  14. Mike Schmidt 12:42pm, 08/25/2013

    Won’t get fooled Again! I Can’t Explain! I Don’t Even Know Myself ! The Song is Over! Lee we better stop this or old Iron Mike will be doing a Broadway Tyson to The Who production. Tyson had trouble with big sized heavyweights even in his prime—lots of grappling and inside holding with the bigger guys—what can you say about a guy that refused to get in the ring with the comeback Big George Foreman….....!!!!!!!

  15. Clarence George 09:39am, 08/25/2013

    Good points, Irish.  I knew someone who’d been close to the Tyson camp, and she told me that he tended to follow up his bouts by using whoever was available (male or female) for sex.  His remarks about Sarah were out of the sewer.  I’m surprised he didn’t say the same about her daughters.  He should try it—Todd would gut him like a deer.  Hell, so would she!

    Yes, he was a great (or at least near-great) heavyweight and he’s a pretty good boxing historian.  But that’s about it.  Not that even he deserved to be saddled with that ultimate narcissist, Robin Givens.

  16. Robert Ecksel 08:42am, 08/25/2013

    “Heal me.” Yes, “heal me.” The most appropriate plea of them all.

  17. Lee 08:00am, 08/25/2013

    Ah yes, ‘Tommy’, the opus that also contained the words to a song that went, ‘See me, feel me, touch me, heal me…’ also appropriate in this case no?

  18. Rick 07:24am, 08/25/2013

    But I too would like to know what his supposed substance of choice is. I think you called it for what it is, which is b.s. I have no sympathy for him or anyone else who is given the world and throws it away. And I bought tickets for his little show, which were overpriced by the way, and he cancelled a few weeks before and never said why, rescheduled or anything. So screw him.

  19. Rick 07:17am, 08/25/2013

    There’s really no difference in an addict and an alcoholic in any sense. A person can be an alcoholic and not touch a drop of alcohol.

  20. Mike Schmidt 07:13am, 08/25/2013

    Bullseye fearless Editor. Mr. Tyson of course is a speaker of convenience of the moment—he fully understands what the audience wants to hear of the moment. I am not sure what his AA group approach is but surely putting an alcoholic and addict in a casino setting where booze flows freely and often for free is not a good thing. If I understood his post fight presser he has been sober for six days!!!

    His idea of “mistake” in the case of the Atlas affair goes a little bit beyond the “mistake” category—sick stuff indeed and hence the Atlas reaction at the time. No, I think Tyson reminds me of our Coyote/Shepherd dog Bronson—loyal to a degree but if you put a steak near his snout you better have your fingers and self out of the way because he can’t help himself but help himself!!!!!

  21. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:05am, 08/25/2013

    Tommy Morrison beat George Foreman….this vicious sexual predator couldn’t beat George Foreman if his life or his nuts depended on it (reincarnation of George or not)....which reminds me….do you think for a NY minute that this miscreant was not sexually predating while incarcerated. A while back he ranted on a Las Vegas radio station about raping Sarah Palin while the two sycophantic white jocks yucked it up….oblivious to the fact that if the opportunity presented itself, he would hammer their sorry asses too.

  22. Mike Casey 06:40am, 08/25/2013

    Right on the target! The media continues to indulge and gingerly tiptoe around Tyson as it does Tiger Woods. Iron Mike - according to Iron Mike - has now suffered just about every form of abuse there is. But I’m sure he’ll still manage to think of something else. Incidentally, a ‘vicious alcoholic’ rarely looks as good as Tyson does here.

  23. Clarence George 05:52am, 08/25/2013

    Very much on target.  Tyson, like all celebrities, is on a constant quest for new and improved attention-getting devices.  Both the article and its title remind me of the great Jon Polito’s appearance on “Seinfeld,” where he makes fun of the rich and famous (anyway, famous):  “Look at me…love me…want me!”

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