The Heimpel Files: ‘Fabio’s Lesson’

Here’s the latest Icelandic dispatch from Daniel Heimpel

?Oh his cherry was popped,? says Fabio from the corner of the ring. Blood sputters from my nose and my head is ringing. Fabio has been successful in teaching me an important lesson – you better move your feet, otherwise you?re gonna get wrecked.

The day before, I had been talking with Fabio about Ari, the other trainer at Reykjavik?s boxing gym. In one of Iceland?s first fights, after almost 50 years of being banned, Ari caught eight rabbit punches to the back of his head. His brain started bleeding and he was hospitalized for 3 weeks and pumped with morphine four times a day.

?A catastrophic injury, and that?s what happened to Ari, is very rare in amateur boxing,? Fabio said in his English accent. He was in Ari?s corner the night of the bludgeoning. ?What you have to worry about is attrition, getting punched in the head 100 times a day for 10-15 years. Well then you?ll have problems.?

In the gym the warm up starts how it always does when Fabio is running it. All 15 of us jump rope, and then run with weights in our hands. Run up some wood stairs with Fabio screaming and slapping on the wood railing. Punch the heavy bag. ?You messed up!? he yells ?Do 10 press ups!? Hold out weights at your sides and watch your sweat spatter the floor. Mock sparring. Parry. Slip. Feint.

?You two,? he says to the other American, 40-something with strong veiny arms, and me. ?Let?s do some sparring.?

I wrap my hands and put on the gloves. I put the mouthpiece in my mouth and wait.


Melody Reigns

Is content king? I say “nah.”

Melody reigns — its about presentation. I never realized what talented songwriting was behind The Editors‘ “Munich” until I heard Corinne Bailey Rae‘s rendition of it as performed live on KCRW‘s Morning Comes Eclectic.

It’s been in my head ever since I first heard it as done by Corinne. Perhaps I fall in love to easily, or perhaps its become too difficult to discern great songwriting from an all-to-Strokesy sound. Sorry, The Editors for saying that, I was totally inaccurate on first glance.

You can stream the entire set HERE.

Go to Corinne Bailey Rae’s website. And while you’re there, you can tell her I love her.

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Fear Factory

Can you feel it? Propaganda has peculiar ways and the U.S. continues to be one-upped as some left-field Web dispatches are making waves in the American press despite garnering little mention elsewhere.

Yesterday’s beheading video, in which, according to AP’s feature Iraq story: the “al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Sunnah” web site, signaling that “the fight is still on after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death,” posted video “showing the beheading of three alleged Shiite death squad members in revenge for killing Sunnis.” Al Jazeera, fwiw, had nothing on their web site regarding the video.

A Washington Post headline on Saturday suggested: “Zarqawi Helped U.S. Argument That Al-Qaeda Network Was in Iraq.” That being the case, this Guardian UK headline, a quote attributed to folks in Zarqawi’s native Zarqa, Jordan, is an understatement: “‘He is not dead, he is alive with God. This is a wedding, not a funeral.'”

Well color me poopless as so-called al-Qaida in Iraq is having one more field day with the media. Yet another “Web statement” is fronting AP, complete with the ominous headline: “Al-Zarqawi death prompts attack warning.”

Maliki/Bush can proclaim yet another “new day” in Iraq following al-Zarqawi’s death. But Riverbend says it best: “If ‘New’ is equal to ‘More’ and ‘Day’ is equal to ‘Suffering’, what does “New Day for Iraqis” mean?”

And as if one attack warning isn’t enough, the U.S. Embassy in China on Friday issued a warning: “Terrorist Threat against U.S. Interests in China.”

And if that’s not enough to convince us that the Communists are back as a leading nemesis in the war on terror, consider this: an act of war against the U.S. was committed yesterday in Cuba. We’re not talking Bay of Pigs, just reflecting on the completely absurd remarks by Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris following the “coordinated suicides” of three “committed jihadists” who died in acts of “asymmetrical warfare.”

Now THOSE are fighting words. After all, these Guantanamo detainees — all suspected terrorists, will never get to stand trial. Now that they’re dead.

“They have no regard for human life,” Harris added. “Neither ours nor their own.”

Dare say it goes both ways? Now that’s something to fear.


Dear North Face

The following dispatch from Daniel Heimpel was originally published here. Heimpel is a correspondent and photo model for the Iceland Review.

Dear North Face,

I hit kilometer 36 of a mountain bike race in Iceland. The sky drew black. It started to rain and didn’t stop for 19 kilometers and over an hour more. ‘D_mn this sucks, I thought, ‘but I have a North Face jacket on. At least I’ll be dry.”

But twenty minutes later I felt myself all wet underneath the $220 shell I had bought on sale from the famed North Face outlet just off of Gilman Street in West Berkeley. As the water percolated through, turning my thin stretchy long-sleeved undershirt and tee shirt wet, I became angry.

Not because I was wet. Well yes because I was wet, but moreover because a vanguard of my youth, one of the only brands I firmly believed in turned out to be such a crock. But as I slogged through the rain, my wetness becoming an obsession, I managed to think back and find evidence that the North Face would fail me when I was still in high school.

Berkeley was a medium warm kind of place. It rained and got foggy, and in high school you needed a North Face otherwise ? well – you were just wearing a rain jacket. At one of your sales at the fore mentioned North Face outlet I bought a jacket for maybe $100. It was green and I loved it.

My friend Jesse coveted this jacket. And when it came time for me to leave Berkeley High School for college he gave me a proposition.

“Let me buy that off you for $75,” he said.