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Gym owner Richard Lord PHOTO COURTESY ZIPPORAH FILMS WATCH a trailer for Boxing Gym at tzlo.conVboxinggYm The great documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has his own views. His remarkable documentary, Boxing Gym, looks at the daily routine of a nondescript gym in a nondescript Austin neighborhood. The 80-year-old director postulates that boxing is a form of hypnosis, which might seem a little odd. Hypnosis is best served by silence, or at least quiet. Boxing is about grunts and groans and great, heaving exertions and body parts slapping into other body parts. The film is hypnotic. Eschewing voice-overs, narration, talking-head interviews and any sort of written information, Wiseman sets up his camera and films fighters at work, basking in the rhythms of training, day after day. Wiseman’s movie is more of an aural experience than a visual one. “The first thing you get down is the rhythm,” a fighter at Richard Lord’s Boxing Gym tells a beginner, and Wiseman makes that advice the guiding principle of the film. Boxing Gym is a marvel of unobtrusive cinema-verite and polyrhythmic musical invention in which instruments are the repetitious thwack of jump ropes on concrete, the squeak of shoes on canvas, the thump of gloves on the heavy bag, the heavy breathing of men and women, the rat-a-tat triplets of the speed bag and the sickening thud of gloved fists colliding with torsos, just to remind us it’s not all poetry and art and music. The movements and rhythmic insistence of Boxing Gym’s fighters are ends to themselves. They don’t add up to anythingno narrative, no plotline, no character developmentbeyond the simple artistry of acts performed until they’re mastered. Wiseman the artist truly shines in the editing room, transforming 100 hours of unremarkable routine into 90 minutes of music. Wiseman joked in a recent interview that Boxing Gym is like a Philip Glass composition: If you listen enough to the repeated sounds of the gym, eventually they’ll start to sound like something else entirely, something more mysterious. For 45 years, Wiseman has been mapping the interiors of our institutions high schools, housing projects, mental hospitals. In his newest movie, he plays alchemist, turning a boxing gym into a monastery: a place where devotees commune through their fists. El THE SOUND OF FALLING by Vernon Fowlkes Jr. Whispers are falling on the rooftop. The chatter of night rain drips among the stones, takes root and collects in vessels that hours before were only bowls full of night, reflecting no one, remembering nothing not spoken, not yet broken beyond the tongue. These whispers claim the heart is an aging wine. These whispers say your father is falling with the rain. Yes, there’s something odd about the sound of all this falling, this clatter of night stammering beneath the eaves. It’s grief that gathers in vessels that only minutes before were but time spinning the wheel of night, still remembering no one, still reflecting nothing not spoken or broken beyond the tongue’s missing shadow. This sound of falling tells you to think of your eye as a new religion. This sound tells you that your father will always be falling inside these rooms of rain. Vernon Fowlkes Jr. lives and writes in Mobile, Ala. THE TEXAS OBSERVER . Periodicals Postage paid in Austin, TX, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin TX 78701. Subscriptions: 1 yr $35, 2 yr $60, 3 yr $85. Students $20. Foreign, add $13 to domestic price. Back issues $5. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N Zeeb Rd, Ann Arbor MI 48106. INDEXES The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index; and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Institute. BOOKS & THE CULTURE is funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. PSI OPEN SOCIETY INSTITUTE Egg & Soros Foundations Network Texas Cultural Arts Commission Division on the Arts 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG