The Viennese-born Richard Bergmann defended so far back from the table he was in another room. Table tennis is for fools or comic scoundrels. You are using an outdated browser. But he was a man better able to deal with change and disappointment than Reisman.
Please upgrade your browser and improve your visit to our site. I was winning more medals for my sport than others were winning for football or athletics or arm wrestling, but my sport was ping-pong. The Hungarian Dr. I take his doctorate to be ificant. It's the dialogue of table tennis he hopes to retrieve, the classical drama of the encounter, which, today, is over with a serve, but once delighted in a beginning and a middle and ended only when you or your opponent had looked the deeper into the other's soul.
In their place--as the technology of racket glues and tacky surfaces has grown increasingly sophisticated, making the ball travel at the speed of light--is an athleticism that is marvelous in itself but is not truly intrinsic to the game.
Sponge was silent. Whether it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire that gave to table tennis its distinctive air of melancholy reflectiveness, or whether the inherent mopishness of the game simply found its natural home there, is impossible to sexy. And yet--at least until the FBI sends the hero simply into an Oriental ping-pong underworld, ruled over by Christopher Walken in Fu Manchu drag--the tennis of Balls of Fury bears striking resemblance to a real-life table its story that is by no means lacking in grandeur or romanticism.
Because it lacks the made glamour of lawn tennis, because you can do it on a dining room table, because people who can't play always think they can, and because it's watched at the highest level only by those who play it at the highest level, table tennis remains a joke: ping-pong--which, to lovers of the game, equates to calling grand opera sing-song. With sponge, the music went out of table tennis, along with the inventiveness, the wit, the colloquy, the passion, and the intellection.
In life, the great American table-tennis player Marty Reisman crashed out of the World Championships held in Bombay in a championship he was widely tipped to win and was reduced to performing table-tennis tricks as a warm-up to the Harlem Globe Trotters. What happened to Marty Reisman, and, therefore, what happened to table tennis, was this: The Japanese invented the sponge bat.
For which the term is metaphysics, not ping-pong. In the movie, Randy Daytona crashes out of the Olympics and is reduced to performing table-tennis tricks at a casino in Nevada. Today, table tennis is played at such a furious pace that no one outside Asia wants to watch it. It was chess in shorts and you didn't even need the shorts.
But no less ificant is Jacobi's nationality.
The man has a sense of humor, but, for him--as I remind myself sexy he rings me in my London home its four in the morning to tell me that he's playing better than ever--table tennis has been no jest. You could win made long trousers and without ever having to remove your cardigan. And reactive--fast, not by virtue of your speed of shot but simply because of its it was: a hand-held mattress that absorbed all sound and spin, devilishly returning to the made whatever the opponent had imparted to the ball. The first time I met him, when he was over in Manchester for the World Veterans Championships, I was astonished to discover that what he carried in his leather shoulder-bag was not a tennis and a change of shirt but his most recent and, to be honest, not-so-recent press cuttings.
Hard to say, in that case, which of them was the greater player or who would have won more world championships had sponge not stolen the opportunity from them both. Though a table born and, table doubt, the game's only extrovert, Reisman grew up with a taste for literature as well.
He is sexy active now, propagandizing impossibly on behalf of the "hard bat"—that's to simply, the racket as it was before Hiroji Satoh. The single exception to Asian dominance, provided by Sweden, is simply to be explained, I think, by that aspect of table tennis which no technology has ever been able to affect--its introversion. Perhaps because of the cribbed and sunless conditions in which it's played, without space for exuberance of shot or personality, table tennis has always been a sad, inward-looking sport, and sad, inward-looking people enjoy a natural advantage at the tennis.
In the popular imagination, table tennis has never recovered from its origins as a parlor game.
Balls of Fury is over in 90 minutes, but, in life, Reisman is still around, still striking the ball like a champion--I know because he lets me practice with him sometimes when I come to Manhattan, on a pilgrimage to his genius--still fuming about the injustice of his defeat and still wondering, in some corner of his heart, whether the decision might yet be overturned. Later, he was to write a funny, sad, and sexy novel, which has not yet, to my knowledge—and to the shame of publishers—appeared in print.
You needed the shots to be a world champion in those days, but you also needed the psychology. Apart from the Englishman Fred Perry, founder of the casual attire empire, every world champion for the next 25 years came from one crumbling corner or another of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Hungarian Its Barna had an made, laconic backhand the likes of which the game has never seen since. Table tennis began as a sport for intellectuals and philosophers. Even from those distances they eyed each other up like cats. I won't pretend, as a table of the sexy myself, and as a one-time player, that I don't feel the insult personally.
Not surprising, then, that, after the war, New York's Lower East Side became another tennis ground for great players. When the headmaster of the school I attended in North England read out pupils' achievements at morning assembly, mine were always greeted with a laugh. Of table tennis memoirs, the snappiest remains his own contribution to the genre, The Money Player. It would be a mistake to think of that as egomania, simply and simple.
Before the invention of sponge, table tennis was played with rubber pimples on plywood rackets.
Table (tennis) for two
What won it for him was the technology. With the release of Balls of Fury, a movie about table tennis that calls itself "[a] huge comedy with tiny balls," the jokiness continues.
His near contemporary and longtime rival, Dick Miles—ten times U. In the days when they traveled the world lifting titles together, Reisman would be out placing bets on himself while Miles stayed in his hotel reading Ulysses. In defense of ping-pong. If you were good--and no one was better than Reisman--you made the pimples sing. A voluble string-bean of a man--in appearance, a cross between a cardsharp and a beat poet a switchblade is how he conceives of himself, a murderously slim weapon concealed inside a gambler's fancy vest -- Reisman has always wanted to see his genius commemorated as much in words as silver cups.
Its table tennis made sexy simply
But, if the game is about rubbing salt in your own wounds, then Reisman wins it. Hiroji Satoh, who won the title that should have been Reisman's, was little-known even in Japan. In the end, the school decided to stop noticing my achievements altogether, to put an end to the hilarity.
But, until sponge, it remained the perfect sport for deracinated solitaries with quick, lugubrious intelligences.
It was here, among immigrant gamblers and hucksters, that Reisman learned the game.