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2015 October - AOBS Reunion Dinner (Part1) - anwnate


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2015 AOBS Reunion/Dinner (Very, Very Long)

If you would prefer to just look at pics…there are about 80 in an Album on my FB page. My memory is imperfect…especially of late, so any errors in facts, persons, places or timeline are entirely mine. J

So…somewhere around June 30, E.J. let the board know that he was asked to perform at the "rising stars" portion of the AOBS Reunion/Dinner, Saturday, Oct.17th. I spoke to the wifey and we decided we'd go this year. I was a bit unsure whether I'd know anyone…or whether or not "grip folk" were actually welcomed to such an event. Regardless, I began to get more excited about going. As the event got closer, E.J. injured his pec (major bummer), but around that time I learned that Jedd was going to be performing…so I was sure to know at least one person there. Seriously though…how does one even injure a pec benching only 415lbs? I mean…last time I tore a pec I had at least 705lbs on the bar. It's just weird. Maybe he pre-injured the pec sewing or something? I guess it'll remain a mystery. ;) Anyway… eventually, Maureen and I decided we'd stay over and make a night of it. Although we were past the "deadline", the Marriott honored the special AOBS price, which made it more affordable.

The event is held at the Marriot at Liberty International Airport in Newark. This makes it pretty easy for people to fly in once a year to attend and catch up with old friends of the iron-game. No renting cars, finding your way around etc etc. The day before, I called in and requested an early check-in. Score! Noon check-in…no problem. J For us, the drive was only 1 hour 15min away...and luckily, was uneventful.

We arrived at 2p.m. While at the front desk…I looked down the hall to my right and saw Jedd and gave him the "big thumbs up". He seemed a bit confused. Lol. We went up to unpack and settle in. When I got to the room I received a text asking if that was me. Some kind of distance vision thing.

We headed down and I came face to face with Chris Schoeck (who didn't quite remember me). That's okay…the poor guy has met like 2500 people in the last year at premiers and showings. Then I ran into Chris "Hairculese" Rider. We had met at the "Bending Steel" showing in Coney Island and got into a 2.5hour conversation. We picked up like old friends who had just had a disconnect on the phone. After several failed attempts, I managed a clean selfie with him. At some point in our conversation, he offered a couple of seats at his dinner table for Maureen and I. Sweet! I immediately said yes…and then he showed me the list. Chris, the Mighty Atom's two sons Mike (strongman) and Jerry Greenstein (and wife), Chris's student Christina Devos (and her friend Dave), Bender Eric Moss and none other than Richard Sorin. Unless you are assigned a table, I think it's kind of luck of the draw…so needless to say I was pretty stoked.


Right around that time, I met a very tall older gentleman. Both Chris and I are around 6'4"…but this guy dwarfed us. It was my distinct pleasure to meet the legendary Slim "The Hammerman" Farman. Apparently he is 81yo…but he doesn't look or carry himself like an 81yo. He looked me in the eye and clasped my hand…slowly tightening it. I wondered if he was going to apply himself…and if so…would I be able to take it. Even at 81yo, we are talking about someone with one of the strongest grips in the world. He didn't end up squeezing particularly hard…it was almost as if he was taking my measure..and apparently I passed. This didn't stop him from hitting on my wife. lol. He's quite the ladies man and an incorrigible flirt. Slim is a very intense and with his height, a bit of an intimidating guy. While not Jewish, he normally wears a Star of David…a sign of respect for his mentor, "The Mighty Atom". He also has a small (3-4") sledgehammer that he has hanging from a necklace. Close by, a young boy had a similar one…I imagine that was his grandson. As I saw Slim throughout the evening, it became a running joke that I'd step between him and Maureen, while he's brush me aside to flirt some more. We did get a chance to chitchat a bit…but I can't imagine the amount of stories he has to tell. Chris alluded to this very thing.

After Slim, I ran into Rich Cottrell. I had met him at my house this past June. Rich is a cool dude, pretty analytical. I mentioned I had gotten to see the MLB clip where they panned over to Rich shooting the game. Sweet. We made a quick plan get the blob later. I brought it so he could save on the shipping. Just then Jedd came around the corner and we got our hello's in too. Soon after, Maureen and I sauntered over to the bar for a quick bite. It was a little surreal looking around. At one end of the bar, Chris Schoeck and Chris Rider were having a convo…at a little table to my right, Dennis Rogers, Pat Povilaitis and Richard Sorin were getting some grub. I think I met up with Steve Weiner at this point, but my timeline is a little screwy. Beside that whole Guiness Book of World Records thingy (rolling pans), he is probably better known for being my I.M. CoC#3 Referee the time I failed. lol Yes, this little piece of trivia will forever be burned in my brain. Pretty sure he was like…there goes Bruce Wilhelm…there goes this guy. Anyway, it was a warm welcome. He was in his element and for him, it seemed like it was a reunion. There were also a ton of guys I knew had impressive histories…but didn't know their names and wasn't sure how to strike up a conversation. Somehow during our meal, I managed to piss off the wifey. It was a number of hours before I apologized correctly and we made up. I can honestly say I'm a unthinking ass at times.

At around 3:30, the "Stars of Oldetime Strength" was held in a smaller room off to the left. This show had been preceded by a Seminar and before that, a Historical and Collector's meeting. I missed both of those. On the "Stars" docket was a number of benders.

Before the show started…I turned to see Richard Sorin a few seats away. Maureen and I walked over and introduced ourselves. Although I protested my insignificance, he had me sign the piece of metal he was giving as a gift. It was black (names in silver) with a circle on the top…resembling a giant cowbell, or a miniature weight for powerstairs. I'm so sorry my writing is butchering the incident, but honestly at the time I was still like, "Whoa…this is Richard Sorin." So we chatted for a bit. He was very much the gentleman and even paid me a compliment. Hopefully we didn't take up too much of his time, but we knew we'd have another shot at a chat since we were seated at the same table later.

Eric Moss started with an attempt to set a World Record for bending rebar across the nose. Before bending…he paced around like a wild cat locked behind a fence. Then he started. It looked pretty uncomfortable. I think they were approx. 4' sections of 1/2" rebar with a little padding in the middle. He managed 8 of them under a minute…and tore his nose up a little in the process. He actually had enough time for a 9th bar…but didn't bring more than 8. He followed that up with rolling up a small green frying pan. While I've no real clue as to the difficulty of the feats, but Eric is not a big guy…which made it even more impressive.

Chris Schoeck (of Bending Steel fame) came next and started with some cards and smaller type nails, what not …eventually moving to his normal finale. He triple bends a long flat bar upon itself. Something was a bit screwy with the bend (almost totally to one side) which stopped him around 2.5 revolutions. He didn't want to stop in the least…but eventually listened to Dennis and Chris that it was a good bend and to let it go. You could tell that at home he would have kept at it until he or the bar broke. Chris is another small guy…and was given the name "Wonder" by Dennis because of his small frame. He is however almost knotted with ripped muscles from all the work he's put in. He's a really nice genuine guy… possibly his shyness makes him a bit asperger-ry. He's most vocal while speaking about his love…which of course is "bending steel."


Chris Rider came next and bent a serious horseshoe (3/8" x 1" size 5 Draft). He mentioned that 4 years ago he tore his intercostal muscles bending this same shoe. Apparently it's been a long recovery to get to 100%. He basically conferred to me that he thought he was now beyond his strength level before. So this bend was a bit of redemption for him.


I should mention that during the bending, there was an effort to get the approval from Dennis and Slim. After inspecting the metal, there were nods of acceptance. Bent material was also passed around the room for viewing. After the "stars" was over…we walked around and mingled. I met Eric Moss for the first time and grabbed a pic with him and one of his bars he just bent. It was right about then I got a text from EJ apologizing for being a wus. LMAO I'm so gonna get my ass beat next time we meet. Actually he did text but just to wish me a good time. I sent him some photos I had taken so far. Right then I got to see Slim give Christina DeVos some Sledge lessons. Snap snap snap! Click click click…went the cameras…or would have if we all didn't have cameras from this century. Very cool thing to see.



Because today hasn't been cool enough…I turn around and boom! Hubgeezer introduces himself to me. He's wayyy bigger (and stronger as I later found out) than I had assumed. I have no doubt he will become the oldest man to certify on the #3. We exchanged a few words and I got of pic of him and Rich. C.


Just moments later, I'm introduced to Stanley Pleskun and his girlfriend Barbara. No shit. Stanless Steel himself. One of the very few men in the world who can bend a penny in half with just his hands. I'm still learning about strongmen, but according to Rogers and Rider, he was untouchable at bending a decade ago. I have yet to watch the movie "Strongman" but have heard it shows a lot…perhaps more than desirable. I chatted with he and Barbara for 10 minutes or so. Barbara pretty much backed up every single thing Stan said. Can't say I followed 100% of what he said, but what I did, was pretty interesting. I'm not sure exactly what happened to him over the years, but it must have been pretty complicated to get him to the point he is now. He and Barbara were very pleasant, and my time at the AOBS was enriched from our meeting.


Continued in Part 2

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great job with your play-by-play of the AOBS 2015 dinner. That must have taken some time to put together.

Thanks for sharing this, and it was great to see you there.

I will now have to make the time to do a recap as well before the memories start to fade.


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