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What the Heck is the AOBS and When is its Next Reunion?

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  • What the Heck is the AOBS and When is its Next Reunion?

    Someone from another forum asked me if I could write something here about the AOBS, as he usually finds out about its annual event after it is too late. I am going to make a number of posts on this thread describing what it is, and from my own perspective, my experiences in attending.

    First, when is its next "reunion"?

    Saturday, October 11, 2014

    Where is its next reunion?

    Same place that it has been since 2008, Newark Airport (NJ) Marriott Hotel.

    What is AOBS?

    AOBS is The Association of Oldetime Barbell & Strongmen, an International Iron Game Organization, Organized in 1982, Founded by Vic Boff, who was President until he died in 2002. Artie Drechsler has been President since 2003.

    What else can you tell me about its history?

    Well, I am not an Iron Game Historian by any means, but the short version is a group of East Coast older Iron Game veterans got together for the purpose of throwing a birthday party for Sig Klein for his 80th Birthday in 1982. Not sure how many there were, less than a couple of dozen guys. They kept meeting once a year, and it gradually evolved into a club of sorts, and shortly after that, a formal organization with structure, goals, a newsletter, and most importantly, an expanding and entertaining annual dinner. It may have started out as a group of very connected and close knit Iron Game participants, but today it is still all that, plus Olympic Weightlifters (medalists at that), top level name bodybuilders, Pro Strongmen, power lifters, collectors, historians, magazine publishers, enthusiasts, Old Time Performing Strongmen, aspiring benders, grip guys, martial artists, magazine readers, equipment company representatives, garage gorillas, NPR reporters, track and field weight men, wrestlers, and more. When the media does a piece on it, it usually acts like there are guys in their 70s bending steel, quarters in their teeth, etc. Not exactly, but there are a number of guys in their 70s, and 80s, and even 90s who did do some very impressive things (and in some cases still do) in their heyday. The average age of the attendees, to me, has been steadily dropping every year.

    How do I get tickets?

    Well, they just sent out a newsletter dated July, 2014, and it did not have the familiar "insert" that you use to complete your reservation. I presume they will send another newsletter out in the next month including that. I don't remember the price off the top of my head, I think around $55, maybe a bit more. You can join the AOBS for $25, and for a year you get their newsletter, and you get a small discount off the price of the dinner. If you don't want to watch this thread for the next 6 weeks, you could email them at [email protected]. Their phone number is 718-661-3195, website is www.aobs.cc, and address is PO Box 680, Whitestone, NY, 11357. THERE ARE NO TICKETS AT THE DOOR AND THEY SHUT OFF TICKET SALES BEFORE THE EVENT. If you get the money and information in about 10 days in advance, you'll probably be okay.

    Anything else on the basics I need to know now?

    Yeah, there is. You can make hotel reservations by calling 800-228-9290 or 973-623-0006. Be sure to mention "AOBS Annual Reunion" to receive a rate of under half the hotel's normal rate (I think the rate will be $115 per night). I don't care who you are, you will have to spend the night on Saturday night, as the dinner NEVER ends before 11.

    I think my next post will be how I first heard of the AOBS, and my first experiences in attending. After that, perhaps a better description of how the weekend flows under the current structure.

  • #2
    You going again this year Mike? If so Ill see you there...
    ------
    Dave

    Comment


    • #3
      Still wondering if you are going Mike... I heard that your brother John cant make it this year. Too bad, I always enjoy talking to John... Hope you can make it though...
      ------
      Dave

      Comment


      • #4
        Dave, I still don't know yet. If so, it would be solo.

        How I first heard of AOBS...

        I grew up getting muscle head-style culture through Osmosis, I was exposed to a lot of it from 1965 to the mid-1970s, did not follow anything for 20 years, and then became a "grip guy" in 1999. My brother called me in 2002 to tell me about something that happened at a "dinner" in New Jersey a few days earlier, and I had to check something out that was on the Internet. It was before "Youtube" existed, but there was video that was available through some Cyberpump link (I think that was it). He said that all kinds of big names in the Iron Game were there, and that Mark Henry cleaned and pressed the Inch Dumbbell. Somewhere in there, he mentioned that Richard Sorin was there. Turns out, it was one of his Inch Replicas that Henry used. Then I said, "wait a second, when was this thing?", and he told me. I said, "I was attending the US Track and Field Championships in Palo Alto, and Richard's son was competing in the Hammer Throw the night before that dinner, I know because I commented to my wife that Richard would be somewhere in the stadium. He wasn't watching his son compete??" My brother said, "You don't understand, this dinner is a big deal". No, I didn't understand, but after he told me that, I went online and came across this video, which is now on Youtube:


        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0lvfvxckxU

        I watched it perhaps 10 times, and was positively amazed at it. I recognized a number of people in the video, and since then, I have come to recognize many others.

        Turns out that particular dinner was the last one that AOBS Founder Vic Boff attended, as he passed away several months later, and Artie Drechsler took over the management reins shortly thereafter. And, that particular dinner one of my true sports heroes, the late great Al Oerter (4 Olympic Gold Medals, 4 Olympic Records, retired, and a dozen years later, made about a 10 year quest for his 5th Medal, did not make it, but upped his PRs at an "advanced" age) was honored by the AOBS. Also turns out that there were professional camera operators there from the WWE to film Henry; although it was a legendary feat of strength, to the Wrestling world and organization, it was just some publicity stunt for Henry to have on his resume. Also turns out that the filmmaker for the Stanless Steel move "Strongman" was in the audience working on his movie (no footage made it to the movie, although there was footage from the 2000 AOBS Dinner that was in the movie). Also turns out there were others from this forum in attendance at the event, some for the first time.

        For the next two years, all that I knew of the AOBS was that it was a "dinner" in New Jersey, and Mark Henry cleaned and pressed an Inch Dumbbell at the 2002 function.

        There was some silent footage of "Slim the Hammer Man" performing at the 2002 Dinner. He seemed like a very serious intense man who was really into some obscure niche craft. An old guy in his late 60s, I didn't have much appreciation for what he was doing.

        Next time, my first AOBS experience.

        Comment


        • #5
          This is great Mike!! Thanks for posting this!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Two weeks ago, I said I was going to describe my first AOBS experience. Sorry, not doing that right now. Reporting specifically what the schedule is this year is more appropriate right now. Quoting from their September newsletter that I received since my last post, "here is an outline of our full agenda for October 11th at the Newark Airport Marriott Hotel:

            Historical Meeting on AOBS History 12:00 Noon to 1:45 PM
            Anibal Lopez Seminar 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
            Stars of Oldetime Strength 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
            Cocktail Hour 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
            Dinner 7:00 PM (Sharp) to 11:00 PM

            Dinner reservations must be received, with payment, by Friday October 3rd.

            The discounted Hotel room deadline was yesterday.

            Dave, definitely not going this year. I am bummed, but I have too much going on at that time.

            I am going to keep posting on this thread even though I am not going this time around...

            There are two honorees this year: Women's weightlifter Karyn Marshall, and bodybuilder Anibal Lopez.

            The "Stars of Oldetime Strength" will be presented by/produced by Slim "The Hammer Man" Farman, Dennis Rogers and Chris Rider. There are usually anywhere from 4 to 8 people performing feats of strength, many of them up and comers, some of them seasoned veterans. That particular piece of the day started in 2007, and has been a bit hit since it began. It was originally called "Slim Farman's Rising Stars", but the format has evolved a bit over the years.

            Comment


            • #7
              I spoke to Stanley Pleskun aka Stanless Steel, tonight. Stan and his lady Barbara are going. He has never missed a dinner since he started going, sometime in the early 1990s...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mike Corlett View Post
                I spoke to Stanley Pleskun aka Stanless Steel, tonight. Stan and his lady Barbara are going. He has never missed a dinner since he started going, sometime in the early 1990s...
                Stan also said that the guitar player, as well as the drummer from his band, Ajammination, will be attending. Probably two of the most unlikely individuals in the history of the event to be attending. I presume they want to see the other side to their bandmate's life.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mike, sorry I wont see you this year, but trust me, I understand. Looking FWD to seeing Stan as usual, we usually party after the dinner until like 4 AM (Me, Stan, Barb, Julie). makes for a hurting drive home the next morning, but worth it :>) The historical meeting will be Mike Fera showing his presentation that he recorded while visiting Leo Sterns Gym, and Loprinzi's gym in California. I normally run the audio/visual for Artie, so I'll be doing it this year again. (This time I'm bringing my own screen and projector, the hotel charges 500.00 just to rent it). I'll also run Anibal's presentation. Anyways, packing now, getting ready to drive down tomorrow AM. We're bring bodybuilding legend, Dave Mastorakis with us this year. DMASS and I have been known to enjoy a few bottles of wine, this year I'll be bahaving for once :>)
                  ------
                  Dave

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Dave, Julie going this year, or does she need to watch the "at risk" kids?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, I didn't go this year, and another AOBS Banquet has come and left. I think I will continue this thread, even though I appear to be having a conversation with myself.

                      The only place I have seen any posting on the subject is on the Gripboard, and it is buried in a several year running thread by Richard Sorin about his physical comeback after an injury. Unfortunately, over the weekend, he mentioned in that thread he had brought one of the "secret letters" that were talked about more than they should have been on the GOPD thread. Was not much point to the comments, other than to mention a glaring grammatical error that Joe Kinney had made in the letter. If we were grading grammar on the Gripboard, there would be many failures. Not sure it would be much better over here come to think about it.

                      There are so many wonderful things to talk about that go on at AOBS, and that was not necessary. End of my whining.

                      Back to my original track I was on concerning AOBS...I talked about my "discovery" of the event in 2002. In 2004, right after I joined the "Gripboard", I read about it. There were about a dozen guys talking about it when they got back. Guys were RAVING about Pat P and Steve Weiner's performance during the dinner show. They were both very active members of the Gripboard at that time, and they had some strong cheerleaders. The kinds of things that Pat was doing at that time in public were new and unusual, it struck me as INTENSE AND EXTREME bending. It was the personal testimonials and raving about Pat, as well as the fellowship that seemed to be present at the event, shared by a dozen guys on a forum that I had been part of all of a week, that was probably the seed that caused me to think about attending the following year.

                      Looking back at it now, things are very different. No one is talking about the event, no posts other than Richard's pieces in his quasi-blog anywhere that I see. Could be something on the Iron History forum, but I am not a member there. Spoke to Stanley Pleskun aka Stan aka Stanless Steel about it. He had a good time. He thought the crowd size "was about average". I was trying to put words in his mouth and tell him that there probably were fewer this time, but he was not buying it. He said he spoke to Richard at length. He likes Richard. Everybody loves Stan. There was a young lanky man who bent a penny (sort of, small bend according to Stan), which is Stanley's domain. He was not complaining and did not offer any signs of jealousy. That's Stan. Stan said Dennis Rodgers was not there this year, which is fairly unusual. He said Slim Farman seemed the best he had been in years (his wife died in 2011), looked good and happy. Dave, I don't think he remembers your name. I said "Stanley I know you know him, I have seen pictures of you with him". Some details elude Stan, which is part of his charm and allure!

                      So it was guys yakking on the Internet that caused me to take notice of the AOBS the second time, the first time being the Mark Henry Inch lift. Even though I was not a bender, knew nothing about bending, I was psyched up to see EXTREME BENDING. I read about it on the Internet. It was going to be fun.

                      Okay, next time, I will talk about my first AOBS experience, as I said I would back on September 7.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I enjoy reading your comments Mike, although I may have little to say on the matter. If it wasn't so far away I think the AOBS would be an enjoyable event to attend, although in truth bending and the like do not hold my interest particularly.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I enjoy your comments about the AOBS too, Mike. And although I used to be a bender, I think the strength feats done there honestly sound more along the lines of a carnie show. But the crowd is probably more impressed by that (visually), so whatever works.

                          I like the "look what I can do" stuff after contests. Not sure it would be as amusing in a different setting though - like when there hasn't just been a grip contest. I have it pictured in my head (the AOBS "performances") like a bunch of super aggressive honey badgers dragging their genitalia over everyone who is not also a honey badger. Course I could be totally mistaken in that visual. But it amuses me, so I'll hold onto it.

                          http://goalorientedtraining.wordpress.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Mike Corlett wrote:

                            … … “The only place I have seen any posting on the subject is on the Gripboard, and it is buried in a several year running thread by Richard Sorin about his physical comeback after an injury. Unfortunately, over the weekend, he mentioned in that thread he had brought one of the "secret letters" that were talked about more than they should have been on the GOPD thread. Was not much point to the comments, other than to mention a glaring grammatical error that Joe Kinney had made in the letter. If we were grading grammar on the Gripboard, there would be many failures. Not sure it would be much better over here come to think about it.” … …


                            A quick search is all that was needed to find what Sorin had written on 'another forum' regarding the recent AOBS event. Sorin seems to take great pleasure in ridiculing my former inabilities in the areas of English grammar and composition. I'll admit my grammar skills were somewhat deficient in the 1990s. However, I've worked to improve both my grammar and writing skills since that time.

                            Anyway; my search turned up some very amusing stuff. Bear in mind that Sorin was once a school teacher, and is now a successful businessman. He wrote:

                            … … “A few noted grip experts were interested by reading a letter that the the first 4 ever shut , had been never seen by anyone of grip mastery was in fact "stole" and replaced for a later video with a borrowed gripper.” … …;

                            and this little gem:

                            … … “In many cases little known folk heros are perhaps created a fantastic claim in a "joke type situation gone bad "or as an embellishment to a budding, inspiring story line.” … …

                            Now, folks reading this forum already know Sorin's agenda, so it's not too difficult for them to discern what he's attempting to convey. However; what would someone who is unfamiliar with this situation or the players think of these quotes? Would such a person consider these writings to be indecipherable? Try it – see what you get.

                            These are from a guy who, owing to his former school teacher status, should be light-years ahead of me in the areas of English grammar and basic sentence structure, yet his writing can only be deciphered by those who already know what he wants to 'say' before they read it. Why is it that I have no trouble whatsoever comprehending posts written by the few Scandinavian members who post here? English is taught in their schools, but certainly is not their “native tongue”. Yet, they do a far better job than Sorin when communicating in English. This causes me to chuckle a bit.

                            Then there's the matter of reading comprehension. Sorin gets “...and replaced for a later video with a borrowed gripper.” from “...I bought another one from a fellow grip guy...”. Dr. Strossen posted the (formerly) secret letters onto this forum more than four months ago (06/07/2014). These letters were written in (very) basic English, and nobody other than Sorin, the school teacher, seems to have had any trouble comprehending what was carried in them. Could Sorin's misinterpretation be intentional – just part of his agenda; or is it that the English language is just too difficult for him?

                            Either way; I'm game, Richard. Post some of your 'thoughts' onto this forum, and I'll try to respond.
                            Last edited by Joe Kinney; 10-14-2014, 07:29 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Joe Kinney View Post
                              Mike Corlett wrote:

                              … … “The only place I have seen any posting on the subject is on the Gripboard, and it is buried in a several year running thread by Richard Sorin about his physical comeback after an injury. Unfortunately, over the weekend, he mentioned in that thread he had brought one of the "secret letters" that were talked about more than they should have been on the GOPD thread. Was not much point to the comments, other than to mention a glaring grammatical error that Joe Kinney had made in the letter. If we were grading grammar on the Gripboard, there would be many failures. Not sure it would be much better over here come to think about it.” … …


                              A quick search is all that was needed to find what Sorin had written on 'another forum' regarding the recent AOBS event. Sorin seems to take great pleasure in ridiculing my former inabilities in the areas of English grammar and composition. I'll admit my grammar skills were somewhat deficient in the 1990s. However, I've worked to improve both my grammar and writing skills since that time.

                              Anyway; my search turned up some very amusing stuff. Bear in mind that Sorin was once a school teacher, and is now a successful businessman. He wrote:

                              … … “A few noted grip experts were interested by reading a letter that the the first 4 ever shut , had been never seen by anyone of grip mastery was in fact "stole" and replaced for a later video with a borrowed gripper.” … …;

                              and this little gem:

                              … … “In many cases little known folk heros are perhaps created a fantastic claim in a "joke type situation gone bad "or as an embellishment to a budding, inspiring story line.” … …

                              Now, folks reading this forum already know Sorin's agenda, so it's not too difficult for them to discern what he's attempting to convey. However; what would someone who is unfamiliar with this situation or the players think of these quotes? Would such a person consider these writings to be indecipherable? Try it – see what you get.

                              These are from a guy who, owing to his former school teacher status, should be light-years ahead of me in the areas of English grammar and basic sentence structure, yet his writing can only be deciphered by those who already know what he wants to 'say' before they read it. Why is it that I have no trouble whatsoever comprehending posts written by the few Scandinavian members who post here? English is taught in their schools, but certainly is not their “native tongue”. Yet, they do a far better job than Sorin when communicating in English. This causes me to chuckle a bit.

                              Then there's the matter of reading comprehension. Sorin gets “...and replaced for a later video with a borrowed gripper.” from “...I bought another one from a fellow grip guy...”. Dr. Strossen posted the (formerly) secret letters onto this forum more than four months ago (06/07/2014). These letters were written in (very) basic English, and nobody other than Sorin, the school teacher, seems to have had any trouble comprehending what was carried in them. Could Sorin's misinterpretation be intentional – just part of his agenda; or is it that the English language just too difficult for him?

                              Either way; I'm game, Richard. Post some of your 'thoughts' onto this forum, and I'll try to respond.

                              Richard taught high school? I thought he taught elementary school.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Ben Edwards View Post
                                I enjoy your comments about the AOBS too, Mike. And although I used to be a bender, I think the strength feats done there honestly sound more along the lines of a carnie show. But the crowd is probably more impressed by that (visually), so whatever works.

                                I like the "look what I can do" stuff after contests. Not sure it would be as amusing in a different setting though - like when there hasn't just been a grip contest. I have it pictured in my head (the AOBS "performances") like a bunch of super aggressive honey badgers dragging their genitalia over everyone who is not also a honey badger. Course I could be totally mistaken in that visual. But it amuses me, so I'll hold onto it.

                                Ben,

                                I have had the honor of performing a few times at the AOBS dinner and have had the honor of watching many others perform as well and some performances are more entertaining than others. As for calling the strength feats a carnie show? Everybody has their own opinions, but I am certainly proud of what I did there along with Pat Povilaitis. Here are some examples that you are welcome to try yourself. If you have any questions about the weights of anything you see in the videos, you are certainly welcome to ask. As for the honey badger reference? Everybody that I have seen perform at the AOBS has been nothing but nice and respectful. I hope you enjoy the videos of a couple of middle aged guys having some fun.

                                Steve

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Yjin9EZdhE

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdT5De5J_R4

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltko5rhyvEc
                                Train hard, eat well, rest sufficiently and repeat. Sounds simple? It is!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Mike Corlett- I appreciate the kind words and the stories you have shared about the AOBS.
                                  Train hard, eat well, rest sufficiently and repeat. Sounds simple? It is!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Great videos, Steve!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Well, Chris, Ben, Joe, and Randy, I appreciate someone saying something in this thread. I think I will just keep plugging along with it.

                                      My first AOBS experience...I think after hearing all about the 2004 one, I was going to seriously consider going in 2005. Perhaps just a month before the event, I asked my then 23-year-old son if he wanted to go to some geezer dinner in New Jersey. We would go a day in advance, and run around New York for a day, then do this strongman dinner thing. I had never been to NYC, he had. He said, "I love New York, sounds fun". I think I heard that the performer was going to be Slim the Hammer Man, as well as Bud Jeffries. I was slightly apologetic about that part of it, said an old guy fooling with sledge hammers might be boring for him, and then a heavy guy doing some heavy weights, well it might not be that interesting to him, and I didn't think there was going to be any EXTREME BENDING. My son did not lift weights, but he worked out with grippers, and was kind of a natural at bending. He was bending 60 penny nails with ease with 15 minutes of instruction from Clay Edgin, who had moved away from our community about two or three months earlier. He said, no, no, it would be fun to go somewhere with me. He worked full time as a car mechanic at that time. I emailed Artie at the AOBS and was able to get tickets even though it was cutting it close, bought the plane tickets, got the hotel room, etc.

                                      Not too much before the event, I saw on the Gripboard that a fellow named Dan Cenidoza needed a place to stay Friday night. He had a room for Saturday, but needed to crash on someone's floor on Friday. I looked up his posts, saw he was in the 2004 GGC (Diesel Crew's Global Grip Challenge, the predecessor to the Nationals), saw he was a Captain of Crush, looked up his bio in MILO, and PM'd him. Got his cell number, and we were going to hook up Friday night. He was going to be working on a table that was going to be used for a "Back Lift" for Jeffries on Saturday night, and we would meet him at the hotel when we got back from NYC. A day or so before we left, I mentioned this to my wife and she said "Some guy you met ON THE INTERNET is going to sleep on the floor in the room with my son???" Yeah, sure...

                                      We arrived at the Saddlebrook New Jersey (dinner was there 2002-2007) Marriott around 8 am Friday. We dropped our stuff off, and were going to take the bus to NYC. First, we had breakfast at a nice little restaurant at the Marriott. As we were approaching our booth, there were three gentlemen at the booth next to us: a man in his 60s who I still don't know who he was, Artie Drechsler (head of AOBS, first time I saw him), and Tommy Kono. My son said in hushed awe and respect, "Look Dad, it's Tommy Kono!" My son had also picked up some Iron History by osmosis.

                                      We ran around NY, got back after dark, and found Dan. He was with Jeffries, and two gripsters from Ohio, Sean and Nick. The guys were all late 20s, Bud was, well not sure, 30s at that time? We had some beers and had a good time. Went outside in the parking lot, they played with Kettle Bells (which had not yet caught fire), pulled or didn't pull some hubs. My son easily makes friends in some situations, and this was one of those times.

                                      As we were getting ready to leave for breakfast the next morning, Dan got a call, and said "The Woods are going to join us for breakfast".

                                      I of course knew who Kim Wood was, and was always intrigued by his internship of sorts with Arthur Jones at Nautilus. Over breakfast, he was at his best, and had some great stories concerning a contract worker employed by Jones who was a hard core criminal. I had heard stories about the guy before, but what was shared that morning was really funny and over the top. And my son, completely clueless as to who Kim was, was gently corrected by KW when my son was talking about the real story behind steroids in the NFL. I say "gently", because it was. They both handled it well. Guys and long term attendees were coming over, talking to Kim, met some interesting people, it was fun.

                                      The way it works at AOBS, starting Friday around noon, people start arriving. They hang out in the lobby. It builds that way for 24 hours. It is informal up to around noon on Saturday. What started as a dinner, slowly, has some structure as noted in Post Number 6 of this thread. I can't tell you what time the structured portion started in 2005, but there was no "historical or collector" seminar in 2005. There was a small display of tables where people sold things. In mid-afternoon, there was a very serious, very scary looking Slim Farman standing tall dressed in black selling The Mighty Atom book, among other things. Lots and lots of guys in their 60s and 70s and older who had been lifting weights for 50 plus years. Most were guys I had never seen, some you could recognize, and some you knew at one time in their lives, had some type of good strength resume. Very few young people. By young, I mean under 50. The fellowship was strong and deep among the group.

                                      I think I will stop there and pick up on the dinner in a day or so.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The Dinner itself...is long, very long. There is about an hour of mingling before the banquet doors get open. There are a limited number of VIP/reserved tables, so there is somewhat of a mad rush to stake out a table. The dinner goes at least 4 hours. Multiple courses, it is set up for socialization. The Mighty Stephan, a strong born in the 1950s New York native with a quick wit and booming voice, has been the emcee forever. The crowd has never been less than 200 nor more than 300 in the 7 times I have been there. Usually 25-35 dignitaries are introduced. There is a head table with the honorees for the year as well as AOBS mucky mucks, a long one, stretching across the room. There will be comments, then eating, presentations, speeches, slides, movies on occasion, and towards the end of the night, live strength performances. You meet people all during the dinner. And, when it is over, the younger fellows hang out for hours afterwards in the lobby, bending, telling stories, partying, bee essing, you name it, it is done. Even the geezers don't disburse until after Midnight.

                                        The next morning, some eat breakfast at a leisurely pace, others get out of town quick. The vibe for the most part is different in the morning.

                                        That first year, I encountered Slim the Hammer Man in the lobby preparing for his performance. I spent quite a bit of time carefully choosing my words to describe the scene and our exchange in a 2011 article on him in MILO. You will have to read it there. It is good. But something that I did not write about in MILO, because, quite frankly, it was too "far out" for a respected publication, so I will mention it now. Slim wears black. Usually a black sports coat. When he performs, a short sleeved black shirt. About 20 minutes after I spoke with him briefly in the lobby that June 2005 night, he came through the back door to go to the front of the room to perform. It was his time. I was standing near the door as he quickly came through the door. "Let's Go!" he said to his entourage as they made their way to the front of the room, and people got out of the way as they came through. It was sort of like the parting of the Red Sea, people moving to get out of the way, moving in advance as he led through the room. The thing is, after he was about 15 feet past me, and I was observing the people parting to get out of the way, I noticed, he was by himself. There was nobody with him. Yet, I swear I felt them with him. It was surreal. At that moment, the old boring grumpy serious man had my attention, and he has had it for the last nine and one-half years.

                                        The next morning, at the little restaurant, there was a small crowd of young people hanging on every word of Farman's. My son was among them. He thought he was the coolest guy in the world.

                                        And speaking of cool, during the dinner, my son whispered to me and said "Dad, this is so great we are at the cool table". For the record, we were never at the cool table at another dinner. It was a table that had three Woods at it, and many were coming over to say hi and tell stories.

                                        That first dinner, I saw many men I remember from the magazines of the 1960s and 1970s, now older but still recognizable. Artie gave a special award to Bob Hoffman. He made a reference or two to the criticisms from the John Fair book without naming Fair, and spoke at length of Hoffman's many accomplishments and pioneering ideas. When he was done, Hoffman got a standing ovation. Hoffman had been dead for 20 years, but he got a standing ovation! I guess whatever was following Slim around that night was moving all through the audience all night long.

                                        At some point during the weekend, I heard my son talking on the phone to a friend in California, going on and on "I saw a guy do this, and then a guy do that, and you know what, THEY ARE ALL DRUG FREE!!" And you hear the guy on the other end of the phone saying "No way!"

                                        My son started lifting weights a few days later, and has never stopped. He immediately adopted a more healthy lifestyle. He took up Martial Arts, Olympic Weightlifting, and Power Lifting, in that order (two out of three not bad). He is a different person. He is the most street savvy person with a middle class upbringing that I have ever seen. He is a tough confident guy. We are very close. On Facebook, be it my birthday, Father's Day, etc., he will mention that his life changed when I convinced him to go to New Jersey for a dinner. He has pointed to that moment in his life dozens of times.

                                        For me, AOBS is a big deal. It is different for me than for most. It was the beginning of good things happening for my son.

                                        Sure, I met Randy Strossen that weekend for the first time, and he knew me as the guy who kept breaking IronMind loading pins. Sure, at the end of the night Kim Wood shook my hand and said it was nice to meet me. Sure, I saw Tommy Kono, Bruce Wilhelm, Slim Farman, got my name in the AOBS Newsletter just because I met the late "Dr. Ken Leo DaRosa", met multiple gripboard guys and even saw Pat P do some EXTREME BENDING during the dinner as a last minute added performer, met Steve Weiner, Jedd Johnson, Stanless Steel and others. Sure, I made my first trip to NYC. But the fun I had with my son, and what it later led to, made it one of the best weekends of my life.

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