We sat in the sweeping balcony of the Capitol Building's ornate Senate
Chamber, Frank and Christine Zane, Penny and Dick Tyler (West Coast
Bodybuilding Scene), Ann and Peter McGough (Flex and Muscle & Fitness
senior editor) and Laree and me, peering down upon California's finest
governmental figures at work, a hardhat area of another sort. It was
shortly after noon and Joe Weider was being officially honored by
Governor Schwarzenegger and the State of California: Today was July
9th, Joe Weider Day.
The family of Joe and Betty Weider was seated in various sections of
the gallery, as were official friends of the Governor. Lunch was
shortly after the ceremony in the conference room attached to the
Governor's office. Security guards, officials and assistants, like
worker bees, buzzed everywhere. None of us in our little muscley group
expressed disappointment we had not pursued public service or
government as a career choice.
Even amid the innocuous procedure of awarding an elder citizen for his
outstanding contribution to society, the heehaw of politics raised its
ugly voice. The Senate Pro Tem introduced the Governor with
less-than-amusing acrid remarks about his presence (Arnold's) in the
Chamber and the opportunity of meeting "the man responsible for
bringing him (Arnold) to America." Oh, boy!
We filed out and made our way to the luncheon, our appetites in our
suit coat pockets. The fellow who led us and the fellow who trailed
wore shoulder holsters and ear pieces and whispered incessantly to
their lapels. We decided at the last moment to abort the attack,
cancel the strike and abandon the take-over. Rats! There'd be another
The room was alive with people of all walks of life, and included
cousins, champions, cops, robbers, and Sly Stallone, governmental
spokespersons, journalists and cameramen. What a feast! Observation is
my forte. I observe well. I'm a better observer than I am a
participant. Or, to be candid, I stare dumbly rather than mingle and
socialize enthusiastically. One syllable words tumble from my mouth
like water from a slow-leaking faucet: hi, yup, er, ah, huh, wha,
nope, yup, nope.
Glad-handing, casual introductions and dutiful sound bites filled the
animated room for 30 minutes. My deep and influential conversation
with Melissa Johnson, the sprightly Executive Director of the
President's Council on Physical Fitness, was interrupted at one point
and I was handed a mic and positioned swiftly before the roving video
camera: "Say something to Joe Weider," was the direction given.
Spontaneously, unhesitatingly, excitedly I drew upon my insight and
powers of articulation. Huh, um, yup, as we all know, Mr. Weider, The
Trainer of Champions, otherwise, Joe, far be it from me, er,
furthermore. My lips sizzled with inspiration and authority and newly
cast words never before spoken on the planet earth: reamazible,
extramarketorial, supravisionish. I was impressive, indeed. My eyes
darted about like a pair of guppies looking for a secret way out of
Everyone settled down and assumed their seats after catching up and
making new acquaintances. We ate a light lunch of tasty chicken salad
as the round-table socializing continued. The Terminator, seated five
feet to my right between Rocky and the Master Blaster, regularly
received 4x6 cards informing him of news updates and the latest events
in Chambers, which he discreetly scrutinized and calmly managed. I,
the Bomber, was alert and ready for any advice or assistance he might
Arnold spoke, Franco spoke, Melissa spoke and Joe was honored. A short
film was shown depicting Joe Weider's remarkable rags-to-riches life
-- borrowed-nickels to multi-billions, major development of
bodybuilding and staggering influence on the health and fitness
industry. We applauded sincerely. The guy built the ship, raised the
sails, manned the helm and set the course. His hands alone. He managed
the winds and rough seas, endured the still air and silent waters and
negotiated rocky reefs and uncharted oceans. No one showed him the
The luncheon wound down in a timely fashion and the guests were
offered a private tour of the Capitol Building. Laree and I opted to
locate our nearby hotel, the Hyatt, and take advantage of some quiet
time. The heat of Sacramento laid its heavy hand on our brow and the
uncommon activities pulled at our ear, while the attire -- sport
jacket for me and dress for Laree -- caused tugging, itching and
hives. How does Arnie do it?
Did you know Governor Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria, chose the
Hyatt penthouse as their residence during Arnold's tenure? I'll bet if
Laree or I stuck our heads out our 10th floor hotel window far enough,
we could see the corner of their 15th floor living room window and the
verdant hedges trimming their sky-high patio. I'm just sayin'...
Evening came right on time and Team Draper made its way to Lucca, the
favorite eating place of the local political emissaries. We walked the
six blocks with Frank and Christine Zane, and Bill Chatfield, the
energetic Director of the Selective Service System. After one block I
began to fall behind, which is deadly to the ego of winged warriors. I
managed each step carefully and seriously to accommodate my
less-than-quick-and-sturdy, post-op gait.
Confessing my mortality and apologizing for my temporarily weakened
state, the subject of heart surgery became the center of conversation
for Bill and me. He was, it unfolds, the former spokesperson for a
leading foundation for medical chelation therapy. Chelation is a
bonding process in supplement manufacturing that engages nutrients in
a super-efficient manner. The application of advanced treatments of
EDTA chelation promises to promote health and healing to bodies
stressed by today's toxic absorption and overload.
Arterial health -- not my strongpoint -- is one of the troubled areas
primarily improved by chelation therapy. I am bound and determined to
research the subject further. Some doctors, it appears, disregard the
treatment, bogus, they say. Many have joined in the advancement of
chelation to relieve patients of horrible conditions or to prevent
them from occurring.
Our very own Dick Tyler, a 30-year-veteran of chiropractic medicine
and the renowned author of "West Coast Bodybuilding Scene" and
"Alternative Chiropractic," hooked up with Bill Chatfield at Lucca and
entered a passionate hour-long conversation applauding the
extraordinary merits of EDTA chelation and the sick body. More later,
kids, on this probing subject.
The guests at Lucca, a new restaurant with lots of atmosphere and wood
and open street-front windows, congregated in a private garden patio.
Drinks were served and we proceeded to further our friendships -- the
same faces minus the diplomatic types and fewer whispering
men-in-black. Name cards placed judiciously on the single long table
designated the seating arrangement.
The lights were dimmed as one by one people gave up intermingling and
chose the cushioned seats bearing their names. Ah, to sit: Joe Weider
at the center of the table with Arnold and Betty to his left (much to
everyone's disappointment, Maria was in Washington, DC); Laree and I
sat to Joe's right, and the Zanes and Tylers across from the man of
the day. What a crew.
Joe's 87 and as in love with bodybuilding as he was 70 years ago when
he cranked out his very first muscle publication in his family's front
room in Montreal.
Today and tomorrow, the weather and taxes, were discussed, evaluated
and argued among the Golden Age contemporaries. Mostly the memories
were deep and wide and stirring. We were nice folks, good, grateful
and kind. The food was exceptional, a menu offering variety and the
best money could buy. Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Arnold.
Intermittent silences indicated the company's undivided attention to
eating, savoring and appreciating. I had baked salmon; Laree had a
steak fit for a queen. Time continued its march unencumbered and the
early departures began.
"Thanks for everything, so good to meet you, you have my number, it
was our pleasure, please call, see you again soon and bye-bye."
Frank eased to the front of the table now scattered with half-full
glasses of wine and iced tea; his signature harmonica-and-poetry
tribute was about to unfold. All eyes and ears and rhythmically
clapping hands were directed to Mr. Olympia as he celebrated "Weider,
Our Leader" one more time. His rich, bluesy harmonica stole the show
and his sing-song words, though not Robert Frostesque (nor meant to
be), accented his love for Joe Weider. Faces beamed.
Laughter and grins and draining upend glasses... Time to go, guys and
girls and you muscle worshippers. The walk back to the hotel was
hopeful, visions of soft mattresses and pillows and quietude drifting
in our heads.