Jerusalem-based journalist Elli Wohlgelernter, Sports and Pop Music Editor of the new Encyclopaedia Judaica (among many other things), who we expect will become a regular contributor to In My Heart, writes (courtesy of TabloidBaby):

“I only met Norman Mailer once, at the Ali-Norton fight at Yankee Stadium, September 28, 1976. It was a controversial fight then, and the result – an Ali win by decision – remains in question to this day. I thought Norton had won, as did he and many others. After the fight – I had jumped over the railing and was sitting in the eighth row ringside – Mailer stood and discussed with everyone who was milling around why he thought Ali won, showing his notes round by round, and why Ali’s use of his Rope-a-Dope trick had saved him, as it had against Foreman two years earlier (the subject of his book, The Fight).

“Standing nearby was his latest and last wife, the lovely model Norris Church. A bunch of fellas from the ‘hood, watching Mailer’s pontification over the fight, asked, ‘Who’s he?’

“Informed he was one of the preeminent writers of our time, they were uninterested. ‘Yeah? Who’s da broad?'”

Elli’s humorous reminiscence reminded me of my own brush with Norman Mailer. It was 1969; I was a sophomore in high school. I was getting off the Flatbush Avenue bus at “The Junction” (Flatbush and Nostrand avenues) in Brooklyn. There, standing in front of the No. 3 and 4 line (now it’s 2 & 5) IRT subway entrance was Mailer himself, shaking hands.

Mailer was in the midst of his quixotic run for Mayor of New York City, with Jimmy Breslin as his running mate. Mailer pumped my hand. It was certainly nice of Mailer to do so. I was all of 14 at the time, and didn’t look like a potential voter.

He handed me several of the campaign’s buttons. One said something like “NYC 51st state;” the other one might have said, “No more bullshit,” the campaign’s NFF Newspapers slogan. Getting New York City to secede from the rest of New York State was one of the quirky campaign’s platform points.

Unfortunately, the buttons are long gone. I couldn’t even find one for sale on eBay, even though there are more than 200 items of Mailer memorabilia (signed first editions, etc…) on sale there.

Alan D. Abbey, Editor, In My Heart