I’m going old-school in this article, which is focused on the one and only, Arnold Schwarzenegger. You will have to read the piece to find out what I mean by going old-school. I hope you enjoy the story.
My First Official Analytics Prediction
I was 13 years old when my fascination with weight lifting began. To understand my life-long study of the topic, you can read this article that I wrote a few months ago. The protagonist of this story is featured in that piece, too.
Before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a worldwide, one-name icon, I just knew that I had his future pegged. I predicted his future success while I was in high school in 1980. I know that sounds like I’m bragging (which I am!), but I’ve got the goods to prove my assertion. Afterall, I bet you knew who this article was going to be about, just by seeing the one-word title I used!
My Great English Teacher – Malcolm Anderson
I once had a friend, a teacher, a mentor, and a person that I admired for many reasons. Malcolm Anderson was an English teacher in my high school in Berwyn, IL. At Morton West, Malcolm was known to be quirky and a bit strange, but I knew that he was a pure genius. His IQ was easily in the range of Mensa members.
It was Malcolm that got me started in computer programming, although that only happened because I was watching his apartment one summer while he was vacationing out west. He had purchased a $4,000 IBM personal computer right at the time they became available in 1978 or 1979. During that summer, I learned to use it and I wrote my very first program in BASIC. You can read this article to find out what that program accomplished.
During the times I spent in his apartment that summer, I looked at the thousands of books he had lining the walls of his front room. The books ranged from philosophy to science, from math to architecture. There were books on Plato and other philosophers, to great musicians.
Not only was Malcolm a prolific reader (he claims that he read every one of his books!), he was multi-talented in many other ways. He could play Bach and Beethoven on the piano and electronic keyboards with the greatest of ease. He was a superb photographer that understood the physics of the craft. The man was unbelievable in so many ways.
During my senior year (1980-1981) in his class, I had to write a term paper. This paper took all year to write and had to be extensively researched. We went to Chicago area college and university libraries to learn how to find materials using the Dewey Decimal system. We had to use microfiche, interlibrary loans, and whatever other means we could to generate the background materials on our topic.
This paper was a long-term project designed to help us get prepared for college-level classes. The checklist we had to complete the project was over 20 pages long!
Unfortunately, I must report that Malcolm suddenly departed a few years ago. I never did get to say good bye to him, but his influence on me has been huge, and I will honor his legacy with another article in the future about the greatest summer of my life in 1981.
My Obscure Topic – A Man Named Arnold Schwarzenegger
In 1980, unless you happened to like the counterculture sport of bodybuilding, it was unlikely that you had ever heard of an Austrian guy named Arnold Schwarzenegger. When I told Malcolm that I wanted to write my paper about this guy, he asked me who he was. At first, Malcolm thought Arnold must have been a world-war II hero, simply based on his name.
I told Malcolm that Arnold was going to be famous one day because he had a contagious personality and larger than life persona. I wanted to write the research paper so that I could show people how I predicted his fame before he was famous! Well, now that day has arrived (OK, I’m only about 35 years late!). Although Malcolm was a bit reluctant to allow me to choose Arnold as my subject, he relented and the work began.
Arnold had gained a lot of fame in the bodybuilding community in the 1970s. He was a five time Mr. Universe champion and a six-time Mr. Olympia champion from 1970-1975, with his seventh title coming in 1980. He had acted in a number of TV shows and films, but to say that he was well-known in the USA general population would have been an overstatement at the time.
Arnold’s most famous work by that time would have been the bodybuilding cult documentary Pumping Iron (1977). His other adventures into acting are shown below, in Figure 1.
When I began the research, it was initially very hard to find much information on Arnold. Eventually, I uncovered about a dozen articles in Newsweek, Time, and some big city newspapers. Of course, there were articles about training in Muscle and Fitness, but finding information about Arnold’s life outside of bodybuilding was challenging at the time.
I still have my original notes and the photocopies of the materials I was able to find in late 1980 and early 1981. The picture collage in Figure 2 shows some of the material. The handwritten notes were a necessary part of how we had to perform the work. Those notes would eventually be collected and be used to create a draft copy of the term paper.
Much of my knowledge about Arnold’s early life came from his semi-autobiography. This book was written in 1977 and it was called: Arnold – the Education of a Bodybuilder (Figure 3).
The Term Paper on Arnold
I no longer have the original version of my paper. That was submitted to Malcolm and if had ever gotten it back, I have misplaced it. I also cannot remember the grade I received.
I do have the next best thing, however. I have my draft copy of the paper, which was typewritten and contains mistakes. I have scanned the paper into pdf form and you can read it by clicking this link to download the file (Arnold.pdf).
What I love about finding this treasure is that I can see my grammatical style in this paper. I can see that I have been writing the way that I do for a long time now. I guess Malcolm’s influence on my writing style started in my teen years and continues to this day.
Arnold’s influence on me will last a lifetime. I have studied him so extensively that occasionally I find myself flashing back and repeating some of his famous lines in Pumping Iron. Arnold is literally and figuratively a giant figure in my life. I even went to Gold’s gym in Venice, CA, in July 1981 to find him because I wanted to meet my idol. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there then but I hope to meet him some day. His images are iconic and eternal as shown in Figure 4.