What’s Happening With The World of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors
When I first accepted the request for an article on some history of the bodybuilding dietary in mid 2002 I had absolutely no idea it would proliferate into a decade long, multi-volume project covering the entirety of the awkward, often controversial sport and all the cultural peripherals surrounding it. Although the books have been successful they have not been without their challenges. Below is a little background on our current circumstances surrounding these issues and how it pertains to the re-releases of volumes I & II, and finally a resolution for Volume III of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors…
Following the release of Volume II of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors in November of 2011 I had already begun receiving inquiries as to the release of the third book. Your inspiration spurred me to continue immediately, without break right into that final volume. I had just come off of a very gruelling first half of 2011 pulling Volume II together then virtually spent roughly 15 hours daily from July 1 until the beginning of October organizing, editing, referencing, indexing and proofing the manuscript, none of which came without difficulties. However, the biggest stress and let down came through dealing with the publisher of both books in October and November of 2011. What I thought would be an exciting period of time turned out to be quite aggravating working with the publisher. I’ll spare you the details other than stating that it has been years of frustration in this regard.
Compounding the issues, three close and dear friends had passed away also that year and I just did not realize the amount of tension I carried into 2012 as I continued to dig right into Volume III which had a fair bit of drafting dating back to 2007. By spring I both mentally and emotionally stalled completely on Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors. I knew I was burnt out on it as I never had faltered on a chapter only paragraphs away from completion. Ironically, this just happened to fall pretty much right on the 10 year anniversary of beginning the project.
It took the next two years for me to actually come to some understanding as to just why I could not re-engage Volume III and what exactly it was that I actually enjoyed doing with my time. The answer was quite clear. I had spent over 20 years on just two projects; two very large projects. Beginning in 1993 I became the lead programmer for an international Environmental engineering firm, hired to build and maintain an enormous custom software to manage and present all collected remediation data for clean-up sites primarily in North America in the 1990s. I was the primary programmer so all responsibility fell on me and the stress was enormously compounded with the gradual loss of my eyesight which did culminate in me having to retire from that occupation in 2004. Nonetheless, I pretty much hopped, unknowingly, from one big project to the other when I then took on Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors. The diminishing eyesight did present a challenge on that front as well and once again that issue magnified exponentially when the rest of my sight fell in January of 2005. Regardless, I still managed to release Volume I in June of 2008 and Volume II in November of 2011.
What I had learned over the past two years of semi-retirement is that I really do like semi-retirement! During this period of time I have thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to work on much smaller projects that included writing reviews on awesome training tools to actually once again building equipment of my own ranging from specialty lifting bars to full fledged variable resistance machines. As of this writing I have three equipment projects in development and two on the mental drawing board. With a good degree of encouragement I have also finally begun planning a nutritionally related autobiography. Somewhat related but separate from the life-story are a number of very controversial chapters that I would like to make available, dealing with the corrupt politics surrounding both the control of our belief systems and that of our food supply.
During this two year hiatus from Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors it became quite clear to me that at the age of 55 I simply do not want to engage in yet another single,life-engulfing project that consumes me over many years. Believe me, there is little or next to no money in publishing books of this size. So where does that leave Volume III sitting idle at already 100,000 words? Honestly, my primary desire for completing this series is for you the reader who have read both volumes and have requested passionately the third book. There had to be a more acceptable manner for me to re-engage this project and we believe we have settled on such a method.
In discussing the electronic release of Volume I and Volume II of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors we addressed some of your concerns and comments over the sheer size of those books. In doing so we have decided to follow some newer trends and release those volumes in much smaller groups of related chapters. We fielded also the potential of accompanying these releases with both written and audio commentary along with standard audio versions.
It was while discussing this format that I realized the benefits of addressing Volume III in a similar framework. I know that this is the most practical manner in which to resume optimally for you, the challenge of continuing the often whacky, but unique story of bodybuilding. I have data drafted for this volume going back five years or more and much of it should not be sitting around for yet another five years. If we proceed in this fashion we could have new chapters for Volume III out to you as early as 2015. Again, the release of these chapters whether individually or in related groupings would be accompanied by both written and audio commentary and a full audio version of the release. Working within the framework of much smaller releases, relieved from grand finale deadlines and size constraints, would allow me to work on other related and non-related projects simultaneously, not to mention, getting important information out to you much sooner than later.
As of now, we plan to address the size issue for Volumes I&II by breaking them into three or more smaller books per volume. Both volumes lend to this very nicely in terms of division points with a little chapter re-arrangement for better balance and continuity depending on how many releases we choose to go with. Of course this is subject to change as we receive additional input from you.
Nevertheless, The World of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors when complete will be an exhaustive, unparalleled history of bodybuilding and its emergence into Western culture that will most likely approach a million words. We will begin with the release of Volume I, Book #1: : Physical Culture and Bodybuilding’s Nutritional Foundation in the very near future.
Before this however, we wish to extend to you a complementary chapter from the upcoming Volume III. This chapter is actually an extract from the Wayne DeMilia manuscript written in 2008 and donated to the Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors project in 2009. Wayne gives an extremely riveting and passionate first-hand account of the death of bodybuilding champion, Mohammad Benaziza who died in Wayne’s arms back in 1992. This is somewhat of a timely release as it follows on the heels of the unfortunate death of Mike Matarazzo who also had a brush with death back at that time which Wayne recounts in this writing. Watch for the release of this chapter in very early fall of 2014. It is an example of the depth and insight Wayne DeMilia brings to Volume III which stands to be the best of the series.
In order to effectively market and disperse the World of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors, and more importantly, improving significantly my interaction with you, I have teamed up with close friend, physical culture enthusiast and IT (Information Technology) specialist, Tamas Acs, to elevate myself onto the social media radar. I have been derelict in this regard in the past years, but realize that I owe you a much stronger presence on today’s new media stage.
And finally, there is one more issue worth sharing with you here that I have not discussed publicly, but has definitely played a role in my roller coaster decision process. I have been beleaguered with serious eye and skin ailments for 53 years since contracting Stevens Johnson Syndrome in 1961 at the age of two. It never seems to quit as I have again been recently diagnosed with yet another supposedly incurable, very serious skin disease that I must deal with. It began in August of 2012 and went into a remission in the spring of 2013 until that fall where it erupted with much more ferocity through this past cold winter. It can be very physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding and resulted in a 30 pound weight loss.
I have opted out of the disease management recommendations of the medical specialist which called for steroid creams and very toxic drugs formerly used to treat cancer. What minimal eyesight I was able to retrieve back from total blindness has been wiped away once again from related inflammation which has compounded the frustration. I am confident there is a cure and I wish to pursue a natural route to the best of my ability. Regardless, these issues do detract my focus and time, but thus far have been manageable.
With all that said, I know with certainty that my life would be much more relaxed, less stressful and fulfilling should I follow through with the above described project dispersion format. Most importantly however, within this fashion, it will be both my privilege and pleasure to bring you Volume III of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors.
You can also listen to the extensive interview regarding Volume III with Bob Whelan’s Natural Strength Night on Mind Force Radio:Sincerely,
Randy, I am sure you don’t remember me but I am a retired principal from Long Island, NY who now lives in New Bern, NC. We spoke at length on the phone a number of years ago. I have been into bodybuilding since the age of 10 and have read more than I wish to admit on the subject. However, without a doubt, your two volumes were the best of all. I so look forward to Volume 3 and hope it will also be in print. I am pained to learn of your continued and increasing physical ailments and can only send you my most sincere regards.