Gun in Mouth Blues: How Misery Made a Man Out of Max Moore

Gun in Mouth Blues: How Misery Made a Man Out of Max Moore

By Eugene S. Robinson


Life can be kind of dizzying sometimes.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Welcome to OZY Confidential, OZY’s new weekly podcast — you know, the one your mother warned you about — for people who think pushing the envelope is the only way to deal with both envelopes and pushingSubscribe now to follow OZY Confidential on AppleSpotifyHimalaya or wherever you get your podcast/audio. 

The phone rang in the midst of an age where the phone ringing is strange, but we all still have those friends who call when they could write, and so there it was: an art dealer pal from L.A.

“There’s this guy you should really meet.”

It was Marcy, and Marcy’s always had a nose for news, compelling and otherwise. “He’s Jewish! And he’s Black! And he’s a combat vet who is into punk rock and that fighting thing you like! And he should talk to you. I think you could help him. His name is Max Moore.”

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Moore at the gym with family.

I was onboard right up to the “help” part. One of the earmarks of manhood in my modest and distinctly nontoxic masculine way is that you shoulder your burden without complaint. If someone offers help, that’s fine. If someone asks for it? Well, the world has lots of wonderful ways of saying “fuck off.” Which it does with great regularity.

“Well, I gave him your number and email. So just wanted you to know.”

And there it was. But then something strange happened: He neither wrote nor called. Not for months. So many months, in fact, that by the time he did call, I’d forgotten how he had gotten to me. He pulled me in quickly, though, by talking about an MMA fight he’d been in where, between the second and third rounds, rounds he had been winning, he quit. Blew the whole fucking clambake. He told the ref to let him out of the cage, and that if he didn’t open the cage, he’d climb out of it. 

So, cage door open, he strode through the clang and clamor of an audience screaming as much from confusion about his rejection of #winning as because they smelled what they suspected was weakness. They were largely wrong on both counts. Max, a combat medic and intelligence officer, had more weighty matters on his mind. Matters so heavy it would take some time to talk about. And on the occasion of him finally contacting me, we started talking. And talking and talking. 

Some of what we talked about is in Episode 1 of OZY Confidential’s “Gun in Mouth Blues: More From Max Moore,” but what you can’t see between and amid the dark humor is how Max’s hands sometimes still shake. And what you can’t see are his missives from Paraguay, Panama or India, where he’s working on his soap company or, much more specifically, living every day like it’s his last. Which it most certainly could be. 

“When I next get back to the Bay Area, you and I are going to fight,” Max laughs, and I laugh along with him because I want there to be a next time for Max Moore. “And I’m going to kick your ass.”

“You and what army?” I got some pepper and fighter’s pride going too.

“An army of one, bro!”