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Got a Minute? or Hour? Toby Smith visits with Brian Bingham.

May 31, 2015 12:55 PM

BrianBingham1Toby Smith discovers 10 things he did not know about Brian Bingham

Brian Bingham, 63, is a man of the world. It’s a world that he’s circled 28 times. A global planner as well as a globe trotter, Brian has worked in 35 countries, most recently Cambodia. Beginning in 1999, he’s been a familiar figure on the northern New Mexico tennis scene. It’s possible you saw him at the state high school championships in early May. He’s the tall, erect fellow in the wide-brimmed hat. For a decade Brian has served as referee for that four-day event. Perhaps you caught a glimpse of him at the Lobo Tennis Club, where he officiated numerous University of New Mexico matches, or at the Coleman Vision Tennis Championships, where he frequently called the lines. Maybe you’ll remember his presence on court at the Indian Wells tournament, among many other venues. A conversation with Brian is an education, but seldom is it short. For the sake of space and time, the following has been greatly condensed.

1.  While living and working Baghdad, where he spent six and a half years, Brian frequently heard nearby the explosion of missiles lobbed in by not-so-neighborly Iran.  “You got used to the noise.”           

2. He loves to sing. One year Brian belted out the “Star-Spangled Banner” before the finals of the Coleman Vision Tennis Championships.  “I added loopy stuff in the way I sang.  I gave it the Perry Como version.”  

3. He has contributed 37 online reviews to TripAdvisor, and not just to eateries abroad. Here’s what he wrote about Sadie’s West in Albuquerque: “The food tasted like it had been acquired ready-made at the local Smith’s grocery store and brought over to the  restaurant for safe-keeping in their fridge until someone ordered that particular dish and then the staff put it in the microwave.”

4. As a kid, Brian played Little League baseball. “I excelled as a pitcher. I was in the newspapers all the time as an 11-year-old. Our coach let me throw curveballs.”  

5. Brian grew up in Beverly Hills, California. “Not the wealthy part of that city; my father was a newspaper reporter.” His father worked for a time for the Los Angeles Sentinel, a black newspaper. “We lived in a two-bedroom apartment.”

6. Brian was 32 years old when he first picked up a tennis racket. It was in Tokyo, his home base or 12 years. “There were courts attached to a hotel and I learned from the Peter Burwash  International people.”    

7. From 1984 to 1990, he played tennis steadily while in Iraq. “I fell in love with the game.”  He played matches — never tournaments -- at the Alwiyah Racquet Club, where the Iraqi Davis Cup squad trained. “That all ended two days before Saddam invaded Kuwait.”

8. One of his favorite books is The Psychoanalysis of Fire, by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. He is currently reading The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalisim Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto.
9. His IQ is 144.

10. One night at a cocktail party in Tokyo, Brian felt a tap on his shoulder. When he turned he found himself face to face with the Crown Prince of Japan, Akihito, now that country’s emperor. “So, what are you doing in my country?” Akihito asked.  For once—just briefly—Brian Bingham was at a loss for words.      

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