SUGAR SHACK JOHNNY NOVAK
by Craig Fleming
Joe Novak, aka "Sugar Shack Johnny," aka "Jack," was a complicated man, who lived a life that was in many ways, larger than life.
He was a tough, intelligent, compassionate, and inarguably fearless man who was incredibly comfortable in his own skin. He is missed and remembered with a lot of love.
Joe Novak had bigger balls than anyone I have ever known, and those big balls were securely connected to his big heart. I am still intrigued, to this day, by the harmony, and conflict, between his passion for knowledge, empathy, and brawn - it was a very rare combination of qualities, with the all the raw emotion and complexity of a classical music composition.
Joe essentially conducted "pool…show more content… Some of his tactics paralleled famed martial artist, Bruce Lee philosophies - "Be unpredictable," and, "Be like water." However, I think his heydays preceded Lee 's popularity.
Joe was, by any and all definitions, a "One of a Kind" human being. I am proud to have known him and to have been his friend.
I can still hear his grizzly bear voice, and his laughter, in my heart, and in the unsettled corners of my mind.
"Sugar Shack Johnny," as he was known in the pool halls of days gone by, had a rare combination of heart, muscle, and mind. He knew about hard roads and hard rides, and he loved life. Novak was a fearless tush hog. Even more impressively, Sugar Shack would not carry a gun, although many of his enemies did carry guns.
It is impossible for me to perceive him as his adversaries did, way back then. He may have been unfairly stereotyped in the darkness of the countless pool halls he undoubtedly knew inside and out, because he had a fearless confidence about him, borne of circumstance and an irrepressible will to succeed. But most remarkably, there was a timeless light that emanated from his charisma.
He was not a man who went looking for trouble, but if trouble came looking for him or someone he loved, I would always put my money on Joe, even when he was 75 years old.
Recently, in spite of his reputation, I sensed that Joe