Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Dumb and Deadly

I suspect there are a group of white supremacists at the gym. They are all young, with heads shaved, cryptic tattoos, white, etc. There is the telling stance they assume towards one another when working out, as if they are already in a prison-yard, expecting trouble, inviting it. Now sure, these "kids" could just be enthusiastic about the supremacist look, without actually buying into all the nonsense, but I doubt it. They seem chock-full of a very tense, imbecilic anger. They are waiting to explode on somebody, to give outlet to the pent up rage and presumed force that they are accumulating. 

Their stance towards each another is one thing, but their stance towards all others is quite another. They make it difficult for most to walk through their group, one must walk around. Though they let me pass through without effort, even occasionally nodding in recognition. But the hispanic kids almost always walk around. Yet there is nothing outwardly hateful, or noticeable, about them. I can feel it. I recognize the enforced pattern around them, an almost unconscious acknowledgement. 

In Florida there were many white supremacists, always clustered together in their little hateful groups. I would be going to local punk rock shows and they would occasionally, if not invariably, arrive to ruin everybody's night. They had a style of "dancing" that included marching in circles, punching anybody in the head that got near them. They would swarm, circling in the center of the dance floor like slow-moving and uneducated sharks, daring anybody to breach "their" space. It was just as dangerous to be near the outside of their circle as it was to be within it. Their movements were forced and rehearsed, always threatening. The more nimble-minded of the punk rock crowd avoided them and just wished for them to go away. Most shows would end up coming to a halt when they arrived, the band afraid of their instruments getting destroyed, packing up to leave. Their set would be over. 

Very few, or none at all, ever stood up to them. They were loosely organized in their overtly aggressive stance. We were just a bunch of kids that liked music. The punk rock posture was about resisting authority, as one of its few assumed premises, but it was not about getting hospitalized just to let it be known that you were against them, or what they "stood" and "marched" for.

Once, directly in front of a police station, I was beaten senseless by a group of them. It was fast and merciless. Fun for them, I guess. I was walking with two other friends. I was slightly ahead. They were all sitting on a bench near the sidewalk, with others variously arranged, mostly blocking the sidewalk around the bench. I hadn't realized that my friends opted to walk around the group. I attempted to make it through the center, on the sidewalk. I knew something was wrong right away because they all stood up and faced me. I was surrounded very quickly, though I didn't bother looking back. It is an unmistakable feeling. I had still thought that my friends were with me, though that would have changed nothing. 

One of them jumped in front of me with his finger deep in his nostril and asked me something inane and vaguely threatening about what he was going to do with his booger. I pushed his elbow up towards his skull from underneath. The rest happened very suddenly. There were two or three successive punches to the head. I was on the ground getting stomped. Industrial work boots, Doc Martens, connecting with my ribs, head, groin, and face in a bursting flurry of blows. It lasted 20 seconds, maybe, probably less. Then, it was over. There was only the sound of them running off, barely even screaming about it.

No police ever came out of the station, to my memory. It was only about 30 feet away. I might have been out of their jurisdiction. Who knows. An ambulance arrived. There was blood everywhere. I thought that my eye had come out of the socket, such was the sensation of sudden swelling, a blinding and bloody pain. I was pretty sure that at least a few of my ribs were cracked. I felt like raw bones were poking out of me everywhere. One of them had stomped directly down on my femur. I couldn't stand up, the leg had become so weak. I held myself up on my elbows as best as I could, blood dripping from my face to the sidewalk. I thought I was going to throw up, so overwhelming was the disorienting sensation of getting my ass so thoroughly kicked. The dizziness of pain and my body flooding with endorphins produced an almost sickening euphoria. 

I recovered. It didn't take as long as I had thought that it would. The day after I had believed that surely it would take months. It only took about two weeks, for the most part. I can't say that I had a newfound respect for them, but I did have a thing that was much closer to fear. I was not nearly as willing to engage them, on any terms, ever again. 

I was doing sound for a friend of mine's band and a different group of them showed up. One helpful skinhead poured a beer on my mixing desk and that was the end of that. It never recovered. I spent what little remaining money I had on another one. 

Several months later I was a backseat passenger in an old beat up car, fish-tailing down a dirt road, laughing and getting high with my friends. We had all recently dropped out of high school, most of us had, I think. We were screaming, drinking beer, listening to Generation X's "Kiss Me Deadly" album, though it was years old by then; always right on the verge of getting into some type of temporary trouble. I'm not sure if it was the pot, or the feeling of being trapped in the backseat, or the music, or the recent beating I had received... but it suddenly dawned on me that all my current friends were losers. They were just a few IQ points shy of embracing some twisted racist ideology themselves. They were all spuds. 

What the fuck was I doing there, I wondered with sudden terror. 

They would all be smoking speed within a few short years, though I didn't know that at the time. I probably might have guessed as much if pressed to do so. I would have been happy to smoke speed right along with them, probably. Such was my enthusiasm to live my life only as if it were being written about.

Things change.

I found the increased sense of awkwardly put forth, and even less thought-out, defining principles of the failing punk rock scene to be somehow inadequate.  It's too bad. There was an energy and excitement to the music that was somehow lost in the late 80's. It all just fell apart, not even into pieces. It was as if it all exploded but without any falling shrapnel. It just vanished, for me. Eventually, enough of us came to the conclusion that puking in a garbage can and hating cops was a deeply insufficient stance. Things sure do change.