An online journal of the nightly (and daily) nonsense endured by a (former) bouncer at two of New York's most popular nightclubs.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Here are some things I have learned in the bouncing business.
• I once worked with a bouncer named “Clint.” Clint was more interested in getting laid than he was in making money. I was more interested in making money than I was in getting laid. Clint got laid more than I did, while I would leave the club every night with triple the amount of money he made. Clint is now a successful businessman who has made a lot of money. I am not. I should have tried harder to get laid.
• People often ask me why I haven’t exploited my positions at the front doors of clubs to get laid more often. There is a simple explanation for this. I tend to prefer cute, nerdy, bookish women, as opposed to “smoking pieces of ass.” The former do not frequent clubs, and I don’t come across them very often in my daily life, so I am usually very frustrated.
• Some famous people who are supposed to be very nice are often assholes in real life. Some famous people who are known for being assholes are often very nice in real life and leave huge tips. I can cite numerous examples of both.
• Sometimes when I deal with celebrities, they have fun laughing and talking with their friends and I remember that they were once real people before the certain way that God arranged their features made them “recognizable.” Other times, they stand there with their mouths open and vacant looks on their faces, and I wonder if they know how to feed themselves.
• In 2002, I rode an elevator with Jerry Orbach. In the same elevator was a dog with no snout. When Jerry Orbach and the dog with no snout left the elevator, I pinched myself to see whether I was actually awake. A woman saw me do this and laughed very hard.
• Like a typical white guy, I constantly complain about how “nobody speaks English around here anymore.” I’ve also come to realize that if nightclubs employed white people as dishwashers and barbacks, they’d be out of business within days. Until I was able to reconcile these two sentiments, I pretty much just shut the fuck up about it.
• People under the age of twenty-five have no sense of irony and can’t understand even the simplest instances of communal humor. This used to annoy me. Now it just makes me sad for them.
Brad Winchell scrambled unsteadily to his feet, touching the back of his wrist to his mouth to check for blood. There was plenty, most of it coming from his upper lip. He turned to face the bouncers who, moments earlier, had dragged him out the door of a Manhattan nightclub. Jennifer Chang, a friend, stood protectively in front of him, holding his arms.
“Where is he?” he screamed. “Get that motherfucker out here. You fucking assholes have no idea who I am!”
“Shut up, pussy,” said bouncer John Calzonetti. “Go home.”
“Fuck you!” shouted Mr. Winchell. “I’ll fucking kill you!”
“You got a hundred pound girl holding you back,” said the massively built Mr. Calzonetti, laughing. “What the fuck you think you’re gonna do with me?”
The dispute began inside one of the club’s three VIP sections when Mr. Winchell, 29, saw a patron he didn’t know, Christopher Arcell, 26, helping himself to a bottle of Grey Goose vodka bought by Mr. Winchell. After paying over $300 per bottle, Mr. Winchell wasn’t pleased. “I asked him what the fuck he thought he was doing, and he walked away. A couple of minutes later, he came back with three of his friends and one of them punched me in the face. Then the bouncers ran over and threw me out. I hate this place.”
Mr. Arcell’s version, not surprisingly, differed significantly from Mr. Winchell’s. “It was an honest mistake,” he said. “I bought a bottle, too, and I thought his was mine. Maybe I was a little drunk. I don’t know. I went over to apologize and he got racial. Everybody’s here to have a good time. There’s no reason for that.”
Mr. Arcell, who is black and lives in Passaic, NJ, said he’s experienced racism in nightclubs before. “Every time something happens,” he said, “it always goes back to them saying something about what color or race the other guy is. When they know they can’t win a fight, that’s what they do. It’s a shame.”
Although he didn’t see the initial incident, Mr. Calzonetti, the front door bouncer, said he agreed with Mr. Arcell. “These types of guys are all the same,” he said. “They’re all fucking pricks. They come in here and throw money around, and if they’re not gonna get laid, they get all pissed off and get in fights and they’ll say anything to anyone.”
Mr. Winchell would, at first glance, seem an unlikely candidate for drunken, racially charged roughhousing with nightclub bouncers. A Garden City resident and graduate of both Chaminade and GeorgetownUniversity, he claims to have made a “small fortune” in investment banking and real estate development. He said he frequents nightclubs for networking purposes.
“It’s where I can unwind and show my clients a good time,” he said. “I like to see and be seen in places like this, and it doesn’t hurt if I can spend some money and have beautiful women around me all night.”
Bouncer Michael Padilla offered a different take on Mr. Winchell’s nightclub experience. “I hate that fucking guy,” he said. “By the time it’s , he’s so fucking coked up he can’t keep his jaw still and I want to kill him. Look at that ugly ass motherfucker. He needs to keep three bottles and a bag of coke going all night for anything with a snatch to even look at him. He probably ain’t been laid since 1998.”
Back on the sidewalk, several bouncers stood in a cluster beside the front door, amused by Mr. Winchell’s antics. Ten minutes after being removed from the club, he was still pacing between parked cars and shouting threats at the club’s security staff. After a seemingly endless cascade of comments about his shoes, his intelligence, and his ability to hold a “real job,” Mr. Calzonetti eventually decided he’d heard enough.
“Listen, motherfucker,” said Mr. Calzonetti, pinning Mr. Winchell by the throat to the passenger side of a car. “Get in a fucking cab and go home. I’m sick of this shit.”
“Let go of him!” cried Ms. Chang, who had spent a good portion of Mr. Winchell’s post-fight tirade vomiting against the side of the building. “He didn’t do anything!”
“Shut the fuck up, you fucking idiot,” said Mr. Padilla. “Go home and clean yourself up. You’re somebody’s fucking daughter.”
“I’ll fucking sue all of you!” coughed a disheveled Mr. Winchell, holding a stylish leather shoe in his hand. “You have no idea who you just fucked with. No idea!”
“Go kill yourself,” said Mr. Calzonetti. “Can’t you just die?”
Nightlife: Revelers Disturb the Peace on Weekend Trains
Frank Scalamandre removes a twenty-two ounce can of Budweiser from a brown paper bag containing two others, runs an index finger around its rim, then spits on the floor of the westbound Long Island Railroad car in which he and his three friends – Anthony Chiaramonte, Edwin Santos and James Lynch – are riding.
Mr. Scalamandre, 23, is angry, a fact that hasn’t escaped the passengers in his immediate vicinity, all of whom have been treated to a series of profanity-laced tirades ever since the four boarded the train in Massapequa. “This fucking train,” he said, “is so fucking hot I’m already sweating my fucking balls off. Don’t the fucking air conditioners work in this shit?”
Every Saturday night, scores of young men like Mr. Scalamandre and his friends make their way into New York to patronize the sprawling nightclubs of lower Manhattan’s West Chelsea and Meatpacking districts. They tend to strive for similarity in appearance, with short, heavily gelled hair, striped dress shirts and “manscaped” eyebrows seemingly the norm. What sets them apart, however, aside from their unique manner of dress and grooming, is their attitude.
“I know I’m gonna get in a fucking fight tonight,” said Mr. Chiaramonte. “I can fucking feel it in my bones. Every time I go to this fucking place, somebody fucks with me and I gotta get in a fight.”
When asked why he continues to frequent such potentially troublesome establishments, Mr. Chiaramonte responded, “I keep going back there because I know everyone and I feel comfortable there. I know all the bouncers, the bartenders hook me up, and there’s hot fucking pieces of ass all over the place.”
Added Mr. Santos, “He’s been banned everywhere else. They won’t even let him in.”
Three weeks ago, a scuffle at Long Island’s cavernous Mirage nightclub necessitated a trip to the emergency room at NassauCountyMedicalCenter, where Mr. Chiaramonte, 23, was treated for a chipped front tooth and a bruised testicle. His willingness to return to the fray, however, was left intact. “Fuck that,” he said. “If I ever see those motherfuckers there again, I’m gonna empty a clip up in that ass. You buy a fucking bottle, and that’s how they treat you? We’re gonna stick to the city from now on. It’s safer.”
Mr. Scalamandre is an ironworker by trade, but says he’s never actually worked a day on the job. “My uncle says he knows a guy who can get me in the union,” he said, taking a long pull on his Budweiser, “but I went to Brooklyn two years ago to talk to the guy and he hasn’t called me back. It should be any day now.” For now, he says he finances his weekend activities “with a route,” but refused to elaborate on what, exactly, this work entails.
His friends share similar stories. Mr. Lynch, 22, attended NassauCommunity College for two semesters, but left in anger after one professor “was a fucking asshole to me.” He now claims to earn $200,000 per year “doing mortgages.” Mr. Santos, 24, plans to attend college as soon as he’s done paying off thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred after his second DWI conviction in as many years. “That,” he said, “is why I gotta take the fucking train.”
Mr. Chiaramonte, despite his railroad bluster, claims to have made fundamental changes in both his lifestyle and his demeanor after an eighteen-month stint in prison for “illegal activities.” He says the loss of his freedom forced him to rethink the way he went about virtually everything in his life.
“You know,” he said, “I may be young, but I know a lot of shit. I’m older, you know, in my brain, you know what I’m saying? I could really help people if I got a job, you know, like, counseling kids to stay out of fucking trouble and not make the same mistakes I made.”
Upon his release from prison, Mr. Chiaramonte secured employment framing houses with a cousin’s construction business, but a dispute over working hours forced a severing of ties. “It all good,” he said. “We’re still family. He just wanted me to show up earlier than I wanted to, you know? I mean, I know I gotta work and everything, but my friends mean everything to me and I couldn’t go out and show loyalty if I had to keep getting up at six in the fucking morning. My friends stood by me the whole time I was locked up, and they gave me a party when I got out. Where was my cousin for that? He gives me a job? So what?”
Not everyone on the Long Island Railroad is a willing participant in the festivities initiated by Mr. Scalamandre and his group. Joseph D’Aquila, 44, in his seventeenth year as a LIRR conductor, says he’d rather work his customary weekend night shifts in peace. “It’s simple,” he said. “After on a Friday or Saturday night, everybody on the train is a fucking asshole. They’re loud, they’re drunk and they’re on God knows what else, and they bother the shit out of everyone around them, including me. I can’t wait to fucking retire.”
“I can’t believe how they dress,” said Nicole Balazs, 24, a graphic designer from Brooklyn who’d spent the day on Long Island visiting her parents. “They all look alike. It makes me nervous.”
If Mr. Chiaramonte knows how his fellow riders feel about this Saturday Night Party Parade, his outward behavior offers little in the way of acknowledgement. “Fuck these people,” he said, placing his empty can on the floor. “I’ll never see these motherfuckers again. What the fuck do I care what some fucking train conductor thinks? Can he dance?”
Arrests are common on weekend night trains, especially after when revelers, often intoxicated to the point of collapse, begin the trek home to points east. “Some nights,” said Mr. D’Aquila, “I’m calling the MTA police every other stop. These animals get in fights, they vandalize the train and they do stupid shit that makes my life miserable. I feel bad for this country’s future, I’ll tell you that.”
“This is torture,” added Ms. Balazs. “Pure torture.”
Once, at one of the clubs I worked, I ran an experiment. At this particular club – long since closed, remodeled and opened under another name – everything had already started going to shit, and nobody gave a flying fuck what anyone else was doing unless it cut into the remaining cash stream. The remaining cash stream was already well-defined and channeled where it needed to be channeled, so the only way you could make waves in this shithole was to try and tap into that flow if you weren’t on the approved list.
In other words, we did whatever we wanted, and nobody gave a shit so long as they went home with their minimum.
My experiment was simple. I took four stanchions and four strands of velvet rope, and I made a square in the middle of one of the VIP sections. Inside this square, I put one of those club-cube end tables. On the club-cube end table, I placed a lit candle. I posted a bouncer on each side of the square. They were instructed to not, under any circumstances, let anyone inside the square.
Since I was “in charge” of this VIP section – I stood at the door, which ostensibly made me the senior bouncer in the area – the regulars knew who I was. Every ten minutes or so, I made a point of stepping through the ropes to the inside of the square. I would make a show of inspecting the table and the candle, then I’d pretend to make radio calls. After that, I would tap a bouncer on the shoulder, point to the inside of the square, and say, “Nod your head at me so these fucking morons will think I just told you something important.”
First, people started asking questions. I expected this. Then, when the liquor and the drugs began kicking in, they started asking to get inside the square. After an hour or so of this came the first attempts to breech the perimeter. The bouncers I’d posted at the ropes were in on the experiment, so they were willing to endure this for me. Nobody got in.
Next came tension. People asked us if we knew who they were. They asked for “favors.” They dropped names. They told us we’d lose our jobs if we didn’t let them in. One told me to go get a “real job.”
Finally, a bouncer named Joe held up a twenty dollar bill. He was declared the winner, and the experiment came to a close.
I hate prefacing a post by saying shit like, “Many of you have written in asking me what I think about…,” but this time it’s the truth. Many of you have asked me what I think about this guy, and his campaign to force “civility” down the throats of all the oblivious slapdicks who make riding the Long Island Railroad so unnecessarily unpleasant.
I’ll also preface this post by pointing out that I probably have a lower threshold for the type of bullshit LIRR customers inflict upon one another – the cellphone rudeness, the permeating food odors and the clipping of the toenails in the morning – than even John Clifford does. In case you haven’t noticed by now, I have way too much awareness of what’s going on around me and have yet to figure out a way to keep other people’s assholerie from derailing my good moods.
I’ve even gone so far as to tell people to “shut the fuck up” myself - on multiple occasions. This would typically happen at some godforsaken hour of the night on my way home from a bouncing shift in West Chelsea, after some drunken, coked-up twenty-year-old from Franklin Square decided it would be a good idea to randomly scream obscenities in my ear. It gets tiresome, as do most people on the eastbound LIRR at five in the morning.
As for John Clifford, you might be surprised to find out that I’m not entirely on his side. I mean, the “cellphone vigilante” thing he’s developed is a hell of a good concept, but it’s very poorly executed, and I’ll tell you why.
A few years back, we had an ice storm around here and I lost power in my apartment. I had no heat and no light, and when the sun went down, I wasn’t getting anything useful out of the pair of candles I’d found in my junk drawer. My girlfriend at the time, whose house still had power, picked me up and we went to the diner.
The weather was so shitty that day that only three booths were occupied. The dining room consisted of us, an older gentleman and his wife, and an African-American family with three young children whose mission in life seemed to be an avoidance of noise lulls. These fucking kids cried, cried and cried some more, and their parents, obviously inured to the noise levels they were producing, did nothing to remedy the situation. After several minutes of this, the guy at the other table decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Excuse me, but could you please either quiet your children down or take them out of here?”
I don’t remember what was said in response, and it’s not important for the purposes of the story. What is important, however, is that they left soon after. Whether this was because of a sudden awareness of the inconvenience they were causing or because they were finished eating, I also can’t recall (let’s be honest here, though: in New York, a young black guy probably wouldn’t run out of a room as a result of being rebuked by an old white guy). What I do remember is that the older guy at the other table sure was proud of himself for his role in silencing the room – so much so that he couldn’t help but recount it for me. Over and over again.
“Hey, sure is quiet in here now that those people are gone, right?”
“I think he’s trying to get your attention again,” said my ex-girlfriend. I looked up.
“Hey, good thing they’re gone, right? Now we can all enjoy our dinner in peace!”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, will you shut the fuck up? You’re worse than the fucking kids! Will you leave us the fuck alone?”
See, I get the impression that John Clifford’s subway vigilantism is forced – that he goes out looking for problems and wouldn’t be satisfied with his commute unless he’d caught someone engaging in the behaviors he so loathes. He needs for people to act badly, because this validates what he feels and does. I know the feeling, because I do this too. When I take the LIRR and it’s quiet, smooth and pleasant, I feel as though I’ve been cheated because I’ve been given nothing about which I can complain.
If you tell some irritating jerkoff to shut the fuck up, but the way you tell them to shut the fuck up is more irritating to the people around you than the behavior that spurred your reaction, you’ve become the problem.
I wouldn’t have defended the kid with the cell phone, though. I’m coming at this from a different angle. Guys like John Clifford – if there are, in fact, other guys like John Clifford – don’t really know when to stop, so they become sources of infuriating noise pollution in their own right. I’m sure I’d laugh my ass off if I saw him doing what he does on my LIRR car, but it’d eventually come to a point where I’d blow a gasket and tell them both to “shut the fuck up.”
The solution? There is none. The fight to get people to understand how fucking irritating they are is one that can’t ever be won. You can, like John Clifford, shout at them and slap them and snap your fingers in their face, and they’re simply not ever going to grasp the concept. What you have to do, unfortunately – what people have had to do for eons – is just sit back and endure it until you can be alone, because this is the culture we’ve created. This is the way the world works now. If someone is stupid enough to sit there yammering away on their cellphone on a busy morning rush hour train, they’re not capable of unlearning the behavioral patterns that generated the problem in the first place. To verbally beat your head against so many brick walls in an attempt to teach them otherwise is an exercise in futility.
I’ve mentioned here previously that I was once pretty good at a particular sport. I was never what you’d call “great,” and I certainly wasn’t the most genetically gifted athlete who ever walked the earth, but I did manage to get to a point with it where people took an interest in what I was doing.
When you play a sport on a level above “decent high school varsity player,” there’s a sort of hump you go over when you reach a certain level of performance – a line of demarcation between people who just participate in a sport and people who’ve internalized the sport to where they’re ready to move on to higher levels of competition. I managed reach that point in my sport once – the point where people will watch you perform because they’re either entertained by what you’re capable of doing, or because they think an association with you – in the case of college or professional coaches – can help them advance.
My involvement with this sport – and with training and fitness in general – is something that still means a great deal to me, and even though I don’t play said sport any longer, I’m still not ready to “hang it up” athletically. This doesn’t mean I’m out every Sunday morning playing in Al Bundy leagues and making an ass of myself afterward by drunkenly recounting everything I’ve ever done on an athletic field. No, the window of opportunity to actually “make it” in certain sports is quite small, and I wasn’t able to shimmy through it when I – very debatably – had the chance. There are too many variables involved, foremost among which is the simple fact that I wasn’t good enough at the time.
Still, I was better than most people, and you can see the residual effects of this when you watch me, even today, do anything of an athletic nature. I can still move faster, jump higher and lift heavier weight than your average guy, and I can do these things, if I do say so myself, with the natural grace and ease of movement that I should still have as someone who once crossed the aforementioned “line of demarcation.”
It’s probably evident that I take a good deal of pride in this. I should also point out here that I enjoy putting in the requisite work to keep things this way. Training, whether we’re talking about lifting weights, running, or playing sports, keeps me connected to my youth – and I’m not yet old enough to have experienced an appreciable decline in my capacity for improvement. In other words, busting my ass now feels exactly the same way it did when I was sixteen, and I like that. I like going to the gym with a plan, both for the day and for the long term, because it keeps me anchored.
That said, what the fuck are you people doing there?
Training in commercial gyms never, ever ceases to amaze me. No matter where you go, it’s an absolute freakshow. Ninety-eight percent of the people you’ll see in the gym – even people who look like they’re in shape – have no fucking idea what they’re doing. As a (former) athlete – and yes, there’s a little bit of arrogance in play here – watching people flounder they way through their “workouts” is pure comedy for me. The power of self-perception seems to disappear as soon as most commercial gym members walk through the door, resulting more in Theatre of the Absurd type spectacle than actual self-improvement.
As if the above preamble wasn’t self-serving enough, here are some things you shouldn’t do in the gym. I’m sure I could come up with a hundred more of these if I thought about it long enough, but these should suffice for now. At the very least, pick just one of these and make it a habit. We’ll all be better off.
1. Don’t leave plates on bars or machines. I do most of what I do at the gym in the squat rack, because it’s adjustable and there are about a million different exercises you can do in it. If your gym has one, start learning how to use it. Every time I walk into mine, however, there’s a barbell in it – complete with a squat pad around the middle to protect someone’s precious neck and pound plates on the bar.
Why is it always the guy who’s doing squats with ninety-five pounds who refuses to clean up after himself? Is it that fucking hard to put your weights away? If ninety-five pounds was the best I could do, I sure as hell wouldn’t want anyone to know about it, and you can be damned sure I’d get that shit broken down before anyone saw what I was using. Rack your weights and get the tampon off the bar.
2. Stop standing on things. Standing on top of something doesn’t make an exercise more effective. There’s a guy at my gym who insists upon doing barbell rows while standing on a bench. Why he does this, I have no idea. The exercise is just as effective, if not more so, if you simply put the bar on the floor – avoiding, in the process, putting the bottom of your shoes all over a surface where people are usually supine. If you’re a wee pocket man, standing on stuff won’t make you look any bigger.
3. Use gym equipment for its intended purpose. A perfect example of this is an apparatus called the Glute-Ham Raise. For my money, it’s an essential piece of equipment for any gym, yet nobody knows how to properly use one. I watch people in my gym use it for everything but actual Glute-Ham Raises. This guy even figured out how to use it to jerk off. If you don’t know what a machine is or how to use it, ask someone or look it up online. Doing it wrong – and I’m not talking about being creative and inventing a new exercise here – both makes you look like a jerkoff and can injure you.
4. Get the fuck off the phone. I won’t belabor the point here, other than to say that you should be banned from the gym if you’re caught performing an exercise while talking on the phone.
5. Don’t try to have long conversations with people who don’t want to talk to you. Like me, for example. As I said earlier, I go into the gym with a plan. What I want, more than anything else in the world, is to stick to this plan and get my work done quietly and efficiently. The gym is my happy place where I can go to be left alone. When you see someone who knows what they’re doing - and appears to be completely absorbed in what they’re doing - leave them alone. They don’t want to talk to you.
I was bench pressing the other day with a relatively significant amount of weight on the bar. A guy came up to tell me – apropos to nothing – that he hoped Hillary Clinton would win the Pennsylvania primary because “we can’t have a n----r in the White House.” This was obviously a very important thing for me to hear at that moment, so he did me the favor of providing me with this essential information – proving, in the process, that I am, indeed, a target.
6. Stop wearing wife beaters and dress appropriately. Again, I don’t need to beat this one to death. Especially outside of Manhattan, the populace can’t come out of character long enough to leave the Ed Hardy hats – cocked to the side, of course – rhinestones and sequins at home. Dress like you’re there to get something done.
7. Don’t make a beeline for the dumbbell rack and start doing curls. Nothing says, “I’m not an athlete and I’ve never been one” more succinctly than walking in the front door and heading directly for the “Guido Rack.” Try something else for a change – something that takes a little effort and will actually work.
8. Make sure you don’t give off a scent. It’s possible, in the gym, to smell either too bad or too good. Unless you’re the hottest girl I’ve ever seen – in which case you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want – there’s no reason to bathe yourself in perfume before you use the elliptical. The same applies to guys who slather themselves with cologne. There’s really no point in doing this. Much of what people do in the gym involves labored, heavy breathing – when you’re running on a treadmill, for example – and having to heave in someone’s overzealously applied fragrance for an extended period of time can be problematic, to say the least.
There’s a guy at my gym who smells like cat piss. We call him “Cat Piss Guy.” Cat Piss Guy is a charter member of the Worldwide Conspiracy, because he seems to make a point of constantly being within ten feet of me when we’re both there at the same time. This is intentional, I have no doubt. I believe my mother is paying him to do this.
9. Don’t take a ten minute recovery period between sets. Timed rest periods are a training methodic, but full recovery can usually be achieved in three minutes or less with most exercises, especially if you’re not working with an exceptionally high volume of tonnage. In other words, don’t do a set of ten lat pulldowns with the stack set on eighty pounds, then sit there playing air guitar for five minutes. Get the weight back in your hands within ninety seconds or less – this holds true for most movements – and you’ll be a lot better off on many levels.
10. Have some awareness of your surroundings. A few months ago, I was doing snatches with a barbell. These are rather difficult to do correctly and require a high degree of effort even when performed in low-repetition sets. Two guys, who’d been using the area next to where I was working, stopped what they were doing and started having a conversation. This conversation took place approximately three feet from where I was trying to do my thing. The rest of the gym was empty. I was trying to get my sets in, sucking wind like a motherfucker, and all I could think about was how close they were standing to me.
“Guys,” I asked, “do you mind not standing so close to me while I’m doing these?”
“What?” asked one. “You got headphones on. You can’t even hear us.”
“Yeah, but you’re standing, like, a foot away from me and there’s nobody in the gym. Can you please move down there a little bit?”
“I don’t understand what your problem is, man. We’re not bothering you.”
“Then think about it this way,” I said. “Do you really want to have an argument about your right to stand this close to another guy?”
If you do nothing else I’ve advised, please just look around you, think before you act, and try your best to make sure you’re not bothering anyone. That is all.
A friend sent me a link to this story today. Read it and take a good look at the accompanying photo.
I’m going to preface this post with a disclaimer. I don’t know the young man who was injured in this incident. I don’t know anything about him. Looking at his photo, there are certainly some things I suspect, but who the fuck knows for sure? Believe it or not, I wish he hadn’t been hurt. I wish this because I don’t like seeing anyone get hurt as a result of going to a nightclub or a bar. Getting hurt during or after a night out is just fucking stupid, and it doesn’t need to happen. Much of what I’ve written about on this site has been intended to help people avoid getting hurt. I am an altruist.
That said, what the fuck? Why does this keep happening?
Since I started bouncing again back in 2003, the one thing that’s always amazed the shit out of me has been people’s willingness to directly confront the police. Most times, they’ll do this verbally. Occasionally, and more frequently than you might think, they’ll do it physically. This makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, yet I’ve seen it dozens of times. Confronting the police is illogical, and it always fails.
You’re not going to defeat the police. You’re just not. They have guns and nightsticks and pepper spray, and they’re going to fuck you up. If they don’t fuck you up, they’re going to call for backup, and their backup is going to fuck you up. If their backup doesn’t fuck you up, their backup’s backup is going to call for federal backup, and then you’re really up shit’s creek. Like it or not, when you’re insubordinate with the police outside of a bar, you’re essentially picking a fight with the United States Government, and they’re not going to allow you to win. Ever.
“Yo, why you arrestin’ my boy? He din’t do nuthin’!”
“Step back, sir.”
“Yo, fuck you, muthafucka! You think yo’ badge make you tough?”
“Step back, sir, or you’ll be arrested.”
“Yo, you jus’ made a big mistake, muthafucka! You don’ know who you fuckin’ wit. You still wanna have yo’ job tomorrow?”
This story also reminds me of why I hate “guys.” Take a look at the picture of the gentleman who was tased, and think about how many times the word “bro” was used that evening. Think about how, every night in America, groups of guys who look exactly like him go out thinking they’re reinventing the wheel by getting drunk, getting loud and getting in fights.
“Yo, bro, me an’ my boys are goin’ to Vegas, muthafucka! Yo, bro, it’s my boy’s bachelor party, bro! Yo, we got a suite at the Borgata, we got limos, an’ we got VIP passes for the pool party, bro!”
I really fucking hate guys. I hate everything they do. I hate seeing them, hearing them, and having them inflict themselves on the rest of my senses. I hate watching them get the shit kicked out of them after their drunken, drug-addled auras of invincibility put them in situations they’re incapable of handling. I hate how ordering UFC pay-per-views and wearing Affliction shirts makes them think they can beat everyone up. I hate when they say “bro.” I hate the whole fucking guy thing and what they’ve turned it into.
I went to sleep in 1995. When I woke up, everyone around me had turned into a prick.
When I was much younger, it seemed as though everyone I met was in the process of enduring an upbringing similar to my own. Beer and gambling-fueled smack-downs in the family room were optional, of course, but that’s not where I’m going with this. As kids, we weren’t exactly sympathetic – or empathetic, as the case may be – toward each other, but we understood each other, and we understood each other’s parents.
It didn’t matter whether you were being disciplined by my parents or “Clint’s” parents, or the parents of the jerkoff twins down the block. If you did something stupid, pretty much everyone’s parents would call you out on it in the same fashion, meting out the same degree of making-you-feel-like-shit in front of everyone you knew. In my neighborhood, I got people. Things, at least before most of my schoolmates discovered black tar heroin, were predictable. Action A led to Consequence B, and so on.
This is why I don’t quite get the way things are in 2008. When you want something, at least the way I learned it, there’s a certain way to ask for it. There are particular “magic words” and “magic phrases” in society that were inserted into the lexicon to enable people to live in a civilized manner. When people live in a civilized manner, asking for what they want in traditional fashion, they can potentially avoid confrontation and conflict. When they avoid confrontation and conflict – whether they want to or not, since some people are predisposed to relish this sort of thing – they do everyone else in society a favor by not hassling the shit out of us as we try to go about our daily business.
One of these magic phrases is “Excuse me.” I was taught to say this, in various situations, virtually from birth, and it worked like a charm until people turned into slapdicks. This is a very recent development.
Hearing “Excuse me” is a rarity in New York these days. Judging by the behavior of the citizenry around here, I’m thinking some of you may not even know what it means anymore, which is sad because saying “Excuse me” can be a very utilitarian thing to do.
When you accidentally bump into someone, you should say it to let them know that, in a perfect world, you would have preferred to avoid bumping into them.
When you want to move from one geographical point to another, and your way is blocked by a person or collection of persons, you should say “Excuse me” in order to let the person or persons in question know that you need them to move aside. Since this is the “polite” way to do this, your request, provided the people blocking your egress understand the conventions of civility, should readily be granted.
When someone says “Excuse me” to you in either of the aforementioned situations, you should either 1) grant them forgiveness with either a simple gesture or by saying, “It’s okay,” or 2) move aside and let them pass.
This weekend I repeatedly witnessed the actions of a customer who was seemingly never taught to say “Excuse me.” Every time he tried to make his way through the crowd, instead of simply saying “Excuse me” and waiting for people to accommodate him, he scanned the blockade of humanity for openings and attempted to dart through them. The people comprising these blockades theoretically may not have accommodated him at all, but the point here is that he didn’t even try, or didn’t know to try. He simply stood there and stared at people’s backs with his mouth open, waiting for something to happen.
This is a rather poor way to live your life, as I’ve begun to find out recently.
Darting through a group of people in this manner is a bad idea because the physical dynamic of a cluster-fuck constantly evolves. People don’t move predictably. A better way to say this is that they rarely flow in the direction you want them to flow. They’ll move and you’ll dart, but before you’re finished darting they’ll do something completely unexpected and suddenly there’s contact. And contact is precisely the thing we’re trying so hard to avoid.
I wanted to say something to this gentleman. I wanted to tell him, “Look, it doesn’t have to be this difficult for you.” I wanted to take him under my wing and teach him the rudiments of conflict avoidance. I also, as my mother would say, wanted to throw a pie in his face. Either way, I doubt it would’ve changed anything.