Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sydney - Part Two Point Six - Fight Night... Sort of...

Fight Night 2010--Or More Appropriately Named: The Night I Was Properly Fist-Fucked In The Face...

One evening, in the midst of mayhem down in Side Bar, part of the place went up in flames. Apparently, there was an electrical fire in one of the back rooms or some other ambiguous location. Plausibly one on par with the ones in our bloodstreams. We were lit to shit. And even though the fire department had arrived to kick out the swarm of drunkards and put out the fire downstairs, we weren’t exactly ready to extinguish ours. We stood on the sidewalk amongst the boozy breaths of our displaced comrades and plumes of cigarette smoke, openly deliberating the situation.

“Shit man, I was having so much fun. Goddamnit it!”

“Kevin, the fucking place was on fire. What were you going to do, dance around the flames?”

“No, but there’s got to be something we can do. It’s still early, and this mass of people has got to be going somewhere.”

“You boys know where you’re headed off to?” interjected a soft Sheffield accent from over our shoulders. There was an inflection in the voice that cordially requested a response while simultaneously apologizing, in case it was intruding.

“Ha. Hey, Rob. Not too sure yet, you?

Rob was plain awesome. And while I type this, humbled and chuckling in reflection in this library, I must once again apologize to him for the fate that would meet his face later in the night on accord of involving himself with us.

Sorry Rob...

He was young. In fact, when he told Kevin and I that he was born in 1990, we instantly exchanged ‘O fuck’ faces. But he had a big heart and a curious constitution that I regarded as a relief. I’ve come to realize, that in my later years, the youthful curiosity that allowed the world to seem so much bigger and magnificent back when we were kids is far too easily relinquished by both me, and some of my peers these days. And whether it’s because we got lazy, or jaded, or both, it’s really kind of sad. Too often, we don’t ask questions anymore. We’re convinced that we know the answer to everything, or simply don’t care, and in the process, we end up robbing ourselves of some possibly enlightening information or experiences.

Rob was always asking questions. While so many other’s wrote us off as Americans who they figured they understood on a personal level--because of what they had seen on our TV shows, or the way the US, en masse, had been portrayed on their news--Rob was asking questions, to really find out.

Was he naive? To the bone. But the difference between naivety and ignorance is the willingness to learn. And I’ll take the extended company of a naive, know-nothing, determined to learn something, over the company of an ignorant, know-it-all who’s convinced there is nothing left to learn. And I say ‘extended company,’ because I’d be foolish to say that there isn’t something that I could learn from the know-it-all. And I’d even be foolish to say that I’m void of naivety myself. Sure, at this point I may know a few things about anthropological theory, or making my way through a city, or about the finer art of making a wicked peanut butter & jelly sandwich, but given the ever-expanding spectrum of human knowledge, or spectrum of the human experience, I don’t know shit.

And perhaps the most incredible part about Rob was the fact that his naivety was only outweighed by his benevolence, and his optimism. He had every right to become a bit jaded, or angry with us after what he experienced, but he didn’t. He woke up the next morning, looked at himself in the mirror, laughed it off with us, and continued about his jovial interrogation of our lives, and life around him. I don’t know. Maybe he was just convinced that we were way cooler then we actually were. Either way, he had stuck with us days before his minor curbside surgery, and would continue to do so, until the day we left Sydney. I’m glad that he did.

“Well I think there are a couple of pubs just up the street if you boys would care to make the journey.” He replied.

“I’m down.”

“Yeah, me too. Let’s do it.”

We headed up to a corner pub called the Carlton. It was a bit of a dive, and they were hesitant to serve us based on our apparent impairment, but they did anyway. Probably far too much. Rob had become fascinated with the phenomenon that is chugging beer, and we finished about six jugs in thirty minutes before they asked us to leave. Somehow I remained the most sober out of anyone. Rob could barely find the exit even with a 250 pound bouncer physically pointing him in the door’s direction. And Kevin had started to sway like a six foot buoy in choppy water. Apropos, as sizable raindrops had begun bombarding every surface outside, while we drank inside.

We stepped out of the pub, into pouring rain and started walking downhill back towards the hostel. Rob and I had gotten roughly a half a block ahead of Kevin, as our feet carried us more efficiently. We passed two hooded figures beneath an awning on the way without any extended regard, and kept walking. I turned to see if Kevin was still coherent, and saw him from a distance, traversing his way slowly but surely in our direction.

He’ll be fine.

About a half a block later, I glanced back to check on Kevin again.

Oh shit...

He had engaged in conversation with the two hooded figures, and although I couldn’t hear exactly what was being said, it was obvious that it was escalating into an altercation. Two seconds later, one of them stepped forward, and I saw Kevin pivot and book it as fast as his liquid legs could carry him down that rain-soaked sidewalk. The two hoods trailing him like tails. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that he was wearing sandals. We all were. As it goes, Kevin ate shit and rode that sidewalk like a concrete slip and slide. Not far though. And as soon as his one hundred-eighty pound, booze-infused frame slid to a halt, his tails had begun wailing on him.

“Fuck!” I turned to Rob, “Stay here.”

I gunned it towards Kevin as fast as I could. And the shorter the distance quickly became between us, I noticed how insanely short his assailants were. They were tiny. They looked like they belonged to a Rodney King LEGO set. Now, I know that I’m not huge, but I’m not exactly pint-sized either. I’m about six-foot-three and one hundred-ninety pounds. And I’m no Ferrigno, and I’m no Jet Li, but I’ve spent enough time in the gym and in a kick-boxing ring, to the point where I should have felt confident enough to defend myself and Kevin against those fucking jawas and their hooligan haymakers. And while I should have spent that time running, considering which one I was going to level first, a series of other thoughts went through my head, that prevented me from taking such direct action.

What if they have a weapon? If Kevin gets gutted, where the fuck do I take him? I’m in a strange city, and I don’t know what these guys want. Jesus Christ, Kevin can barely even stand he so drunk. If one of us gets hurt, this trip is over. We need to get the fuck out of here.

I’ll be open. Those ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ had me frightened. In retrospect, perhaps far too much. Either way, I did my best to try and just get us out of there. I pushed both of them back as soon as I reached the mess, and pulled Kevin off the ground. I turned to push them away again, and was just as soon turned inward by a barrage of fists and feet that cracked about my face and ribs.

Jesus Christ!

I struggled to shield myself behind bent elbows. Kevin, now standing, took a swing I swore he could have stolen from Super Macho Man on Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. His whole body went windmill. And it most likely would have been rather effective, if he wasn’t four feet away from his targets. Instead, he spun himself a circle and a half, and ate it again into the pavement.


And that cycle continued for about another thirty seconds. Kevin would lose the big battle with balance, and I’d take a beating trying to pull him back up and push him away from the tiny war. The whole time, with those fuck-wits unloading their bullshit.

“You’re not from around heyaeh, ah yah, beetch!”

“Thees eez how we do it in New Zealand, muthah fuckah!”

“It seems like a lovely place.” I couldn’t help myself, even beneath the battering of boney knuckles.

Around the fifth time or so of trying to pick Kevin up, I took a boot beneath an eye that took a second of sight out of both. I felt the dizzy of impending consciousness collapse in that momentary black-out, and realized this had to end before I did. I suppose I had neglected the fact that even though their small stature seemed to make the majority of their hits knock-out incapable, enough of them might do the trick. I stood up and grabbed the next foot en route to my jaw. I held it high into the air and attempted to reason, while its owner hopped on the other one he still had control of.

“Listen, we’re heading out. Just fuck off and let us go.”

A moment later, I took a hard right hook to the left side of my face from the other assailant that connected like a lead pipe. I dropped the foot, stumbled back, and tried to comprehend what had just happened with a quick look around. Kevin had finally heeded my efforts and retreated, leaving both to concentrate on me.

“Fucking really!?” I barked at them, in a manner that suggested that our promised retreat, and my unwillingness to fight back rendered their double-teaming front a bit excessive.

It seemed to sink in a little. At that point, content with the slugs they had gotten in, their advancement had ceased. Which subsequently led to that mutual and cautious backwards-stepping stare-down, that seems to follow some fights, until both parties are at a safe enough distance from each other to turn and walk away. It was over, and I was glad.

I eventually spun around to find Kevin holding himself up against a wall about a half a block down. Spitting out the blood and rain he sucked from between his teeth.

“You alright?”

“What the fuck, bro!?”

“I don’t know, man.” I gave a quick survey of our surroundings, and felt my stomach drop. “Where’s Rob?”

Instantly, the street answered as it carried his buoyant babble down the sidewalk, to my battered ears. Straight from the spot we had just fled from. Straight towards the figures we had just fled from.

What the fuck!? How did he get past me? This won’t end well...

And like watching all of the chaotic components that make a car wreck come together from a distance, and knowing that there is nothing that can be done to prevent the impending collision, I swallowed the moment with equal amounts of distaste and acceptance. I knew there was no way I’d make it in time. I gunned for it anyway, back up that hill for the second time. Sliding about the entire sidewalk through the entire sprint.

Fuck these sandals.

By the time I had met ten yards from Rob, he had met the assailants and lured their attention to his courageous query. His voice was as shaky as his stance.

“Why don’t you boys just leave Kevin and Preston alone?”

My heart sank.

Maybe I can make it in time...


Guess not... Fuck!

With little hesitation. One of those outstanding gentleman answered Rob with a swift punch to the center of the face. His head snapped back, and the rest of him followed suit until the wet concrete caught him. I pushed the pace and arrived in the moment his head hit the ground to shove Twat-waffle A and Twat-waffle B back with an unrestrained charge. And whether they had grown cautious of the visible rage that had fired up within me upon seeing Rob take one to the face, or they realized they were late to an important Dickhead meeting, they hurriedly exited the scene without a word said.

I glanced down at Rob. Laid out like a horizontal Jesus. Thick ribbons of red rapidly unfurling from his nostrils. His eyes rolling about in his skull.

“Rob?” I began to pull him to his feet.

God, I feel like such an asshole. Why did he go back?

“I think those gentlemen just hit me.”

“Nah man, you just attacked that guy’s fist with your face.”

“Oh my god! Am I bleeding!?” He touched his cheek and then stared at stained fingers.

The bottom half of his grill had been completely Picasso’d. His nose flattened. I couldn’t believe how much blood their was. He donned giant, crimson stage curtains, opened just to expose his mouth. And the rain had started to steal the red from them and carry it down to his shirt like water color.

“A little bit.”

Jesus. Looks like a fucking murder scene...

I pointed towards Kevin, attempting to direct his attention elsewhere, and he started to shuffle down the hill, while blabbering to himself in disbelief. And I began to consider either how sad, or humorous this entire situation had become. Confused, I was somewhere between rage and hysteria. This poor fucking kid’s face looked like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But in hindsight, the ludicrous nature of this whole fiasco might just end up hilarious.

Did all of this just happen? Holy shit...

Kevin greeted us upon arrival in a manner that let us know everything was alright on his end.

“Holy shit, Rob. Did your face just get it’s period?”

And though Rob was still in shock, and I later felt somewhat sorry for being less than sympathetic, Kevin’s commentary compounded with my previous thoughts, busted my belly up into an uproar. It tipped the scales unto hysteria. I bursted out laughing so hard it hurt my lungs. I couldn’t help it. And it might have been on account of the drunk, but a deluge of delirium had washed over me and away any anxiety. It cleansed the confusion and clearly revealed the situation for what it was. We had just flown eight thousand miles around the world to get the shit beat out of us by two hobbits from the Shire. And all in all, I could either laugh about it or bitch about it. And bitching wouldn’t change a thing. So I laughed. Both Kevin and I did. Because honestly, sans injury, it was pretty fucking hilarious.

“Oh my god! Why are you laughing?” Rob frantically questioned.

“Sorry man, I can’t help it.”

“Does it look that bad!?”

“Jesus, Bro. Did that guy hit you with a fist or a shovel?”

“Oh no! Is my nose broken?” He was starting to panic.

“Probably.” I had to be honest. “But we’ll get it fixed, man. There’s not much we can do right now.” In empathy, my sentences were rejoined by some sincerity.

And I think as soon as he heard it, his unease started to subside. And I couldn’t help but commence once again.

“Dude, if you had a cowboy hat on, you’d look like Yosemite Sam.”

“Yeah, sweet mustache, Bro.”

“Oh god!” He gasped.

At that point, Kevin started rolling, and so did I. And there seemed to be enough momentum to move Rob along. He began to chuckle a bit too.

Thank god...

Eventually, exhaustion brought the three of us down to the curb on that sidewalk. We sat with our swollen mugs, buried in our knees. Shooting the shit amongst busted faces, blood and rain, about the entire situation. It’s become one of my most valued moments.

Sometimes you’ve just got to fly halfway around the world to get your ass kicked.

There’s a lot that you don’t plan on. There’s a lot that you don’t expect. Sometimes expectations bail, while fate comes back with a fight. Either way, you deal with it, and learn to roll with the punches. Literally. However unpleasant they may be. You learn all you can from the moment. Whether it’s learning not to talk to strange figures in an alleyway, or not to wear sandals in the rain while pissed off of your face. You learn who your friends are. You learn who your friends will continue to be. You learn that maybe next time you should swing instead of pushing. And kick instead of talking. Either way, I wouldn’t trade all of what happened for anything. Even amidst the battered bones and egos.

A few minutes later, I had to retire. I was wiped from the night. I bid adieu to Kevin and Rob on that curb, and headed off to pass out at Wake Up! And as if the sisters of fortune decided to toss my conscience a cookie after the whole ordeal, we would later discover--via the cops that later met Kevin and Rob at that curb--that those assaulting Ass-Tulips were immediately arrested after fleeing the scene. The whole thing was caught on CCTV, and the cops were in the area after dealing with an incident on the other side of the block. The incident being a stabbing.

Could have been a whole lot worse for us... May have dodged that one...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sydney - Part Two Point Five - Dick Von Disco

The Birth of Dick Von Disco...

The low-lying atmosphere of that city is densely trafficked with sounds and music. The streets, alleyways, and commercial buildings are congested with various tunes piping in from every direction. I love it. Kevin loved it more.

Ever since I’ve known the kid, I’ve been aware, and wary of his propensity for letting himself become too absorbed in a moment or activity that he finds fun. Sometimes to the point where the consequences seem far from worth the fun in the first place. They usually are worth it though, especially in hindsight as they provide for a decent story. At least to everyone else. Like all the times that he drank too much back home, and pissed himself, and whatever bed, couch, or lucky lady that he passed out on. Not too big of a deal if you got to throw some newspapers beneath him before he nodded off on one of those things. And it worked doubly well if the lady was homeless, and the newspapers were already there.

And I’ve been one to empathize to a degree from time to time, because for the most part, I’m the same way. I get a taste of euphoria, and I’ll spend the rest of the night or day chasing it, until I crash and burn. I’ve done it plenty of times. Even to the point where I’ve lost control of my bodily functions. Even to the point where my moral hangover was worse than my physical one. But we’ll get too that later.

This time with Kevin however, his submersion in the moment wasn’t as consequential--at least, at this point--as it was downright fucking hilarious. He had begun to sincerely feel music that surrounded him, and had also felt the need to express himself through the art of emphatic dance. And ‘feel the music,’ might not do it justice, it might be better exclaim, he felt the shit out of that music! Now the beauty was, that the music was everywhere, all of the time. And it was usually electro-pop, techno, or other genre possessing some pulsing pattern of the like. Or, La Roux’s, Bulletproof. Sydney seemed to have that song on repeat, and I’ll admit that Kevin and I both were admirers. Anyway, suffice it to say, Kevin had begun a dance marathon, and the lengths for which he dedicated himself to that dance made you believe that nothing was going to stop him. He made fatigue his bitch, and consistently turned it away with the turn of his torso.

During the day, the solo rhythmic rodeo was rather restrained. There were still a few twists and shimmies, but they were carried out in a careful manner as to keep from alerting all eyes. They still did though. From afar, he looked like a two hundred pound infant doing the pee pee dance in public. Anywhere from the grocery store, to the city streets, he was moving. I remember the first time I saw his subtle movements progress into the early onset of his footloose fever. We were standing in line at the cell phone store awaiting further service as our attendant had run to get something from the stock room. It began with a tapping foot, until he stepped back to start stealthily cutting up the air with dance karate.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“I don’t know, bro. I can’t stop dancing.”

“You look like you’re having a seizure.”

“I know, it’s awesome.”

At night in the bars, the ‘awesome’ went twelve-fold. It usually took anywhere from three to four drinks to elicit a character to the likes of which those venues might have never seen, and will never see again. A character with presence enough to set the ambiance of the entire place. Kevin’s, pretty much harmless, Mr. Hyde. Dick Von Disco...

Dick Von Disco was a middle-aged immigrant from Eastern Europe. He had grown up rough in the streets of his war-torn homeland, and had little to occupy himself as a poor child, with the exception of his factory-working father’s fairly limited 1980s, VHS collection. For hours every afternoon, Dick Havel--he was ‘Havel’ before he was ‘Von Disco’--would sit and watch movies like, Flashdance, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Scarface, and dream about making a name for himself, passionately love pumping chicks like Jennifer Grey--even before the nose job--and doing tons of really good cocaine. But he knew that before he was going to walk that red carpet, he’d first need to learn how to cut up the rug. So as Beals, Swayze, and Bacon tempered his skills atop the fires of his passion, Dick Von Disco was born unto your world, and his dance floor. But as far as you knew, he was a fucking dance juggernaut from the Dance Galaxy in outer space, and unless you wanted to tussle with his tango, you best step back.

He dons an orange polo shirt brighter than any light in that bar--apparently Kevin’s only going-out shirt--and his dark shoulder length hair is greased back in a way that says, not only is he setting the standard for style, he’s also setting it for aerodynamics. He’s got an air about him that tells you he might wear a banana hammock to your little sister’s pool party, and bang your mom behind the toolshed with his aviators on when you’re not looking. And aside from an occasional head nod, or stare that says, “you vant to play vis dis fire, don’t you?” he doesn’t say much to the ladies. He doesn’t need to. They can barely understand him through his accent anyway. He knows that they’ll soon enough be mesmerized and drawn in by his art. He knows what ladies love. They love dance movies, and he’s a one man theater performance of Step Up. If Step Up actually took place in 1987. And even if he is the only one on the dance floor, and there are only nine people including the bartender in that joint, he is Dick Von Disco, the coolest mother fucker in that venue, and he will trip and flog the shit out of the light fantastic, straight into your goddamned heart.

Until of course, he passed out after drinking too much, and we’d wait another eighteen hours or so, before he’d return.

In all honesty though, D Von D was one of my favorite parts about Sydney. And an inspiring one at that. Aside from super sweet moves like ‘the shower,’ and ‘the landscaper,’ that Von Disco stole our attention with, Kevin was unknowingly, yet earnestly able to remind me that sometimes you really do have to dance like no one is watching. Because in all reality, who gives a shit if they are. It’s your short life, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, don’t be afraid to have fun. Sometimes we end up spending so much time worrying about what we look like, or stressing about coming off as cool, that we forget to just let go and enjoy the time that we have.

I was further inspired by the fact that Dick Von Disco’s commitment to his art was unhindered, after being subjected to a substantial ass-beating. Although comparatively, my face would speak to the fact that I took the brunt of that beating.