I carried my friend Tim in the truck a couple weekends ago to Lowes to pick up some material. He is building essentially a walk-in cube to be installed in his studio to showcase his work. In theory, it will be able to break down and sounds like an installation piece with four walls lined with wainscoting and furniture. Though I've never told him, Tim is an artist, one of the true seekers. We loaded up studs and for payment he bought me coffee at Starbucks. We like to swap war stories, sometimes, from the bad old days. Coming out of there he told one back when he played with Schwa and a brawl broke out, I think he said in Chapel Hill, complete with ambulances and chairs flying, and he hid under a table. Back in the truck, heading toward his shop, I countered with this one:
My sophomore year I went downtown with some other kids to a show in a warehouse club on Foushee named Caution. I think it was the first time any of us had ventured below Belvedere into the true grimey heart of this city we found ourselves in. I remember stairs up to a wide open room and a typical metal outfit grinding out some noise, all hair and bad teeth and attitude. There was a pit just under the stage with about twenty young guys hurling themselves around. I scored some beer somehow and me and my friends stood at the edge of the pit, uncomfortably, not sure what to do except watch.
Eventually the pit cleared out to a ring of boys all facing inward, with no one paying any attention to the band or what music they were making. I could feel the volume of it in my chest. The two guys left in the ring looked to be friends as they were both laughing as they threw each other around; one big guy all in black and a smaller dude in boots, jeans, biker jacket and no shirt. The big guy pushed the other into the crowd and he came running back and plowed into the man in black's chest. The kids forming the ring threw whoever got shoved back into action. Everybody grinned, the band never slowed down. Then the smaller kid in the jacket, leaping like a rabbit, crossed the width of the floor in ten jumps or so and landed his fist dead in the face of the other guy, knocking him down. At that very moment the ring collapsed with a surprising suddenness into an ocean of violence, every fist thrown, every body there colliding, the band playing metal full bore behind it, perfectly choreographed as if it had been planned that way. I told Tim I though it may have been the most beautiful occurance I have ever witnessed. We were stopped at a redlight at Broad and Boulevard, I was smoking and he responded,
"Dude, all of your stories have some element of violence in them and how beautiful it is. I think you must be really angry."
"You think?" I said, laughing.
"Yeah, it kind of worries me sometimes."
"No shit. It's been there as long as I can remember. Since I was a little kid. I don't enjoy it." I smoked a little there at the light and said, "I really would like to get rid of it one of these days."
"You will." Tim said.