Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fight Club Austin


The loud-music next-door neighbor of July and August has been gone for months, and in his place came a huge, heavyset black guy with short dreads who's been pretty silent for the past 2 months. I'll see him in the hall every now and then and say "hi," but I hardly ever hear him. (Once, a few weeks after he'd moved in, he had his door open, and when I walked past I didn't see any furniture, and it looked like there was trash strewn around on the floor. So I wondered how often he was even using the place.)

Today, though... So much for the silence! It was a pleasant 75-ish day and everyone's windows were open. I was lying on the bed after that day's strenuous task of grocery shopping when I started to hear voices waft over from next door:

"Don't be tormented by death, man! Close your eyes!"
[mumbled something]
"I said close your eyes! What are you afraid of? Close your eyes! Everything does not die."
[mumbled something]
"I ain't gonna do nothin'! I'm not gonna hit you! I swear, man!"

By this time I had hopped up off the bed and had parked myself right next to the window-screen to hear more of this "philosophy"...

"You should see this barn, man. You're gonna love this!" Then came a whole series of instructions on various fighting positions and strategies, ending with:

"When you're in a fight, you never expose your back." [some scuffling]
"Never turn your goddamn back in a fucking fight!" [bumps and scuffles]
"Come on, man."
[mumbled, probably "I'm not gonna fight"]
"Why not? You were sitting here crying about life being long a few minutes ago, and now look at you! Look out the window! It's a beautiful day. The birds are flying. They birds aren't afraid of death. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Life is beautiful! I feel like boxing!"
[mumbled something]
"No, not YOU! Let's go to a boxing match!"

It was about 3 in the afternoon, so I wasn't quite sure where they were going to find an actual boxing match. In the course of the above, the heavy metal had gotten turned way up, and the one guy doing most of the arguing had said he'd been smoking and drinking since he was 10 and he still went to "Fight Club" and could still hold his own physically. And he didn't need Xanax or "no mind control" like that!

I think there were 2 guys plus my neighbor in the room. My neighbor was the quiet one telling the main loud guy that he didn't want to fight. And I suppose the neighbor had been going through a depression lately, because the main guy kept telling him that he didn't need the Xanax, that he just needed to get out of the house... and FIGHT! He just had to experience it, man! They could go to that barn, and then there was a dog park by the one guy's house, and it didn't have "no" dog shit, so it was perfect late at night...

I was fascinated by the incongruity of the main guy's occasional words of support like, "You're a talented musician, you're a smart person, you're, like, my best friend, dude" (I wrote that one down immediately) -- which apparently the feeling-low neighbor seemed to need to hear -- almost immediately leading into ways to start Fight Clubs and trying to get the neighbor to hit him! (The psychology was so crude... after hearing the "you're, like, my best friend" I wanted to, right then, run over and slip an anonymous note under his door: "These guys are NOT your friends! Be careful!")

The heavy metal "fight music" kept up, the loud personal exhortations waxed and waned. Things would be quiet for a few minutes, then there'd be more "instructions" on fight moves, then more attempts to get the neighbor to practice them; when he refused, the "psychology" would kick in. I wrote the following down, almost verbatim:

"Good! You're crying! I made you feel! You feel something! When I came over here, you didn't want life, and now look at you! You're a person! You're a person! You're a person! Feel! Feel! Feel! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Hit me, man, hit me!"

[then... bam-bam-bam, bumps and slams against the walls, stuff falling on the floor]

After 2 hours of listening to all of the above, I finally called the police when this slamming started. Initially, I called "311," which is just for minor stuff like noise complaints. But the 311 people switched me over to 911 when I told them about the fighting sounds I'd heard after the "hit me, man"...

But they were puzzled: "Is it guys playing around, or is it a serious fight? That makes a big difference in how we respond."

I was puzzled myself: "They sound like they know each other, but they keep talking about death and Fight Clubs and telling one guy to hit someone, and now it sounds like they're really hitting each other and knocking each other around the room. Have you seen the movie 'Fight Club'? [911 had] It's kind of just like that! It may be serious or it may not be... I just can't tell."

The police showed up within 10 minutes. Immediately the music was turned off. I didn't hear the other two guys leave; I wonder if the police escorted them out of the apartment immediately. There was no yelling or protest from them, belligerent as they'd been. Then I heard the police talking to my neighbor alone. They were quiet, so I couldn't hear much, except for my neighbor saying, "Sorry. We were just rough-housing." Complete silence after the police left.

Ironically, my calling the cops on the so-called "boys just being boys" was EXACTLY the kind of "stifling" female/"societal" mind-set that the movie railed against! I certainly don't think I would have called the police over a little heavy metal in the afternoon (absolutely nothing compared to the stereo of my former neighbor) and a few bumps, if that had been all I'd heard. It was the creepy "man-love psychology" that shoved it up to the next level -- the "I love you, man, life is beautiful" followed by the "hit me, man" and goading the neighbor into an actual physical fight ... allegedly as an antidote to his depression, but more probably because of the one guy's desire to manipulate another -- physically, emotionally. It was sick to listen to.

Way too much YANG, man... Reminded me of the creepy "Promise Keepers" -- the right-wing Christian guys who used to get together en masse in stadiums to "encourage" each other in their "manhood"... Obviously, a real man doesn't need a GANG to hype him up into manhood. (Though, to be fair, too much hyper-femininity/passivity/YIN is also equally warped. SLS a great example of the "uber-victim.")

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