Underground Rave Beatings! goes to the mat for violence against stupidity.

Aquarian Weekly 2/14/01 REALITY CHECK


“The Hammerhead, they say, is no different today than he was in One Million B.C. He is a ruthless, stupid beast with only one instinct–to attack, to hurt & cripple & kill.” – Doctor H.S. Thompson

I received a letter recently, which appeared in this space last week, complaining of my association with a modern renegade known to my readers as Willie. It went on to site my “exploitation of criminals” in order to fill columns. As an example, the author described in detail a beating his friend took at the hands of Willie during what he described as a rave in downtown Manhattan. Then he managed to heap the vicarious blame on me. I could not vouch for the veracity of that particular incident, but it was not outside the realm of possibility. If fact, knowing Willie’s considerably savage track record, it sank comfortably in the cushion of plausibility, but my connection to this is still hazy.

It is true that in the nearly four years of penning this column Willie has provided me with several rather interesting, if not dangerous, news stories. As discussed here last year, some have thought him a figment of my imagination, a metaphoric tool used to dismantle a variance of subjects ranging from drug abuse to racism to violence. And although I would love to take credit for any satire, Willie is all-too real.

But to apologize for his behavior or the “exploitation” of it would only be hypocritical. As a journalist, admittedly a rogue one at that, people like Willie are a necessary evil, and perhaps it is going too far labeling them evil in the first place. Evil is such a vacillating concept in the world of hard news, even out here on the fringe. This is, after all, a new age of acceptance and forgiveness, where reverends embezzle and father a love child, Super Bowl MVP’s are ex-cons and IRS accountants crawl off to the White House with a .38-caliber revolver and a dream. Our most revered artists are weak and flawed and our politicians reach new lows daily.

Evil is so ambiguous now we must attach the word HATE onto the front of CRIME to further accentuate its heinous nature. By that logic a punch to the head of a gay man is far more damaging than one to a heterosexual. Defining evil now is only a matter of creating compound sins and clever chants, but fingering it is a far more difficult endeavor.

As for the alleged “rave beatings”, it is only fair to point out that beatings at these things are a dime a dozen. Many kids who gobble Ecstasy find a good beating a welcomed enhancement to the high. There is nothing better than breaking the chains of well-being and peace with a fine stomping at the hands of an anonymous madman whose only purpose in hanging around in the first place is to doll them out like Easter candy. More of these flopping cretins should be beaten, people like Willie might say, like cell-phone drivers and those dipshits who sue tobacco companies. And who would argue with their freedom?

The underground is filled with natural-selection beasts like Willie, and so are politics and Wall Street and suburbia for that matter. He is the bully, the boogieman, the great equalizer reminding everyone that humanity is not the home of compassion, but the result of brutal evolution, where the strong and maniacal unleash their frustration on those who might live under the illusion that they are somehow more refined or “better” than the rest. We shouldn’t shun or fear them. The idea is to befriend these mutants, pull them close to your bosom and mother their intentions, or at the very least, bring a notebook and study their habits.

This is what the police do. The undercover gig is a popular one on the force. A NYC detective told me recently that most busts take months, even years to set up, and for every dick forging relationships with the beautiful people, there is a reporter on his rolodex waiting for a scoop. To his credit, Willie isn’t on anyone’s payroll and would sooner stomp the life out of a narc than turn state’s evidence, which doesn’t seem to be a problem for pikers like Ray Lewis or Puffy Combs.

I first met Willie in Brooklyn in the early 90s’, and anyone spending quality time there learns quickly that twisted bodyguards are not to be scoffed at. Are we supposed to ignore places like Brooklyn, or should we hunker down and live on the edge, make it our homes if just for experiment? These are the questions my little letter-writing friend flippantly mocks with righteous blather in hopes to guilt those of us who’ve traded in such silly twinges of emotion for a press card.

This is tantamount to those reviewers of my first book writing that I glorified alcoholism. Perhaps they skimmed through the thing, like most lazy critics, and skipped the consequences of what I was experiencing, choosing instead to make blanket statements about people living in an “onerous vacuum.” Those are the same mumbling whiners who wrote that “Deep Tank Jersey” was fiction. But unless you live in the game, it is hard to record it.

Willie is the game, just like any other creature you might cover as part of what journalism invites. At every level, from presidents to crack heads, it is all about the story, and after writing enough of them it is hard to differentiate between George W. Bush and a man lying in the gutter violently puking on himself. And for a columnist, mountainous men gobbling Viagra and demanding to see “black folk” in Denny’s or pounding Margaritas while burning through EZ- Pass booths, constitutes a story. Certainly a Darwinian nightmare skulking in the rave shadows and looking to pounce on unsuspecting wild-eyed teens in the dawn hours says more about that culture than any cover story in Time. My only regret is I wasn’t there to record it.

Either way, the deal goes down and the story gets written, and those who get paid are paid. Some people would say I’m the one being exploited, but Willie would never write anything like that.

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