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Draplin Design Co., North America
January 06, 2003
Chi-cawgo!
Posted at 12:10 AM

I left Traverse City last Monday, heading south towards the Indiana border and up around to Chicago. I took M-37 all the way down, through Oswego, Newaygo and Baldwin (whoa, tough livin!) until it met up with the 96 which will take you down and around Gary connecting you to 80,90 and 94. Quite a hub. The traffic picks up substantially as you enter “Michiana.” …that famous “no mans land” around the border area. Michiana is a dirty place. Thugs, fireworks, trailers, sadness, grit and cheap gas.

My time in Chicago was pretty interesting. I was there to meet up with friends from my tenure at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. A reunion of sorts.

Highlights include:
01. Being in the city and the enormity of it all. The place is teeming with life. At times it seemed too big. Something to think about. Minneapolis is maybe a 1/8 of Chicago. That’s good. Portland maybe a 1/16. Portland is just right.
02. The amazing wealth of original “old-timey” signs adorning bars, flower shops and restaurants around the city. Masterpieces of homegrown typography. City treasures on par with skyscrapers, parks and landmarks.
03. Skyscrapers.
04. Being with everyone. Good folks with colorful idiosyncrasies. Lots of laughs. Lots of drama.
05. Seeing PJ, Ryno, Kaja, Adam, Andy, Berling, Zoe and Sarah.
06. Cheering in the new year at the local honky tonk bar. What a crowd.

- - - -

Bullshit: The phenomena known as “Group Dynamics.” Basically, whenever you arrange a bunch of fuckers (who all enjoy each other’s company) together “to have a good time” and things go awry. Fistfights, bouts of heavy-lipped pouting, mania, general chiding, etc. One minute everything is cool and the next, someone is fighting with their girlfriend or exchanging fisticuffs in the park. And god forbid someone doesn’t approve of the group planÔ€”people are put on the spot, people ridiculed, etc. Fuck that shit. At some point, you got wise up and break away´┐Ż or you get sucked in to the trouble. I almost strayed. Thanks to PJ for holding it all together.

- - - -

There was a lot of tough talk about fistfights and shit going down. Little did we know the prophetic nature of this banter…

——— THE ACCOUNT OF THE EVENTS THAT UNFOLDED ———-

The altercation was avoidable.

All it took was one “Fuck You” delivered with force and stern diction.

We were getting off the EL train, hiking back to PJ’s flat to regroup and ready ourselves for the big night out. The sidewalk was tight, just enough room for two people coming from opposite directions to pass comfortably.

Our group had eight people in tow. The three gals were up ahead, I was carrying up the rear, and behind me, in the darkness, was the caboose: Andy. We’re truckin’ back and proceeded to pass a couple of black kids. One was stout and thick. A good 50 pounds on me. The smaller was about 5’11”, 160 pounds.

Just as they passed me, somewhere in between Andy and I, the smaller of the two yelled.

The outburst had a certain direction to it, which hit Andy perfectly from his vantage. I remember it sort of jarring me, and I was ahead of them. Andy was on his cellphone, and it shook him up a bit.

I hear some rambling, and turn around to catch Andy, rather heroically-stanced saying, “Fuck You.”

That was the big mistake.

Now the kids, either surprised or satisfied from the rise they provoked had a reason to double back. They were looking for trouble. They came up on us, and our group sort of clustered and began to chat with the guys, offering sentiments along the lines of, “Hey man, everything is cool.”

They wouldn’t hear any of it, mumbling to each other, “Let’s fuck him up.” “That motherfucker should watch his mouth.” And so on.

I remember looking over at Andy and seeing him take off his glasses, and how his accelerated breathing had a certain power to it.

Then Andy stopped and faced them. They came up. Andy said something about how they yelled in his ear and how he didn’t appreciate it or something.

That’s when the bigger of the two took a punch.

Andy took it well, obviously ready for it. It bounced off and Andy went for the smaller of the two. They wrestled and Andy got off a couple quick roundabouts, stunning the kid. That’s when the larger guy reached over the writhing mess and tried to strike. Andy would have none of it. He handled both of the guys, at one point, in between wallops saying, “Uh guys, a little help would be nice.”

(The sound of flesh and bone hitting flesh and bone is a nauseating sound. Take yer hand, make a fist, and forcefully hit the lower palm of your opposite hand, right above where the wrist meets the hand. Hear that “meaty thud?” That’s the sound of a man getting pummeled. No “slaps” or “pows” or “explosive movie sounds”…just meat and bone hitting meat and bone. Ugly.)

I remember it sounding funny and sad. And this was as the fight was going down. Fuckin’ insane.

I remember how Andy sounded, grunting with each punch´┐Ż a set of squealing, hoarse, guttural noises. It was very primal.

I wanted nothing to do with any of it. All I could think of was, the next thing we’d be seeing was a gun waving around, or pointed in Andy’s face. You never know.

We broke up the fighters. The smaller of the two had tears streamin’ down his face. Andy landed a couple good ones on him and he was shook up. I pushed him back gently, saying, “Hey man, you alright?” and “Take it easy, now.”

The larger guy scurried back into their courtyard towards some bushes. Visions of a gun or knife or rock flashed in my head.

Words were exchanged and we started back.

Basically, Andy shamed them. He handled both of them. Dangerous.

Thankfully, Andy came out unscathed, except for a small nick on his forehead, prob’ly from a jacket button or something.

It shouldn’t have happened. That is all there is to it. Whether or not they were fucking with us is beside the point. We were in their neighborhood. We were out of our element and that is no time for regulating of any sort.

It could have gotten really ugly. Thank god it didn’t. Andy just doesn’t take any shit, and that can be dangerous at times.

———————————————————————————————————-

There Are 6 Comments

Jesus H, what an incredible, detailed description of how it all went down. You’ve got a way with words, unrivaled my friend. So good to know you, you sonofab*tch. (self-censored for Draplindustries Keepin’ It Clean Protocol). Glad you came down, and thanks for the eloquent recap.

Posted by: Hoss Chameel on 01/06/03 at 10:22 AM

Having read another story alluding to this incident, it was nice to hear what actually happened. I’m quite astounded that A.M. was the primary in this tale, I had assumed B.B. was involved in some manner or other - he can get sort of rowdy.

Now I know who to take with me while strolling through the streets of Chicago - Happy New Year.

Posted by: Andrew R. Jenkins on 01/06/03 at 3:18 PM

Wow.

Aaron my friend, you have quite the knack for words. I was going to write this in my journal from my memory, but I’m opting to put your account in. A bit more nuetral and I appreciate the insight to me and the situation as it makes me take a long hard look at myself.

Anyway, it was out of control and I regret scaring you or others in the group. I have no idea how all control was lost so quickly.

I did have fun with everyone on that trip. Thanks for the 20 buck lend to me to buy Heather a drink for when the clock struck midnight. She was a much nicer thing to happen to me on New Years…

Cute pic of Eva as well. What a beauty.

Posted by: Andrew Maniotes on 01/07/03 at 2:29 AM

You guys are a bunch of nuts. I do understand Aaron’s concern about the situation potentially escalating, but overall I just gotta say: REPRESENT ANDY!!! Up in loop of CHI-town no less. Damn dawg, you had to know initally you could take him out, so why bother with all the flim-flam? Words don’t mean $hit unless they’re from people you love. Still have that short fuse I guess…

Posted by: Jamie Pulley on 01/07/03 at 5:49 PM

Berling posted a bunch of (unflattering) photos of some of this mayhem on his site. I don’t think HYPERLINKS work in this comments deal, so copy and paste this URL into yon browser:

www.bradberling.com/chicago_main.html

Awesome, creepy, and just-plain-wrong.

Posted by: Flip Shimmel on 01/09/03 at 4:07 PM

Damn, that Eva Arlene is a cute baby! It really makes me think about how beautiful the world is!

Having witnessed, first hand, the Brawl of the Century, I’m just happy to say that we all have the luxury of looking back on it in the form of a crazy story, and not recalling the incident to a police detective or newspaper. I’m glad that no one was shot or stabbed or killt or whatever in the dirty streets of Chicago, and although cooler heads failed miserably, quick thinking and intervention by friends helped a situation that could have ended terribly result in a mere dramatic annoyance. Not a pretty event, and certainly not an incident to rally the troops around with some “Represent!” bullshit or other manly chest-thumping (JJP).

Something to look back at and be glad to have survived, not proud to have been a part of.

Posted by: Ryno on 01/12/03 at 5:32 PM