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Chicagoetry: A Night At The Opera


"The bullies . . . may have been mistreated children and worthy of understanding but would nevertheless kill you." -Stanley Booth, on the Hell's Angels at Altamont, from "The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones."

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Was coming
To the Stadium.

They were touring
"A Day at the Races."

I had to be
At that show.

There was
Nothing for it
But to sleep out
In front

Of the Flipside
Record store

At the Ogden
Strip Mall
at Naperville Road
And Ogden Avenue.

I took Mom's
Gold '76 Dart
And loaded up
With blankets

And a lawn chair.

I wasn't quite
First in line;
A couple of acquaintances
From Naperville Central

Were already there--
Including our dope-smoking Quarterback--
Plus a couple of dudes
From nearby Warrenville.

We set up
Our little line,
And somebody
Had a boom-box.

We listened
To tunes
And rapped
About rock,

What other
Cool shows
We'd seen.

Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies
And see...

Then: the fucking
Greasers showed up.
A gang of local toughs,
Literally in black leather jackets,

Blue jeans and boots,

Fucking Lords of Flatbush
Cornball, looking back,
But you best
Kept your mouth

Shut about it
Since they'd just as soon
Crack open your skull
As look at you.

The leader ignored me
And started making nice
With the Doper QB.
Fine by me.

Then, he zeroes in
On a dude from
Taunting him, really

Fucking with him
In a menacing way.
At one point,
He picked up

A huge rock
And used it
To smash this dude's
Lawn chair up.

It became clear
They'd encountered
One another

The Greasers split,
For the moment,
And the Warrenville dude went
To a pay phone.

Soon, he had
A sizable crew
Gathered for what was clearly
Going to be

Another confrontation.
Sure enough, the Flatbush Fucks
Returned, and the crews
Stood each other off,

Making some kind
Of negotiation.
It was decided, apparently,
To get it on.

Here's the thing:
The leader of the
Naperville crew
Went into the back

Of his pick-up truck
And started handing out
Huge two-by-fours,
Some clearly honed

For skull-busting,
While the Warrenville crew
Obviously hadn't bargained
On any weapons.

They scattered,
But the Naperville boys
Caught a couple of them
And began

To fucking
Pummel them
With these massive

One dude, shrieking, managed
To get himself
Under a car
For safety.

I had never
Seen anything
Like it. My blood
Was up

In fear,
My adrenaline
Heightening my senses
And actually

Keeping me from running
Which I think
Would have attracted
The wrong kind

Of attention.
At the mall
Called the cops

And the Greasers
Got lost.
The cops talked
To the Warrenville dudes

But not to me
Nor to the Doper QB.
Apparently, that
Was the end of it.

Any way the wind blows
Doesn't really matter
To me...

Except it wasn't:
A short while later,
The Warrenville crew

This time
To the front of the movie theater
Next door.
I will never forget this:

Two young men were walking
Out of the theater
Toward their cars
When the Warrenville crew

Walked toward them,
The leader coming up to them
And thrusting BOTH his fists forward,
Smacking each guy

In the face
As he walked
Between them,

Taking his
And vengeance out
On innocent bystanders.

The cops came again
And talked to the
In front of the theater.

What a night!

As the darkness deepened
And the mall cleared out,
We found ourselves
A little worse

For the wear
But finally ready to crash.
This, too, I will
Never forget:

At this strip mall,
They leave the humming
Yellow lights
Over the walkways

On all night.

As well
As the Muzak.

Lord: the Muzak...

After that eerie, violent
Evening, here's me
Trying to crash
On a lawn chair

At a strip mall
But I can barely
Close my eyes
With the humming lights

And relentless

Dawn arrived,
The Flipside opened
And we scored
Our tickets

Without further incident.
Before we left,
A dude had his boom-box
Tuned into the Loop

For "The Steve and Garry
Show." I'd never heard
The guy before, but
Got a kick out of his playing

Rod Stewart's
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
Only to harshly draw
The needle back across it

To the sound of
A loud explosion.
It was to be
The beginning

Of a beautiful friendship.

Later, back in school,
Flatbush Fuck
Sees me
In the hall

And goes "Tindall:
You didn't see
The other night..."

I just nodded
My head.
I still hate
That sorry-ass

I wish him
And his crew
Naught but ill,

To this day.
I realize
It may be wrong
But it is, nevertheless,

The truth.

I don't care
What abuse he endured
At home
To make him

That way.
Fuck him anyway.

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see.
Nothing really matters

To me...anyway
The wind blows...

The concert
Was another story
For another time.
The smashed lawn chair,

The leather, the clubs,
The shrieking, the blood,
The adrenaline,
The second attack

All stick in my head
And probably will
Forever, along with
The humming yellow lights

And the Muzak, Lord,
The Muzak.


J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance


Posted on May 1, 2013

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
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SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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