Acid Heroes

August 30, 2015

Street fights

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:48 pm
Tags: , ,

I remember one of the first fights I got into on the street scene.  Actually, it was more of a confrontation than an actual fight.

It was 1997.  And me and Duncan used to set up our vending table on Telegraph Avenue every day.  We were in the middle of a big social scene back then.  So we’d often bring out 5 or 6 extra chairs for our friends to sit in so they could hang out with us while we were wiling away the hours doing our vending thing.  That usually worked out pretty good.  Because most of our friends were pretty cool people.  But every now and then, one of our friends would invite one of their friends to hang out with us.  Somebody that we really didn’t know.  That’s when things could sometimes get sketchy.  Because, as you probably can imagine, there are more than a few sketchy characters on the street scene.

That’s how this guy named Beedy came to be sitting there with us, hanging out at our vending table one afternoon.

Now Beedy was a vicious, little guy.  He had shot a guy with a gun once.  And he had done time in San Quentin.  And he hung out with a pretty rough crowd.  So he had a fearsome reputation as a heavy-duty guy that you wouldn’t want to mess with.  He also had a nasty, little mouth.  And as he sat there with us, he kept making all this sneering, mocking comments about “cartoonists and artists.”  I forget exactly what his comments were.  But as a cartoonist and artist myself, I began to take his comments personally.  So I politely asked Beedy to leave our vending table.

Beedy said:  “I can sit here if I want.”

I corrected him:  “No you can’t.”

So I got up and stood behind him and pulled his chair out from under him.  Beedy went straight down on his ass.  WAP!  He immediately jumped back up, mad as a hornet, and started throwing punches at me.  So now we’re dancing around, sparring like boxers, feigning punches at each other.

Now, the problem I have with fighting, in general, is that I generally start out with a burst of righteous anger.  And that fuels me into combat mode.  But after a couple of minutes I start to feel ridiculous.  Like, what the hell am I doing dancing around in public throwing punches, with all these people watching me.  So I start to feel like a fool.  And that saps the killer instinct needed to maintain a good fighting stance.  So I’m generally lousy at fighting.

At any rate, my friends quickly got in the middle of me and Beedy and broke up this fight.   Beedy dashed off.  But not before he turned around and pointed his finger menacingly at me and shouted:  “I’M GONNA’ GO TO THE PARK AND PAY A COUPLE OF NIGGERS 20 BUCKS TO COME OVER HERE AND KNOCK YOUR VENDING TABLE OVER!!”  And then he dashed off in the direction of the park.

So now we were in the middle of a situation.  “It’s on,” as the saying goes.

I considered packing up our vending table.  We sort of felt like sitting ducks, sitting there on the street corner (Telegraph & Haste for those of you keeping score at home).  But I figured that would send out the wrong signal.  That we’re scared.  Intimidated.  Backing down.  I figured this was going to be an on-going situation, so we might as well sit tight, see how it plays out and get it over with.

About a half hour later, this guy I know named Reggie comes rushing towards our vending table.  “Hey Ace.  I gotta’ tell you.  Beedy just came up to me and offered me 20 bucks to knock over your vending table.  I told him, ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Beedy.  Ace and Duncan are friends of mine!  I’m not gonna’ do that!'”

“Hey, man, thanks for the tip, Reggie,” I said.

So then I told Duncan, “Listen, I’m going to go across the street to the Café Innermezzo to get a cup of coffee.  Hold the fort.”  And that’s what it felt like.  Like we were the cavalry at Fort Apache waiting for the onslaught of the Indians on the warpath.

The Café Innermezzo was an ideal spot for a look-out.  Because it had a big picture window facing in the direction of the park.  So I could see if anybody was rushing towards our vending table long before they got there.  Lo and behold, I soon spotted Beedy himself rushing down the Avenue on the other side of the street.  He rushed by our table and kept going.  I decided to see where he was going.  So I darted out of the Innermezzo and followed him down the Ave.

Beedy darted into Fred’s Market.  And I darted in right behind him.  I darted off to a side aisle where I was out of view, wondering how I was going to play this one.  Beedy grabbed some food and a soda and rushed up to the counter.  I darted right behind him on line.   Beedy was excitedly talking to Fred who was working the cash register, when he turned around and suddenly saw me standing there right behind him.  His face blanched with shock and surprise.  And the tell-tale look of fear in his eyes.  I mean, it’s unsettling when you vow to wreak violence upon somebody, and then you turn around and there the person is standing right behind you.  Which was exactly the message I wanted to send to Beedy:  See how easily I can sneak up behind you and get you if I really want to?   Beedy paid for his items and rushed off down the street.

Later that evening, we’re all hanging out on a bench on the campus, when a mutual acquaintance of both Beedy and me walked up to me and said: “Hey Ace, Beedy feels real bad about what happened today.  He wants to apologize to you.”

“Sure,” I said.

Beedy sidled up to me and said: “Hey Ace, I’m really sorry about what happened to today.  Can I buy you a beer?”

“Oh man, you don’t have anything to apologize for,” I said.  “You didn’t do anything wrong. It was just one of those things that happens sometimes.”  I said this because it was a way for both of us to save face.  Reasonable heads prevailed and we resolved the thing without it turning into an on-going war.  Sometimes you get lucky in that way. Most of the shit people get in fights about on the streets, it’s almost never really worth it.  Beedy and I shook hands.  And that was the end of that one.

*                                    *                                                   *

Looking back on that whole period, now that I think of it,  it reminds me of something.  I went through a period when I was a young man, for several years, where I was absolutely fearless.  I feared no man.  I didn’t even fear death.  At the time, I firmly believed that death was just shedding the physical body and merging with the Godhead.  So what was there to fear about death? I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  And that knowledge gave me a fearlessness and an absolute confidence in every situation.

I don’t have the feeling so much anymore, nowadays.  And, to tell  you the truth, I kind of miss it.




  1. Hey, that’s me in the background. I’d know that jacket anywhere.

    Comment by Scotty — August 30, 2015 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  2. Your statement of “it’s just one of those things that happen sometimes” is brilliant and I will write it down and definitely try to remember it so as to avoid trouble for myself. Thank you. Perhaps Gandhi could learn something from you.

    Comment by Head For The Hills — August 31, 2015 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

    • Ha ha. That Gandhi guy don’t got shit on ole Ace Backwords!

      Comment by Ace Backwords — August 31, 2015 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

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