Friday, February 11, 2011

What a Riot!

So I'm sitting here wondering how this whole protest/riot thing works. I just can't picture it. Okay, so you're rioting in the streets, hurling rocks, hurling epithets, hurling whatever you can get your hands on for hours and hours on end...but eventually, you're going to get hungry, right?  So what do you do? Call a riot timeout?  See if Subway is open and grab a $5 footlong?  What if all of the restaurant-owners are rioting too?  Do you brown bag it?  Do they set up shifts for the rioting?  Is such a thing even possible when it comes to mob-think? maybe you pack a power bar (though why you would pick that over a Snickers Marathon bar is beyond me) and then you're good to go.  You lean against a blood-bespattled tree, munch on it for a bit, and then it's back to flipping cars over and burning flags and such...

...but here's where the REAL confusion comes into play: what happens when it gets dark?  Okay, so maybe there's a skeleton crew of rioters who come out after the sun goes down and continues the angry demonstration (you DO hear about "rioting all through the night"...

...but I thought that was only in L.A. after the Lakers win the championship...or the Bronx on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night?)

Either way, it's dark out, though, right?  I mean...those overturned cop cars and garbage cans can burn for only so how do they see where they're rioting?  It would look pretty silly if they were running around screaming in the dark (in which case it would like EXACTLY like Helen Keller playing "Pin the Tail on the Donkey"!), thinking that they were getting up in the grills of a bunch of riot cops...when in actuality they were just screaming at a wall (kinda like Blinkin' in Robin Hood: Men in Tights).  Now, if there were still fires burning, that would look pretty bitchin' would definitely give the riot an ominous, post-apocalyptic backdrop, so that would definitely work...but, at the same time, it could just make the entire area look like one giant Hoboville (especially if there are large green oil drums set ablaze).

Sadly, the only other option for lighting the night would be candles...which, I must say, would be pretty wussy.  It would transform the riot into some sort of art performance showpiece vigil...with violence, which might sound cool until you think of how wussifying it would be.  Think about it--hitting someone is a violent act, right?  Hitting someone about the skull and ribs with a metal bat is an undeniably violent, primal act that would elicit a visceral reaction in the observer; hitting someone with a teddy bear in the same manner? 




Okay, so we've established that there is a skeleton crew and that the people who have been rioting all day have been relieved of their collective shift, so to speak.  Now, first of all, what kind of decision-making is going on here?  I understand the need for rest and rejuvenation...but it's a skeleton crew for crying out loud!  You know what kind of people voluntarily work during the ungodly witching hours?  Either the lazy (who enjoy the solitude and the chance to sleep on the job) or the crazy (who engage in arcane occult rituals in the storeroom whilst the lone customer waits nervously at the register for someone to emerge).  That gives you only a FIFTY-PERCENT CHANCE of maintaining or improving the insanity level of that riot.  You've spent an entire day by this point building up momentum...and you're going to leave it up to chance whether or not it fizzles out?

Can you imagine how that must feel?  Waking up in the morning, calling up your buddy from the late shift to check in on the status of the riot while you sip some coffee and enjoy an early falafel (if we're sticking with the original Egyptian scenario and not the Bronx...they don't eat falafel up there as far as I can tell), and finding out that the riot died out? 

Day Rioter: Brother!  Asalaam Alaikum!
Night Rioter: (Yawning)  Wa alaikum salaam.
Day Rioter: So??  How did the riot go?
Night Rioter: (Pauses)  It went...okay.
Day Rioter: Okay?  (Munching and slurping)  What do you mean okay?  What is this "okay"?
Night Rioter: It means...I was a could it not go?
Day Rioter: Tell me!  Was there bloodshed and looting?  Did we push back the infidel policemen?
Night Rioter:  (Silence)
Day Rioter:  Hello?  HELLO!?
Night Rioter:  (Sighs audibly)  There was bloodshed...and a little looting.
Day Rioter: (Flabbergasted)  A little looting?  What about the fires?  How many fires were there?
Night Rioter:  (Starts then stops)
Day Rioter: What?  What is this hesitation?  Tell me what you know!
Night Rioter:  It is bad news.
Day Rioter: (Crestfallen, placing falafel down and gripping napkin tightly) Tell me.
Night Rioter: It is not my fault!
Day Rioter: TELL ME!
Night Rioter: We were tired...and hungry.
Day Rioter: (Face-palms)  Oh tyepshahd chammurahd...
Night Rioter: You don't understand!  The Subway!  It was closed!  And...*Click*
Night Rioter: Hello?  Hello!?

It'd be like attending a Dionysian orgy, leaving at the peak, and finding out that it ended shortly after you left.  Sure, you're flattered because you can try to conclude, in your own pseudo-arrogant, self-aggrandizing way that you were the life of the party and that it crumbled because you left...but if you truly feel the beat of that orgy pulsing in your chest, you would have wanted it never to end.

Getting back to the point here--what do you do when the daytime rioting is over?  Do you hang around and cheer on the late-night-guys because you're off-shift and free to leave anytime you want but they can't leave because their shift is just starting and you know that they know that so if you stay in a way you are kind of taunting them with the "I can leave whenever I want because I'm on this side of the counter, bitch!" type of thing but at the same time you feel bad for them because you know that they have their entire shift ahead of them and you kind of wish that you could both be off from work and hit up a pub or tavern and just kick back with some brews and talk about how great it was that you got off of work and didn't have to deal with that slave driver of a boss but then you remember that the boss' nephew works as a bartender at this place and you do one of those sly look-out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye kinda looks and you think that he's eyeballing you as he swabs down the wooden bar top but you're not entirely sure but you're afraid that if you get up to go get another drink that it will be obvious that you were concerned and then he would know that you were talking about his aunt but if you play it off all cool as if it was nothing you might be able to get out of it the next time you go into work and say something like, "Ohhh!  He's your nephew?  What a small world!  No, we weren't talking about you--I was telling him about my cousin in Indiana who also works in a grocery store.  Yeah...ha ha...just a misunderstanding!  Total coincidence.  How about that, huh?  Ha ha!" even though you KNOW there is no way in HELL that she is going to buy the story, so you sweat it out for a bit, finish your drink as quickly as you can (but not too quickly...FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOT TOO QUICKLY!) and then, while the bartender is taking care of a customer, you saunter up to the bar, putting on your "everything's cool--I'm cool--you're cool--we're cool" fa├žade, and you give the guy a "What's up?" or,  more appropriately, "'Sup?" nod, indicating, again, that you're cool, he's cool, and you're both cool, even though your heart is pounding in your chest because you know that if you lose this job too you're probably not going to be able to cover your rent again (third time this year) and Mom and Dad are going to KILL you (even though they have the money to support you if they really wanted to...but the neighbors were starting to talk about the "last bird leaving the nest" and, worse, they were snickering about how embarrassing it must be to have a thirty-plus-year-old son still living at home when both of his parents are successful professionals with advanced degrees in their fields), saying nothing about how you'll EVER be able to buy that epic Zakk Wylde guitar that you KNOW is the only thing standing between you and rock-and-roll fame and adulation, but you can't start thinking about that right now because the bartender is staring at you like you have three heads and you realize that you're holding out a ten dollar bill with the back facing up folded slightly between your pointer and middle fingers, extended out as far as you can get it while holding on only to a little portion of the back of the bill, which you KNOW is a total douchebag move and you're kicking yourself and wondering why your hand is shaking (which is drawing only more attention to the bill), so you slap the bill down onto the bar not realizing that the moisture from the bottom of the glass that you didn't even remember putting up on the bar had spread out and made a mini-pond on the bar, so now the bill is soaking wet and the bartender is grilling you with this pissed off, "What the fuck do you want slash get out of my face" look and at first you mistake it for anger about the conversation that brought you up here in the first place and your heart sinks but then you realize the double-douchebag move you just pulled and you feel a slight sense of relief, but you still have to say something, so you ask for another one and the bartender squints at you with an "Are you fucking kidding me?" expression and you realize that it's a Friday night and that this man has probably mixed together at least a hundred drinks since you first came in and you wonder whether or not he could even hear you over all this noise in the first place but now he's getting REALLY pissed off so you say "Vodkacranberry" even though you CLEARLY had had something with Coca-Cola or whatever house cola they have in it and now you just want to get away from this situation, forgetting entirely about what even brought you up to the bar in the first place until you get your change back and, as he hands you your drink, the bartender gives you that knowing glare--the "You're SO fucked" look and you slink back to your little table wishing you had never skipped work in the first place.

Where were we?  Oh, okay--right.  So you've spent a long, hard day lighting things on fire, yelling out nonsensical, faux-patriotic vitriol, and now you're...heading home?  Well...of course you are.  Where else would you go?  (Certainly not a bar, if the above situation is any indication of how that might go.)  But can you even picture it?  You're all sweaty, covered in blood and puke, possibly urine and or feces as well (because, let's face it, it gets CRAZY out there!)  You're probably still feeling that adrenaline coursing through your veins and you're hungry as shit, so you go into the house and probably shower and make something to eat.  If you're married and/or have kids, the odds are that they weren't at the riot, so you all sit down at the table and you fill them in on what it was like...but then the big question arrives:

Then what?

What do you do?  Pop on the television?  Okay, so maybe they're covering the riots on the news so you can watch it and still feel plugged in...but what if you start to see it dissipate because of those lazy ass graveyard shifters?  You JUST showered!  Do you really want to get your riot outfit on again (which is probably your last one since the other two still need to be washed...not to say that this one isn't filthy) and have to schlep alllllllllllllll the way across town (by foot, mind you, since there's no bus and/or pull-car service!) in an attempt to stave off the inevitable (because the odds of everyone else doing the same thing as you--coming to re-launch a full-scale riot in the dead of night--are slim, at best (a probability of 0, which, surprisingly, does NOT denote an impossibility, at least in econometrical terms)) knowing that you'll only have to make that very same trip home feeling deflated and even more exhausted than you already feel now?

So watching the riot is out...but what else does that leave?  Can you end such an action-packed day watching Seinfeld or some silly game show?  It would be a bit anti-climactic, at best and could totally kill your drive to get up and do it all over again the next day.  So you try to go to bed...

...and you toss...

...and you turn...

...and finally...'re heading out the door because you won't be able to live with yourself knowing that you could be missing out on some of the best rioting of your life.  And, truly...these days are fleeting at best.'s like teenage summers spent in the the sweet, soft breath of kisses stolen beneath the stars...

...before you know it, you'll be thinking back to those riot days wiping a wistful tear from your eyes, singing the lyrics to Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" (which, as we now know, was NOT about the year Bryan you scamp you!) while a new tear appears, multiplies, and becomes a deluge as you reach the chorus, belting out in full sobbing voice those poignant words:

Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah - I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life...

Reckless?  Only with my heart...