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▶  More from Harm City Guest Authors Tao of Tony Rooster
The Tao of Tony Rooster

I was working for a company outside Seattle that bought old cargo containers and turned em into mobile storage units, mostly for construction sites. All day long with a hand held grinder, buzzing off the rust, prepping the containers for their new white paint jobs. The safety glasses would always fog up from the dust mask, and the ear plugs made my head feel hot. It seemed like my brain was overheating, like it needed ventilation. Still, it wasn't the worst job I ever had, not by a long shot.

I'd been living with my girlfriend for well over a year, the thrill was gone, she had a violent temper and was talking about wanting to buy a shotgun. The writing was on the wall.

One day I just stoned the crow, quit my job, bought a bus ticket for New York leaving that night, and went home to pack. I was ready for a change. Ready to see new things. Hell, I'd never been further east than Denver.

Upon arriving home and breaking the news to my sweetie, she flew into a mighty rage. She weren't small, neither. 5 foot 10, 180, and she could beat most of my buddies at arm wrestling.

I tried to pack what would fit in my rucksack, all the while she's screaming, crying, begging. It would be a challenge to leave unscathed.

On my way out the door she swung a baseball bat at my head, and I blocked with my left arm to save my head. A golf ball sized lump instantly appeared on my forearm, and I thought, well, the bitch broke my ulna. No matter. I was on my way to the Big Apple.

I enjoyed seeing the sights out my window, everything past Montana I was seeing for the first time. Talk about a long bus ride though.....

There was a bus change in "Pixtburg", and I decided to go walk around, smoke a joint, and get away from yet another bus station.

Downtown, at some park, there was a big shindig, some kind of promotion for Coor's beer. There was an old black blues quartet playing on the stage, and a table with a sign that read "FREE BEER".

What's this? I ask the guy at the table "Free beer?" He answered with a polished grin "Free beer!".

I sat there in the grass and listened to these old black dudes play blues standards, and drank free beer and goddamn it, if all didn't seem well in the universe. I dislike white boy blues. Sorry, Stevie Ray. You played that Albert King lick to death though. I also dislike PAYING FOR BEER.

Something told me this was a good omen, and I decided to just say "fuck it" to New York City. I'd had enough of the bus.

I'd heard about youth hostels, but never been to one. I found one in "Pixtburg" and got kicked out the second night. I stayed in the neighborhood though.

The Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh immediately felt like home. Not that it was nice. A crack house on the block would have raised property values. I saw a lot of empty spray paint cans in the gutter, let's say.

I found a bar and spent all my time there, drinking Iron City beer, and talking with guys named John and Mike. Everyone there was named John or Mike. It was my first time seeing a bar that wasn't afraid to segregate, wasn't afraid to discriminate.

Now and then, a black guy would come in and sit at the bar. Everyone would ignore him, and eventually he'd leave.

The barkeep told me, "He knows we won't serve him here. This is a white bar. The black bar is down the street."

I got a job at a meat packing place. 12 hour shifts, minimum wage. There were two old German men who worked the sausage making machine, scooping meat into it with a pitch fork, putting cellulose casings on the spout, these two would always be screaming at each other, "Fuck your mother!!! Hurry up and work, bitch!!!" And the other one would reply just as angrily, "I'll cut your throats you goddamn dog!" I asked the guy next to me what the deal was and he said these two guys had been roommates and working together for the last 50 years. Go figure.

One day I check my email at the library and see a message from a beautiful young woman who I'd been madly in love with for some time. We were kind of on again and off again. She was like me, didn't like to stay in one place very long. She wrote to say that she was in Oklahoma City, and would like me to come see her.

I'm a sucker for a pretty face. Five days later, I'm in Oklahoma.

Welcome to Harm City, White-Boy

Add Comment
Tony RoosterOctober 21, 2017 1:11 PM UTC

Thanks Bob! I'll check her out. I'm glad someone else likes reading em.
responds:October 22, 2017 6:22 PM UTC


I have been backing up your posts incase the site goes down. In the meantime, if you have a potential publisher, send them the link to your tag.
BobOctober 21, 2017 12:49 AM UTC

2¢: Your natural storytelling talent (schooling won't give you that) deserves a bigger audience. I don't work in publishing, but admire Andrea Nolen, her perspicacity and integrity. Might be able to point you in the right direction:

Her old blog has been pulled, but articles are viewable via the Wayback Machine, eg.: