He looks around the room, his teeth bared slightly. He looks from man to man, these men who have been around him for such a long time. They are his people, but they would turn on him on a dime if they were sure they could do so without retribution. Slowly, he turns the ring on his third finger around, to keep the valuable part on the inside of his hand. His eyes search from man to man, looking for the biggest and strongest.
“You slam that fucking fridge?”, he asks the muscular kid who sits at the table, smoking a cigarette.
The kid looks at him bewildered and says, “What are you talking about? I didn’t even open it”.
“So you’re fucking arguing with me now? Is that what you’re fucking doing?”
“No! The fridge wasn’t open! I don't want any troub-"
The kid is cut off as he catches a right cross to the mouth, knocking a tooth out and putting him to the ground. He looks up, enraged, and charges the guy who just hit him. The guy promptly slams the kid into said fridge, and gives him a beating he won’t forget, leaving him a limp bloody pile on the ground.
The guy backs off, yelling, and goes into the bathroom, puking blood immediately. But in between the vomiting, he looks up at the mirror, and smiles a maniacal smile at himself, all the while blood running down from the sides of his mouth. He just proved who was king shit of fuck mountain in that room, and they all know it.
In case you didn’t know, that was the last scene in the Sopranos this week, where Tony Soprano beat a guy half to death, just to prove that he was still top dog in the Mafia. In the mob, any display of weakness is something that can get you killed, no matter how high up you are on the food chain; any tears you shed are the same ones your family will be crying at your funeral.
Is it brutal? Yea it is. However, for all its brutality, there is something that is just incredibly impressive about this to me. Tony Soprano is not one of the masses, he’s the leader. If you cross him, he will kill you, and he won’t give a fuck. I think this is the same reason that people either love him or hate him; he lives how they want to live. He lives outside of all bounds, all laws, and all morality. He does what is best for him and his family, and if you try to take that, you will end up in the ground. He’s got ideas, and if they are followed, everyone in the Soprano crime family will benefit. If you don’t follow them, well, other things happen.
People will call him a brute, a cheater, a killer, and a monster. And yet, any person, I think, if probed about it, secretly admires this character. Isn’t it people like him who built the world? Wasn’t it people like him, the people that Nietzsche would call the ubermensch, that made civilization, ran empires, and caused the landscape of the world to look as it does?
Now I sit here, watching a montage of the first Gatti/Ward fight on the computer. Mickey Ward is cut and bleeding heavily out of his eyes, while Arturo Gatti's eye looks like its swollen shut. This is the famous footage of Round 9, where these two men slugged it out in one of the most brutal, bloody brawls in the history of boxing; it's as close to the Rocky movies as fights can come in real life. I mean, these two fucking guys can't even see what they're swinging at, all they can do is just feel where the other is, and swing for the fences. It's amazing to me to see these two champions, who can barely even hold their arms up, just bang out in hopes that the other drops. This fight stopped being about muscle sometime in the ninth round, and started being about heart.
This, to me, is the pinnacle of what men can do, two guys who are regarded as maybe not the best, but the toughest and most gritty contenders there are, refusing to give up no matter what happens. It seems though that as the athletes break the records that have stood for years, regular men seem now are ghosts of what they once were, beaten down and ravaged by the bullshit that society has placed on us as a whole. I see it everywhere; everything from "sensitivity training" to the massive rise in rates of obesity points me to thinking that men in this country are becoming complacent, fat, sensitive creatures with little to strive for besides a middle management position at some shit company.
What have we become? There was a time once when men were truly men; when it wasn't OK to be "in touch with your feelings", it wasn't OK to be scrawny and weak, and it wasn't OK to be beaten down by life. It was right to be tough, it was alright to not whine about your feelings, and it was understood that life wasn't fair, it never has, it never is, and it never will be.
When was this time? I don't know if we even realized it ended, or when it happened. It probably happened sometime in the last century though, and it was certainly a slow moving process (maybe that's why we didn't catch it). When was it exactly when the model for men is the Abercrombie boy, the skinny runt of a lad who doesn't look like he could kill a bunny, much less kill a deer and eat it?
Why did we lose this masculinity? We are stuck now in a society where violence seems to be completely unacceptable, to the point where there are perennial calls for such things as the UFC to be banned... is the idea of two trained and willing men beating the fuck out of each other now that repulsive? I understand that we claim that we are such enlightened beings as where we should not enjoy this, but I do. There is something both noble and admirable in seeing two guys that are willing to physically kill each other for nothing more than pride. Say what you will about that statement, but it is men like this that have built this world. This is the same reason that I love boxing as much as I do- there is no other sport where it is just two men in a ring, most of whom would rather die than be beaten, and are driven by nothing more than their hearts and an indomitable will to win.
But no, we are no longer in an age where something like this is admirable. Now there are trophies for thirteenth place, and everyone has to love themselves! Well what the fuck ever happened to bettering yourselves? Why is it OK to not strive to be the best? Why do I have to be sensitive to the morbidly obese, to the weak, and to those who would rather roll over and die like a dog than stand up and fight? Most people encounter something difficult, and rather than strive to overtake it, sit back and quit, or, worse yet, feel that they shouldn't have to bother in the first place. This has something to do with the castration of the competitive spirit that guys exhibit, and I don't like it at all. This same spirit that feminists and weaklings will bitch about is the thing that has built the cities, the religion, and modern society as we know it.
There seems to me to be a war against testosterone, in this country especially. A kid shows some fire, and we put them on Ritalin. Just in case they miss one, advertising takes care it later on in life, dumbing men down to the point where they think that a certain car or suit or house is a measure not only of success, but of masculinity. Keep your fancy houses and Lamborghinis...if we meet in an alley, I know I could rip your throat to protect myself, and that comforts me alot more than a car that does 160 MPH.
I don't know where America is supposed to go with this. There are signs all around us- gym classes getting cut, car seats for fatter kids, etc. People are getting complacent and lazy, and the people who were once long ago the hunter gatherers are getting to be the worse. Nothing disgusts me more than a man who, if his family was threatened, is too fat and out of shape to even consider posing a physical threat to the attackers. Maybe this is why I weightlift, or why guys take all kinds of martial arts, or why guys get high off jogging. We are preparing for a war that never seems to come, for a fight that one day will separate us from the fat inert masses, from the peaceful hippies, and will make the feminists ask us again to pick up guns to save their asses. Maybe. Or maybe its just that I never want to be one of those guys, and would rather be the ubermensch, like Tony Soprano, than an accountant in Bergen County. Maybe...