The bully comes into our lives undesired, unwanted. But let’s remember that it is the bully who provides that much needed push (both physical and emotional) to make us better people. Bullies give us the drive to succeed and overcome; a drive that stems from rage, and a desire for revenge, provoked by the bully. We need the bully; we need them to better ourselves. To pick up the fallen lunch tray, dust the GMO-chicken off our dungarees, and use the mistreatment as fuel. Let us savor that sweet punch to the nose, let us react and react well, and let us better ourselves. Bullies are essential to success; they create our end destinations, the goals we reach for, albeit indirectly. And for that, we thank you, you dickheads.
We sent a correspondent out to track down the bullies of yore, an investigation that spanned the past few years. The reportage offers insight into the bully’s psyche and unveils new and unexpected discoveries. A reformation of the bullied-upon always occurs, but the bully, as we found out, reforms from the experience as well and in a myriad of ways.
The Good Son, (1993). 35 mm. Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.
The Good Son Directed by Joseph Ruben
A 12-year-old Mark Evans, reeling from the untimely death of his mother, is sent to stay with extended family by his emotionally distant father. The boy finds solace in the friendship of his cousin, Henry Evans. The notion of an idyllic progeny quickly fades, as Mark is exposed to Henry’s homicidal tendencies. The incidents of brutality reach a climax when Henry attempts to commit matricide, believing his mother prefers her nephew Mark. A struggle ensues and Henry Evans is cast aside by his mother in favor of Mark, and is left to fall to his near-imminent death.
[Correspondence from 41.6889° N, 70.2969° W. 11/4/2012. 16:40 PST: After being let down by his mother (literally), Henry Evans made a miraculous recovery that shocked doctors and family alike. Years of intensive rehabilitation seemed to calm Henry’s demonic tendencies. Mostly. When I found Henry at the offices of Laughing Lungs, a non-profit he operates out of Cape Cod that provides asthmatic teens adventure in the outdoors, Henry declined an interview, stating, “Just tell them I don’t believe in evil. I believe in a wooden barrelhouse in a forest with surrounding footsteps. And I don’t want to speak with you anymore.” I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about.]1
Dazed and Confused Directed by Richard Linklater
The last day of school at Lee High in Austin, Texas, sees incoming freshman cowering in anticipation of a hazing ritual handed down by succeeding seniors. The bullies (and the bullied) begin to emerge from the group of adolescents. Second year senior Fred O’Bannion (who herein wears a coat, sweater, jeans with suspenders, and leggings by Junya Watanabe MAN) unsparingly pursues and attacks lowerclassman Mitch Kramer with a wooden paddle, a customary hazing practice. Kramer—whose ego is wounded from the attack—sets out to inflict a similar amount of embarrassment on Fred, pouring paint on him while at a party. An enraged Fred vows to exact retribution. [Correspondence from 37.1764° N, 94.3100° W. 5/10/2011. 11:45 PST: Fred seemed to have really turned his life around from the freshman-pulverizing dick hole we last knew him to be. I met up with Ray, Fred’s brother-in-law, who filled me in on Fred’s story: After his second try as a senior, Fred graduated Lee High. Four years later he moved to Carthage, had a kid, named him Max, then married Max’s mother, Heather.] 2
Three O’Clock High, (1987). 35 mm. Courtesy Universal Pictures.
Three O’Clock High Directed by Phil Joanou
After a calamitous morning, Jerry Mitchell clumsily approaches new student Buddy Revell, a known delinquent, in the boy’s bathroom of their high school, hoping to arrange an interview with his peer for the school newspaper. Buddy Revell declines and—confused by the nature of Mitchell’s intentions—challenges Mitchell to a fight after school. After several failed attempts by Mitchell to diffuse the situation, he reluctantly confronts Revell following the final bell. It appears he might be beaten until, astoundingly, the mild mannered teenager gains the upper hand in the scuffle, beating Buddy Revell and earning a newfound respect from his schoolmates, including Buddy himself.
[Correspondence from 42.6525° N, 73.7567° W. 12/10/2011. 14:23 PST: Everyone says Buddy Revell is a violent psycho. A former classmate of Revell’s, Bruce Chalmer, offers this advice on how to find him: “That asshole? Ummmm, put an ad in the paper?” Hmm. Thanks, man. I look to Facebook, where I find Buddy’s profile. His wall is lined with tacky animations saying shit like, “Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places,” and “You are somebody’s reason to smile!”] 3
The Lords of Flatbush. Photograph courtesy Stephen Verona.
The Lord’s of Flatbush Directed by Martin Davidson, Stephen Verona
In the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, a gang of high school friends struggle with a nihilistic coming-of-age. Car thefts, cigarette smoking, drinking, and chasing girls is their forte. One of the gang members, Stanley, struggles with the thought of marrying his pregnant girlfriend. The gang soon meets its match in a rival gang, and in the aptly named Crazy Cohen.
[Correspondence from 42.6525° N, 73.7567° W. 8/2/2010. 05:00 PST: Crazy Cohen went on to become the sixteen-year reigning heavyweight champion in the New York State Wrestling Federation (NYSWF). When I contacted the NYSWF to ask about his whereabouts, I was delightfully surprised to hear a voice on the other line say, “Crazy Cohen? I haven’t been called that in years. This is him…”]4
My Bodyguard Directed by Tony Bill
Clifford Peache lives a life of luxury in an upscale hotel owned by his father. Though rich, his status affords him a life of solitude, and after becoming the target of Melvin Moody (who herein wears a jacket, jeans, and scarf by Saint Laurent) he resolves to hire a bodyguard for protection. He enlists the help of loner Ricky Linderman and the two form an unlikely alliance. When Moody approaches Clifford and Ricky, attempting to start a fight, Ricky coaches Clifford on standing up to the bully. The fight ends with Clifford breaking Melvin Moody’s nose.
[Correspondence from 42.1081° N, 87.7358° W. 2/10/2010. O8:00 PST: Melvin Moody underwent reconstructive surgery after Clifford Peache broke his nose. This incident turned his life around. I caught up with Melvin at his home in Winnetka, Ill. “Life was pretty bleak, man. I was a real jerk in those days. When I was unconscious during the [reconstructive] surgery, I heard a voice. It was extremely vivid and real. Like, I was watching myself from outside of myself and I looked like Medusa, snakes coming out of my head.]5
Lolita, (1962). Courtesy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Lolita Directed by Stanley Kubrick
British Professor Humbert Humbert travels to a small town for a teaching position. While boarding at the house of Charlotte Haze, he is swept into a relationship with the widow, despite his underlying attraction to her flirtatious teenage daughter, Lolita (who herein wears a denim jumpsuit by Balmain). Haze soon discovers Humbert’s preference for her offspring, and in a fit of hysteria, runs into the street and is subsequently struck and killed by a car. Humbert proceeds to take his stepdaughter on a road trip, hiding the death of her mother from her. Humbert begins experiencing a building sense of paranoia as time passes, believing they are being pursued by a mysterious figure. Following an illness and subsequent hospitalization, Humbert discovers Lolita has been checked out by an “uncle.” Lolita later reemerges, pregnant and married, to ask Humbert for money. Humbert obliges, and in their communication she admits to an affair with Clare Quilty; who tracked them on their trip. In a fit of rage Humbert finds Quilty and kills him.
[Correspondence from 39.7589° N, 84.1917° W. 3/1/2013. 7:30 PST: I Googled Lolita’s name and found six different matching profiles for her on dating sites: SingleParentsDate.com, eHarmony.com, and even BlackPeopleMeet.com. She accepted my request to meet immediately.]6
The Karate Kid Directed by John G. Avildsen
After losing a fight to popular student Johnny Lawrence, New Jersey transplant Daniel Larusso begins training with karate master Mr. Miyagi. Lawrence taunts Larusso during his training, agitated by Larusso’s association with his ex-girlfriend Ali Mills, a cheerleader with a sordid past. Larusso squares off against Lawrence for a second time during a karate competition, this time beating Lawrence and in doing so earning the respect of Mr. Miyagi.
[Correspondence from 33.9908° N, 118.4601° W. 4/12/2013. 17:12 PST: I’m in the beautiful Venice Beach home of Johnny Lawrence, who is now a successful art director for major motion pictures. Despite this, his anger still simmers as he recalls his senior year of high school. As we chat, his wife Ali (a new Ali, not his ex) serves up chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off.]7
Crime In the Streets, (1956). Courtesy Allied Artist Pictures.
Crime in the Streets Directed by Don Siegel
Rival gangs the Hornets and the Dukes spend their days loafing about, disrupting citizens and injecting city streets with a general sense of malaise. Following a neighbor’s (McAllister) reports of seeing one of the Hornets with a gun, Hornets member Frankie Dane vows to exact revenge on McAllister. Frankie’s younger brother, Richie, is shocked by his brother’s callousness, and when Frankie confronts the neighbor in a dark alley, his younger sibling steps in to stop Frankie from committing murder. The older brother eventually obliges, though not before attempting to cut his younger brother with a knife.
[Correspondence from 40.9792° N, 74.1169° W. 7/10/2012. 19:05 PST: I caught up with Frankie Dane and his brother Richie on the patio of West Side Bagels in Ridgewood, N.J. Frankie brought his German Shepherd, Bud.]8
1 As I was leaving, I asked for a light for my cigarette (I forgot my lighter at the IHOP nearby). Henry gave me a crooked gander, limped over to his car and pulled out this butane-welding torch. He fired it close to me and said he’d be glad to. I kindly declined his offer and went back to IHOP.
His estranged cousin Mark Evans, however, was more than eager to speak with me. The following is an excerpt from our conversation on Skype.
Mark: The last time I saw him was Christmas 2008. We’re here in Alabama so we travel up to see my wife’s family and my dad for the holidays. Our kids Tevin and Trey go with us…
Alex: Right, ok.
Mark: So, we’re at my in-law’s late one afternoon. They have a home near the woods where Henry lives. Tevin comes tearing through the door screaming! I’m yelling back, telling him to keep it down because his mother just had a hysterectomy. Tevin tells me that Trey’s passed out by the creek with a snake bite. I’m like, ‘A snake bite? How the hell did he get bitten by a snake with all of this snow around?!’ Because snakes are warm-blooded…
Mark: …they hibernate. So, I run to the creek and find Trey lying in the arms of Henry, who I hadn’t seen since he was still in the hospital after the fall. Or no, I saw him at his mother’s funeral. But we didn’t speak.
Mark: Yeah. So, Henry’s sitting there with Trey propped up. He’d cut off the circulation to Trey’s arm with a moose-leather quarter-inch strap from an arrow quiver. That stopped the venom from spreading. I grabbed Trey and ran to my car and rushed to the emergency room.
Alex: Yeah. Damn...
Mark: Turns out Tevin’s redneck ass girlfriend’s father that runs a snake farm gave him a recently decapitated Cottonmouth head for Christmas. When they were playing by the creek, Tevin threw it at Trey and he must have been pretty accurate because the Cottonmouth head latched down on Trey’s middle finger and bit the absolute shit out of it. Henry happened to be out walking, limping rather, close-by and saw them as it happened.
Alex: Wow! I mean, that’s pretty fortunate that Henry was there. I guess you thanked him for saving your son’s life, huh?
Mark: No. Fuck that guy. He was probably behind the whole thing.
2 Fred worked at a small shipping company that Ray owned. During summers, their company played competitive fast-pitch softball at the Leavell Woods baseball diamonds. The season before last, they lost in a 9th-inning home-plate call that would have sent them to the championship series. Rumor has it that later that night they planted hundreds of plastic forks with tampons stuck on them in the lawns of each member from the opposing team. And then last season, in the words of Ray:
“Freddy was on the mound for us, ya know? Seventh inning against Emil’s Hardware and we’re all sweatin’ balls. Those Emil guys are shitty, but that night they were beatin’ us. Fred was pissed and I could tell his back was fuckin’ with him, ya know? I asked if he needed to sub out but he said he was good. I don’t know…Fred was pitching really fucking hard that night. Brett Pope gets up to the plate and Brett used to date Heather so Fred’s really tossing some hard shit. Fred settles in for a pitch, he winds up real big, he lets out a grunt as soon as the ball leaves his palm and then he just falls flat out. Dropped on his face, I swear. I knew that it was bad, man, so I run out to the mound and everyone was quiet. Fred wasn’t movin’. So, yeah, I mean the autopsy said he had a brain aneurysm right there on the spot. That’s dedication. Throwing the ball so fucking hard that you die? But hey, that was Fred for ya. This next season we’re gonna put O’Bannion on the back of every one of our jerseys.” I ask Ray if it’d be confusing for the other team if everyone has the same last name. He says, “No, dipshit. Everyone knows why we’d do that.” His response hurts my feelings.
Ray shows me the program from Fred’s funeral. It lists Max, Fred’s son, as singing a solo. The song was “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler. “Max brought the house down. Kid’s gonna be a star.” Ray says. “He’s a little tight in the britches, and his daddy didn’t like that one bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on American Idol one of these days. Shit, he’ll probably be the next John Mayer, ya know? I tell Max, ‘Whenever you get rich and famous don’t forget about us small people.’ He always laughs and does this little thing with his wrist. Kid’s gonna be a star, I’ll put that on my life. Shit, I’ll put that on my wife.” (Ray and his wife Layla are currently separated.)
3 I’ve spent the past three months in a haze of confusing message exchanges with Revell. He subtly thwarts my offers to chat, but continually writes me messages. Like, he won’t stop. And they always amount to nothing! Honestly, our communication feels like my fourth grade cousin Wes typing on his VTech Whiz Kid laptop, not a violent warrior bully who used to crush skulls. Here is his latest response in a string of pointless emails:
“COMPUTER PROBLEMS!!!!!!!!!! Ugggh!!!!! Have been working feverishly for four hours, my mom and I trying to get hooked up to the Internet and uninstalling programs and things that I don’t need on this hand me down computer that my brother gave me. OVERLY EXHAUSTED!!!!!!! :( I have made a lot of progress. Have taken a lot of stuff off and I’m HOOKED up to the Net!!!!!!! Yay!!!!! Didn’t even have to call a Tech! I told my mom these long hours of common sense has paid off ! :) See ya!”
No idea what the hell is going on here. I give up on Buddy.
4 Now he goes by the wrestling name, Drizzle. According to Drizzle, he moonlights as a secretary for the federation, helping pay for some recent medical bills he’s accumulated. He suffered a blow to the chest from a broken piece of PVP pipe, which then caused a cyst on his left breast that he had removed. “I guess you could say I’ve had a breast reduction surgery!” He laughed heartily at himself.
I learned there had been some controversy over Drizzle’s multi year stint as champion. I visited the WrestlingImage.com chat boards, where Barebones69 writes: “Drizzles a dummass and has fixed evry match since 2001. he’s old and fat and no one couldn’t not beat him if they tried or even if they didnt.” I email Barebones69 for clarification. He tells me that the NYSWF has had a regular attendance of fifteen to twenty people at their monthly matches for the past five years and that most people “hate wrestling.” I asked him why he still attends. “Because there’s nothing better in New York than raw talent on the mat.” I dug deeper and found that Barebones69 is actually Julio Guerrerez, a rival wrestler in the NYSWF who goes by Body Man. Body Man also has a series of children’s poetry books entitled “Push Ups.
5It was terrifying. Then I see a pale blue and green light coming closer and closer to me. It wraps itself around me for what seems like hours. The light leaves, and when it’s gone, so are the snakes. I looked like a grown-up infant. It was weird. Like, I was a six-foot-tall baby, naked with no hair. And then I woke up. There were like, twenty people around my hospital bed, crying. The doctor steps forward, and with tears in his eyes tells me that I’d died during surgery. Something about the anesthesia reacting wrong or something. So when I came back to life, I had to change the way I lived. The Divine is now a part of my existence.”
Melvin works for United Way’s NFL Play 60, where he coaches kids on health and wellness. “I’ve seen forty-five inner-city youth kids lose a total of 1,114 pounds!” “That’s a pretty specific number, Melvin,” I add. “Well, this is a pretty specific life, Alex. You seem like you could use my help.” I go to one of Melvin’s training sessions. It was inspiring. He has his kids end every training session with this chant: “Motivation check! Check! Motivated, motivated, high-ly motivated. You check it out, you check it out, you check it out. Smooooth.” Melvin now emails me once a week with a strict regiment of green vegetables and NFL training exercises. I’ve lost twelve pounds since our first meeting. I gotta give it to you, Melvin: You’re an inspiration to us all, man!
6 “Fast forward forty years and here we are!” Lolita looks fairly worn when we meet at the agreed Applebee’s off Miller Lane in Dayton, Ohio. “You must be high up, travellin’ and writing documentary magazine programs like this.” I tell her that they weren’t really referred to as “documentary magazine programs.” She smiled and grabbed my thigh. “Yes they are,” a scary little half-wink following her remark.
I wanted to hear about what had happened to her since all of that drama years ago. Since peacing out on Professor Humbert, Lolita’s had affairs with numerous men (in numerous countries), had one-miscarriage, and birthed one child, Jack.
“It seems like you’ve lived a full life, Lolita,” I offer. “Please. Only grown-ups call me Lolita. You should call me Lo.” Another half-wink. She continues, “A full life, sure. I’ve had as many lovers as the sands on the beaches of time, Alex. What about you?” I told her that my lover-count wasn’t as high as hers and that I’d like to just focus on her story. Lo’s hand was still on my thigh. “Bossy. I like it,” she grinned. There was a pause. I tried to demonstrate that I just wanted some facts for this article, nothing extra, by scooting back a little. “Have you ever been a part of a prostitution ring, Alex?” she asks. “No, I have not had the pleasure. So, your son Jack moved in with his grandmother in Carlsbad. That was ages ago, where’s Jack now?” Lolita moves her hand further up my thigh. “Jack is wherever you want him to be,” she replies, accompanied by a third half-wink. At this point, I’m legitimately uncomfortable. I tell her so. This just seems to turn her on more. I need to wrap this thing up for my own sanity. It was evident that Lo can’t be trusted. After we finish eating, she insists on picking up the tab. She claims to be very wealthy, but won’t say how. Lo pays our tab of $42.73 in one dollar bills and some change. “The last name’s Freeman cause I am a free-man. I do what I please and I live how I like. Write that in there.”
In the parking lot, I offer Lo a cigarette before leaving. She says she doesn’t smoke “but would love one!” I light it for her. She leans in and kisses me. Her mouth tastes like candied yams. Before I can make heads or tails of what’s happening, a Mazda Miata pulls up blasting Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.” Lo finishes her kiss and pinches me below my belt. She winks, turns around and hops into the car. The Miata speeds off. I’m a bit perplexed as I get into my Subaru. What just happened? I go to pull out my wallet and it’s not there. It’s not inside Applebee’s either. Lo pulled a fast one on me and racked up a total of $248 at a Wigs ‘N More appliance store before I had time to cancel my credit cards.
7 Memorabilia lines the walls: a signed football from O.J. Simpson on his mantle (“We used to toot gator tails together before everything with Nicole went down,”); a cigar box that has a picture of Johnny and Marlon Brando taped to it (“That’s from when we were shooting Don Juan Demarco.”); and what I consider to be the greatest piece in this trophy-of-a-living room - a mascara container from Moulin Rouge. Now, let me back up a little. Haley, my fiancée, has been thinking of calling things off since I received some suspicious texts from a woman named Jasmine, which ruined a weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe. Haley loves Moulin Rouge. This was a perfect way to show Haley I love her! I slipped the mascara into my jacket pocket.
Lawrence continues to talk, telling me about how he met Roger Corman at a party in Burbank. He was then an assistant art-director on Munchies, and got his big break on Francis Ford Coppola’s Jack. Lawrence is successful, did a bunch of Hollywood shit that sounds pretty chill, but all I can think about is the mascara in my pocket and how I am ready to get the fuck out of here. I stop taking notes and pause my recorder after his fourth rabbit-hole story that has nothing to do with what we are talking about (“Sylvester Stallone’s paintball gun collection, man!”). I grin and fake-listen, wrapping it up by telling him I have all I need. I thank his wife for the sandwiches and accept a bottle of San Pellegrino for the road. As I leave, Lawrence stops me and puts his hand on my ear. “I didn’t tell you one thing.” “What’s that?” I ask. “I know magic.” I’m a little perplexed. From behind my ear, he pulls out the mascara that was in my jacket pocket. “There is no greater calamity than being consumed by greed,” he says. I’m scared as shit. His grin turns to a grimace as he peers deep into my soul. “You’ve obviously never bucked with a bronco, have you?” I’m shaking. “That’s a great trick, Johnny! I really gotta go.” Then he grabs my throat. Long story short, Lawrence insists that I report my attempted theft publicly to avoid any legal woes he threatens to bring upon myself and to Flaunt magazine.
8 Here’s a transcript of the experience:
Alex: So, Richie, not to get too deep too fast, but what happened after Frankie put a knife to your throat and then got arrested?
Frankie Dane: Let me step in and answer that.
Richie Dane: He asked me, Frankie.
FD: [pause]…go ahead then. [Tosses a piece of bagel to the ground for Bud to eat.]
RD: Frankie was incarcerated numerous times after that. He really gave our parents a lot to fret over…[Bud begins to cough.]
RD: …they tried to even put him in a mental institu…
FD: Bud? [Bud coughs louder and louder.]
RD: I think he’s choking…
FD: No shit, Richie! Bud!!
Alex: Does anyone know CPR?!!!
RD: Can you do CPR on a dog?
FD: Buuuudd!!! [Bud is mute-gagging. Things are getting bad. A Fat Man in a kimono swoops in from thin air.]
Fat Man: Look out! [Fat Man is obviously wearing nothing under his kimono. Not a pretty site. He barrels Bud over and begins to pump his chest violently. He puts two fingers in Bud’s nostrils and submerges his mouth into the dog’s.]
FD: What the fuck?! [The Fat Man takes one huge breath and continues CPR. This doesn’t seem to work. Frankie becomes hysterical.]
FD: Bud! Don’t die on me Bud!!!!!! [Frankie starts to cry. Fat Man takes a knife from the table and shoves it down Bud’s throat.]
RD: Whoa, man! You’re gonna hurt him! [Bud begins to violently gasp. This goes on for a seemingly endless ten seconds. Fat Man’s arm is down Bud’s throat. After some grappling, the Fat Man pulls the knife out and the bagel bite is stuck to the end of it. Bud is breathing again.]
Fat Man: Get this dog to a hospital. He shouldn’t eat bagels anymore. [Everyone at the restaurant is dumbfounded. The Fat Man gets up from the ground and runs away. Like, sprints. After a long round of silence…]
Alex: Ummm, who was that?
FD: He was obviously a guardian angel and he just saved my pooch.
(end of transcription)