Karate Man, A Story From Broken

Broken

Broken

From 1989 to 1992, I worked at Prudential Insurance in Woodland Hills, California. I started at, pretty much, at the bottom of the Service Support Department. I hustled for a bit and got into the MIS Department.

The way the building was designed, it was a giant circle, the manager’s offices were in the center and everyone else sat outside in the open. From up above, it would look like a giant donut with management being the hole.

Once I made it to the MIS Unit, I sat three desks from our manager’s office. Outside of the offices was the main corridor/walkway to the building. So, if anyone came from out of state or from the other building they would come down the corridor and walk past my desk.

After about three weeks of being in the MIS Unit, I started seeing this guy, who worked in another wing of the building, walk by. Everyday he walked by. He would head to the back of our wing to the claims support unit and meet with the supervisor; the supervisor’s name was Marty.

Anyway, this guy would walk by every day. As he walked by he would kind of mad-dog me. What made this kind of funny is that this guy had a wandering eye like Biggie Smalls. So, when he would mad-dog me it was confusing, he was frowning, but staring at the floor and ceiling at the same time. On top of this, he had fire-engine red hair and was attempting to grow a beard, but it was patchy like he glued puffs of red pubes on his mug.

This was the routine, he’d walk by, mad dog me and I’d laugh. This lasted for about six months.

Then that Halloween Mr. Fire-engine came dressed in a martial arts uniform complete with a black belt. This cracked me up. I called him Karate Man for the rest of the day.

Later that afternoon somebody came to my desk looking for Karate-Man, they asked if I had seen Richard or Rick (I’m fuzzy on the name). They asked for him and I said, “Oh, Karate Man.” They said, “Oh boy, don’t joke around about that. He’s serious about his martial arts. He’s been instructing for some years.” This blew me away. He’s come off as such a douche bag and because of that, I’ve dismissed him without much thought.

From then on out I’d watch him or mad-dog back, but I didn’t antagonize him — much.

Then in 1992, my unit was laid-off. One day we were working, the next day I’m watching Richard Bey in my underwear with a tub of ice cream (joking here).

Some time went by, six months, and I started talking to my old coworkers again. When the layoffs happened, I was sick of all of them, even though they didn’t do anything wrong, I took a break.

So, one night in 1993, I’m at home on a Sunday night. Clicking channels and I’m half paying attention to the TV as America’s Most Wanted comes on. The opening story is a guy that instructs at a martial arts studio, and he is very interested in a female student of his. Well, the student isn’t into him – at all. He waits for her after class, offers her a ride, she says no, they argue, finally she gets in the car. He drives a bit, pulls over puts a move on her, she tries to get out of the car, and he gets her in a headlock, snaps her neck and then throws her in a dumpster. He heads for New York.

After the segment, they show the guy’s picture — it’s Karate Man from my job. I immediately call my former co-worker Steve Simmons and tell him to turn on channel 11 (Fox) and wait for the recap. He calls me back ten minutes later, out of breath, stuttering, saying, “This is the guy that mad-dogged us everyday. He could have killed us!” I was a bit stunned myself. I blew it off, “No, I’d have kicked his ass.”

I thought about it a little over the next week, and then on Sunday Steve called me back to tell me that America’s Most Wanted led to his arrest in New York.

The thing that hit me the most, aside from this woman losing her life to this douche bag, was the fact that I couldn’t read this guy. I saw a dork, not a murderer. Creepy.

‪#‎michaelessington‬ ‪#‎broken

 

Broken

Broken

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Help Thy Neighbor, A Story From Broken

Broken

Broken

I went to McDonald’s for my daily cup of coffee when a homeless man approached me. He asked if I had some change, then he mumbled something about what the change was for. I said I didn’t have any change, but I would after I bought the coffee. He said great and stood next to me with his hands folded in front of his chest.

We stood there for a few seconds waiting for my turn at the register. He commented on the weather, and then I turned and asked him if he was hungry?

He said, “Yes, very.” So, I told him, let’s get breakfast. He told me what he wanted and I ordered for both of us. He thanked me two or three times and said I don’t need the change now; I only needed it to get food. Thank you.

We sat down and ate. He put some of his food in his backpack and ate the rest and left.
________________________________________________________________________________________

‪Swung by the same McDonald’s I went to the day before, thinking my homeless friend would be there. Ordered my coffee and waited for about forty-five minutes. No show. I figured if he was around I’d feed him.

Yesterday when we were in line together, he asked me the time. I wasn’t wearing my watch so I ballparked it and said, “Around 9:00.” He said, “Oh, it’s still early.”

I guess being homeless you get up and get moving when the sun comes up without really knowing the exact time.

Anyway, I’ll pop in tomorrow to see if he’s around.

#michaelessington #broken

 

Broken

Broken

Twain’s, A Story From Broken

Broken

Broken

I just drove past Twain’s on Ventura and Coldwater. It’s empty now, but it reminded me of the last time I was there, I was thrown out and/or banned from the place.

Twenty years or so ago, before my son was born and I hadn’t jumped the broom or stomped the glass or gave up bachelorhood. I took my future wife to Twain’s for a late breakfast. We sat outside to enjoy the sun. We were lucky enough to have the worst waiter I had ever experienced at that point in my life. I ordered a standard breakfast plate, eggs, toast, and bacon, not sure if pancakes were involved. The waiter brought each item on a separate plate — fifteen minutes apart. Within forty minutes or so there were over ten plates covering the table.

When I’d run out of coffee I’d walk inside go behind the counter and pour it. The host, a guy with a curly, shaggy mullet would shoot me a dirty look.

After an hour the table was too full to put my coffee cup down and once we got the last of our food the waiter never came back. So, I stacked all the dishes and placed them at the register. The host sneered and said something the along the lines of me being rude for doing his job. I shook my head and said, “If you did your fuckin’ job I could sit and enjoy my coffee.” He looked shocked and said, “Pay your bill and get out of here.”

So, I pushed it a bit, “Make me.”

He looked frustrated, “I’ll call the cops.”

I smiled, “It’ll take a minimum of twenty minutes for them to arrive. You know the shit I could do in that time?”

“Leave and never come back!”

“When I finish my coffee.”

Then I went outside and explained to my future wife that Twain’s did not want to hire me as a waiter.

‪#‎michaelessington‬ ‪#‎broken‬

 

Broken

Broken

Helping The Needy, A Story From Broken

Broken

Broken

On Friday, February 17, 2012, I hopped in the car and spent damn near an hour to get downtown to the La Cita bar.

Anyway, after approximately an hour and eight acts of severe road rage, and the GPS re-mapping my directions I get there.

Here’s the thing the place has a great outdoor patio that plays great punk music until about 9:00 pm, and then it changes into a Spanish dance club. Fun place.

So, shortly after 9:00 p.m. I walk two friends, Kathy and Sasheen, out to their car. We walk out of La Cita and head down Hill St. when out of the corner of my eye I see a homeless man standing staring off into space.

Normally, when I’m walking female friends or women in my family I put myself in between them and the homeless guy or the shaved head guy with his area code on his forehead, that kind of thing.

But the weirdest thing happened, just as we’re right to the homeless guy, my friend Kathy Fox, runs over, calls the guy by his name, hugs him, stuffs some money in his hand, and starts talking to him about music, and different events around town.

Now, giving money to a homeless guy isn’t amazing, nor is it the point of the story, it was the physical change in the guy. He was staring into space, catatonic. What Kathy did was show some kindness and respect, not pity (married guys, remember years ago when you were single had were treated with kindness and respect? Yeah, me neither.)

Kathy treated this guy as a person. No one wants to be out there on a cold night, hoping to grab a few bucks for a warm cup of coffee.

This is not my typical punk memory; it was more of an eye-opener. I try to help, I give money when I can, but Kathy went one step further, she made a connection, talked to him and made him feel human, even if it was only for a few minutes.

I was humbled. Cheers, Kathy!

‪#‎michaelessington‬ ‪#‎broken‬

 

Broken

Broken

Harley, A Story From Broken

Broken

Broken

Back in either July or August of 1997, I met an older guy who went by the name of Harley. He was an old biker. He looked like the mountain man from The Oak Ridge Boys. Long gray beard, long salt and pepper hair, it was hard to make out his age, late fifties, early sixties, who knows.

Anyhow, I met Harley within a week or so of getting to Pitchess Detention Center – East Facility in Castaic, California. He was the second in charge of the “white car.” The head guy was a dude named Red. Red was a shoeshine, so he was never around. He was always buffing the officer’s black boots.

In Red’s absence, Harley oversaw all the day-to-day drama amongst the whites, or as we were called the “Woods.”
Harley was originally sentenced to nine months at Pitchess, but told the judge he wouldn’t be attending any meetings when he was released nor would he pay any fines. So, they gave him an additional nine months, and then asked if he cared to reconsider? He told them to fuck off. He did the entire eighteen months.

Harley never wore anything, but the issued pair of orange pants, maybe some socks. At some point over the prior couple of decades, ole Harl was involved in a serious knife fight that left a massive scar from his belt line up to the center of his chest. Looking at his stomach it made you think of a mountainscape in an old painting, all the lumps, and crevices.

Harley took a liking to me, for whatever reason. I think he liked that I would read. A bulk of the whites that came through there were pretty sucked-up guys that were on meth. Then they would dry out, eat and then turn racist.

I didn’t care for the whole race trip.

Anyway, Harley had one book he was proud of, the M edition of the encyclopedia. That was his pride. He told me after a week or so that I could read it when I wanted to, and every day, he would come by with some tidbit from the newspaper, one day there was an article about Phil Tayor from Iron Butterfly. Turns out Taylor disappeared in 1995, and one afternoon while Harley and I were locked away Taylor’s body was found at the bottom of Decker Canyon. Harley spent a good forty-five minutes telling me he was murdered for his ability to time travel. I listened, walked away and tried to forget the conversation.

A month or so later, and the bulky white guy in the next dorm was upset about the amount of time I spent around black people. I was a barber, so I was forced to work with one Hispanic guy and one black guy. Then we were forced to bunk side by side. Anyway, this guy Tommy thought I should have requested a transfer to get away from people of color.

Talked to Harley about it, and he said he would help me move bunks, I said I didn’t want to move. He seemed puzzled, I said these other barbers were cool to me, and Tommy was an asshole.

Harley withdrew his encyclopedia offer, and we rarely talked after that. Harley was deep in the race thing.

#michaelessington #broken

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Broken by Michael Essington Official Commercial

Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestselling author Michael Essington presents his latest gritty and insightful book Broken. Available now from Essex Digital Media.

“With Broken, Michael Essington graduates from punk rock storyteller to subcultural soothsayer. These modern tales of the less fortunate read like the reverse of Walt Whitman everyman Americana — which is a great thing!”
Steven Blush, author/filmmaker, American Hardcore, New York Rock

Visit Michael Essington at: http://bit.do/michaelessington
www.facebook.com/michaelessington1/
amazon.com/author/michaelessington
michaelessington.wordpress.com/

#michaelessington #broken

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Broken by Michael Essington

Broken

Broken

“With Broken, Michael Essington graduates from punk rock storyteller to subcultural soothsayer.  These modern tales of the less fortunate read like the reverse of Walt Whitman everyman Americana — which is a great thing!”
Steven Blush, author/filmmaker, American Hardcore, New York Rock

Sometimes in life, you have to stop and take a look at things.  When I was growing up in the San Fernando Valley, back in the 1970s and 80s, I rarely saw anyone that was homeless, visibly drunk or high or anyone that was mentally ill.  That is until I became involved in the Los Angeles punk scene.  While I met people that I am still close with to this day, punk rock introduced me to an underbelly of society.  I met drag queens, street kids, dope heads, speed freaks, and other marginal people.

Under the umbrella of punk rock, it wasn’t shocking.  We were all creatures on the Island of Misfit Toys.  Most people, at that time, hated punk rockers, so most of us were just trying to get by in life; there wasn’t time to hate some six foot five black guy in a blonde wig.

By the time the Aughts came around there were homeless camps in every city and you probably worked with somebody that was on some type of medication to keep them on the straight and narrow.

The stories in this book are told with a bit of humor but understand that I am in no way making fun of anyone that is homeless or struggling with physical of mental issues.  It’s the way I lay a story out.  I poke fun and holes in everything I talk about, I’m usually my biggest target.

Amazon Kindle GoodReads Strange Reaction

#michaelessington #broken

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

More Times Square Boys

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Back in 1982, I met a handful of guys that would turn out to be my best friends for the next few years, Mike, Wes, Tim, and Evan. Mike, Tim, and Evan were into the whole Mod thing that was happening at the time, whereas Wes had a more rockabilly thing going on, and I, of course, was deeply into my punk and Oi.

I met Mike in shop class, and we hit it off, he had just moved here from New York and had a really outgoing, brash attitude. He liked me but didn’t think that I would hang out with him and his friends because they weren’t punk. So, for the next six months or so they would hire me to be security at their parties. They would pay a few bucks or they’d pay me in beer.

Over time all five of us would be inseparable. We’d stay over each other’s house, and one crazy weekend Wes and I would steal his parents sail boat and go to Catalina for the weekend, more on that another time.

One night we all took the bus up to the movies on Van Nuys and Magnolia (I think), and the Mod guys had their parkas filled with weed and beer. So, by the end of the movie, everybody but me was tipsy – so I assumed the role of bodyguard. We now had to walk back to Wes’ place – from Van Nuys and Ventura to Louise and Ventura, one long ass walk. We didn’t bring enough bus money for the return trip. So here we are walking down Ventura at midnight during one of the worst winds that had ever hit the Valley, there are trees in the windows of every other office building we pass, including a few banks.

Midway through our trip Mike and Wes have wandered ahead of us by a block or so when a car-full of Taft High football players pull up along a side of us and yell “What’s up Fags?” As they pop out of their Mustang in an attempt to jump us, I reacted faster than I ever had in a situation like this in my life. I pushed Tim and Evan back, reached into my pocket and placed my keys between my fingers and started throwing haymakers. Two of the guys were on the ground when another yelled, “Bone out he’s got brass-knuckles!”

So, we compose ourselves and figure it’s over. We watch the car and see that it’s creeping up on Wes and Mike, so I yell ahead to warn them, but they’re too twisted to understand. So, Evan finds a shard of glass on the ground, and Tim picks up a 2 by 4 out of the gutter, and I go for my “brass-knuckles.” We catch these guys right as they are opening their car door. Evan kicks the door closed, Tim is jumping on the roof, and I start pulling the driver out of the window.

Wes and Mike are laughing; they have no idea what’s going on. Tim jumps down, and six guys in the car are all yelling to leave. They peel out, and spin into a donut on Ventura and Petit just as a cop car turns the corner, lights come on and they get pulled over. All five of us make it into Page’s coffee shop before the Taft guys can rat us out.

I guess once in a while a cop can come in handy.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Time Square Boys

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

I was talking to my friend Jay shortly after I wrote a story about my stay at Camp Wayside, he said something very cool, and he said, “A person with no secrets has no lies.” So, with that in mind here goes another tale of my misspent youth. In 1982, 1983, I was hanging out with a group of guys, there were five of us that went by the “club” name of The Time Square Boys. One of the guys, Mike R. came up with the name, he was from New York (he moved six months prior), and came up with the concept of a club because all the preppie clubs on campus could leave class due to club business, so why not us?

After, about, a month or so one of the club members, Wes, and I met a couple of girls that we would split our time with, half the time with the Time Square Boys, and the other half with the girls. Everybody, except me, loved weed, if I messed with anything, it would be a beer or two.

A funny thing about being a punk during this time, I would say 98% of the world hated you, and members of your own family would be somewhat distant. The people that got close to you sometimes viewed you as a superhero of some sort. I remember when I used to hang out with these guys, and trouble would break out – they would all look over to me as if I could demolish the world. Two of the guys in the Times Square Boys, Tim and Wes were about six feet, two inches. I was five feet, 10 inches, and about one hundred and fifty pounds. I wasn’t big, but any situation, cops, fights or whatever – it was assumed I would handle it.

So, back to the weed situation, the guys, and the addition of the two girls all liked weed. No one knew how to get it. So, it was assumed that I, the guy who hung out with unrespectable people in Hollywood, would know where to get it. Unfortunately, I did. One Christmas, after dinner, my uncle took me to a park in Reseda to score something or other. So, when these chicks asked me to get them weed I said OK. They parked at one end of Balboa Park, and I walked around until I found the people who were trying their hardest not to be noticed. So, after a few minutes, I found some hippie-looking guy, long hair, and a beard, playing chess on a blanket with some hippie girl. I asked them, in my hippest lingo, Hey, do you know where I can score some bud? They ignored me. So, I walked off, while mumbling “F” you guys. Then some chunky burn-out runs up to me and asks if I want sticks, I didn’t know what sticks were, but I played along. Yeah, man, some sticks. He took me back to the hippies, we swapped the money and weed, and I got pissed. I said if you had the weed, why in the fuck did you ignore me? They still said nothing. The chunky burnout tells me, they hold it, and I sell it. There was no way in the world I could have been confused with a narc. I had bleached white hair spiked-up like Colin from GBH.

Anyway, I did these runs for months, after the first one, everyone who wanted the weed was too scared to go with me, they would loan me their cars or whatever. My last “run” was mid-1983. I was loaned a Moped, which belonged to one of the guy’s sisters. During this year or so that I was buying for people, the “dealers” that sold at Balboa Park, back then, were pushed out to Woodley Park, pushed out again, and finally back to Balboa Park. So, I was buzzing down Louise towards Balboa Park. I pull into the parking lot on Balboa, and immediately I see the chunky burnout. He waves me over. Same deal as hundred times before, give him money, he gives me a baggy. As soon as I take the baggy, I hear sirens from the far end of the park, I look over and a cop car that I didn’t see before comes ripping across the park, I take off on the Moped in the opposite direction. The cops are burning out across the park, across the grass, I head down Balboa, right on Burbank, right on Louise, left on Oxnard, left on White Oak, left on Ventura and another left on Louise and into the security gate of my friend Wes’ house. I stayed inside the garage for close to twenty minutes. And when I heard no sirens, I came out. I felt like Kris Kristofferson in Cisco Pike. But in reality, I was an idiot.

Inside the house, I gave everybody his or her weed and explained what happened. It took a good hour for everybody to believe it. They were all . . . “That shit is right out of a movie, man.” No movie, just stupid teenage adrenaline.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell