Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Fun is Over, Back to Work!

Dear Diary,

'Labor Day' weekend came and went, signaling the end of the 2007 convention season (at least for me) I won't be able to attend the Baltimore show due to an unavoidable family event and the Texas Wizardworld con is pretty doubtful at this point. Quite frankly, I'm exhausted from having such a good time day after day, after day, after day, after day . . . . I feel like the Bill Murray character in 'Groundhog Day'.

The fuckin' fun just never fuckin' ends!! Enough already I say! 'Matter of fact, I've had it with having fun, from now on I want nothing but suffering and grief, yeah, that's it! The fun is over, move along people, there's nothing to see here. Let's get back to putting books together . . . . . Aww, Fuck it!! More fun . . . Oh, well!

In all seriousness, Diary, you know I love mindless fun, I was just fuckin' with you. Don't act all offended and shit, C'mon man, grow up. Let me tell you more about the trip, shall I? my tour of Canada yielded tons of new friends and plenty of adventures; No, silly, not those types of adventures.

Anywaaaay, Toronto was nothing less than stellar and Calgary didn't disappoint either. Good friends, good times, etc., etc., etc.
I know I won't ever be able to name and individually thank each and every kind person who stopped by our booths and shared their art, bought our products and had good things to say about our work but at least let me give those people a huge virtual hug and a heartfelt 'Thank You'.

Honorable mentions should go to the following individuals:

In Toronto, To my dearest friend Jeremy McCraken and the super awesome Mikayla Carson for being such great hosts and even better friends. To James Armstrong for inviting me to the FanExpo. To my buddies, Stephen Silver & Matt Stewart for putting up with my nonsense. To Dan Merisanu and his lovely wife for putting my drawings up on the walls of his book store/gallery. To Dale and Shan. To Fez and his charming girl for sharing war stories, stay strong, my friend, you're an inspiration.

In Calgary, to Kandrix & Laurie Bee for welcoming me into their home and treating me like royalty. To Steve Peace for inviting me to the Tattoo and Art Festival, I'll be back next year for sure. To Zoe for being so cute and kind. To Dylan and his lovely girlfriend, I had a blast hanging out with you guys and talking art all day long. To Dan Van Cool and his adorable gf. To Stewart's girlfriend, very clever of you, mister to send Michelle to be drawn, best one yet. To Peter, you're such a gentleman, thank you for the Lime-flavored Tostitos.

I'll see you all next year, hopefully in April at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.

Fight or Flight
Fez and I were chatting in Toronto at a very nice Thai restaurant and somehow the conversation turned to high school fighting or such, my memorable scuffle with Andrés immediately came to mind. I was a scrawny kid, never had fought a "real" fight, not a physical fight anyways.

As far as I can recall, I've been involved in only 3 significant brawls from elementary school all the way up to high school, all of them combined couldn't have lasted more than one full minute, in the first two I took a walloping, I wouldn't even call them fights because I didn't get to throw a single punch, I was just soundly beaten to a golden crisp.

I made it through childhood and most of adolescence without major incidents for various reasons, mainly avoidance. In elementary school my kid brother was practically my bodyguard. Man, he loved to fight! he was a tornado.

I always thought thugs were stupid and easy to manipulate, at least the ones I befriended were; actually, I have never met a big bully that wasn't dumb and gullible, in fact, many were ultra sensitive and sentimental.

From kindergarten to tenth grade I attended 8 different schools, I collected bullies everywhere I went, that was my tactic, I used to tell them stories and did favors for them and they did favors for me, namely, they allowed me to tag along which was good for my street cred, not much different than what I do now.

This practice afforded me certain level of protection while in school. In the neighborhood, my male cousins and uncles were old, hardened criminals who had seen jail time at one point of another, they were respected in the community, so not that many people wanted any of that kind of trouble. My cousins were some of those sentimental thugs I'm talking about, Tommy Boyd was a merchant marine, he looked like Robert De Niro in Cape Fear, Ruperto (Aunt Lucia's son) was a petty thief and a pot head, he was always in and out of the correctional facilities on a regular basis, in fact, he died while serving time for a robbery or such. He was tall and built like a tank. Ruperto could take home a stray puppy or an injured bird and cry over a sappy breakup song but he was a relentless pit bull in a fight.

The major drawback, however, was that every time shit went down in school, even if I had nothing to do with the transgressions, I was always found guilty by association. Academically, I was a good student so teachers couldn't understand how I got into trouble so frequently. I wasn't a badass by any definition, quite the opposite, I just hung out with the "wrong element".

The third fight was my awakening, I suppose. Andrés Oceguera, this neighbor of mine, same age as me, the son of our white trash landlord. A walking 1930's cartoon of a child, used to make fun of me night and day because of my name at first and later because I liked this twig-legged girl from across the street and even later, for shit I don't even remember and so forth. He just had it in for me and I assume now, in retrospect and after all these years that he really thought I was easy prey because I never challenged him to a fight, all I did was humiliate him verbally, which I'm sure irked him even more. He had a rep as a street thug, nothing would have given me more pleasure than to hurt this boy in public, for the whole neighborhood to see, perhaps by doing so I would have made a name for myself but the fact that I never won a fight before hunted me and demoralized me.

I avoided the unavoidable for the longest because I really thought the kid could fuck me up in a 'toe-to-toe'. I was really afraid of him for sure or at best, afraid of having my nose broken again, that pain stuck with me for a while. I often thought to myself: "if I ever fight him I better win because the alternative would be disastrous" it would most probably mean daily beatings for free, for ever.

I remember staying up late some days, carefully planning, calculating and visualizing this rumble, I studied his moves and his weaknesses when I saw him fight other kids, he was very predictable and I considered all sorts of technical aspects involved in a fight so as to not end up in the hospital, or worst, the laughing stock of the neighborhood. Out there in the boondocks, it was already painful to be thought of as a sissy for drawing pretty pictures and writing poetry. People in the hood didn't necessarily respect me, I guess because I have never "proven myself" as a street goon by winning a street fight, they didn't mess with me because of my family's reputation. I'm sure they all considered me a mama's boy and they were not too far from the truth. Fact is I didn't take after my mom's side of the family, I am my father's son a carbon copy of my dad, who was a geek, a nerd, an artist and a lover, positively not a fighter.

I wanted so bad to win that fight, after all, I saw what had happened to Federico, a.k.a. Mosquito, the skinny girl's brother, who oddly enough was also shaped like his sister. Basically, two half-cooked spaghetti sticks for legs and an afro, only taller. His father, a short and chubby man in direct contrast to his kids, forced him one day to confront and challenge my cousin Thomas to a fist fight in the middle of the street. Thomas, who, as I have told you already, was a real asshole, taunted Mosquito to no end.

The outcome of that particular bout was sad and brutal: nerd confronts bully, crowd gets behind nerd and bully beats the smelly stuff out of nerd. All the more painfully sad because it was in front of the whole world as we knew it, a fucking Roman coliseum for cripe's sakes!

Mosquito rushed out of his house and called Thomas a "motherfucker", both kids squared off as if they were in a Golden Gloves competition and stared at each other without blinking for a few seconds, with the crowd almost overwhelmingly egging the underdog on. Federico had the look of fear and regret in his eyes, deep inside he was thinking "How did I ever let my dad talked me into committing suicide?" He knew this was a fight he couldn't possibly win but there was no turning back. He jumped out at Thomas, swinging mad like a windmill in the midst of a monsoon season, wearing his father's pointy 'steel toe' shoes. I guess part of the strategy Federico's corner had devised was to kick Thomas into submission, a really bad idea given the fact that Thomas was a star athlete and by all accounts an unconventional fighter with cat-like reflexes, "Langaruto" (enlongated) was always our designated goalie because he was tall and agile but an unrefined brute prone to violence nonetheless, after watching him brawl, it was pretty apparent he had never met the Marquis of Queensberry.

As soon as Fede (as he was affectionately called by his family) lifted his skinny right leg to attempt what could only be described as a half-hearted roundhouse kick, Thomas grabbed his ankle, brought him to the ground and pummeled Fede like it was December 31st 1999.

Federico was never the same, even way after we kissed puberty goodbye and reached adulthood, long after Thomas became a successful businessman and helped Fede's father financially. He'd always get agitated when anyone would bring up 'the fight' in a conversation. He hated Thomas with a passion for bullying him prior to fighting him —most people did— but most of all, he hated him for making him look like a clown in front of his own house, with his family watching, it bothered him until his death, at the age of 25.

On the fateful afternoon I went berserk on the Oceguera kid, all my careful planning went to shit. In an emotional street fight, I discovered, technique and common sense have no place, only instinct. This coctail of hate and revenge had been brewing for years and I just went postal on the poor kid. Postal workers have cushy jobs, the benefits are great and you can't get fired if you tried. It is kind of hard to get in but once you're working for the USPS you'll be there until you die, retire or decide to quit. The unions are strong and so, you would have to fuck up royally in order to get yourself fired, you'd probably have to steal at least 5 years worth of daily mail or something as ridiculous to be given the pink slip. It stands to reason that some mentally disturbed and disgruntled postal workers who lose their jobs, resort to go on killing sprees every once in a while, after being let go by the government, their lives are pretty much ruined.

I discovered a really 'postal' side to my otherwise introverted nature, I grabbed the kid by the neck, from behind and twisted his head as hard as I could, his body gave way and he fell awkwardly on his back, I pulled him by his hair and shoved my knee to his face repeatedly, 2 or 3 times, perhaps more, I honestly don't remember, I saw the blood streaming down only after I dropped him, but it was done, no one but a single person saw us. The kid never touched me, he didn't see it coming. Ironically, the fight I had been conditioning myself for, both mentally and physically, for years, the event I wanted the whole world to watch, that 10 round boxing match fantasy I created in my mind was over in less than ten seconds and nobody even fuckin' saw it.

After I walked away all kinds of thoughts crept into my head, mostly guilt and sadness but also the scary idea of how much I enjoyed the brutality I perpetrated on this human being. I thought that beating him up would somehow make me happy but it didn't, it did change me though, for the worse. I can see why some —otherwise peaceful— person, given the circumstances, can viciously kill another, there is a primal rush in beating somebody up, I had no idea I harbored that feeling.

The fight with Andrés taught me a valuable lesson, a lesson I would apply in everyday life, in everything I do, that there is no fair fight, someone always has an advantage, whatever that may be, physical or mental, or both. You have to attack first, be brutal and heartless because there is no room for sentiment or compassion, use any means necessary and end it quickly, no time for posing or squaring off like Chuck Norris or any of that macho bullshit. There are no rules, it's just self preservation, you run if you have to, it doesn't matter how manly and tough you think you are, no one is manly enough to stop a bullet or an unexpected knife in your kidney.

In tenth grade people thought I was crazy because I stabbed another kid with a sharp pencil and broke the led inside his forearm, I learned that from Marcos Salinas, he would be laughing with you one minute and smashing your face with a stapler or whatever was at hand, the next. He told me he was always afraid to death of getting into an actual fight because he new he couldn't win and that by acting like a sociopath once or twice, he avoided them altogether, simply because nobody wanted to mess with an unpredictable mental case who could snap dangerously at any time and with minor provocation. If you were to fight me one-on-one you would definitely win, everyone who knows me since childhood knows but all too well I can't fight and I can't dance (sorry ladies). It wouldn't be over though, even if you'd beat me to a bloody purée because I would come back some time later and jam a pair of scissors in your back or something stupid like that when you least expect.

I haven't gotten myself into any physical fights in a long while and I do hope to be able to avoid them at all costs, but in business as in real life sometimes I feel I'm fighting the same bullies with pretty much the same unconventional methods.


Chad said...

This story of your fights would be an interesting comic book.

Too bad you won't make it to Dallas. All I can say is thanks for saving me the cash I would spend going to see your ass. :)

Take care

Viking Myke said...

Alberto, all I can say is that I envy your memory. I can't remember half the shit I went thru as a youth. For that, I return to New York and hang out with old friends. They regale me with tales of my youth, how I beat up a porch full of guys with a shovel and such shit. I guess it's better that I don't remember, it would only plague an already overburdened mind.Thanks for sharing though, like Chad said these would make great stories for a wacked out comic.

Dario Reyes said...

Dear Alberto:
Empiezo este mensaje diciendo que mi ingles apesta, soy capaz de leer muy bien pero escribir es algo totalmente distinto...

Soy de Buenos Aires (Argentina) y acabo de descubrir tu blog, para ser sincero por pura casualidad, veo que publicás libros de diferentes artistas y esa emperesa me parece estupenda. En mi pais las publicaciones de este tipo son pocas (por no decir inexistentes).

Me resultan muy graciosas tus anecdotas (en especial aquella que relata las peleas de barrio).

No sé si contestarás este mensaje pero no pierdo nada con intentarlo.

Solo quiero felicitarte por tu trabajo y desearte la mejor de las suertes.

Dario Reyes.

Este es el blog de historietas del cual participo con mis dibujos:

Gnarfdeath said...

Hey Alberto, good to finally meet you in person at SDCC! Awesome fight stories! Damn! Ya can't beat knee to face contact!!

Process Junkie said...

Thanks for the comments, girls!

Chad: Sorry, my old friend, I too was looking forward to taking all of your convention money. I'll see you next year.

gnarfdeath: Knee to face contact can be addictive, be careful.

Myke: My short term memory sucks moose dick but I can remember old shit in gruesome detail. Don't know why.

Dario Reyes: Gracias por tus comentarios, muy divertido el blog parasito.

John Beatty said...

Keep fighting the good fight, friend!

You're making waves and changes for the good! Viva Alberto!

I'll always have your back should you need it! We might not win...but we won't go down alone!


[oops...I put this in your previous entry...meant it to go here!]

Alma said...

Admiro tu trabajo ,feliz al darme cuenta que te encuentras bien ,hasta donde puedo leer y entender, muy buena historia,nuevo para m� lo que escribes ,esperar� ansiosa el momento que me toque.
Te deseo lo mejor,siempre visualizandote con todo el exito que como persona bien merecido lo tienes.
Tu gran admiradora!

UrbanBarbarian said...

Remind me never to anger you!

DAN-VAN-COOL said...

Hey man, Thanks for the kind mention of my girlfriend and I coming to see you at the Tatto & arts con. You were the selling point why we went, the rest was gravy. We will definitly be coming to see you again next year at the Calgary Comic con. As I mentioned I may have a table there as well. I love the energy at those places. So Im gonna have my sketch book and hang out and draw and feed off of that energy.
This entry was an interesting read. Alot of old thoughts and lessions spawned up. Unfortunatly every time ive tried to count how many fights ive been in, I tent to remember a few after the fact that I forgot to add. I wish people saw less of my fights. When the wrong guys see you win fights, it starts a chain reaction. Before you know it I had other guys wanting to fight me because they wanted that title. Even though they saw my ass handed to me a few times.
Thanks again for beautiful sketch of my Lady! Ill be scanning it in before I get it framed for her. Ill be sure to send you copy of the scan.
Take Care ^_^

Joe Bluhm said...

Too bad you missed Baltimore. I hope you're okay. Call me! joe AT joebluhm DOT com.

Process Junkie said...

BigGuy: I have nothing to fear with you and Craig on my side. :)

Alma: Gracias Alma, eres muy dulce.

UrbanLibrarian: Heh, heh. you can punch a hole through me easily, look at the size of your left biceps, if only my brain would be that big.

Dan-Van-Cool: The best fights I've been in are the ones I avoided.

Joe Bluhm: I hope you had a great time, my brother is going to become a grandfather I had to be there for that celebration. Let's go get a beer soon.

Victor said...

Great Confession! Fuk therapy, you did it all on your own.

Just one thing... I know most people don't like getting their ass kicked to a soundtrack, but how about giving us one while reading about it. I dug the music playlists. Keep 'em coming if possible.

Process Junkie said...

The music chewed up a lot of my bandwith, I'll find a place to host it and I'll put it back on.

I miss my tunes :(