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Monday, February 24, 2014

Twitchy and his two-headed anaconda

He was a little fellow, not much to him at all, but you could tell he was quick. He was small and dark and made up of sharp, pointy angles and he twitched and squirmed like he was sitting in an ant bed. You could also tell right away that something was sideways about him. Like he was wrapped too tight. I figured it was probably drugs. Some people have an unstable chemistry and just aren't geared up for certain medications and he looked like he may be one of them. I could be wrong, he may have been a mutant. I have an eye for these things. It's part of my profession.

When he came in the bar Saturday morning it was around 2:00 am and he asked me if I could keep an eye on his car. He said he'd lost his computer chip key and couldn't turn it off so he was going to leave it running while he was inside, or some such nonsense. Whatever. That was one of my first indications that something was a little off. Later, after I had gotten off duty I saw him around the room a few times. He was an energetic little critter too, bounding all over the room, leaping over chairs and booths like a gazelle and talking like he was on a timer that was about to go off. I eventually lost track of him and assumed (hoped) that he'd moved on.

After the bar cleared out and the only people left were employees sitting around waiting for the manager to finish up, he reappeared. He came in and was frantically looking for his phone and jabbering about the police. He said he had been sitting in his car blaring some Lynyrd Skynyrd with the windows down and had caught the cop's attention and that they'd smelled alcohol. They told him that he needed to find a ride or call a cab or they were going to arrest him. The smart money was on calling a taxi because no one wanted to give him a ride. Giving strange people a ride home from a bar never works out well, but that is for another story. Well, he didn't have any money so Pat, the manager, gave him the seven dollars he'd need for the ride.  Mark, one of the bartenders went out and spoke with the police and convinced them to leave him in our care. He took a stool beside me (of course) and continued his fidgety behavior, continuously chattering, vibrating and just being annoying as hell in general. At one point he said, “I've got to go home! I've got to take my daughter to school!”

“'s Saturday.” I said.

“Is it? Oh, good, okay.” He sat there for a couple of more minutes and said, “Look, the cops are gone now, I'll just go home.”

“No. We told them that we had you and we'd get you a cab. They'll pull you over and then you'll be in big trouble. Besides, it'll look bad on us.”

“Okay. Okay. Okay. You're right. Thanks for watching out for me.”'  Fidget fidget.

This went on for about thirty more minutes, long enough to really start getting under everyone's skin.

“Why don't one of y'all just punch me to make it look good and I'll tell the cops y'all tried to stop me but I got away.”

“'re like eighty pounds, we're all two-fifty, two-sixty, the cops are never gonna believe that.”

“Yeah, yeah, you're right. Thanks for watching out for me.” Fidget fidget fidget.

“What they probably would believe is that you outran all of us.”

“Yeah.” Fidget.

Then he looked at the window and jumped. “Is that daylight? I've got to go! How is it daylight? It's only one-thirty!”

I grabbed his wrist and twisted it around so I could see his watch. “You're watch says it's one-thirty,” I showed him the time on my phone, “this says it's six-thirty.”

Six-thirty? I've got to go!”
By this time everyone had pretty much reached their limit with him so I made the off-hand remark, “Well, break and run, motherfucker.”

Aaaaand he's off!  Way off.

I may as well have fired a starter pistol. The next sound I heard was like someone had thrown a chair off the stairs onto the wooden floor six feet below. I looked toward the door and all I saw was his cap laying there on the floor. At first, I thought he had exploded and I was looking at his head. I looked around and asked, “Did he leave? Like...leave the building?”

“Yeah, he's gone.”

“Damn, I never even saw the door open.”

Apparently, he disappeared off the bar stool, made a leap down the stairs, never touching a single step, and crashed onto the floor below, went into a roll and came out of it on the hoof, never missing a step or stopping for his cap and out the door he went. All before I could turn my head and look.

The next night, he made his second appearance. It was around 4:00 am Sunday morning and we were trying to close down and get the last few stragglers out. I saw him come in wearing a backpack and thought, “Oh, no. Not tonight, buddy.” I told him we were closed and everyone was leaving but he spotted someone he knew and made for them. I saw him bum five dollars off a customer so I told him again, “It's time to go.”  He took another angle, outflanked me and buddied up with another straggler who happened to be someone that he knew, so I let it alone for a couple of minutes, then I forgot about him.

At some point during the confusion of trying to herd the last few customers out of the bar, Bubba, another one of our bouncers, wound up outside with Twitchy. For some incomprehensible reason, Twitchy decided it would be a good idea to get into it with Bubba, who is about 6' 7” and probably a solid two-fifty or sixty. He also, apparently, thought it would work out better for him if he tried to stab Bubba with a fork. It didn't. Twitchy also tried to bring a 2 x 4 into play but failed to use it effectively and wound up bounding away again before Bubba could get his hands on him, sputtering off into the night like a defective bottle-rocket. Unfortunately, he left his backpack behind and that is where it gets really interesting.

The primary weapon used in fork jitsu.

After the dust had settled Bubba got curious about the backpack and took a look inside, he probably wishes he hadn't. He looked up and grinned and said, “Hey, y'all come look. Y'all got to see this.” We got up and walked over to where Bubba had the backpack unzipped under the light. We looked down into the backpack past the odd iPad thing and Twitchy's spare fork and saw it, coiled like a rattlesnake in the bottom of the backpack was about a foot-and-a-half of rubber penis with two heads on it like some malformed alien appendage. That's right...dickzilla.  We all jumped back and tried to mentally work our way through the discovery by making uncomfortable jokes and shaking our heads in awe and disbelief.

Dude...what the fuck?

Eventually, a police officer showed up (it was inevitable) and asked about the guy. We told him the story about the confrontation and the attempted forking. The officer told us they'd picked him up and sent him to the hospital to be evaluated. We told him that was probably a good idea because he was acting pretty strange and, oh yeah, you might want to take this to him. We showed the officer the backpack and it's contents. He looked as uncomfortable as we were so, through a combined effort, they managed to get the backpack down into a plastic garbage bag and the officer, who looked like he wished he'd brought a hazmat suit, took it back to it's rightful owner.

I'm no prude, nor am I na├»ve.  I know that there are places that sell these types of devices and I know that people buy them and perform unnatural acts on one another with them.  I assume that most people keep these things locked away in a secret compartment hidden deep in the recesses of the most private rooms in their homes.  What would have to be on a person's mind to make them want to take a huge, two-headed rubber penis along in their backpack as they are preparing to go out to a bar.  So, the burning question which will torment me forever is, "What in the hell was Twitchy's plan?"

After thirty or so years in bars, I can honestly say that there always seems to be another layer of weird to find. There is a lot of weird out there and we, in the bar life, get to see most of it. I'm glad we were able to get rid of the backpack. I guess it could've been worse though, it could've been a bomb left by some twisted jihadist or filled with moral dilemma-causing drugs or money. That would've been bad enough. Still...there was an awful lot of rubber penis in that backpack and no lube.

For more about The Upper End bar and Vicksburg  read these:

 The Upper End Bar, The Vicksburg Post and the truth.

What law is the City of Vicksburg enforcing here?

For more about douche-bags click here.

For more entertaining bullshit click here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Upper End Bar, The Vicksburg Post and the truth

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 The Vicksburg Post reported an incident that occurred at The Upper End. The Upper End is a bar located at 1306 Washington St. in Vicksburg. That there was an incident and it happened at The Upper End is about all the accuracy that you will find in the article. The timeline of what happened that night is completely inaccurate and written so as to make it sound as if it were, initially, much worse than what it was. The article states, “A tense atmosphere sparked by an argument between a customer and a security guard, and a series of complaints to Mayor George Flaggs Jr. forced city officials to close the Upper End Lounge”. Wrong, the tense atmosphere didn't exist until the police, led by the watch commander, came in thirty minutes before closing time and started saying that the bar was being closed and that it was his bar now and started trying to herd customers out. That's when the atmosphere got tense. So tense, in fact, that a customer and a security guard who was contracted by the promoter, not one of the bar's security team, got into an altercation. Also, the watch commander apparently felt so threatened by a female bartender who was speaking to one of the bar's other employees, that he told her to “shut the fuck up and get the fuck out” and threatened her with a can of mace.

A little further down in the article it says, “Police Chief Walter Armstrong said the bar is closed until further notice, pending further investigation into the argument and a subsequent assault in which Armstrong said a man was struck in the head with a beer bottle as customers were leaving the bar.” Wrong again. That incident, on which all of this hinges, happened an hour-and-a-half before the police arrived in force. The truth is, that around 1:00 a.m. a man hit another man with a beer bottle on the dance floor. They were both ejected from the club and were walking down Washington St. arguing and being followed by a police officer on foot. They were arguing, one was bleeding, and the officer was following them but not intervening. This angered the promoter of the party who was watching from the balcony. His comments ran along the lines of, “What the hell is he doing? Why don't he arrest them? He's just waiting for them to start fighting again!” A little while later, maybe 20 or 30 minutes, another officer came up asking if a certain person was in the bar, he was looking for the man who had hit the victim. We told him that they had both left and were no longer in the bar. He talked for a couple of minutes then left. It was a relatively minor incident which happened without warning and both parties were ejected by bar security, not the police. When I say relatively minor incident, I mean that I have seen much worse incidents in other bars, incidents that never warranted a police raid, the mayor being interrupted from his slumber, the police chief putting in a personal appearance, two articles on consecutive days in the newspaper plus a bonus hatchet-job of an op-ed piece, nor an emergency council meeting.

The Post goes on to say,“Flaggs said Monday he received a stream of text messages from a downtown resident from about 11 pm. Until 2:50 am. Monday complaining about speeding, noise and a large crowd outside the bar. The mayor said he didn't know the person who had texted him.” Let me address a few of these points. Speeding down Washington St. sort of implies people in cars in the street which is out of The Upper End's jurisdiction. Noise...noise from inside the bar or outside? The police were present for the entire night, parked across the street and on foot patrol. Didn't they hear it? Why didn't they act on it? A large crowd outside the bar? The only large crowds were people coming in and people leaving, not until the end of the night was there a large crowd of people outside the bar. There were no large crowds of people loitering around outside. The crowd was inside the bar. Maybe Flaggs doesn't know who was texting him, maybe he does, it's hard to keep secrets in a town like this.  Follow the money, as they say.

“After that last one at 2:50, I went to go see for myself,” Flaggs said. There was a crowd in the street and people were fighting everywhere. I saw at least six police cars and an ambulance. I called the police chief and told him to shut it down. This has got to stop.” Again, inaccurate. The police had shown up around 2:30 and entered the bar and told them to kill the music and turn on the lights, they were shutting it down. When asked, “Why?” the watch commander said, “Because I said so.  This bar is mine now”. No, there has to be a reason, you can't just close a business down because “I said so”, that's not proper procedure. That set the precedent for the mood for the end of the evening. Shortly thereafter, pandemonium ensued.

The Post says, “Armstrong said police were called to the bar about 2:04 am. Monday about an ongoing argument between a customer [and] a security guard at the bar, and arrested the customer for disorderly conduct and failure to comply with the officers' commands.

The incident with the beer bottle, Armstrong said, occurred as officers were telling people to leave the premises.”

No, no and no. The incident with the beer bottle, which they keep going back to, happened earlier, around 1:00 am. Both parties involved were both ejected and gone. There was no ongoing argument between a customer and a security guard, that altercation erupted suddenly as the police were shutting the bar down because the customer got upset at being shoved around and yelled at. There was an unfortunate scrum between the customer and a contracted security guard.

It felt like the bar was under attack from the beginning. Earlier, before any of this even got started, the watch commander came in to “check the capacity”. The bar keeps a head count with a clicker at the door. There were 157 on the clicker. His response was that he didn't believe that there were only 157, that there were too many cars out there for 157 people. Well, how many cars can 157 people bring? Potentially 157 would be my guess. Besides, there was another bar open across the street and, as mentioned in the Post's article, there are residences down there. Maybe some of the cars belonged to people who weren't in The Upper End, something was up from the beginning. One source said that the other downtown bars had advance warning and were told either to not worry about it or not to open that Sunday because “some shit was going to go down”.

The next day, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 The Vicksburg Post ran the second article. It was somewhat toned down compared to the first article from the day before. It talked about the “private meeting” on January 27, which was supposed to be Police Chief Walter Armstrong, Deputy Chief Bobby Stewart, manager Pat Belden and Larry Ray who was representing his wife, Michelle Ray, who is the leaseholder and manager of The Upper End. Chris Whittington, representing Vicksburg Daily News was told that it was a private meeting and the press would not be allowed. When the parties representing The Upper End entered however, they were met with an entire council and a reporter from The Vicksburg Post. Luckily, The Upper End's management had the foresight to bring two attorneys with them. It felt like an ambush.

The article also cited 122 disturbance calls from The Upper End from July 1 through Sunday, January 26, nearly seven months. Those numbers are debatable. To begin with, when Pat Belden took over management of the bar, he was under the mistaken impression that when his security removed someone from the bar, if he wanted them to leave the property and they wouldn't, he should call the police. Wrong. Each call is logged and can be used as a black mark against your business should the authorities decide to come after you. So, he made several of the calls himself. Also, these calls could be generated by neighbors, competitors, manipulative realtors and developers who would love to see a business removed. Practically anyone can make a complaint in which police are called out and it will be logged. It makes you wonder what the complaint logs look like for Walmart or maybe Waffle House.

Now to the fun part, the op-ed piece that appeared on page A4 in the same edition of The Post. The title is “Stretching the city's resources” and the first two sentences are, “So who's up for drinks after work? If things go right might even get a chance to wear pieces of a bottle on your head and go to the hospital!” Now if that's not the beginnings of a hatchet-job, I don't know what is. Further into the piece it says, “It would not do any harm to ask the ABC board to amend the status exclusively for the Upper End and have them close at 2 am. like businesses housed in buildings without the resort designation. It would be interesting to see what the state-managed board does in that instance.
Our community doesn't need choices for nighttime leisure to be limited any further due to safety. We pay taxes to finance tings like downtown street improvements, not to patrol a rowdy overflowing bar.” Who is paying this jackass to write this defaming tripe? Has this writer ever been to a bar? I have worked in bars since 1986 and have never worked in one that didn't have incidents...ever.

The rest of the piece is pretty much the same so I won't bother with a line-by-line rebuttal. Just know that it is completely biased and as full of horseshit as the other articles. Read it for yourself, just remember, it's not accurate.  The Upper End reopened January 28 under a 60 day probation of sorts for observation.

Another source has told me that statements have been made by the “powers that be” that “they're building those high-end apartments down there and they don't want to hear bar noise all night”. Shouldn't they have considered that beforehand? That's like building a house by the airport and then pissing and moaning about hearing the airplanes. I said before, follow the money. After all, money talks, and it has a loud voice in Vicksburg Mississippi, it always has. The old money and blood that has circulated around this town has grown stagnant and decadent. They have a stranglehold on the local economy and it is an uphill battle for anyone who opposes or competes with them. They are deeply entrenched in the inner workings of this city and what is going on in Vicksburg Mississippi right now is an absolute travesty. What they would really love to do is to shut the bars down, option number two is to pull the resort status which allows certain bars to serve alcohol 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The city, who I am sure is bowing to some “prominent” moneyed entities, has set out to cripple some local businesses and apparently The Vicksburg Post is one of their tools. If The Vicksburg Post is going to call itself a newspaper, it should really get better at fact-checking and probably needs to find more credible sources than the ones cited. Perhaps talk to someone who was actually there during the events. Or, just change the name of the paper to Pravda.

As a little wrap-up here on my commentary on our local “news source”, the same promoter had to move his party to the Holiday Inn for his next party. There was gunfire. Did any of you read about that in the paper? I thought not...they didn't print it.

It was also stated that "these parties attract the wrong crowd'.

For more about the downtown bar life read these:

What law is the City of Vicksburg enforcing here?

Twitchy and his two-headed anaconda