Monday, May 17, 2010

"Ray stumbled out of an alley where he had been beaten unconscious. He was still holding the mridunga drum he had been chanting prayers with....."

The quote above always cracks me up. The story you're about to read is so over the top I find myself questioning the reality of it, but then again I wasn't around in the 90's. It's the story of Shelter (Ray Cappo of Youth of Today's band) catching a beatdown from some thug types. Miraculously Ray survived the whole ordeal by clutching his mjunga jumumba drum and chanting prayers to Lord Krishna to spare him. Note to self....pick up a majumbo drum and feverishly pray for divine intervention next time I'm catching a beatdown. Chances are the assailants will stop the assault....probably because they think I'm a nutjob about to stab them in the face with a rusty skrewdriver.

Here's the full text....go to the link for a couple more pictures.

Shelter Beatdown Story Original Link w/ Pics

"Shelter show. Buffalo, NY. Summer, 1992.
I sat, no “collapsed” on the stage floor and leaned back into the Marshall cabinet grill. The show was hot, sweaty, exhausting and awesome, and now it was time for me to take a well-deserved break and let Bhakta Tony take over his duties of packing the gear. It was an odd club, an old converted warehouse that had a garage door built into the side of it, allowing bands to pull their vehicles right onto the dance floor to load and unload. Tony packed the drums into the van, now conveniently located two feet in front of the stage, and I closed my eyes and tried to get as much rest as I could before the all-night drive ahead of us. I was asleep for hardly five seconds before a loud voice jarred me awake. “Porcell, you’ve gotta come outside right now! There’s big trouble, man, BIG TROUBLE!!” our other roadie, Stain, petitioned. He was out of breath but still managed to yell the words. Without giving me a chance to reply, Stain immediately took off running towards the front door, leaving me pretty baffled. I got up wearily and headed towards the door to see what all the ruckus was about.
I expected maybe a fight between a couple of hardliners, or maybe an accident in the parking lot or something. But I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see outside that door. My first vision was a literally huge, hulking guy dressed in total homeboy gear with a gun sticking out of his pants, shouting obscenities and threats over the crowd of terrified and helpless hardcore kids. He was flanked by about 15 drug dealer-types, all armed with guns, knives, bats and pipes, and in a complete rage. The first victim was a very young straight edge kid whose misfortune was to be within arm’s length of the leader. His nose exploded in blood under the guy’s fist. The poor kid fell backwards and bounced on the pavement, unconscious. The crowd started running like scared deer.
The gang immediately began their attack, splitting any head that came into their path. The leader grabbed the gun out of his pants and turned in my direction. Looking right at me, he tensed the muscles in his neck, bared his teeth and screamed “Who wantsa get shot?! WHO WANTSA GET SHOT?!!” There he was, not ten yards away from me – death personified. I froze. This was not what I had expected. The guy started towards me, raising his gun to firing position. Completely panicked, I rushed back into the club, running as fast as I could for the shelter of the van.
By this time, mayhem had erupted all around me. A lot of the hardcore kids had run back into the club, only to be followed by their attackers. I had a numb feeling in my gut as kids were being beaten and stabbed mercilessly everywhere I looked. Bodies lay unconscious. Blood flowed. I screamed at the rest of the band members to get in the van, as Bhakta Tony and I struggled to quickly load the remaining gear. Krishna Chaitanya, our bass player, scurried out from his hiding place underneath the van and jumped inside.
As the last amp was haphazardly thrown into the van, I jerked the sliding door closed, and Tony jumped into the driver’s seat and fumbled for the keys. Everyone was completely shaken up and no one knew if we were going to make it out of there alive. We all spontaneously started chanting prayers in unison to Lord Nrisimhadeva, the incarnation of Krishna who comes to protect His devotees. “Namaste narasimhaya prahladahlada-dayine” Tony finally found the keys and shoved them into the ignition. The van started alright, yet Tony yelled, “Oh no! I looked up. One of the gang members had pulled their car in front of the garage door opening. We were blocked in.
Just then, at our most vulnerable time, Mr. Death himself walked up to the passenger door, knocking on the window with his pistol. “Unlock this door or you’re all dead,” he said rather calmly, like he really meant it. Time stood still. Henry, who was in the passenger’s seat, leaned over to Tony and whispered, “Ram the car, Tony, ram it now.” Tony looked at me. I looked at Mr. Death. Mr. Death gave another, louder knock on the window with his gun.
The standoff was suddenly broken as a baseball bat smashed through the driver’s side window, shattering glass everywhere. Tony slammed the shifter into “drive” and floored it towards the garage door opening. One thug gave his last lick to the side of the van as it accelerated closer and closer to the parked car blocking the exit. I ducked down and readied for the crash.
All I heard next was a large and resounding “boom.” Luckily, our van was going so fast that it knocked their car almost clear across the parking lot. As we fled the scene, I had to smile as I looked out the back window and saw the gang-mobile with its whole side completely caved in from bumper to bumper. We did it. We were free.
Just psyched to be alive, we all started yelling and high-fiving with complete joy. The celebration ended all too quickly, though, when Tony deflated everything by asking, “Where’s Raghunath? Where’s Raghunath?!” A sinking feeling came over me. Ray was missing. Silence set over us as Tony u-turned the van in the opposite direction. We had to go back.
You can’t imagine our relief when we saw the flashing blue and red lights of police cars as we pulled back into the parking lot. All of us piled out of the van and bombarded the cops with questions, “Where’s our singer? Who were they? What happened?”
One officer related the story to us, a few not-so-bright hardcore kids were wandering around after the show in the surrounding neighborhood, which was an extremely dangerous and crime-ridden part of the city. Dressed all punk, they must’ve looked pretty funny to the locals, and sure enough, a carload of hoodlums laughed and made fun of the kids as they drove past. Feeling pretty tough after a few hours of playing “king of the pit,” one of punks made the horrible mistake of throwing his Snapple bottle at the car in retaliation. “The rest,” the officer said dryly, “is history.”
The gang had since fled back into the neighboring ghetto, yet the nightmare hadn’t ended, there was still no sign of Ray. We searched the club desperately, but he was nowhere to be found. Everyone was so upset that we were all yelling at once at the cops to do something, and they were yelling back that they were going to lock us up if we didn’t pipe down and cooperate. It was a mess. Finally, just as we were all at wit’s end, Ray stumbled out of an alley where he had been beaten unconscious. He was still holding the mridunga drum he had been chanting prayers with while the whole ordeal was going on, and both him and the drum were covered in blood.
He recounted his traumatic experience, he saw the crew heading for him with guns and bats and decided that this was it, the time of death. Accepting it as such, he just closed his eyes and started chanting and tried to concentrate his mind on Krishna. Even while being pounded with fists, boots and bats, he said he felt peaceful because Lord Krishna promises in the Bhagavad-gita that anyone who chants His name and remembers Him at the time of death will attain the supreme destination. It wasn’t his time this time, though, and he made it through alive. We all got back in the van and took off to the emergency room to get Ray stitched up.
The next day, it was business as usual as we headed down the highway for our next show, yet there was a heavy silence between us. It was obvious that the brush with death had made us all thoughtful and introspective. KC was the first to break the ice’ “Now we think we’re safe, that the danger’s over, but at any second we could die. Life and death, it’s just a matter of time.” I chanted on my beads with renewed inspiration to strive for what is spiritual and eternal.
“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.20)"

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