The following is the text of a talk that was delivered at The New York Forum on January 28, 2017.
I might as well blab about outlaw fraternity. I know a thing or two about outlaw fraternity from running with the white boys in Detroit, pre-crack epidemic through post-crack epidemic. I ran in stride with Ferretti, who was an art school dropout born into a long line of Italian masons. I mean calloused bricklayers. I mean whiskey-drinkin’, chain smokin’, and knuckle-bustin’ bricklayers.
Every day for fifteen years, a dime-a-dance Alamo. One morning, at 3 AM, Ferretti was leaving the Lafayette Coney Island downtown. A fleeing niggro pushed him out the door. A pursuing niggro pushed him onto the sidewalk and politely said, “’Scuse me, pleeez, while I shoots this mu-tha-fuckuh!”
Bang. Bang. Bang. This was TNB with proper mammy-trained style. This was Detroit, full of folksy surprises, as we knew it. It added a comic tonic to being a post-industrial, post-modern, and post-hope artist.
Not at all a White Separatist, Ferretti nevertheless had fine homing instincts. Which is to say that he arrived firstest with the mostest bullshit and got hired as resident manager and handyman at an old paint factory, across from Tiger Stadium, which was being converted into artists’ lofts. It became Ferretti’s fiefdom. It became his own friggin’ intentional community. It also became, like NASCAR and hockey, implicitly white. Of course there was a rollicking diversity of butch and femme lesbians, tersely academic and hysterically emoting homos, amateur chefs and bohos who more or less ate from a can. And, because this was Detroit, there were resident mechanics, really ham-fisted mechanics, turned fine-artists of sorts.
Meanwhile, I lived downtown in a new high-rise showpiece thick with arrivista blacks, a luxury fortress with gym, pool, video monitors, and guards in the lobby. My apartment was a rent-reduced bone to the poor. I was the token white boy in the set-aside scheme. Coleman “Soulman” Young was Detroit’s mayor from 1974 until ’94, and he politicked on the racial spoils platform. The majority of my New Money neighbors were quite conservative in their I-Gots-Mine stance. Well-nested, well-behaved, and well-oiled into a daily pageant of black grandeur with Louis the Hatter and wigged-out fashions. They were their own society. The palace where I counter-slummed was across the street from the dusty courthouse where Francis Yockey once labored as a legal intern. I might as well have walked in Spengler’s footsteps outta dumb luck.
For employment, I tended bar until 4 AM in Mexican Town. The owner left before midnight after making a show of Latin bravado and barking like a bowel-legged Chihuahua. His wife had him on a leash. A matriarchal diva, with bullet-point tits and genuine Spaniards in her blood-line, she paid me to do her daughter’s homework. It was quicker, really more efficient, than tutoring the touchy virgin. I closed the joint alone like helpless crime-bait on a dark corner. I dialed the phone and caught a cab driven by professional dirt-bags who had, when they weren’t being robbed, a symbiotic relationship with drug-runners, street-walkers, blind-pig operators, and you-name-it.
Later, I taught high school in the same spooky barrio between a derelict Cadillac plant and the infamous Michigan Central Station that you see in every pathetic documentary about “The Ruins of Detroit.” The neighborhood was my own personal theater of operations, quite apart from the art scene. I slipped into what Evola might call esoteric-Aryan style.
Not exactly a coward, I’m sub-beta-scared until I have an edge. I speak Spanish and that was what I needed to roll through southwest Detroit. I could play dumb while José and his turf-rats talked about me; I could speak their lingo and enter their nest as a quasi-simpatico guest. Unlike my artist bros with their blue-collar and hard-nosed ethic, their dumbfuck glamor inherited from soldierly dads, their simple goy honesty unto death, I got fancy with the lip. It was a worser infraction than living upscale. It was worser signaling than my bathroom with clean linens and pristine toilet seat that showed a weakness for fluffy-ass suburban girls. Pink ’n preppy and blind to raging nihilism in Detroit.
Bilingualism is trippy. On the streets, Spanish was a wind instrument to craft double-talking waft, more airy flute than steel hammer. I must say that finessing of crisis was regarded by my hardcore artist bros as feminine and fey. Still, like leaving Detroit, I recommend it. Furthermore, Spanish was a means to put taqiyya, the Islamic art of conning a foe, into the mouth of an honest-to-goodness Midwestern rube. I recommend that, too.
So, yo hablo Spanish. I’ve gotten mileage out of it. I still had to know, while prowling around Detroit like a CIA agent on a recruitment drive in Iraq, which roads were safe. I attended the precincts that I knew. When not working, I leisurely patrolled, really trolled, the Latin-black-Kentuckian cut of southwest Detroit at night in my scratchy Chrysler K-car. A white bro from the artists’ fraternity and me, disguised as beefy undercover cops in a crappy American-made heap, spent many hours on the go, drinking beer and whispering like sailors on midnight watch. Sharing fears, yes, like sailors in a floating foxhole.
Of course, we talked racial politics. But in the dead of night, glancing at thoroughly depressed homes and exploring thoroughly depressed avenues, we also whispered about thoroughly depressing shit: sexual politics, family politics, and deep-dark personal woes. The nice thing about Detroit is that it’s conducive to a funereal intimacy between men. As long as you keep your hands to yourself, nobody is going to call you a “fag” for emoting in the haunt of a vast urban graveyard.
This particular bro, a resident at Ferretti’s art asylum, was a character with a backstory. The good thing is that he was a high-IQ German from a line of city burghers, and more articulate than most. The bad thing is that his dad had two families. Simultaneously. It was a huge scandal, an irresistible 666 and Mark of the Beast on the White Nuclear Family, when the local media discovered that a County Judge had a wife and kids in Toledo and a wife and kids in Detroit. As if it were the French Foreign Legion, my bro ran away to join the Air Force. Both his dad’s nerve, and his own ability to excel as a slacker in the U.S. Armed Forces, taught him chutzpah. But the ol’ man destroyed my pal’s ability to trust, even within the family circle, like a properly soft-hearted goyim with a cherry-vanilla blush. So, cruising through the shithole of Detroit, we yapped about male duty, male honor, and, most of all, male form in the muck. He made serial resolutions, gut-clenched, which he serially trashed. A tragic guy. He combined Nietzschean willpower with the G.I. Bill to put himself through law school, then got disbarred for forging a judge’s signature like a demoralized fob. He died at age forty-five in Cambodia, where he was allegedly starting an expat newsletter. Some say that he died in a brothel for sex tourists. Others say that he faked or forged his death.
The point: you can share a tenor of intimacy with a sincere woman who’s just too fucked-over to sustain a bond. Even with herself! And the same thing can happen with worldly, but ruined, men. Here’s a truth: not every white in the slums of Detroit is a Negrophile or a missionary for racial-cultural harmony. Many are ruined souls who feel at home, internally and externally realized, in the devastation. They crystallize into sub-tribes. I learned to connect the dots and go from one enclave to the other for beer, dope, or Thanksgiving dinner. As for Ferretti today? He’s a scrub artist and a has-been on the outside. On the inside, he’s a guarded Imam who rules a sub-strata of Detroit. He gives audience, if they’re lucky, to film crews, rock stars, hipster investors and, of course, entrée level artists, lunch-bucket talents, and raw newbies who’re in a rush to be World Famous parvenus in the sinkhole of Detroit. If Detroit is the post-democratic future of the West, Ferretti is atop it now as a kingpin.
I must say that my fraternity of artists in Detroit, my racial kin who feared workaday suburban life more than atavistic killer blacks, wasn’t too rational. Hendrik Van Loon, in his The Story of Mankind, states that men who could read and write before the twelfth century were considered sissies. So it was with my tight fraternity of artist types in Detroit. This was fine with me, as long as every night was an initiation into the blue-collar mystique, which meant getting pig-drunk and smoking pot until words dissipated in the mist. But the lazy rhythms changed when cocaine was added to the mix, along with black drug-dealers and their momma’s-boy machismo. Fatherless cons who were accustomed to diddling behind bars. They brought a “sexy” jailhouse bravado. “Suck mah fuckin’ dick. I make you mah punk.”
The fly hit the buttermilk. My dear white brothers forfeited their goyish charm, their poetic idiocy, their spirited blend of Mozart and Al Capone. Even Ferretti went native.
Drinking and toking until dawn wasn’t the same. With the introduction of gangstah hype, a soft, white sway on a raft afloat at the far-reaches of consciousness was wrecked. The shared lilt was sunk. I felt lost. So after getting pummeled in a brawl downtown, I did what I had to do. I said goodbye to the artist fold and joined a karate club. Previously, one karate club had been too hard, and the other had been too soft, and no karate club suited my poet’s touch. But after two black eyes and seventeen stitches between them, I had enough prevaricating. I was done with likes and dislikes. I joined the nearest dojo I could find: a chintzy Tae Kwon Do club run by Iraqi brothers who were big-chiefs in Dearborn.
Maybe it was a storefront dump to launder money. I didn’t get along with my so-called Masters. I more or less bought a black-belt and hardly learned to fight. But I befriended some senior white guys who’d alternately bulled and finessed their way through hard-hard lives. Gravel garglers with tender smiles. Lovely elders who just assumed, by the look of my beat-up face, that I was born to carry the flag. To carry the high urban-cowboy standard while riding the range, mythologically speaking, for the White Male brand.
It’s the kind faces of proven men, surviving fuck-ups who’d lathed themselves into pillars of male support, that’ve kept me going. Unsatisfied with my fighting skills, I left Tae Kwon Do and joined a streetfighters’ club run by an Army Airborne vet and his dirty-white mavericks. I loved it. I hated it. I entered, every day, pissing my pants and left like a newly-minted stud. When my Chrysler K-car finally broke down outside an oil refinery, I traded junker and title to a nearby gas station for two Hershey Bars and a pack of gum. That was Ferretti’s take on post-apocalypse barter in Detroit. In a last act of fraternal duty, he retrieved me in his Ford truck. It reeked of his girlfriend’s guard dogs, made feral by the rocks and bottles thrown by crackhead neighbors and their aping kids. It was Ferretti’s job to give the urban junkyard dogs an annual bath. He was more than a good guy. “All in all,” as Hamlet said about his dad, “he was a man.”
Carless in Detroit, I looked for a new school of male grooming, maybe alpha-male grooming within very modest parameters. I could’ve just read Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier. But I don’t know anything until I get bruised and bounced. Even then, it takes time to spark the brain fat.
I found an aikido club on the Woodward Avenue bus line, past the Stone Burlesk, which I entered at sixteen while skipping school, lying about joining the Army to a ticket-taker who didn’t care. The bus line took me past the derelict mansions of industrialists and lumber barons, where crack was traded in adjacent open-air markets, and where antique dealers removed artifacts with crowbars. The aikido club, located on the campus of Wayne State University, was also within walking distance to my luxury high-rise, and that was a plus when I was bored with abstracting cat’s cradles from books. Purely theoretical knits. High status, but low-value thinkology in a city where passions ruled. In any case, I knew Wayne State and the seedy Cass Corridor from frequenting the bars with dropouts and grads, and from going to art shows that featured heartfelt miasmas, in paint, that framed the picture of Detroit.
I’d heard mumbles about the outlaw aikido club here and there. It was an inside secret, like a shift in the dope market or a job under-the-table. The club was tucked into a monumental old building that had been built by twice-dead philanthropist crackers, implicitly racist industrialists and contemporaries of Lindbergh, Ford, and Coughlin. It was yesterday’s shrine: a mono-racial, inbred child of Versailles and the Parthenon with dominant WASP traits of measured utility. A civic temple for scholars. A stone masterpiece and a stone relic of the evil, racist days when Detroit was called “The Paris of the Midwest,” not a recruiting lure for Asian techies or African-American Studies chumps. Like a castle in a horror movie or a cliché manor in Detroit, the building was stately, neglected, and crumbling.
When I arrived upstairs, gazing into the vast gymnasium with yesteryear’s high ceilings and low lighting, I dilated in a vacuum, eyes and soul. The gym was a shipwrecked Atlantis of torn netting falling from the ceiling, stale wrestling mats pieced together on the floor, and pockets of endless shadows. Sunset light, purple and gold, beamed through filthy windows to color the hour. The last glint in the bulwark of the ancients!
A timeless ambiance. As for animation, I saw measure, balance, and precision. I saw – maybe the essence of aikido – order in circular motion and hard-drops to the mat. Clean pins. Arm-locks and wrist-locks with precisely applied, as opposed to wildly twisted, pain. I thought, “Who are these muted, white leftovers? Who are these parallel and satellite white remainders, doing a whispering art down the street from my crazy anarchist bros, painters, and sculptors for whom personal expression increasingly meant aping ghetto bluster and, yes, lack of impulse control?
I studied the aikidoka. Their “work” was very impressive, as far as hidden societies go, quietly synchronized and just what I needed for the turn of my eros, thumos, and logos. But aikido seemed too much like the dance of the angels with its choreographed steps and flowing white gis. I loved it, but it gave me hives. I left impressed in a typically worthless way, but returned a second time to reconnoiter at night. I returned a third time to peep through a crack in the doors. Maybe I’ll join and maybe I won’t, I thunked as I drifted away. On the corner stairway, travelled by night-school normals going to statistics or accounting class, I had a hiccup, followed by a sob on the order of an upchuck after an epic drunk. I heaved, heaved, and heaved. Purged, purged, and purged. My soul was churning, doing dirty laundry, ridding me of toxins and bitter salts. By the panting and tears, you’d have thought someone died. Someone did, in a sense.
As my convulsions waned, my low-down nature and high creative spirit merged. I accepted, whether I liked it or not, my true need: artsty-fartsy handling with enough joint-wrenching pain to penetrate my brain. Plus, there was the promise of learning about essential Jap culture, with its Samurai imprint and austere but beautiful Zen efficiency. For an additional plus, aikido held the promise of learning about a race-generated order that the dirty-rotten Nazis saw as compatible with Prussian self-command and social command, and that true Roman Catholics still see as compatible with the germ of the Ghibelline Middle Ages. For a final plus, aikido promised whatever could be gained from conforming to a standard noble ideal in a hyper-individualist dystopia. So, yes, I cried.
Such is the cyclical history of my life. Told in terms of the spring and fall of brotherhoods. Shakespeare says that, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” So, enough! I’ll end by saying that I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this moment: in the heart of this fraternity. An insider’s group of outsiders. In outlaw artists’ terms, we’re creative rogues with a half-tame, half-wild, and an altogether proven élan. In outlaw aikidoka’s terms, we’re a uniform corps, a small but stately officers’ corps, with a traditional sense of measure, balance, and precision. It’s not bad.
Freely united as white men, we’ve got the fluid genius of unorthodox and orthodox captains in the field, the shared field of science, finance, tech, politics, animation, art, and pointed fun. Here is the breadth of talent to keep our enemies off balance as we dictate the rhythm of battle, using informal and formal skills to, in Motor City poesy, drive, drive, drive the Art of War.