Based on actual events, this soul-gripping tale is an account of survival in the urban jungle of Chicago, in the 1980s. While embarked on his own street-journey, Michael Scott enters a world in which a band of brothers are locked in a desperate engagement, an Alamo-like siege of their hood. Amidst turbulent conditions, the narrator gives us all a ticket to ride next to him on this roller coaster ride, with its twist and turns of horror and frustration, suspense and humor. Following in the tradition of profound gang tales such as "The Outsiders" and "West Side Story," this must-read book goes beneath the hardcore surface to show the struggle of the human spirit.
CHAPTER 1-- LIBERTY STATUED : ****Through the gracious will of God, I am glad that my lucky ass is able to recall that hot summer morning of July 5, 1984. I was statued on the dusty northeast corner of Fullerton Avenue and Ridgeway Street, surveying the entire block, before I started my journey down it. I could hear the busy traffic on Fullerton right behind me. So this is it: the place where Gaylords hung out. ****That sweltering summer was a radio-active moment in my life; I was a member of a north-side Chicago gang "The Gaylords." No, we were not gladiators for Gay Pride. The Gaylords' name was created decades earlier when the word "gay" hadn't a damn thing to do with homosexuals. Personally, I think the name was conjured up because it described a light-hearted spirit. Considering the beer and weed ingesting that numerous Gaylords had done throughout their American-prided history, I should say light-headed spirit instead. If the aboriginal Gaylords could have foreseen that the word "gay" would take on a whole new meaning futuristically, I'm sure they would have changed it from the beginning. ****One gigantic gang in Chicago is the "Vicelords." The Vicelords are black. I wonder what they would be thinking if their official name took on a new definition - like, "White Boys with Confederate Flags." They probably would have been screaming "Hell No!" ****The Gaylords eventually varnished their tarnished name by revamping "Gay" to mean Great American Youth. ****The Gaylords were reputed with a heritage dating back to the 1950s. Circulating urban rumor was that they were originally a softball or baseball team, a social athletic club. Then they somehow morphed into a gang. Maybe some of their guys got disgruntled over a game loss and decided to physically beat members of the other ball team with Louisville Sluggers. Possibly then they became aware of their true calling. ****In 1983, while monumental Michael Jackson was rock-boppin' a message for individuals to "Beat It" from the gang lifestyle, Chicago Police Department estimates showed about 120 gangs citywide. Some of these were considerably larger than my tribe. However, the Gaylords were listed as the biggest white gang in the city. There weren't many white gangs banging. We were sort-of a rarity and for sure the minority. You never heard much about white gangs as being "Menaces to Society," although we fit the profile. Black and Spanish gangs weren't the only ones sporting colors and banging out on those grindish streets of the Windy City. ****There was a star system of white gangs on the north-side streets of Chicago up untl 1983. After that, they all just seemed to faze out. Recalling white gangs by 1984 was comparable to visiting the Chicago Academy of Sciences and doing a roll call of extinct dinosaurs that once roamed the planet: Chicago Avenue Jokers, Bel-Airs, White Knights, Ventures, Royal Capris, Thorndale Jagoffs. These particular white gangs, and others, were gone, mostly due to the rising rate of Latino immigration in Chicago. This tidal wave spawned many new Latino gangs in addition to increasing the size of elder ones. New immigration fed these Latino gangs in a rapid moving conveyor belt mode. ****When I speak of Latino gangs on Chicago's north-side, I'm speaking of Spanish-tongued. I'm not talking about already organized gangs flying over on Iberia Airlines from Spain and setting up shop in Chicago. I'm talking about localized gangs, primarily Puerto Ricans. I have no problem with persons immigrating to America. As a native-born American, I'm proud of The Statue of Liberty bearing these chiseled words, "Give me your poor and tired.,," Yes; these words send a nobility-chill right through me. However, when immigration comes in like a pressing storm it forces foreign cultures and ideas upon a society that's already comfortably settled. Heavy numbers of new immigrants tornado in all at once and scatter-mania occurs. In Chicago, at this time, many whites and other established ethnic groups had already packed up and burbs-scrambled to escape the wave of new immigration that was threateningly squeezing them out. This phenomenon was called “White Flight.” As more areas became crowded by the new immigrant expansion, more people packed suitcases and jetted out. ****The Gaylords got a new perspective on Manifest Destiny, empathizing with how the Native Americans must have felt when they were required to tomahawk-club for their land and lives as they lost yardage. The Gaylords did go at it with white and black gangs, but ultimately Latino gangs were the monstrous opponent. ****Territory was vital. Many gangs were franchised like McDonald's fast food with crudely iconic logos. It was common to see one gang in different locations. The Gaylords had multi-locations on Chicago’s Northside. In the spring of 1984 I had joined up with the Gaylords from the factory-fortified corners of Beldon and Knox. At the time of my induction, the Gaylords from dainty Beldon and Knox hung out at a hotdog smelling-selling game room, in close proximity to the corners. Energized youth congregated at the upbeat game room, a wood-paneled romper room. In this Gaylords' nest, there was a flirt hysteria going on with a confection of cosmetic-laced treats. ****Because of all of this stimulating activity, Gaylords from another area, Sayre Park, often stopped by for a spot-check and hung out. When it came to rival gangs, the Gaylords fearlessly disposed of them. One time Ape, an animalistic Gaylord, slam-dunked a Spanish Cobras' member through a Walgreen’s Drug Store window. Well, at least the guy didn't have to look too far for antiseptic and gauze. The big window on Fullerton Avenue was boarded up for weeks, advertising a clear message of who ran the area. ****I met a lot of righteous Gaylords at the game room. I had the most respect for Stoner, a Ted Nugent follower. Since I was just a bright-eyed rookie to the whole game, glossy-eyed Stoner coached me. Extremely impressionable, I had been firstly introduced to the Gaylords by three guys: Polock, Sarge and Buddha-pudgy Slayor while I was attending Prosser Vocational High School. Schools were great recruiting offices for gangs. ****My nickname was "Rocker." A nickname was either thrust upon you or you invented one. I obtained mine on my own. I was a scrawny, small, white guy with a pointy nose. Because of my skinny-minnie appearance, the Gaylords initially forged the nickname of "Mouse" on me. Now, nicknames are your image. I didn't agree with the title of Mouse, like calling an obese guy Whale. I can just envision people hearing "Mouse' and having a mental picture of a bitty guy scurrying in an alleyway for morsels of food. Fuck that. ****I sat home one night trying to conceive a new nickname for myself. As I was pondering a self-label I was head-jammin' to the radio. Then, I started thinking deeply about how music moves and soothes the soul. Instantly, I wanted a name that coincided with that concept. A Radio DJ suddenly came on the air, static-blasting out something energetic about, "All the Rockers out there." From that moment, I had the rockin' nickname that I wanted. Since my nickname was musicly geared, I want to static-blast some of the music that I was listening to, or "Rocker's Picks": "Shook Me All Night Long"-by AC/DC, "99 Red Balloons"-by Nena, "Shout At The Devil"-by Motley Crue, "Cum On Feel The Noise"-by Quiet Riot, "Tainted Love"-by Soft Cell, "Every Breath You Take"-by the Police, "Space Age Love Song"-by Flock of Seagulls, "White Lines"-by Grandmaster Flash And, I can't forget Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Michael Jackson and Ozzy Osbourne hits. Gaylords, like other Chicago gangs, advertised through crude creativity from graffiti to tattoos. They even crafted and distributed swaggerish business cards, the pushy salesmen type. Like me, some people actually collec