Last night brought with it the continuation of a really great reading series hosted by THE2NDHAND and its colorful, uncouth representative, Harold Ray (who may or may not bear a striking resemblance to THE2NDHAND co-editor and all around good-guy, Jacob Knabb). The venue? The Hungry Brain on Belmont in Chicago, IL, which my understanding is this is where the show typically takes place each month. Point is, go there and see it sometime; I command it. Check HERE for more information.
Readers included headliner Mairead Case (who put on a really cool presentation of her graphic novel), poet Nick Demske (who read his poetry with an effusiveness that really made expressions like “clitorectomy synedoche” come to life) and Untoward’s own Mason Johnson.
Johnson, however, had a specific agenda for the evening — born of an apparent feud with Harold Ray that could no longer be restrained. Over the internet, then, Johnson demanded satisfaction, and satisfaction was offered to him in kind. Harold Ray agreed to duel, a gentlemanly arm wrestling match to test whose nerves of steel were the steeliest (and all the concomitant bragging rights, as well). Winner take all and suchlike.
Mason Johnson began the evening snappily dressed in a tuxedo t-shirt (pictured above), fully planning for victory, one would assume. Plus he was smiling (also pictured above), a cocksure smile that suggested both belief in his triumphant victory and love for adversarial feats of strength.
Harold Ray, meanwhile, seemed fortified against Johnson’s boasts by a mountain man’s grit and his own personal love of singing, and this attitude combined with Ray’s trademark excitable pugnacity (spurred largely by whatever alcoholic beverages he’d hitherto imbibed) suggested he’d be a challenging opponent in wrestling matches that pit any human limbs against another’s human limbs (legs, arms, wings — the latter applying strictly to super humans).
Mason Johnson then
forced asked his friend and, for the evening at least, whipping boy assistant, Dan Shapiro, to read words printed to his black belt. The belt apparently had his name on it, thus establishing that Johnson possessed a black belt in some form of martial arts, conferred to him at some time. Which struck certain of our sources as a red herring and possibly beside the point, since karate chopping doesn’t get you much of anywhere with respect to locked hand-on-hand, arm v. arm combat.)
A relative point by point breakdown begins here (with the picture above), illustrating the events of the arm wrestling bout as they happened.
Johnson surged forward at one point, suggesting the possibility of his victory.
BUT THEN . . .
OVER THE TOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HAROLD RAY PROVES HIS NERVES OF STEEL!
To the victor go the spoils. To the not victor goes his original shirt.
At Harold Ray’s urging*, Dan Shapiro arm-wrestled a female in the audience, which some traditionalists might consider impolite.
We here at Untoward do not make judgments of that sort. In America, feel free to arm wrestle whomsoever you choose; that’s what we say.
*Evidently Shapiro was urged to arm wrestle as a way of regaining his lost manhood, which he endured while being henpecked by Johnson for the better part of the evening.