Demolition Man Furious George vs. the Media, in a '77 Caddy
The theme music of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly ran through my mind as I gunned the engine of my 1977 gold Cadillac. "Major media cocksuckers," I muttered as dust from the California desert flew up my nose and in my mouth. I looked over to my right, past the gutted interior of my car, to the guy in the Oldsmobile next to me. Painted on the side of his vehicle was DETAILS in huge black letters. It also said MAXIM SUX.
To my left was a car with CNET painted on it. When behind, through the nonexistent rear glass, I saw six more cars, with the names of other magazines, newspapers or media companies scrawled on them.
We were all gathered here together in the desert, on an Indian reservation, for one reason and one reason only: to fuck each other up.
As the airhorn counted down from five, I felt my heart race. Here I was with two tons of car and eight cylinders of power, ready to go after other publications like nobody else at NYPress had ever done before. Sure, others had written insults about other publications. But this was different. While my fellow NYPress writers use their pens as swords, I had a 1977 two-ton gold Caddy with a V-8 engine.
So what if NYPRESS was spraypainted by my hand in an almost illegible scrawl on the side of my car? So what if PUSSY in huge green letters was sprayed on the hood, with upside-down crosses? So what if I had just signed a contract that read in part, "Signee hereby acknowledges that the activities of the event are very dangerous and involve the risk of serious injury and/or death"?
So what. It was over 105 degrees outside, and the sun shone so brightly I had to squint my eyes to see?see that it was as good a day as any to die.
I was in La Jolla, near San Diego, for a 989 Studios "Gamers' Day"?a press junket 989 was paying for. On the flight from JFK I'd popped a Clonazepam and stretched out on the three seats I had to myself. I played a bit of Zelda DX, but quickly fell asleep.
The next thing I know we're landing on the Left Coast. As I pull my suitcase down, I look at the guy in the three seats next to me. I'd noticed him earlier and wondered if he, too, was going on this 989 adventure. He was wearing khakis, desert boots, a yellow shirt and wire-rim glasses. I think the tucked-in shirt and wire-rim glasses gave him away. Next thing I knew, we were in a limo together, paid for by 989, on our way to our hotel, paid for by 989, in La Jolla.
"What's La Jolla like?" I asked the limo driver, pronouncing it "La Joel-la."
"It's pronounced La-hoy-a," he replied.
"Whatever. Are there good strip bars?" I asked him. He looked cool, what with his slicked-back gray hair, bitchin' suit and mean smile.
"Well, there's a place called Dancers in San Diego. Also Sexy Lexi's and the Raven," he answered.
"Which one can we see pussy at?" I asked, as the guy in the yellow tucked-in shirt and wire-rim glasses looked at me in shock.
"Well. I like the Raven," the driver said. "There's full nudity there. But you can't drink. But I guess you don't need to with that in your face."
I asked the guy in the tucked-in yellow shirt with wire-rim glasses what he thought.
"I dunno," he sort of giggled.
His name was David, and he wrote for Details.
Somehow that figured.
A few minutes later we arrived at our hotel. The Hyatt Regency. It looked like a fucking castle.
"We're staying here?" I wondered.
"Looks okay," said David.
"Have fun," the driver said, and with a wink he left us to begin what I can only now look back on as a visit to the Chocolate Factory, where I was Charlie and 989 was Willy Wonka.
"Dude," 989 publicist Kristina had explained in her totally Southern California accent, "you come out here, we put you up in a nice hotel, you play video games, we take you on a special field trip, then you go home."
She also told me not to worry about expenses like food or drinks or entertainment. 989 would pick up the tab.
So when I saw Kristina the first night by the pool during "cocktails," I went over and thanked her. I knew who she was because I had met her in New York about a year earlier at a Twisted Metal 3 demonstration. It's a video game where you drive around in a car and smash into other cars.
"It's nice to see you here in La Jolla," Kristina said to me as I stared at her beautiful blonde hair, nice-sized chest and round little butt. If there's one thing I had learned about public relations people in the entertainment industry, it's that they all look like Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. I guess it goes with the job. "Buy this, see that! Rah! Rah! Rah!"
"It's great seeing you too," I told her as I stood in front of her in my black women's stretch jeans, black sneakers, black Dwarves t-shirt with a skull and crossed penises on it, and my black denim vest.
"George is from New York," Kristina said to others who were standing around watching us talk. "Can't you tell?"
A few other public relations cheerleaders laughed, while a lot of video-gaming guys who were in attendance for the event looked at me like I was Satan.
"Kristina," I said to my cute friend, "listen, about entertainment..."
"You're not having fun having cocktails out here by the pool?" she asked me.
"It's not that," I answered, "It's just that I hear we're only minutes away from Tijuana."
"You want to go there?" she asked. "Why?"
"Well, because, um, I want to get my car detailed with flames and everything. And get a tuck-and-roll job," I said.
"You flew out here," she told me.
"Oh yeah," I said. So I told her what some guy in the hotel had told me about Tijuana. About certain things you can do and see there. Like the donkey show.
"Excuse me?" she said.
"The donkey show," I repeated. I heard laughter behind me. "A show in Tijuana, where, well, two girls, um, well, and a donkey, um, well..." I muttered.
"You mean the show where two girls have sex with a donkey?" she said, matter-of-factly.
"Uh-huh," I stuttered.
"I don't know if that's still going on anymore. But I'll tell you what, I'll look into it," she answered.
"Great," I said.
"And if it's not, maybe tomorrow night we'll take you to a topless bar," said Kristina.
Man, do I love 989.
Next morning I arrived downstairs a little before 9 to get some free breakfast paid for by 989. I talked a bit with my new friend Alex, the guy in the yellow tucked-in shirt and wire-rim glasses named David and a new guy I just met named Che. Che was this rad punk-rock guy from Chicago with colored hair who writes for Electric Gaming Monthly, a magazine I actually subscribe to.
I also saw Chewy and Lilly, whom I'd met eight hours earlier. Chewy is a DJ for a big San Francisco radio station, and Lilly's his producer. They were both very funny and very nice. And also showed some interest in seeing the donkey show.
After breakfast I listened to 989 pitch all their new games that are coming out for the holiday season. Then they took us on a bus to San Diego, to 989 Studios, where we saw how the games are made and got to play them.
The first game I tried was Jet Moto 3. It's a game where you ride around on a hovercraft over a variety of terrains. It looks a hell of a lot better than the first two Jet Moto games for PlayStation, and when I asked the game's designer, Hunter, why that was, he told me it was because it had a whole new video engine. The game, Hunter explained, runs at 30 frames per second and has 19 different environments and 11 different hoverbikes. As I raced around the tracks I got dizzy just from the speeds.
The next game I tried out was NHL FaceOff 2000. The designer explained to me how they used motion capture technology to make the hockey players look so real. When you score goals, sirens go off and people throw their hats on the ice.
Next was lunch. And what a lunch it was. 989 sprang for this huge table of food. There were chicken sandwiches, ham sandwiches, sesame noodles, huge salads, sodas and much more. I ate so much I actually had to take a brief nap outside in the warm California sun before returning to play more games.
Cool Borders 4 is a PlayStation snowboarding game. You race around on mountains, knocking the other guys off their feet, while trying to get down the mountain fast, doing as many tricks as possible. Cool Borders 4 really, really looks better than the earlier versions. The characters look like they come from the Sega Dreamcast, which runs at 128 bits?they look fucking real. There are also some new features, like the dual shock controller?I've never felt snow feel so real. You can actually feel your board stall in deep snow. Weird. And very cool.
Super Cross Circuit is racing dirt bikes. You can feel every bump and every jump with the dual shock, and that makes it kind of neat. The graphics were okay, but not the best I've ever seen. I plan to get a hell of a lot better at it. Maybe even race my pals MUGGER Jr. and III. Lastly, I tried out Twisted Metal 4. A lot better than Twisted Metal 3, and it comes close to being as cool as Vigilante 8, my favorite car combat game for the Sony console.
That afternoon I found myself on the bus again, eating free food and talking with Alex from Maxim while we were on our way to the Barona Speedway. The racetrack on an Indian reservation. As we drove through winding mountains, Alex and I talked about drugs, girls, porno, drugs, film, drugs, video games and drugs. Kristina was sitting behind us and overheard our discussion of pills. She later chimed in, telling us her favorites, and how she, too, suffered from bad headaches.
I explained to her that seeing donkeys have sex with humans and visiting topless bars was very helpful for that. She told me that that sounded "rad," and maybe later that night we'd try that out.
She then gave us contracts, where we basically signed our lives away. Because we were headed to the Barona Speedway for a demolition derby. We were going to play Twisted Metal for real. With real cars and everything.
We arrived at the desert track and stepped out of the bus into the 105-degree heat. We crowded into a shaded area where some old guy explained that he worked with Sunnyside Promotions. He explained that his father was the first to host demolition derbies in California, and that no one had ever been killed on his track. Yet.
He also explained that there were poisonous snakes all around us, and to stay only in the flat areas with no rocks or bushes. Then he told us that if we were injured or killed, we couldn't sue. He made that point clear. About five times.
"Y'all got yellow flags," he said. "If your car stalls out or you are badly hurt, just wave that flag and then nobody will try and ram into you."
"Yeah, right," I heard a few guys mutter under their breath.
Marcie and Kristina starting passing out awesome motocross helmets with the 989 logo on the side. The helmet looked straight out of Star Wars. I put the thing on and walked around saying, "Luke, I am your father." The girls told us we could keep our helmets. Woo-hoo! Later I found out that my helmet costs around $400.
After the old guy was done explaining how we should be safe but that we could die, the girls told us to find our cars.
I wandered around the desert for a few minutes, looking at scores of beat-up old cars with logos on them?Billboard, Game Informer, CBS Newspath, Bikini, New York, Maxim, Details. I finally asked Marcie where the NYPressmobile was.
"We didn't have your logo," she told me.
"Fuck," I muttered. I was supposed to send it.
"But I'll get you a can of spraypaint and you can paint your own," she said.
In fact she got me a whole box of spraypaint, and I went to work on my car. Number 18, a gold 1977 Caddy with the California license plate "3PGZ733." After I was done, it said NYPRESS on the left side, and PUSSY. On the back, SUCK MY DICK and EAT ME. On the hood, FURIOUS GEORGE. For the coup de grace, those upside-down crosses. I covered the car in those, with silver spraypaint. I think it actually scared a couple of the 989 people?after the derby, they really did kind of stop talking to me.
After I finished my car, I looked at some of the others. David had a nice Details logo on his car. He wrote MAXIM SUX on the back. Alex had a nice Maxim logo on his car. Some people wrote things on their cars like WINNER and WATCH OUT! and KILLER. But nothing was finer than the NYPRESS PUSSYmobile.
An airhorn sounded and it was time to suit up. I was in the second round of 12 cars that were to bash each other up. So I put my helmet and goggles on and I climbed into my car with just a driver's seat and waited.
So there I was, with the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly running through my head. I gunned the engine a few times. Some old guy walked up to me and pointed to the small plastic gas tank where my rear seat should have been.
"Ya know," he said, "ya keep doing that and you ain't gonna have no gas for the derby."
I looked at the photo I had taped to the dashboard of the car. Others had taped up pictures of hot naked chicks or their girlfriends or wives. I had put a picture up that made me want to live. To survive. To be a winner.
As I stared at the Polaroid of P.J., my Yorkshire terrier, I felt flush with confidence. Confidence that I, George Tabb, possessed enough balls to go up against all these other video-game nerds, in a real car, purchased just for me, by Sony, for $900. A gold Caddy that they got for me just to destroy.
The first match got under way. I heard the crashing and smashing of glass, the roar of twisting metal. My heart began to race. When the airhorn went off signaling the end of the first heat, I felt my heart pound with power.
As I drove into the derby area, from behind my dusty goggles I could see fire engines lined up, with men in flame-retardant suits standing next to them. I could also see the two ambulances that were hired for the event "in case something happens." And the huge Twisted Metal Ice Cream Truck I'd seen in New York a year earlier. I pulled my car forward and was stopped by the old guy who had told us about the snakes.
"How ya feeling?" he asked me as he eyed the PUSSY on my hood.
"Like I'm gonna kill some motherfuckers," was my reply.
"Well, good for you," he said. "Just remember, no hitting other cars head on, and no hitting them in their driver's doors."
"Uh-huh," I said to him, knowing damn well that when it came to rules, there weren't any.
"How's that padding doing?" he asked me.
I looked at the single piece of foam rubber on my steering wheel and told him it was "fine."
"And the seat belt?" he asked.
I showed him that it didn't buckle properly and was really loose.
"Good for you," he said, and then motioned for me to drive into the ring. Obviously he wanted me to die.
I drove into the ring and parked. I looked to my right and saw David, the guy with the yellow tucked-in shirt and wire-rim glasses. Only now he was wearing a Rebel Alliance helmet like mine. To my left was a guy in a CNET car. Six more behind me.
Twelve cars had entered the arena. And one would leave. Twelve cars enter, one car leaves. And I knew, deep down inside my soul, that it would be me.
Of course, I was wrong. The airhorn sounded and a countdown from five began. At zero, I threw the car in reverse, floored the fucker and turned the wheel very hard to the right.
A second later I smashed into the back of the Details car with such a hard smack I heard my taillights break and his left rear panel crunch. I threw the Caddy into drive and rushed around in a big circle looking for my next victim.
As I drove I felt rage surge through my veins. Rage and bloodlust. It was just like playing a video game. I felt the same emotions. It's weird how life can imitate art like that.
Seconds later I saw my next target, the Entertainment Tonight car. Unfortunately, the GameFan car picked the same target. The next thing I knew all three of us were speeding head-on at one another.
Then my helmet hit the windshield and it cracked. My helmet, that is.
All I could see was sunlight and dust as I was thrown around my car like a rag doll. All I could hear was glass breaking, metal crunching, engines screeching.
Then there was silence.
My car was dead.
So were the other two I'd plowed into.
Instantly, the other guys put up their yellow flags and waved them so they wouldn't be hit. But not me. I tried and tried to restart my Caddy. The fuck if I was gonna wave that sissy yellow flag. Once the engine almost caught, but that ended with a hard hit to my driver's door by someone following the rules as well as me. After picking my head up off the floor, I continued trying to restart, but it wouldn't catch.
I looked at P.J. and, with a flick of the wrist and a heavy prayer, turned the key in the ignition one more time...and the car actually started.
I backed it up, laughing at those who were stalled out, and looked around for whoever was left alive.
And he who was left was he who wore a yellow tucked-in shirt and wire-rim glasses. David. The guy from Details.
He must have seen me at the exact time I saw him, because suddenly we were playing a deadly game of chicken. Rushing head-on at each other at full speed.
And then I'm not sure what happened next. They say that you can lose your short-term memory if the impact to your head is hard enough. It must have been hard enough. The next thing I remember is sitting in my car, facing 180 degrees in the other direction, with a dead engine. The Details car was also dead, and very far away from me.
Then the airhorn blared and it was all over. I wiped the drool from my chin and climbed out of my car.
"Your car won't run?" asked one of the fire engine guys.
"I killed it," I replied as I took off my helmet and squinted in the sunlight.
"You drive like a maniac," he said, smiling. "Where you from?"
"New York," I said, pointing to the NYPRESS.
"That sure figures," he said with a huge grin.
"Uh-huh," I said as I started to walk away through the billowing dust as the sun began to set on the horizon. Near the mountains.
"Say," the fire engine guy called after me. "I never did catch your name."
"George," I said, as I walked past the two cars I'd destroyed at the start of the derby. "But they call me Pussy."