At one point in the early part of Mr. Robinson’s recording of his debut non-fiction work he declares that, “They, the more skilled, beat me, the less skilled, savagely. I, in turn, would beat those less skilled savagely.” This is all well and good, until you realize that Eugene, very likely in a mode of sweat-drenched shirt and pantlessness, has pointed square at you. Yes you, the kind of person with the same low intelligence, flimsy body mass and sluggish reflexes of an Oxbow audience member who knows not the first thing when it comes to attending an Oxbow show, and for that, you’ll find yourself on the beer-soaked floor facing the scary tattoos of one of post-punk’s most radiant maniacs in one of his amusing strangleholds. Think of it as losing your virginity all over again, this time involving more piss and less cum.
Such is the kind of übermensch bravado one comes to expect from Oxbow’s often incomprehensible vocalizer. But assuming there are some Oxbow fans who read little of Vice or LA Weekly or any of the magazines that Mr. Robinson has helmed in the past decade or so, they would be taken aback to know that when not screeching or howling things of toil and sorrow, he is in fact a modern gentlemen of letters. One of ocean-deep vocabulary, style knowledge and delivery—a rare kind of journalist that dishes out stellar copy in the way that invalids fill bedpans. I’m not saying that as someone who has edited the man’s work, I’m saying this as a staffer of lifestyle magazines who is beleaguered by articles that make three sentence suicide notes seem sublime by comparison.
There’s no denying that fisticuffsmanship is perhaps his most delicious of subjects. However, with Fight, his coffee table book published in November of the past year, he goes above and beyond a 1,000 words in an alt-weekly. Fight is an epic non-fiction work that takes the instructional/how-to approach and turns it on its ass with doses of personal anecdotes and subjective wisdom. The result is something that reaches beyond the cravings of seasoned hobbyists. With the recording, however, the experience only heightens. Not because you get to be lazy and not read, but because it is demanded of you to be more engaged as the lesson has begun. Robinson’s narration is theatrical, witty and visceral, all tones needed to best render his grandiose prose. Sit back as he tells you of his past, with the moment just after a showing of Rude Boy when some urban thugs—Brooklyn is hardly the same anymore—lay upon him a savage beating with emergency room repercussions and takes it from there working as a bouncer, training with seasoned veterans (Matt Fury, et. al.) and pounding it out in underground matches.
From there, Robinson belts out detail after detail of that other world of his that few, not Oxbow fans, not their parents or their priests really know about—both in and outside the ring. Robinson explains how best to deal with being knocked out, the wonder of soccer hooligans, the distinctions between wrestling and ripping, prison fights and all such other fun shit that I’d never do for fear of learning that pissing blood is not as awesome as it looks.
At once simple and sprawling, Fight is an entertaining jaunt that is both satisfying to read and to listen to. On the one hand you learn a few useful, real-world (perhaps legally questionable to boot) fighting tips. On the other hand, Robinson’s anecdotes of ass-kicking most savage will leave you hugging your pillow at night trying to figure out how to avoid using those tips. I personally came from a family of gun enthusiasts, what’s your plan, buddy?
Oxbow – The Narcotic Story
Henry Rollins – Get In the Van
Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club