50 bucks and a black eye

I finished up teaching at the All-Star Wrestling training school and started driving to Lubbock for a show.  Stella is dead.  Life just goes on.  It doesn’t seem right.  I look around and everyone is just living like nothing happened.  It’s like it doesn’t matter that she’s dead or mattered that she was ever alive.  I’m mad at everyone for just going about their business.  Which is irrational.

Over time I’ll stop being upset about it.  That doesn’t seem right either.  Seems like the exact thing you shouldn’t do.

I listened to a book called Fifty Bucks and a Black Eye.  It’s an MMA guy telling about his life in the early 90s before MMA was a mainstream thing.  He wrote the book while in prison for illegally selling used medical equipment.  And probably he strangled a guy to death, but they couldn’t prove that.

He talks about how in those days, even the legit MMA companies were shady as hell.  A lot of times he was just working for gas money.  Hence the title.  He’d go to a show and not know for sure if he was going to get paid.  Or if the show was some kind of fucking con.  Sounds familiar, but even worse than what I deal with.  One time he got to a show and there were a bunch of dudes there with AK-47s and pallets of drugs.  A drug importer wanted to see some white boys make each other bleed while he was across the border.

He lived in his car for about 6 years.  Unlike me, he slept in the trunk because he didn’t want people to know he lived in his car.  Which is a strange kind of pride.  He got one fight in the UFC in 2001 when it was starting to catch on, which he lost, and shortly thereafter he retired.  Retired with hands that had been broken so many times he can’t straighten his fingers, a serious neck injury, zero money, and zero skills useful in any normal job.  That also sounds familiar.

There’s a section in the book where he realizes looking back on his days of chasing women he had several “non-consensual” sexual encounters.  In short, if he was getting sweaty with a woman and she balked, he’d get upset.  And since he was a big strong dude who beat people for a living, often times the woman would then decide she better get with the program.  At the time he thought “she said yes so this is fine”.  Only looking back from a prison cell did he realize what he had done.  

I found this very interesting because I’ve never heard a guy admit to it before.  Usually they deny everything all the way to the end.  But also it’s pretty fucking horrifying because if he’s telling the truth, he didn’t even know what he was doing was wrong when he did it.  

He talks about how you never get told anything about sex.  At least you get a primer on the mechanics – here’s where the dick goes, and don’t get anyone pregnant.  No one tells you how it works in the real world.  His mindset then was if he could get a woman to say yes, then he was golden.  Like it was a magic word.

I’m not going to give the guy too much credit because he is a rapist, but he did seem sorry about it. 

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s another wrinkle to the story.   He grew up in a cult.  He didn’t realize he was in a cult until he left Iowa to train in California, but he was.  As a kid he just though that’s what religion was like for everyone.  It was allegedly based on Norse stuff but he’s pretty sure the founder just made it all up.  They sacrificed animals sometimes as part of their rituals and he heard rumors that the Minnesota branch was involved in human sacrifice.  

Other highlights, he was coerced into a sexual relationship with the leader of his cell, and his initiation when he was 14 was basically a gang rape.  It’s seems silly to say that a cult is weird, because of course it is, but this one was weird.  In addition to the Norse stuff, the cultists were really into computers and were early adopters of the internet – many of them were software programmers.  Which isn’t what I think of when I think of cults.  The persistent rumor he heard was that those programmers put some kind of subliminal cult messages in their software.  

He talks about how in prison he gave his life to Jesus and Jesus this and Jesus that.  I don’t mean to be offensive to those that believe, but I turned up my nose at that.  He just traded one cult for another.  Trust me, I’d like to believe.  That would make being responsible for getting Stella killed a lot more palatable.  Knowing that I was forgiven.  It’s all just too convenient.  You can be horrible and hurt everyone but as long as you tell God you’re sorry it’s fine?  Fuck that.  

One other thing I didn’t like was when he made an off-hand comment about how the only people he didn’t like fighting were “the one’s that had the stare, kids from the street, the ones with the cold dead eyes”.  I felt like he was talking about me.  I’m not dead inside, I’m nice.  I’m just not good at making friends.  

My first thought was that I needed to check into that cult.  See if they were doing real blood magic or were just crazy.  My second thought was “god damn it Grace this is the kind of shit that got Stella killed!”

The internet saved me from having to have a third thought about it.  There’s a woman in Duluth who grew up in this cult also and she has a lot of information about it online.  Documenting their downfall is like a therapy project for her.  A core belief was that on New Year’s Eve 1999, all the computers in the world would stop knowing what day it was.  And this would result in the collapse of society.  I can’t connect the dots between those things.  But they believed it.

So when 2000 came and nothing happened, the cult took a big hit.  As Duluth tells it, they lost more than half their members in a couple months.  A few years later the only branches still functioning were the one in Minnesota and one across the border in Canada.  And their membership had dwindled.

The Minnesota cell got busted up in 2009-2011 for various weapon violations and accusations of sexual abuse and all sorts of stuff.  Duluth doesn’t have as much information on the Canada branch, but no one has heard anything from them in years so she assumes they just faded away.  

So whatever they were doing, they’re not doing it anymore. 

I may still look into it.  

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