The Sonic Vandals
It’s one thirty in the morning. The sound starts in the distance. Boom! Boom! Ka boomboom! Kaboomboom! It slowly grows louder. BOOM BOOM KABOOM! It crescendos and throws me from sleep like an earthquake. BOOM BOOOM BOOOOOM!
Then it fades away at the same speed at which it arrived and passed. Boom boom. Kaboom boom. Kaboom.
It’s a Boomkar. It’s a vehicle whose purpose is to transport sonic vandals all night, waking those who are asleep. It is a variant of tribal drum language. It may signal other Boomkars, some from hostile tribes, to converge upon a battleground. They are Chevy, Toyota, Honda, Dodge, Ford and other vehicles whose back seats and trunks have been converted into loudspeakers. These procedures transform hiphop bass lines into lethal sound weapons. They are expressions of power.
Battle is joined at a mall parking lot. Vehicles arranged in ranks like Roman legions crank up their amplifiers.
Once I was at a friend's house, a place with a perfect view of the Northway Mall parking lot. I witnessed a BoomBattle first-hand. It was dreadful. The karnage was indescribable.
It began with the appearance of the chieftains from opposing tribes. A Humvee and an Escalade rolled ominously forward until they were nose to nose. Their commanders emerged from the vehicles to relay hand signals to their deeji at the control consoles. All Boomkars warriors are deaf. They have no choice but to communicate with hand signals.
The leader of the Escalade Krew was the infamous Doctor Doghouse. Stepping out of the black Humvee was the equally notorious B.G.F. Fatpimp
The Escalade’s Doctor Doghouse crossed his arms to form an “X” at chest height. His fingers were arranged in arcane gang sign language. He wore shorts that almost reached his ankles but were so baggy he could have fit two of himself into each leg. His opponent, Fatpimp, looked much the same. Baseball caps were worn sideways. Fingers pointed in all directions, arms crossed, knees bent, shoulders rolled. One would assume that these were signs of insult, that is, the tribal champions were flashing merk. Of course, flashing merk don’t mean shit unless actual weapons are involved. This was easy merk, not the hard kind. The weapons were the Boomkars themselves. Nobody would get capped sideways.
The next part of the ritual was for each chief to reach into the pocket of his giant shorts and produce a knot. At this point there was a slight advantage to the Escalade, because Doghouse’s knot was head up in c-notes, real hundreds, and as he withdrew the rubber band, he could easily show that the c-notes weren’t just bush for ones and fives. The knot was deep in c-notes. Fatpimp lost a load of headroom, his knot showed a couple c’s a couple twens, and a whole lotta ones. Bad tone for Fatpimp. Sometimes low quap is worse than no quap.
The chiefs walked in their stylized manner, limbs loose and arms flailing, fingers folded into complex semaphores. They circled one another, making a figure eight, which took each chief around the opponent’s ride.
Then the Escalade fired up its amps.
Boom, kachic! A boom boom. Ka chik-boomachic boomachic!
I was at least a quarter mile distant, and the concussion of the bass roiled my intenstines.
In response, the Humvee emitted another riffle: Kachik boom! Kachik boom boom boom! Kachik- kachik-kachik-boom. Taboom boom!
Only a few words came through. The bass and occasional snare slap dominated the asphalt juddering roar. These were repeated calls of key code phrases. “Motha fucka! Motha fucka! Motha fucka! Yo! Yo! Mothafucka Yo!” That was the Escalade. The Humvee snarled back. “Gonna get up yo booty! Gonna get up yo booty! Phat bee-ahtch gonna sit on it, sit on it!”
Cracks began to spread from beneath each vehicle. The vocalizations, I believe, were calls of love to the chieftains’ ladies. Or perhaps they were calls to the fathers of women in other tribes, women desired by the Fatpimp and Doghouse. These calls were meant to demonstrate the impressive character and power of each chief.
My scrotum was vibrating from the din. Both cars held equal volume and blared at one another. The Escalade’s hubcaps suddenly blew into the air with such force that one of them shattered a sixty foot high mercury vapor lamp. Doctor Doghouse made a sign to his deej, up the volume! Turn on the extra amps. Kick out the jams, motherfucker!
The Humvee began to fold and rumple along its width. The imperial nine and a half foot grille and headlights compressed. The roof folded upon itself until the vehicle was perhaps eight feet wide. Seven and a half. Six feet! Cracks widened beneath both Kars.
“Mothafucka! Booty. Mothafucka! Booty! Get up get up get up! Clap yo hands!
Get up! Booty. Fucka! Ooo. Kachik. Beeahtch! Boom boom boom!”
With a giant sploosh! the pavement gave way and both cars fell into a sinkhole. Doctor Doghouse’s fingers were gripping the ragged edges of the crater. He managed to climb out. He looked back into the hole. There was no sign of the Humvee’s Fatpimp. The vehicles belonging to Doghouse’s tribe suddenly roared to life, each one circling the phalanx of their opponents’ Boomkars. Their amps were turned all the way up. The acrid smell of burning electronics reached me on my perch above the parking lot. Smoke blew from the trunks and windows of Boomkars. The din was cataclysmic. Escalade Boomkarss circled the defeated Humvee tribe’s Boomkars.
Boom boom kaboom boom kaboom boom boom! Chik chik snap bap boom, chaboom!
There was a distant wailing. The Boomkars skidded in swathes of rubber as they dispersed in all directions. Twenty, twenty five police cars were screaming their way to the Boomkar Battle.
By the time they reached the scene of the karnage, all that remained was a giant sinkhole with the wreck of a Humvee in its depths. B.G.F. Fatpimp was gone. A faint boom boom seemed to emit from the hole. That may have been my imagination. Or perhaps it was a dying echo bouncing off a building far away, a feeble remnant of the battle between tribes of sonic vandals.
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