The Scott Shaw Blog

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The Legacy of a Broken Bone

Back in the early days of Punk Rock, it was not unusual that there was violence in the nightclubs. The music was aggressive and there was a lot of youthful angst. It was also not unusual to see the musicians with a cast on their hand or arm from some bit of aggression, either on their part or another person’s part, having lead to a fistfight that lead to a broken bone. This was not necessarily a good things but it was the way it was.

Back in about 1979 or 1980, my friends and I had gone to see a show at the Country Club in Reseda. My one friend had this horrible habit of getting drunk and then starting a fight with the biggest, burliest, ugliest person he could find. By this point, the Punk Rock venues were no longer solely frequented by the purist of the musical art form but my many others who just wanted to come and fight. The bigger problem was, my friend could not fight. He always got his ass kicked unless his brother or I stepped in. His brother would often joke, “Could you just pick a normal sized guy to fight…”

Anyway, there he was, out on the dance floor, fighting with two guys. The one guy had my friend’s leather jacket pulled over his head that kept him from moving and defending himself in any normal manner. The guy was holding his leather jacket with one hand and punching my friend in the face with the other. I ran up, as did his brother, to encounter the fighters. Me, seeing the guy who was punching my friend in the face was bend over, I delivered a hammer fist to the back of his head. Now, this is a very powerful but also very danger technique. Yes, it disabled the guy instantly but BAM, I also broke my hand. My friend was saved but at what cost?

Now, I think back to years before; this same friend and I when we were at Hollywood High School in the tenth grade. He had broken his arm. The problem was, he kept getting drunk, falling down, and re-breaking his arm. He had a cast on it for like a year. Finally, the doctor told him if he didn’t stop re-breaking his arm his only alternative would be to put in a plastic bone. Finally, my friend chilled for a bit until his arm finally healed.

But, back to the story at hand… My hand was broken. I went to the emergency room, the doctor reset it, put it in a cast, and I went home. The problem was, at least in my mind, was that I was teaching the martial arts on a full time basis and it was hard to demonstrate techniques with a cast on my hand. So, I took it off. A few days later my girlfriend got frustrated with me and she squeezed my broken hand. I could feel the bone re-break. It hurt! “Ouch!” But, I doubt if she cared. She was pissed at me.

Me, being who I am, I did not go back to the doctor. I just let it be. Thus, in time, my bone mended itself in a less that ideal position.

Years later, after always feeling the break in the bone, I went to my doctor to have it x-rayed just to see what was going on. The bone had healed in a shattered position. Not much anyone could do. Thus, what my friend had done by starting a fight, what I had done by delivering a hammer fist, what my girlfriend had done by angrily squeezing my hand, sealed my hand’s fate forever.

Several years later, there was this friend of my Zen Filmmaking brother, Donald G. Jackson, who we had used in a few of our Zen Films. Good guy. We were going to see a performance of the singer John Steward at McCabe’s. Don and I showed up and the guy was already there. He was a big, burly, friendly guy; all of his actions were BIG. He grabs my hand and shakes it. He grabs and shakes it really hard like some people like to do. So hard, he broke it. I actually felt the snap of that damaged bone. Did he mean to do it? No, I don’t think so. Most bones, in most people’s hands, wouldn’t break from such a handshake. But, mine was predisposed to it. After that, I never shook hands with him again, explaining to him each time what he had done.

Years have gone by, the other night, I was in a situation in the dark. Someone came at me, someone who should not have, and though I hate all of that kind of stuff, and rarely do I use a fist as a first line of defense, it was so obvious what would end the attack and confrontation in the most expedient manner. One shot and it was over. They were down. The problem is, again, the minute that punch made contact I heard/felt a snap; I broke that same bone in my hand again.

So, here I sit typing. It hurts! My hand is swollen and bruised. Sure, it will again heal. Heal, in that whatever kinda way that it does heal. But, it will never be the same as it once was all those years ago. And, that’s the thing about a broken bone, when it breaks, is it ever the same again? It breaks. It’s different, and the only one left feeling the pain is the person who houses that broken bone.

Does my friend ever think about my broken bone that was broken due to me defending him in a fight that he started? Nope. Does my one-time girlfriend care that she was the one who actually re-broke the bone and set my life on a course of never having a well-set hand-bone again? Nope, she ended up hating me. I was a terrible boyfriend! Does the Zen Filmmaking guy care about the fact that he broke my hand in a handshake. I’m sure he never thought twice about it. He’s probably dead by now. Did the person who received the brunt of my punch the other night care what happened to my hand, even though he was the one who sent that punch’s flight into motion? Of course not. So, what are we/what am I left with? A broken bone that no one cares about except me.

This is the reality of life. We all do what we do what we do and once it is done it can never be undone. So, be careful, you may break a bone. Then what? No one will care that you cared. No one will care what they have done. And, all you are left with is a broken bone that no one would ever know about if you don’t write about it in a blog like this. Happy