Before East Nasty floods the streets on Wednesday runs, Mark Miller stands before us offering sage advice, group events, and a list of great things the running club is doing for local schools and charities. I’m not sure why, but every time he stands on that hill and “calls for everyone to move closer,” I imagine he is the Guardian Angels’ version of Cyrus from the Warriors.
The Warriors is a 1979 Cult Classic that follows one gang’s (the Warriors) struggle to make it back to Coney Island after being framed for shooting New York’s kingpin or the underworld (Cyrus) at an all-city gang retreat in Central Park. As you can imagine the Warriors did a lot of running in the movie and it made me wonder what it would be like to have other running clicks trying to take us out as we pound the streets of East Nashville.
“Can you dig it?”
The East Nasty “Warriors,” hit the streets armed with tight lycra, head lamps, and Gu energy packs. The goal: Talk or run our way to a safe return to 5 Points (Coney Island).
We turned right on Woodland with eyes peeled for the NRC “Boppers” led by Lee “Big Moe” Wilson, Hunter “Boxcar” Lane, and Season “Greenback” Kaminski. The Boppers roll in purple vests, ties, and fedoras and protect their turf with high speed chases. They are difficult to miss and even harder to escape.
The Boppers, however, must have been grilling veggie burgers out back because we cruised through Upper 5 Points without incident. But a new challenge awaited as we descended a short hill on mid-foot onto the turf of the Lipstick Lounge “Lizzies.”
Starr, Sarah, and Roxanna use seduction as their weapon of choice. They lull you to sleep with flashy smiles, spike your drink, then steal your girlfriend. Fortunately they were distracted by Karaoke night and we rolled by unnoticed.
We pushed the next hill with intrepid smiles and gazed an eery school building which doubles as the home of a low class outfit known as The Orphans. Often found lurking in dirty green t-shirts and jeans, the Orphans are more bark than bite. They have low numbers and offered little opposition to nearly 200 Nasties armed with water bottles and reflective vests.
Glancing at our Garmins, we turned down Eastland then crossed the dangerous 14th Street intersection before hearing the startling sound of clicking beer bottles emanate from a rundown hearse. We turned down our iPods and noticed the disturbing rattle was accompanied by a hipster vocal.
“Nasties . . . come out and play . . . ”
The Bad Kroger “Rogues” were up the their old shenanigans. Always a spine-chilling sight, the Rogues are a prominent street gang typically too drunk on 40’s to pose a real threat. We cut a hard left and headed toward safer terrain.
But we were far from home.
This particular route is called “The Church Run” and several gangs were sure to be waiting, including The Southern Cross.
We weaved our way to Fatherland and headed straight into harms way at East Park. Even though it’s the off season, everyone knows the Baseball Furies are in Winter Training. Sure enough, less than one block from their natural grass turf, I caught a glimpse of pin striped uniforms and heard the signature sound of baseball cleats clicking on pavement.
Luckily one of the East Nasties is an college baseball umpire and knows how to eject angry ballplayers. Another scare averted.
After the Furies’ fiasco, there was only one obstacle looming, but it was a big one.
The Shelby Street Turnbull ACs cruise the neighborhoods in a ragged school bus and get their kicks from picking on defenseless runners.
Our only hope was to catch them napping because Shelby is a big ass hill with no escape routes. We turned our headlamps to dim and made a run for it. Thankfully, the Turbull’s didn’t see us until it was too late and their bus wouldn’t start. These guys are a lot of things, but runners isn’t one of them.
On this night, the East Nasty Warriors would prevail. We told war stories at home base, took off our colors and strolled down the street to the running club Christmas party.
Tonight’s Diet: Water, Beer and Chili