Last autumn I stumbled across something I initially mistook for a replacement chair leg in my attic. It turned out to be my late grandfather’s police nightstick, a 26” shaft of cherry wood with a ridged handle and lead core.
Lift the stick and it practically jumps out of your hand. There is something about the weight of the lead or the shape of the thing – it wants to be swung. If you indulge it, you’ll find that at the bottom of the arc (unlike, say, a baseball bat, which wants stay put at the end of a swing), the truncheon naturally encourages your wrist to snap back around for another pass.
The stick is very light, despite the lead, and you can do this for several minutes before you start to feel the twinges of fatigue edging into your muscles. At this point, you might want to slap it into the palm of your other hand in a parody of an old fashioned Irish cop. Do not do this – even the gentlest glance against a finger bone will result in shocking pain. Still, with the air thoroughly subdued, you might wonder what it is like to hit a solid something or other. Do not do this either.
No matter how badly it wants to dance, the nightstick is a weapon designed to physically subdue (read: inflict debilitating pain upon) ne’er-do-wells. On some level, that is probably extremely satisfying, but I am neither a police, nor do I deal with bad guys. A weapon must be respected. It isn’t a tool for catharsis and I am entirely OK with that.
This issue is very concerned with violence as an emotional release. As Owen Smith learns, claw hammers aren’t any better than nightsticks at mitigating stress while Zach Edwards explores violence as false catharsis in the horror movie The Purge. Meanwhile, Matt Marrone proves entirely allergic to Game of Thrones-style violence, while Daisy leaps towards it in Gus Mastrapa’s latest installment of Dungeon Crawler. Hope you enjoy it.
Kearny, New Jersey
July 21, 2014