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The War Nerd August 10, 2007
 
Shank You Very Much
The fine art of prison war. By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 4
 

I'm not saying girls can't fight. In fact, the only one of the fools I saw bashing away in chain mail under that overpass was this angry-looking ponytail lady about five feet tall. (I admit, I actually pulled over and parked so I could watch. I even wanted to join in, for about two seconds before I realized how I'd look in chain mail, if they even made it in my size.)

She had the meanness you need for close combat, did a lot of low leg strokes that would've had her elf-pals hopping on bloody stumps if she hadn't pulled her lunges. It's just that prison dudes would fight even harder and dirtier if the grand prize was the other gang's girls.

Prison makes people into great little inventors, mostly of improvised ways to hurt people. And it's amazing how they keep rediscovering the old weapons. Take boiling oil, that old staple of castle defenders: all you need is a hot plate and a tube of Vaseline.

Funny thing, inmates seem to have a lot of Vaseline on hand. Well, we'll just zoom right by that and focus on the stuff's military applications: All you do is heat that grease on your hot plate and throw it on whoever walks past your cell. Instant third-degree burns.

If you liked those morning-star maces the knights used to swing-not really a good weapon, by the way, really a novelty item for denting helms or plate armor-then all you need is a sock with a lock or a rock in it. A few good swings for windup and you've got enough torque to make a real impression on that dude with the wrong tats.

The only element of medieval warfare missing from prison fights is the artillery, the archers. I've looked and looked for projectile weapons in prison riots but haven't seen any evidence of any. Anybody know why? Maybe it's too hard to get hardwood in stir. But hey guys, what about blowguns? Give it a try! All you need is a tube, a pin and some cotton for backing. Piss on the pin and you've got long-range punji sticks. Or put a drop of LSD on the tip-I hear it's all over prisons because it can't be detected-and your enemy will be trippin' in maximum security, which has to be Hell on earth.

See, and they say I never give back to the community.

Day and night I'm ransacking the archives looking for new tech to make life more interesting for our incarcerated friends. The real reason convicts don't do projectile weapons is that prison's a special battlefield, where "long range" isn't even a relevant concept. What's the longest range in a cell block, a couple yards? What those dudes could really use is this hilarious German rifle I remember from the old print editions of Jane's Infantry Weapons, a rifle with a barrel bent at 90% so it could shoot around corners, and a mirror instead of a sight, so the shooter could see around the corner to fire. I don't know if it ever got used-there was something just too Wile E Coyote about it to take seriously-but if there's anywhere it could've worked, it's prison. Dude two cells down running his mouth, thinking he's safe from retaliation? Not with your new Heckler & Koch cartoon rifle!

But back to practical warfare: in prison, where all fighting is close-in fighting and weapons have to be small enough to palm in the yard and hide in a cell, it comes down to knives, swords and spears. Yep, you heard me: spears.

In 1985, a guard named Burchfield was killed by a spear in San Quentin. The weapon was a testament to what dudes with a lot of time on their hands and minds full of pus can come up with. The shart was made of newspapers rolled tighter than the stingiest joint, rolled like some Japanese origami master would roll it, tighter and tighter till the thing was as hard as Bodark. The tip was a little sliver of metal. These black militants called Burchfield over to their cell and Zip! one less honky to deal with, right through the heart. He was dead before they got him on a stretcher. Turns out paper can be made into a pretty solid killing device. Even toilet paper. It's just a matter of time and craftsmanship. Take some TP and mix it with toothpaste, set it aside to harden in the shape you want. Repeat process day after day-we're talking about guys in places like Pelican Bay who have 23 hours a day to work on these little Tim Allen projects-and after a few months you've got a rock-hard hilt for your one-inch blade. I've read, but I'm not sure I believe, that you can even get TP/toothpaste mixes hard enough to use as blades themselves.


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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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