Posts Tagged ‘Flint’

danegeld  “Give me (some outrageous demand), or I will (do something that negatively affects you and impedes your goals.)”

If this sounds familiar, then someone is probably trying to force you to appease them. My advice: Tell them to “fuck off” now. Seriously. There is no appeasing people like this because they actually don’t want to be appeased. Their goal is one of a constant grievance, a constant demand to be made whole, yet none of your efforts will ever do that.

To underscore my point, consider this quote from British military historian and strategist, Sir Basil Liddell Hart:

“It is folly to imagine that the aggressive types, whether individuals or nations, can be bought off … since the payment of danegeld stimulates a demand for more danegeld. But they can be curbed. Their very belief in force makes them more susceptible to the deterrent effect of a formidable opposing force.”

*Note: Danegeld is “Danish Gold,” aka the bribes countries used to pay Danish Vikings not to raid. History has shown that this policy didn’t work because the Viking’s price kept on going up, and other Vikings started demanding it too. Even after being paid large sums of gold and treasure, the Vikings often raided, anyway.

Appeasing People Never Works!

So what is Sir Basil Liddell Hart trying to teach us here? In my opinion, he’s really trying to tell us three things… three simple truths that few people consider when dealing with people who are making ridiculous demands:

1. Threatening to take something away from someone until you are appeased is an act of aggression, and anyone who does this is an aggressive person.

2. Appeasing someone carries with it NO guarantee of reciprocal behavior on the part of the aggressor. (In fact, it often produces the opposite effect.)

3. When threatened, it is best to respond with force, since force – not reason, ideas, or soft talk – is the only thing that aggressive people respect and respond to.

The problem is that many people have a hard time believing that the people in their life can be aggressive or act out in an aggressive manner. Instead, we make excuses for the people in our lives. “Oh, she didn’t mean that. You just don’t know her like I do.” Or how about this one: “He’s not normally mean… It’s just the whiskey that makes him that way.” Whatever the reason, whatever the excuse, people are inherently aggressive and they act out on their aggression. It’s just that simple.

Trying to Appease Mr. FanTAStic

To prove my point about appeasement, I’ll share a personal story. (No advice is complete without one, in my opinion.) It happened long ago when I used to front a punk rock band in Flint, Michigan. Long story short, we took in a new member – “Mr. FanTAStic.” And he was a rather talented musician… and we needed him at the time. The problem was, Mr. FanTAStic knew this, and he began making small demands. It was always the same thing: “Give me what I want or I’ll quit.”

Against my better judgement, we paid Mr. FanTAStic his “danegeld,” and this created a pattern. His subsequent demands continued, each one more difficult to satisfy than the next… but still, we kept paying the danegeld, always hoping that his most recent demand would be his last. I quickly began to resent his constant threat to quit the band unless he got what he wanted.

Perhaps Mr. FanTAStic thought that this could go on forever. Sadly, he was wrong. Eventually, the day came where the demand he made was so outrageous, so insulting, that I could no longer hold my tongue. I finally exploded upon him after and unleashed months of pent up anger and frustration. (For a more detailed account, read here.)

Appeasing People Never Ends

I kicked Mr. FanTAStic out of the band, but it did little good at that point. The rest of the band – so-called “friends” who’d been with the project long before Mr. FanTAStic showed up – now saw me as some sort of psychotic monster for the way I yelled at him. This was the least of my worries.

Mr. FanTAStic’s antics seemed to have inspired the other members of the band. Not long after his departure, they began making demands for their own “danegeld.” I almost couldn’t blame them; it worked for Mr. FanTAStic, after all. Seeing that I would be spending more time trying to please them than I would playing music, I pulled the plug on the project and haven’t talked to those guys since.

Appeasement is a Bad Long-Term Strategy

Those who make demands are aggressive people, and holding your relationship hostage is a blatant act of aggression. And much like the historical vikings, these folks can never be appeased because appeasement is never their goal. These calculating miscreants have a diabolical long-term strategy: to drain you of everything you have, then cast you aside before moving on to their next victim.

If you followed the link to the original story, you’ll see that finally standing up to Mr. FanTAStic was the only thing that ceased his demands. And pulling the plug on the band was the only way to stop the other guys’ demands for danegeld. While this ended my days in the local music scene – I never could get another band together – it allowed me to pursue my writing career. In the end, I’m much happier having to rely only upon myself to find fulfillment through my art.

Not All Vikings are Bad

Not all vikings/Norsemen demanded “Danegeld.” Check out my novel “Legacy of the Bear” and its sequel, “Prophecy of the Bear.” This fantasy-adventure series follows the life of Autar Magnusson, a young Norseman who faces his greatest fears in order to become a man… and so much more. Fans of fantasy fiction such as “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” will love my Berserker’s Saga novels.

About J.P. Ribner

J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.


The familiar sound of bone crashing into meat, muscle, and tissue reverberated through my head. I knew what happened before the sensation of pain, bright and burning, radiated through my jaw and into my head. I’d been punched in the head, hard! A sharp, stabbing pain in my jaw followed, making it painful to touch, talk, or move; but I was still standing, and still able to turn to face my attacker …

I should start at the beginning.

Back in those halcyon and seemingly carefree days of 1984 (or ’85), I was one of a few of white boys who became enamored with the hip hop, breakdancing, and graffiti art zeitgeist. Our fellow classmates at Hamady High didn’t make it easy on us – the redneck whites tried shaming us for listening to what they called “n***** music,” while the black dudes eyed us with skepticism and the familiar refrain of “white boys don’t have rhythm.” Still, we soldiered on, and the ritual of backspins on flattened cardboard boxes was a familiar site in many a Mt. Morris Township driveway. I was in the thick of it all, happy to have cultivated a talent and the props that came with it.

On the night in question, fellow b-boys M&M, Duster, and Special K asked me to see the Fat Boys at the Capitol Theatre. While I preferred RUN DMC, Newcleus, and the Wild Style soundtrack, I was thrilled that the guys wanted to include me. My pre-teen and teenage years were lonely at best, with few people willing to risk social suicide by hanging out with me after school. I practically jumped into Special K’s car, completely oblivious to the trauma and life-changing events that were about to unfold before me.

So we were standing outside the Capitol, waiting to be let in to the show, when someone sucker-punched me. Turning to confront my attacker, I saw was a sea of various shades of brown skin and what seemed like hundreds of pairs of brown eyes glaring back at me. I’d been in situations where I wasn’t wanted – parties, school functions, etc. – but this was the first time where there was the possibility of dire consequences attached to my “intrusion.” I was outnumbered and painfully aware of how out of place I was. I didn’t belong, and I wanted out!

During all of this, a strange feeling of calm came over me. It’s called “normalcy bias,” and it’s something I wouldn’t learn about until 30 years later. The term refers to the state of calm that overtakes some people during disaster or emergency situations. Rather than going into a blind panic or doing something to save themselves, those afflicted with normalcy bias will calmly sit or stand in place, waiting for help to arrive or the situation to right itself. Sadly, those who are paralyzed by normalcy bias often die … even when safety is one simple decision away.

So there I stood, feet frozen to the sidewalk, not knowing what to do. The irrational part of my mind kept expecting someone, anyone, to come to my rescue. But who? My friends? Security? Prince Markie Dee? I was helpless and alone, afraid to confront my unknown attacker, yet equally terrified to say anything to my friends. I was afraid that my need for safety would’ve ruined everyone’s night. It sounds silly now, but that was my reality then – the legacy of Trauma Central, where my family’s happiness was my responsibility, and their miseries my fault.)

I did the only thing I thought I could do: I scooted a bit closer to my group and continued to stand there, my back to the crowd that no doubt aided and abetted my attacker.


So one punch to my jaw not enough for him; I was an idiot to think that it would be. Again, the pain radiated throughout my head and again, my mind was flooded with the most powerful feelings of terror and shame … a rather toxic cocktail. I also felt anger, the kind that anyone feels when caught in a helpless and hopeless situation. If there was any good that came out of that second haymaker, it was that it jarred me out of the normalcy bias that had me in its thrall.

No doubt seeing the look of sheer terror upon my face as I scooted closer still, M&M asked, “What’s wrong, Ribner?”

“Someone fuckin’ hit me!” My reply came out in a forced whisper.


“I don’t know.”

M&M quickly told Duster and Special K what was going on, and an impromptu plan was formed. Switching places with M&M, placing my back against the brick wall of the Capitol, while Special K – the oldest and most streetwise of our group – stood facing the crowd and my attacker. As if in response, a young man approached M&M and, after a brief exchange, opened his jacket to give us all a look at the handgun he had in a holster, secured to his side.

“Gimme whatchu got,” he demanded, “and I’ll make sure dey don’t fuck wit chu.”

Wanting to protect me, M&M, Duster, and Special K forked over whatever they had between them and gave it to the stranger while I stood on the periphery. There was a lull in the attacks as we waited for the line to move; but with the adrenaline coursing through my veins and my heart pounding inside my chest, each minute was an eternity. Eventually, the line inched forward a bit, and then a bit more … we kept moving like herded cattle, unable to keep from casting nervous glances over our shoulders as we did.

Suddenly, the double glass doors of the Capitol Theatre opened and the crowd burst forward.We got jostled around in the movement and I found myself beside my friends; there was no one between me and the attacker in the crowd. My heart sank as I knew I was once again in a bad place, but all I could do was keep moving forward and not get separated from my friends.


Ears ringing and vision blurry, it was clear that the Cheap-Shot Artist wasn’t deterred by the presence of our erstwhile guardian. (As we suspected then and still do now, the two were likely in on it from the beginning … the opportunity to bilk and beat some pussy-ass, cracka-ass, honky, peckerwood muthfuckaz was no doubt too tempting to ignore.)

Within seconds, we were sucked into that huge, gothic structure known as the Capitol and we found ourselves standing elbow-to-elbow with each other – and everyone else who had been in front and behind us – in the lobby. Then, as if on cue, everyone stopped and we were once again standing still. I was fortunate to not have lost my friends, but somewhere in the crowd, my attacker – whose identity was still unknown to me – was nearby. I was trapped, and I knew a decision had to be made …

Here’s Part II …

And Part III …

And finally, Part IV …

I’m proud to be from Flint, Michigan! And when I think of my beloved hometown, I don’t see images of violence, poverty, and desolation … I see creativity, talent, and an undying dream to raise this city up to its shining promise.

Flint is the center of some awesome revitalization efforts, and the air is practically buzzing with the positive energy this is creating. The city is also host to a homegrown arts/music/literature scene that’s both vibrant and growing. I’m pleasantly surprised at how many amazingly talented writers call “Vehicle City” their home. These folks are most deserving of all the support they can get, so starting next Sunday, I’ll be featuring one Flint writer on this blog. I’ll discuss what they’ve written, why they write, and how Flint continues to play a part in their creative process. I’ll be featuring one new Flint writer each week until Labor Day.

If you’re a Flint writer who’d like to be featured – or you know one –contact me here on Facebook, or email: jp(underscore)ribner(at)yahoo(dot)com. The goal is to feature as many Flint writers as I possibly can by getting their names out there.

Flinttown represent!