July 16, 2014. Chicago. (ONN) The first book ever published by Whiteout Press has just climbed 13 million spots in Amazon’s best seller rankings from May to June. We usually try to just report the news and not make the news, or use this outlet for our own PR. But in the case of our recently published book ‘Romantic Violence in R World’, it truly is news. It’s also the autobiography of the early years of Whiteout Press’ owner and author. And it’s a pretty good story if we do say so ourselves.
Whiteout Press 1st book climbed 13 million spots in one month.
From Whiteout Press' sister publication the Illinois Herald.
Last year, a lifelong Chicago resident wrote and published his autobiography in a book he titled, ‘Romantic Violence in R World’. The 463-page work details the author’s experiences growing up on the city’s northwest side. With shocking revelations exposing crooked cops, corrupt elected officials, and teenage sex, drugs and street gangs, the book literally climbed 13 million spots on the Amazon best seller list from June to July.
“I honestly can’t believe it,” Mark Watson, author of Romantic Violence in R World said when asked about his book’s popularity, “I really haven’t sold all that many books at this early stage yet. I literally just began promoting it and trying to spread the word. But the fact that my book has jumped 13 million spots on Amazon is nothing short of mind-blowing.” At the end of May, the book was ranked 14,264,348. Two weeks ago at the end of June, it had jumped to 771,210.
Romantic Violence in R World
The book written and published by lifelong Chicago resident Mark Watson is literally his autobiography, at least up until he turned 18 years old. As he writes in the Forward section of his book, ‘It is simply the story of my life, as I lived and witnessed it, written through the eyes of a teenager.’ Watson says that’s the key to really enjoying the book. It’s as if the reader is 14 or 16 years old again, seeing and experiencing things for the first time. But the things Watson experienced while growing up here in Chicago are anything but typical.
The first couple chapters are a reminiscent journey back in time to 1970’s Chicago. Much like the movie Forrest Gump, the author describes a number of historic incidents from the perspective of a neighborhood kid at the center of the action. In just one year, 1979, his experiences included seeing Pope John Paul II on his visit to Chicago, the crash of American flight 191 killing 270 people, and the filming of the Blues Brothers movie.
Other early personal experiences colorfully detailed in his book include seeing a UFO, learning to read tarot cards, sneaking into Wrigley Field, discovering Satanic messages in backward-playing Led Zeppelin songs, getting pregnant at 14, becoming a father at 15, smoking pot, joining a gang - all among the backdrop of attending school at Immaculate Conception grade school, Notre Dame High School, and Wilbur Wright College.
Life in Chicago for a kid
Mark Watson lived an interesting double-life from age 14 to 18. A hardcore reputed gang member from the notorious Simon City Royals street gang, he also managed to stay in school - two very good schools no less - while all his fellow head-bangers, pot heads and gangsters dropped out or were kicked out. He also details the nonstop jobs he worked his entire adolescence, beginning with his first job at the Howard Johnson Hotel on Higgins at age 10 and culminating with the simultaneous offer of a state job and an academic scholarship to attend Wilbur Wright College on the northwest side.
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But Watson found his share of trouble too. Aside from getting his girlfriend pregnant at 14 and standing by her side until they became parents at 15, he was also arrested for the first time at age 14. By age 16, he had been arrested and charged with 3 gun-related felonies by the Chicago police, with a guilty plea to one charge. Add dozens of broken bones, two life-saving surgeries, his parent’s divorce and the deaths of a handful of friends, and the book Romantic Violence in R World reads like a romance-adventure novel. Except it’s a true story, and it’s unbelievable that these experiences are repeatedly happening to 14 and 15 year-old kids.
Chicago street gangs
Author Mark Watson documents Chicago street gangs from the perspective of someone who lived it. His book details the life of a gang banger from the inside out, rather than the view from the local newspaper or TV report like most people ever see. One quote from the book he likes to reference is his insistence that gangs have been around as long as teenage boys have been around. And the only difference between a club and a street gang is the public’s perception of them.
The 44-year-old first-time novelist records in his book the daily events that transpired in the mid-1980’s when he first joined a street gang and then found himself on the front line of the nation’s deadliest gang wars. The book almost reads like a diary with daily entries describing the unbelievable events of each passing day. Death-defying experiences that rarely happen to most people once in a lifetime happened to Watson on a nightly basis.
Showing what it was like for a white, northwest side gang banger, the author wrote, ‘As far as I was concerned, it was September 1985. Gangs had exploded in the Black and Hispanic communities from around 3,000 in 1975 to 25,000 in 1985, and what would be 100,000 in 2005. During that same time period however, gang numbers in the White communities had only held steady at around 6,000. It was with that setting that I began my new life as a Southport & Fullerton Simon City Royal.’
Watson’s book, Romantic Violent in R World, includes a number of maps showing gang territories among Chicago’s north side neighborhoods, as well as over 100 genuine gang business cards and the detailed histories of a dozen of the city’s most well-known gangs. Watson says gang calling cards are unique to Chicago and have been around for a half century. Gangs literally print business cards with their names, location, slogans, logos and usually an invitation to their enemies to, ‘Come get some.’
Life of a White gang banger
Mark Watson describes how white gangbangers in Chicago during the 1980’s were outnumbered by their non-white counterparts 25,000 to 6,000. He also describes how as a Simon City Royal in the center of the enemy Gaylords’ sprawling northwest side empire, it made him and his fellow crew members outnumbered 1,000 to 15 in that part of the city. He documents in great detail one confrontation between the Royals and Gaylords that he took part in when he was just 15 years old. It’s worth noting that at the time, the two gangs had murdered no less than ten of each other’s members during the days he writes about.
‘I looked behind me to see the rest of our boys running for their lives, 20 feet away and in full retreat,’ Watson writes in Romantic Violence in R World, ‘I turned back around at Clyde and the GL's just in time to see him and Rican run past me, grabbing me up along the way. Thank God they grabbed my arm. Otherwise, I'd have been left standing there alone and surrounded. The three of us were all alone against a wall of charging Gaylords who were now running full speed literally an arm’s length behind us. Clyde keeps laughing and yelling, “Shoot 'em! Shoot 'em!” And I look next to me to see Rican pull out a revolver. As we're running, Rican's turning and firing shots at the charging GL's. "Boom. Boom. Boom," the houses and streets echoed with gun fire as all hell broke loose. I could see our guys in front of me splitting up and taking cover in driveways and behind cars. So, I did the same while Rican's gun fired inches from my ear and bullets whizzed past my head.’
Another section of his book documents how police and government officials were able to successfully vanquish street gangs from Chicago’s white neighborhoods after 1990. ‘Some call it a conspiracy theory,’ he writes, ‘All I know is, in the White neighborhoods, gangs, drugs and non-Whites were all suddenly thrown into the same basket. If you were a gang banger, you may as well have been a nigger. From parents to teachers to neighbors to cops - respected White adults openly preached to us White teenagers, “Why the hell are you in a gang? Gangs are for niggers and spics, not White people.” Big Mac was the first cop, but by no means the last, to say those exact words to me.’
Life and death on the streets
Two different excerpts from the book Romantic Violence in R World provide a glimpse into the life of a gang member, every gang member. It’s a violent, bloody and deadly world these kids live in. And Watson provides a first-hand glimpse into that world.
He writes, ‘A small part of me was a little nervous. But then, a little part of me was always nervous these days. I was an active participant in a number of Chicago's bloodiest gang wars. I had to constantly pay attention to anyone walking or standing around. I had to try and see into every car going by. My ears were always listening for any little sound out of the ordinary, specifically distant yelling, car doors, screeching tires or accelerating car engines. And I was literally looking over my shoulder every thirty seconds, all day and all night. Welcome to the life of a gang banger.’
And describing what happens after a gang member is caught by the enemy, Watson recalls in his book what happened to him one afternoon inside a CTA bus station, ‘That's how I was laying when I came to again, still being savagely beaten. Punches and kicks showered my back and the back of my head. Every few seconds, a major blow would make my ears ring and my vision go black. I have to admit though, aside from dull thuds, occasional sharp shocks and an overall dull pain, I didn't feel much. I guess I was either in shock or my adrenalin was numbing the pain. As the beating went on, I somehow managed to tune the rest of the world out - no sounds and no feelings. I was now alone with my thoughts and the site of the dirty concrete and glass wall, both grinding into my face. That was the part I couldn't escape.’
Chicago’s current murder problem
Chicago is currently the murder capitol of America. Illustrating that fact, just last week over the July 4th weekend, 82 people were shot in the city with 16 fatalities. That’s why the city’s gangbangers have humorously and proudly changed Chicago’s street nickname from ‘The Chi’ to ‘Chi-raq’, as in the war in Iraq. The death toll on Chicago’s streets, due mainly to the city’s gang wars, is as bad or worse than a typical day during the height of the Iraq War.
There’s even a section of ‘Romantic Violence in R World’ where Mark Watson poetically contrasts the similarities and differences between World War One’s trench warfare and Chicago’s gang wars. ‘Year after year, kids killed each other fighting to push the line one more block into the other's territory,’ he writes, ‘They killed and died for the right to stand out on the corners of Damen and Belmont or Lincoln and Belmont. It's sad to think that after a decade of fighting over Belmont Avenue, the border never moved more than one block from the original dividing line. Like World War I, it was stagnant, bloody, trench-warfare where the front line moved in distances of feet rather than miles. Tragically, Chicago's gang bangers don't have trenches to take cover in. They die right out on the street.’
Watson explains that today’s murder epidemic in Chicago is ironically the undoing of the experiences he lived during the 1980’s which spiked the city’s murder rate then too, and well into the 1990’s. At the time, all the city’s 100-plus gangs were consolidating into 65 large gangs. They were also dividing up into the city’s two gang alliances - People and Folks. As he wrote in the book, before the alliances took over the streets beginning in 1980, each gang had a couple allies and a couple enemies. Now, with every gang in one of the two alliances, every gang had 32 allies and 32 enemies. And yesterday’s next door neighbors and longtime allies were now deadly enemies due to the alliances.
Today, those two alliances are dissolving on Chicago’s streets. And they’ve created two trends that are getting kids killed by the hundreds. The first is that gangs don’t like and can’t trust their allies anymore. So, they’ve all become ‘EBK’, or ‘Everybody Killer’. That means everyone is the enemy. And as one might imagine, that idiotic policy is getting them all killed. The other deadly trend is for young gang members to walk around their enemies’ neighborhoods videotaping themselves loudly putting their enemies down. Youtube viewers only get the see the successful missions behind enemy lines. The police and coroner get to see all the rest.
‘Romantic Violence in R World’ is an extremely interesting and shocking book about what it’s like to be a teenager growing up in Chicago, at least during the 1980’s. It reads like a cross between a diary and a romance-adventure novel. The book justly describes itself on the jacket saying, ‘The unbelievable journey of an average Chicago teen from the world of sex, drugs and street gangs, through the empire of Chicago’s political corruption, and into an underground spy network of American revolutionaries – emerging as one of the few survivors who lived to tell the story – the story of tomorrow’s American revolution.’
Romantic Violence in R World is 463 pages and lists for $24.95. It’s available for $22.46 from Amazon and even cheaper if ordered directly from the publisher via the book’s website RomanticViolenceInRWorld.com.
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