More On Epic Bearded Man

The Epic Bearded Man (EBM) video which went viral all over the world for a bit until it seems to have settled down after a few million views, roused quite a bit of commentary on the Web.

Once again, the video shows a fight between Michael, a 50 year old somewhat ghetto-appearing Black man, and Thomas Bruso, a 62 year old White man on a Muni transit bus. The Black man is the aggressor, but EBM retaliates and pummels him badly.

There were many interpretations of it, the best one seeing bullies finally get their comeuppance by harried victims. Also, it was interesting to see a 62 year old White guy, a former Marine wearing an “I am a motherfucker” t-shirt, kick some ass. As older people are of course more victims an aggressors in our society, this ties in with the first one, rooting for the underdog/victim and seeing bullies get their just desserts.

A less noble and more disturbing aspect was that in the world of Black-White crime and general aggression, nowadays anyway, it’s pretty much Blacks doing all the crime and aggression against White victims and not a whole lot going on in the other direction. In fact, the reverse is so unusual these days that the media goes nuts whenever it happens (Duke stripper case, West Virginia sex torture case). So it was a case of of One Man Is Fighting Back.

This is similar to the Arab pride in Osama bin Laden after 9-11. With all the aggressions that the Arabs see being perpetrated on the West, One Man Is Fighting Back. That man being Osama. This is not so much White racism as similar to the Arab reaction of the victims finally standing up and fighting back for once against powerful aggressors who are inflicting a lot of damage. As it’s tied in with victims fighting back, this reaction is related to the first two.

The more disturbing reaction was the mass outpouring of White racism in the comments threads on the EBM video. “Nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger!” Commenter tulio seemed to note that there was an almost sexual, orgiastic or dare I say ejaculatory aspect to these comments. Like they were getting a racism speed high. The EBM video was forwarded all over the White nationalist and White racist web, and this probably added to the comments.

Anyway, a typical reading of the video was, “Niggers just can’t behave like civilized humans.” Another reading was from Blacks, defensive in nature. They saw EBM as a White racist who started the fight by making racist comments. Michael was just fighting back against racist baiting.

The timeline of the incident is hard to figure, but it does not appear that EBM was making racist comments. At the bus stop, he had been going on and on about his new shoes that he bought for his Mother’s funeral and how he was going to get them shined. “My boy is gonna shine my shoes,” he was saying. I guess that means his White friend or something. He got on the bus and kept talking about the shoes and how he was going to get his boy to shine them.

Michael, drunk, got on the bus and overheard them and read racist intent into the comments: that Bruso was going to get some Black guy, a boy, to shine his shoes. This started the whole misunderstanding.

As we learn more in later days, things become even more confusing. Bruso is a regarded as a sometimes-violent loon with unknown mental issues that sound like PTSD.

Here is a photo from Troy Holden in 1996 of Bruso in San Francisco. Bruso used to walk past Holden’s shop on 2nd and Market every day with a loaf of sourdough in his hand, stop in front of the shop, wave the sourdough in Holden’s face, give the finger and scream obscenities about the San Francisco 49’ers. So Bruso is a long-term street loon in the Bay Area for at least 14 years.

He “goes off his meds sometimes,” and then he can become violent and troublesome, but mostly he’s a nice guy who is also funny. He’s just a local character.


A new video is available with an interview with the Black guy. The Black guy, whose name is Michael, may not be as ghetto as he dresses and acts in the video, as he doesn’t come off that way in the interview. Even more strange is that the word on the street is that he is gay! He sounds pretty effeminate in the interview, but he also talks about his fiancee back in Georgia.

Rather than being a ghetto thug, he’s just some belligerent drunk. He’s troublesome rather than menacing. You know, like Bruso?

After Bruso got out of jail, the cops were driving him around to coffee shops and giving him free rides all day. He was a local hero with the Oakland police, which probably has quite a few Black officers. Bruso was back in downtown Oakland the next day, which is where he hangs out. Many of the local young Black guys were surrounding him – he was their hero! Bruso was eating it up and hanging out with his new Black friends all day. By the end of the day, he was starting to talk and walk like the young Black males of Oakland, his new best friends.

The more you hear about this case, the more it seems that r had little or nothing to do with it! But so many people tried to read a racial or worse, racist, line into this story. That says more about us than about the protagonists.

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One thought on “More On Epic Bearded Man”

  1. I agree with your conclusions. All this comes down to is a snapshot of Jerry Springer America. We can watch a show like that and wonder “where the hell do they find such people???” Well, somebody captured 2 such on a phone cam on the AC bus.

    Btw, you said the black dude is openly gay but there is no proof of that in the link. Just hearsay. When the black dude was interviewed on the radio, he was talking about his girlfriend.

    Other bloggers in the Bay Area have mentioned EBM’s wild behavior in the streets. Some have even claimed that he has started fights with people and used openly racist statements in the street to provoke people, but there’s no way to prove that.

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