The Bloodclot Diaries

The brutal life and times of John 'Bloodclot' Joseph: New York hardcore icon, Krishna devotee, hustler, survivor

His Hare Krishna faith is still paramount as well—he now helps run a temple on St. Marks Place. "We keep it the real way," he says. "There's none of these bogus gurus." (Put simply, Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in 1966; convinced of widespread corruption there, Joseph is now part of the ISKCON Revival Movement, seeking a return to the original principles of Prabhupada, who died in 1977.) His new temple's president, Brahmabhuta Das, is grateful for the help, both conventional—Joseph's put in a lot of money and construction time, in addition to handling dessert at the temple's Sunday feasts—and unconventional. "My wife and I were doing this out of our apartment on 10th Street, and we were having problems with some thugs from the other group, so he kind of came to our rescue, gave us protection," Das says. "So we didn't have that problem anymore."

The day after Joseph blows up and rescinds my tickets to the Black N Blue Bowl, I head over to Studio B anyway, hoping to buy a ticket at the door. Unfortunately, the first thing I see is a long, stationary line of irritated would-be patrons who won't be getting in either. The second thing I see is a thunderous fistfight in the street, two enraged gentleman thrashing about, ramming themselves into parked cars on one side of the street, then the other. Something about the whooping nonchalance of the crowd gathered around them suggests this is neither the first nor the last fight on the card today.

Studio B is in a relatively remote, desolate part of Greenpoint, old warehouses and industrial blight, and for a second, the scene feels like the vicious, ugly, cutthroat New York City of old, the killing zone that Joseph's music and literature alike so lovingly describe and evoke. It's the sort of thing your terrified mother pictured the first time you told her you were moving to New York. Except in 2008, it ends with a bizarre, ironic flourish: About a dozen Studio B bouncers scramble out to break the brawl up, all wearing promo T-shirts for imminent ultra-violent video-game juggernaut Grand Theft Auto IV. (Playing off the game's invented universe of Liberty City, the shirts all advertise Liberty City hardcore: LCHC.) At this point, a woman emerges from the club itself and announces that the show is sold out, prompting profanity-laced shouting matches with several pissed-off folks in line. The crowd is ordered to disperse, though it seems in no mood to do so. A few cops wander by, warily. And all the while, John "Bloodclot" Joseph is somewhere inside, the quarrel following him wherever he goes.

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