I Investigated The Bay Area Pog Fighting Underground
It was midnight and I was being patted down for weapons outside a nondescript warehouse in Hayward. I was about to enter the gritty underworld of the Bay Area Pog fight scene. Once inside I saw a circle drawn in chalk at the center of the floor and there was a rogues gallery of Pog Fighters milling about.
There was also a bar in the corner built out of wood pallets and the only drink they served was something called a “Slammer” whatever it was had an unnatural blue color and smelled like hairspray. They also had a guy making quesadillas on an old waffle iron; they were pretty good, I must say; it had sour cream and avocado with chives. Yum city, population, me.
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After twenty minutes of drinking slammers and eating quesadillas a man in a hood appeared and hit a large gong ( I hadn’t noticed before) this was a queue for the Pog Fighters and spectators to sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor. Then the hooded man threw a fists full of salt all over the chalk circle, to purify it or something.
Then a karaoke machine and a mic stand were brought in and a man in cape addressed the attendees; Henceforth referred to as The Pog Master
“To Pog is to live and to live is to Pog! Tonight we play for KEEPS and anyone caught cheating will be punished and expelled forever. Now let us POG!”
The gathered pog-afficionados (or “Poggers” as they have dubbed themselves) erupted in cheers and pumped their fists in the air, bongo playing started coming from nowhere and everybody started taking off their shirts like we were in Fight Club.
If you were born after the 90’s maybe you’re wondering what the hell a Pog is anyway; or perhaps you confused it for the pornographic genre of PAWG, Pogs are a cardboard circle the size of a half dollar coin, they’re collectibility due to the totally RAD graphics printed on them. Some Pogs were even shaped like ninja stars, a serious innovation for the time.
The Pog fad has come back with a vengeance in the Bay Area and Philadelphia and many companies have started selling boutique high quality pogs, check out this pog company called custommilkcaps.com that will make pogs with your own personal design to impress your friends.
Pogs has its origins in Hawaii, originally a fruit drink, Passionfruit Orange Guava. Local kids would play a game with the drink caps and somehow it found itself being picked up in the mainland and thus a fad was born.
Keep in mind that in the 90’s the internet was still in its infancy and it took you three hours to look at a picture of Gillian Anderson; we didn’t have the ability to’ plug into the Matrix and play Minecraft like these goddamn kids today.
We played with slime and cardboard discs and it was fabulous!
The game of pogs is played when two opponents alternating their pogs in a stack of twelve, a thick metal (or plastic) pog called a Slammer is flipped to determine who goes first. Then the slammer is thrown down onto the stack with the goal of flipping your opponents pogs face up. The face up pogs count as points and if you were serious you play for keeps.
Two guys entered the circle, one in a judo gi and the other dressed in a trench coat. They sat across from each other on their knees and stacked the pogs. Then the slammer was flipped and the turn went to the guy in the Judo top.
“HAJIME!” screamed the Pog Master.
What followed was an absolute bloodbath. Pogs were flying everywhere in arcs, the dude in the trench coat was destroyed and left, humbled.
Then another challenger with a bandolier of pogs tubes took off his shoes entered the ring.
Again the pogs were stacked twelve high and again a challenger was crushed like a tortilla chip, within seconds of the match starting his pogs were fucked and he was dragged out unconscious. The man in the judo uniform blew on his fingers.
Judo man scooped his booty up and deposited it into a plastic tube hidden underneath his gi and smirked. Another competitor crossed the chalk circle and upon doing so pulled out a red card from a fanny pack which summoned a referee.
“ A slammer inspection has been requested” announced the referee and an old scale was brought out to the middle of the circle.
The man in the Judo Uniform cast his eyes down and placed his Slammer upon the scale, the crowd gasped when it was quickly revealed that it was in fact an illegal two pound lead Mexican Slammer. Well, that didn’t go over well.
The man in the Judo gi was grabbed and slammed onto the wood pallet bar, his hand was forcibly outstretched as he was pinned down; a mahogany box was brought out and inside the box was the biggest slammer I have ever seen, it had to be a 3.5 pounder at least, and it had a sticker of a mallet on it.
The Pog Master spoke “ Use an illegal slammer, you must taste the hammer.”
The crowd starting chanting “ The hammer, the hammer.” in unison
Judo-gi man begged for leniency, but his pleading fell on deaf ears. The hooded figure picked up the Hammer between his thumb and index finger and held it up aloft to the sky and looked to the Pog Master for the signal.
The Pog Master pointed his thumb to the ground and at that instant the hammer was whipped into Judos Man’s hand with such force it cracked the table in twain with the power of a medieval trebuchet.
Screaming and with his pog hand in ruin the cheater was cast out, forever and the pog fights continued.
It wasn’t long after that I excused myself outside for a cigarette and left. The charm of nostalgia had started to wane and honestly, my attention span is really short and I was bored.
Two weeks later I was shopping at the Whole Foods on Haight Street and who should be my cashier? it was the Pog Master! He was still wearing the cape and everything.