Favorite Movies of Epic Beard Man

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 8:23 pm
By Shane Rivers

My list of the favorite movies of Epic Beard Man was inspired by the pugilistic antics of Thomas Bruso (aka Tom Slick), a 67-year-old white guy who serves as both local color and dispenser of ironic justice in the San Francisco Bay area. His successful brawl with an antagonistic youth has drawn millions of viewers on YouTube, and his bizarre follow-up interview with a reporter only added to his mystique.

If you haven’t seen the original footage, I suggest you do so (after reading this article of course). If you’re too lazy to take my advice, I’ll try to describe the action below. In truth, however, words can’t do justice to this crazy scene.

The actual fight took place on an Oakland AC Transit bus at 3pm on February 15th, 2010. Filmed by another bus passenger, we join Bruso (wearing a t-shirt that reads “I am a Motherfucker” on the back) and a younger African-American male in a heated exchange. Misunderstanding comments that he overheard Bruso make, the young man accuses the 67-year-old of being a racist. Bruso denies these claims, and the other man warns that he’s getting “pissed off.”

Bruso continues the verbal sparring as he moves to the front of the vehicle. Not one to let such a perceived sleight go unpunished, the black male follows him to the other end of the bus, claiming numerous times that he’s prepared to give the senior a beatdown. After several tense seconds, the younger man heads back to his original seat, but Bruso throws in one parting shot about putting his foot up his ass.

That tears it, and the gangsta wanna-be returns and assault Bruso. Unexpectedly, the senior citizen rises from his seat and throws a barrage of punches, leaving his opponent bleeding on the floor of the bus. At that moment, Bruso transcended his mortal self and became something greater. A surrogate hero for every man or woman who’s ever been hassled by a stranger, he became…Epic Beard Man. Of course, keep in mind that our “hero” seems half-crazed (attacking a metal newspaper dispenser with equal vigor), and another video making its rounds on the Internet claims to show him getting tasered at an Oakland A’s game.

It ain’t easy being a hero.

Now let’s continue with our look at the favorite films of the Epic Beard Man. While I haven’t talked to the man personally (frankly, I’d be afraid to), the following cinematic gems have all the necessary ingredients to appeal to a senior citizen with a keen fashion sense and a devastating right cross.

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Speed (1994) – Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock thrilled audiences in this action-packed film about a bus rigged to explode if it falls below 50 mph. The Epic Beard Man also knows a thing or two about public transportation, and it’s not hard to picture him matching wits with a deranged Dennis Hopper. But while Jack Traven (Reeves) and Howard Payne (Hopper) were fond of saying “What do you do? What do you do?”, Thomas Bruso would delight viewers with the line “Better to be pissed off than pissed on.” I don’t know what kind of bizarre hovel the Epic Beard Man calls home, but I’m willing to bet that he’s got a copy of Speed within…probably on VHS.

Do the Right Thing (1989) – Spike Lee’s landmark film is all about racial tension, and who understands that subject better than Epic Beard Man? Whether he’s battling an angry African-American, rapping with his white pal named Bob, or getting his shoes shined by a “Chinaman,” The Beard is well-versed in the complexities of race relations in Oakland. When Mookie (Spike Lee) throws a trashcan through the window of Sal’s pizzeria, I can picture our bearded friend–himself a fan of kicking the hell out of newspaper dispensers–standing up and cheering.

Silverado (1985) – This Lawrence Kasdan western features a character who must be near and dear to the heart of Mr. Epic. I’m talking, of course, about Calvin “Slick” Stanhope, the treacherous gambler played by Jeff Goldblum. In case you’re wondering why this would make Silverado one of the favorite movies of Epic Beard Man, just take a look at the t-shirt he’s wearing in the now-legendary bus brawl. The moniker “Tom Slick” is clearly displayed on the front, and he introduced himself as such in a later interview with a San Francisco news station. The cinematic Slick was also a pimp, and that’s something the real-life Mr. Slick has admitted to dabbling in after his return from Vietnam. And, finally, both men share a fondness for knives or “shanks.” Slick concealed one in his boot, and Mr. Bruso carries one in his pocket because, in his own words, “I’m a senior, so I’m entitled to carry a weapon.” I was not aware of this obscure rule that apparently applies only to the elderly.

Missing in Action (1984) – Before Platoon came along and made Vietnam movies fashionable, Chuck Norris had already descended into the hellish jungles and delivered a series of roundhouse kicks to those dirty VC. Epic Beard Man also spent his time “in the shit,” although he admitted that he came back a little crazy. From watching his interview, I’d say A LOT crazy. But despite his fragile mental state, it’s obvious that Mr. Bruso is a big fan of films set in Southeast Asia. Sadly, Norris is now too old to do another sequel, thus depriving the world of hearing him use Epic’s classic line, “You’re gonna get a Vietnam now, mutha.”

Pinky (1949) – Creating a firestorm of controversy upon its release, this Elia Kazan film told the story of a woman of mixed heritage (half black/half white) trying to pass herself off as Caucasian. While Epic Beard Man is 100% white, he’s also suffered the slings and arrows of racism. Prior to throttling the reject from Dangerous Minds, he was referred to as “pinky” by a female passenger on the bus. No word on whether the woman was simply referring to the shade of his skin or making a sly cinematic reference. Maybe Amber Lamps would know.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Petty criminal Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) gets himself transferred to a mental institution to avoid hard labor on a prison farm. Once there, he engages in an tragic battle of wills with the quietly vicious Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Following the fisticuffs on the Oakland AC Transit, Epic Beard Man was sent to John George Psychiatric Pavilion for psychiatric evaluation. Much to my surprise, he was released. They must have concluded that anyone who wears Stacy Adams shoes can’t be all bad.

The Greatest (1977) – Muhammad Ali tries his hand at acting…playing himself. This movie bio follows the heavyweight boxing great from the 1960 Olympics to the now-legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” bout against George Foreman. It’s obvious that Epic Beard Man has viewed this movie repeatedly, and it’s probably playing on a loop somewhere in the dimly-lit corridors of his mind. “I did the Ali shuffle,” bragged the Bearded One about putting down General Cornrow Wallace. He also claimed to have knocked the man out for 22 ½ minutes, once again pushing his crazy meter up a few more notches. While his opponent was never unconscious, he sure was leakin’ all over the place.

Going in Style (1979) – Three New York senior citizens (George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg) decide to rob a bank to spice up their otherwise dull lives. Of course, two of these old wimps die prior to the film’s end, something that must’ve made the Epic Beard Man shake his head in disgust. The 67-year-old bruiser not only beat his opponent to a pulp, but he still had enough energy left over to put on an impromptu street performance for a curious crowd. The film’s original tag line was “Meet three guys with an outrageous plan to beat the system,” but Thomas Bruso’s message to America would’ve made a much better one: “Don’t fuck with old senior citizens. They’ll surprise you once in a while.”

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) – This black-and-white classic stars Paul Muni as a WWI veteran wrongly convicted and sent to serve out his sentence on a Southern chain gang. Mr. Bruso is also a veteran, and he claims to have spent 14 years in prison when he was a “youngster.” Muni escapes to Chicago, while “Tommy Slick” claims to have originated from there. Given the similarities, this has to be one of the favorite movies of Epic Beard Man. He also claims that his thuggish bus opponent was a fellow ex-con, having served 18 years for murder. Strangely, the man looks to be in his early 20s, leaving one to wonder if Oakland’s legal code isn’t just a tad harsh.

The Hangover (2009) – While I’m guessing that Epic Beard Man has suffered through his share of hangovers, this comedy makes the list due to the presence of eccentric Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) and his own semi-epic beard. Growing and maintaining an epic beard requires both patience and perseverance, something that our crazy heroic Caucasian can surely appreciate.

Now that you’re finished, check out Amazon to purchase some of the films listed above, or you can click here to take advantage of the free trial offer from Netflix. If you live in the Oakland area, you could even purchase one as a present for the Epic Beard Man (I suggest pairing it with a pack of smokes). We’ll get a small commission, which will enable us to keep bringing you weekly feature articles. And you can also click on the following links to enjoy more OGM goodness: