Steve Barnes (pictured), the restaurant critic for the Albany Times-Union, was coming out of a restaurant with a friend last Friday night when, with no warning, two young men walked up nonchalantly and beat them up. "They said nothing, just punched us both repeatedly in the face." Barnes doesn't think he was targeted because he was gay, and he doesn't think he was targeted by the restaurant he just left—but he does think he was targeted:

The bald one swung at me, connecting on the side of my left eye. The other one hit Josh. I remember at least one of them adjusting fingerless gloves, like bicycle or weighlifting gloves. I remember thinking they’d done this before, or at least had thought this out. Josh moved one way, I ran the other, between cars. The bald one chased me, tripped me expertly by kicking my trailing foot so it would clip my other ankle on the next step. He fell on me, his right fist striking repeatedly on the back of my head, his left struggling to detach itself from my grip. Stunned at first, I know I started shouting “F— you! Stop! F— you!” within a couple of punches as I contained his arm with one hand and tried to protect the back of my head with the other.

Eventually the attackers just strolled off and the police came, although they don't have any suspects yet. Barnes and his friend are busted up, but okay. He says that witnesses later said that two guys matching the attackers' descriptions had been seen hanging around the parking lot for hours. That, and the weird circumstances of the attack, and the fact that he had blogged that he was going to be there that night, makes him think somebody sent out goons to get him. Blogging is once again proved to be dangerous. But he concludes bravely:

So yo, attackers: If I’m supposed to be nicer to somebody in the future, drop me an e-mail. Otherwise you’re just a coward. Black eyes fade, but cowardice and thuggery are permanent character flaws.

True, but also maybe pick up a Taser. [TU via Romenesko]