November 24th, 2016
November 22nd, 2016
|02:39 am - o this is an existing place|
It's been a year since I posted anything and over a year since I wrote of anything substantive, but:
November 26th, 2015
November 17th, 2015
|10:59 am - If this still works I'll be surprised, but|
Is there anyone available who'd be able to help me move from Malden to
desireearmfeldt has made a very generous offer to me and the
cats and I'd like to bring the Roomful O' Stuff (no furniture, just bags
and boxes plus cats) over this evening, sometime after 7:00 or so. You can
contact me at derspatchel at livejournal.com or by my regular email address
if'n you know it.
thank you and thank you again,
spatch, sending by email
November 13th, 2015
|08:33 am - needing some serious help here|
Been in need of an update here for a long time but necessity requires brevity, so:
Hi nice LJ people. I am looking for a room or a place to crash starting next week, Tuesday or Wednesday, for me and two cats. If you have or know of someone who's got a room available around the greater Boston area, with some kind of walkin' access to the T be it bus, train or purple, I would greatly like to know about it. I have a room's worth of boxes and clothes and can supply a bed too if the room is empty or something. I've started a new job and can contribute to rent up to around $700. The cats are a year and a half old and friendly and bright and you've seen their pictures around the pages of this here LJ. They are also very good about doing their business in the box where they should. Sonya and I are still together, but current financial and cat-living arrangements necessitate our living apart until we save up the money for a first/last/deposit apartment arrangement again. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it sucks a lot.
Anyway, please let me know if you know of some place. We had a place fall through two weeks ago and it was a bit of a heartbreaker, and my temporary-last minute crash space is very nice, but is also getting ready to host family for Thanksgiving so I have to be out early next week.
Erm, help, please?
spatch and two cats
September 6th, 2015
|10:15 am - what is all this madness and how did it happen in 18 hours|
I have been up for nearly twenty-four hours at this point. I am working on my nth+1 wind. I don't know when I'll crash but I know that it'll come with a real big thud and I'll come round several hours later wondering where go them bus what hit me, so I might as well write a whole buncha stuff down now as the sun comes up.
We woke up earlier than usual this morning. It had been cool the night before so we had turned the air conditioner off on the third floor but woke up kinda itchy-hot. I took the opportunity to eat several chunks of antacid (we're buying them now by the brick; you just chisel off a piece when you need to which is convenient in every way except portability) and sovay made her way downstairs to feed the cats, who had heard the sleepy muttering and the chiseling and determined through those sound cues that Now Was The Time To Be Fed Yes Fed Now Now Now. Autolycus has an aria which he sings every morning once he detects life upstairs. He starts softly, downstairs, a few muted test mrows? which grow bigger in both volume and meaning, answering his own questions (mrow? mroww. merowww? meeraow!) until he practically has his little snout under the bedroom door hollering MRAAAO! MRAAAO! LARGO AL FACTOTUM DEI GATTI at which point you pull the pillows over your head and try to ignore him because response, naturally, equals encouragement and possibly an encore. (His sister, meanwhile, signals it's time to eat by jumping on the kitchen counter near her little dish which we bought at Petco because the tag said CAT TOWN and looks you straight in the eye, answering each "Are you hungry? Really?" query with variations on a pointed "Mew!")
Once we both were up and the cats were making happy little minchminchminching sounds at their respective bowls we realized the day had begun so we watched Once Upon a Time in the West. Sonya had never seen it; I've seen most of it in bits and pieces during my days, nights, and early mornings as a random channel surfer. I don't use random-ass television as wallpaper media anymore and I don't think Sonya ever has, but we do a lot with stuff like Turner Classic Movies' blessed streaming capabilities. Seriously, most everything TCM airs is available, streaming free, for two or three weeks and it is a boon, a bona-fide goddamned boon, when they program crazy shit like a Busby Berkeley retrospective. You have not lived until you've had the Lullaby of Broadway number flung at your unsuspecting face during Gold Diggers of 1935 or watch Ginger Rogers suddenly go into full-tilt Pig Latin in Gold Diggers of 1933 while the chorus girls dance around with giant strategically-placed coins in the most Freudian of places. We need to find a way to put these on a big screen and invite you all to it because god damn, I mean, just god damn. Busby was insane. You'll also gain serious appreciation for character actors like Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert, and Patsy Kelly, studio stalwarts all.
( Oh, but we were in the West at this point.Collapse )
After the nearly three-hour film we had reached the afternoon, so I went to do what I was scheduled to do on Saturday: go to work seven hours at the Somerville Theatre. I'm now working one or more positions at any given time on any given day, from ripping up tickets to selling tickets to be ripped at the box office to scooping popcorn and making rootbeer floats to telling people to turn their goddamn cellphones off during screenings to cleaning up popcorn and other goodies (seriously, who brings in a goddamn burrito and then drops most of it on the floor? Stoners going to see American Ultra, that's who) to tending bar. I'm enjoying most of these positions very well, especially bar since I've learned quite a bit about how to pour a good cuppa beer and change out kegs and be all genial bartender-like to encourage tips (hints: give out five singles in change instead of a single fiver, pretend you're not checking ID simply because we're required by law to check everyone's, learn some good charming small talk and know the beers of which you speak) and just plain make sure people are gonna enjoy themselves because that's what you go to the movies for, mostly. For the most part I don't mind the menial cleaning tasks; it ain't beneath me, it's all part of showbiz, but I am getting older and with age comes problems with climbing too many stairs over any given period of time. Thankfully we have an elevator for access to the theaters both upstairs and down, but I felt bad the night I helped carry film cans down from the tippy-top of the main house projection booth to the loading door on the ground floor because one of my knees began to shake and I had to go very slowly. I don't like reminders that I am growing old. The silvering hair is one thing but physical proof that I am or will be losing certain abilities is not cool. This afternoon I spent mostly on bar with theater cleaning on the side when needed. I really like working at the mighty Somerville. It's a beautiful theater that a lot of people care about, and it shows. Those who work there love film. Good people all around. The programming is good in spite of some misses this summer--let's face it, Ted 2 really wasn't going to set the world on fire--but the Peckinpah series and the midnight films this summer were terrific, and we ran Mad Max for weeks longer than we thought we would. Some people I heard came back six, seven times, and it was still selling out some of the smaller of the houses at the end of its run. The one major drawback is that the pay is not enough to fully live on, which means I am still on the hunt for a full-time office-type job so that I can continue to do the stuff I love. (I'll count working at the ST as one of those, though, and will happily moonlight a weekend shift whenever I can once I start a 40-hour week.)
( Then I went to another theater and actually watched movies.Collapse )
( Then we wandered Harvard Square and saved rodents and ate pizzaCollapse )
Things isn't going so well at the moment. We're moving out of the Leonard St. apartment at the end of September so we are no longer paying a lot of rent for a lot of space we're not using (most of the upstairs has asbestos tile and one room is simply for storage of things we never unpacked in the first place) but we haven't found a place to move into yet. We have had several options fall through on us last-minute; one involving a house changing hands and the old owners were fine with pets (the tenant handling the apartment posting did so with this information) but the new owner said "no cats, nuh uh, no way", one involving a shifty agent who told us in no uncertain terms that by coming in to fill out an application and make the deposit we were effectively signing a lease (uh, what?) and some other heartbreaks involving carpeting that'd agitate Sonya's allergies incredibly fierce or downstairs neighbors who chain-smoke and fill the hallways with more allergens. Somewhere around here there must be a decent 2-bedroom with hardwood floors that allows cats and won't get snapped up five minutes after we find the MLS posting. SOMEWHERE, DAMMIT. AROUND HERE. My job hunting is painful; I thought I had a line on a temp job from a staffing agency who took a week to send me a promised link to some typing test after I'd filled out I-9s and everything and I never heard from them again; another shiny snowflake startup company pointed me at a Surveymonkey site for an interview and one of their first questions was "What Pokemon starter do you most identify yourself with and why?" I guess it's no question about ping-pong balls in 747s, but whatever. And I have been given the ol' "we're putting your resume in our circular file for 6 months so thanks but no thanks" more times than I like to think about. Somewhere around here there must be an office who'd take a 40-year-old schlub for forty hours a week. SOMEWHERE, DAMMIT. AROUND HERE. And the less said about my slow writing endeavors and creative identity the better.
In spite of all this, though, in spite of a lot of stress and sometimes serious emotional breakdowns, Sonya and I manage every now and then to still find some magic and have an enjoyable inexpensive night, even if it means staying up for a zillion hours straight. And that's what counts, right? Still finding the magic and good in things?
I think I hear that bus coming. Goodnih;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;//////
April 19th, 2015
December 17th, 2014
|08:57 am - Contemptuous Consumption|
A perusal of the Hammacher Schlemmer online catalog last night led Sonya and I to make a lot of sardonic mocking sounds at the wide array of overpriced tchotchkes for the Romney set. After a particularly profane outburst I decided to write my own copy for some of the more egregious examples. I've got a Tumblr thingo up which is posting these sporadically across a few days, but you lucky lot, you get to see a whole bunch first! Wowie! There's a lot of huge images and cussing ahead; we cut because we care.
PS. I didn't edit a single one of the listed prices. For serious.
( We will never understand the paper towelsCollapse )
November 27th, 2014
|01:51 pm - damoclean trash bags could be a metaphor for healing|
May be broke. May be unable to find work. May be creatively bankrupt. May have failed at every single thing I've done these past few months. May have lost all perspective on what I am capable of because of this, because all evidence points to complete and utter incapability. May completely and utterly hate myself for this. May be watching this country finally swirl down the toilet after orbiting the rim for decades.
But at least there's still Arlo
( And don't nobody jinx that right nowCollapse )
November 6th, 2014
|07:31 am - A much more expanded MY GOD LIVEJOURNAL WHAT HAVE YOU DONE note retaining Old Man McGucket just for |
the hell of it
Holy bubble bursts, Batman, but LiveJournal just ate itself.
That new redesign (seriously log out and see it if you haven't, then clear the hell out of your cookies), optimized for your pad's protection, is an abomination unto God and Tim Berners-Lee. You log in and are gleefully informed that you can "promote" your post to that very front page for some amount of tokens? Tokens! Whee! We're at the arcade, kids! Who's up for Skee-Ball?
Thankfully they've retained, for the time being, the
?style=mine tag which works on most URLs and the cookies seem to be respecting it. Should they ever drop that, though, I think we'd need to hop over to Dreamwidth Street.
But I bin on since aught-three! Old Man McGucket! Sittin' on a bucket!
October 30th, 2014
|11:48 pm - Our Mumbles|
He wasn't my mayor--Joe Curtatone is, and has been for over ten years now--but he was Our Mayor.
Upon reading the news that Tom Menino had passed away only a few days after deciding to stop his cancer treatments, I wrote a quick little Twitter thingy what said this:
We may have called him Mumbles but he was Our Mumbles, dammit, and we knew full well he Gave A Damn. Plenty of them. Goodbye #MayorMeninoThis side of New England has known its share of colorful and legendary holders of public office. Boston's history especially is full of 'em, from Honey Fitz to James M. Curley to Kevin White, who had the unfortunate job (but the strength to handle it) of dealing with the extremely violent racial conflicts of the late 60s and early 70s, including calming a city ready to riot after hearing the news of Martin Luther King's assassination--and doing so from the stage of a James Brown concert at the Garden. Providence gives us a run for our money considering they elected Buddy Cianci both before and after his nolo contendre assault conviction and subsequent forced resignation in 1984 (and who have the chance next week to re-elect him again after his 2002 conviction and subsequent imprisonment on racketeering charges) but that's another story from another city besides.
Mayor Tom, Boston's longest-serving mayor of twenty-two years, easily ascends to this pantheon. He wasn't a flamboyantly corrupt public official (corruption often providing lots of the color) though he did share one trait with guys like Curley and Cianci: he was sincerely invested in the well-being and prosperity of his city. Not the city he ran. His city. He considered himself "everybody's neighbor", among other things ("urban mechanic" was another favorite) and he meant it.
Twitter is happily remembering Menino's LGBT support (judging from the pictures he sure enjoyed marching in Pride) and how one of his first projects upon taking office in 1993 was to start providing a better way of life for AIDS/HIV patients as well as extensive public outreach, needle exchanges, and other ways to fully educate the public about the diseases. He wanted his healthy citizens safe and well-educated; he wanted his suffering citizens to be treated as human beings. The Glob and other outlets are remarking on his plans, many of which proved fruitful, to improve disquietly blighted sections of the city. When he saw something that needed change he didn't just loudly pipe up about it; he went out and did something about it, even if "it" was just some trash blowing about on the street. He promoted bike lanes and alternative transportation options. He defended the Downtown Crossing pushcart vendors in the face of gentrifyin' corporations who didn't want "Those People" around the ground floor of their beautiful new fancypants condos. And according to a 2008 Boston Globe poll, over half the respondents said they had personally met him at one point or another. How many mayors can make the claim that they've reached out and shook the hands of so many?
And he was colorful, oh, indeed. He was Our Mumbles because sometimes the intricacies of public speaking got the best of him, his speeches needing subtitles. And if he got your name wrong on the second or third time you met, at least he remembered you. Albeit under a different name. He got extremely angry after that whole Mooninite incident in 2007 which in retrospect can seem very silly (okay, it was silly even then) but when Boston was bombed for reals last year, he showed that anger again and more besides. With his cancer already at a severe stage he defied his doctor's orders, stood from his wheelchair, mumbled eloquently and reverently, then oversaw the subsequent investigation's manhunt. When we finally got the surviving brother, that's what Menino announced: "We got him". Sent it to Twitter directly from Watertown. He'd been right there on the front lines. I can't see Bloomberg doing that. The anger over the Mooninite hoax came into sharper focus for me after that: Menino wasn't angry cause we'd been chumped by Adult Swim, he was angry because it had appeared Boston had been threatened. And you don't threaten Boston. Not on his watch.
While condensing so many thoughts into 140 characters I made do with the phrase "gave a damn". Now that I think about it, that's the highest compliment I can pay an elected official: One who gave a damn. We've had our share of career politicians all over, those who believe whatever office they're in is merely a rung on their professional ladder (and how's that working out for you, Mitt?) and those who are glad to have a nice title next to their names. Rare are the politicians who, indeed, actually give a damn. The loss of one certainly makes it painfully apparent that we need more.
Menino had a long-standing obsession to turn Boston in what he liked to call a "world-class city". It became a cynical shibboleth for those of us who did not agree that, say, bringing the Olympics to Boston would fulfill the nebulous requirements of "world-class", whatever the requirements may be. ("There he goes again," we'd say, using the first-person royal, when learning of a new proposed venture. "World-class, here we come!") I suppose the requirements involved elevating Boston out of the Brahmin Provincial or whatever New Yorkers like to call us when they're feeling frisky, but honestly, these requirements were unnecessary. While Thomas M. Menino never gave up his obsession, he still must have known full well that he already had made Boston not only world-class, but first-class as well. We'll find it difficult to live up to his legacy, but we will somehow. He showed us how it could be done; he proved it could be done. With a damn or two.
. The legal technicalities behind this involve quite a long story but suffice it to say that the 1986 Rhode Island constitutional amendment permitting convicted felons to run for public office three years after the end of their parole or probation is known as the "Buddy Amendment". Oh, Cianci. How can you not like such gumption.
October 22nd, 2014
I don't know if anyone on my friends list is playing Marvel Heroes so the full significance of this screenshot may not be readily apparent but let's just say a weekend in which they run two large server-side boosts combined with new changes to existing heroes such as Cyclops (including giving him the SUPER AWESOME CYKEBIKE) makes a man... uh, something-or-other. Especially when he's in his own vanity supergroup which allows him to change the little green name at will.
...oh, and sometimes if you do it right, the SUPER AWESOME CYKEBIKE doesn't show up at all.
EDIT: An incomplete list of supergroup names I have used in the past follows.
Irving Forbush Fan Club
Midtown Marching Society
Cerebro is my Co-Pilot
Occupy Yancy Street
Fifty Shades of CMYK (my personal favorite)
October 11th, 2014
|12:33 pm - It all makes sense now|
Dear Focus on the Family,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the good work you're ostensibly doing in Singapore teaching youngsters all about the mens and wimmins through your sexual and relationship propaganda and indoctrination workshops. Rare is the publication which dares speak truth to power about reinforcing sexual stereotypes because it can't be helped; rarer still the publication which does so by using material from a Catskills comedian.
More importantly, however, are your lessons to young men that women are all passive-aggressive and can only communicate by saying the opposite of how they feel (I hope you paid the Catskills comic plenty for that), and your lessons to young women that teenage boys are only after one thing and they sure can't help it:
Many guys feel neither the ability nor the responsibility to stop the sexual progression with you. Guys need your help to protect both of you. In fact, if you want to be able to stop it, it's safest to not even start.It is good for young men to know that it's okay, everyone knows they can't help it since the women dress so hot, and it is good for young women to know that they should always look their prettiest and best for their men because their gaze will stray regardless. And it is good for both sides to know that it's completely the woman's responsibility to say no when it comes to sex; it is also her responsibility to communicate this to the young men who are cool with the knowledge that, kinda like Bill Murray, they live in an eternal Opposite Day.
Whew! All this male-female relationship stuff is very complicated and cannot lead to anything good. Thank you, Focus on the Family, for opening my mind to this. Clearly the problem lies deep within the inherent and fundamentally immutable differences between man and woman and the gender roles which arise from the differences, and so the solution as you imply is very simple: Same-sex relations will avoid all this malarkey entirely. That way two women can say "no" to each other and have a happy, fulfilling relationship, and the men can just go around getting their stroke on wherever and whenever, since it can't be helped.
Thank you again, Focus on the Family. You're Helping.
hope you fry in hell,
August 22nd, 2014
|03:24 pm - Speak nicely and then express your disgust|
GoFundMe, that relatively successful crowdsourcing site, is currently hosting a campaign created by people who want to financially support Darren Wilson, the policeman named in the Michael Brown shooting. You know, the white cop who put six bullets into an unarmed black teenager in broad daylight for the crime known colloquially as "boy not knowing his place".
The campaign is at http://www.gofundme.com/supportofficerwilson and I don't suggest you visit it to give clicks. I especially don't suggest you visit it to read the comments from contributors, many of which are of the dittohead attaboy variety, wishing a man well for straight up murdering a kid, and that's the least ugly of the themes. If ever we needed proof Pax Americana is on the inevitable decline, here it is.
However, I do suggest reaching out to GoFundMe and gently noting to them that the campaign is in direct violation of GoFundMe's Terms of Service which prohibit, in part:
(d) items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crimeWelp. The shooting of an unarmed citizen is surely a crime; last I heard it's still being treated as a criminal investigation. And the contributor comments pretty much cover the other three angles, though the entire context behind the campaign does that too.
I have always found it most effective, when contacting sites about shit like this, is to stay objective and point out the actual technical flaws which necessitate removal. "Remove this because it's fucking reprehensible, you shitlords", while possibly true (current shitlord status unknown) sounds much different than "Remove this because it violates your own rules (which you wrote to prevent fucking reprehensible things like this from happening in the first place)". Plus, if the shitlords then sit on their thumbs and do nothing about it, you have the additional thrill of subsequently and loudly calling them out on their hypocrisy and, honestly, who doesn't love a chance to get to do that?
GoFundMe takes great pains at many points to remind you that it doesn't endorse the campaigns on its site; they're just a facilitator, an easy way for People A to send money to People B for specific reasons. I completely understand that endorsement and facilitation are two different things entirely. I also know damn well that the line between the two can get easily blurred and that at some point, continued facilitation in the face of opposition becomes endorsement. Let's hope GoFundMe does the right thing here and keep things from getting to that point, because I like the site and I know people who've done well by it and I'd hate to lose it as a good resource. There are few enough Good Resources these days as it is.
I admit I was a little unsettled when the GoFundMe report-a-site page asked for my phone number in case "law enforcement needs to contact" me; I'm reporting a case for TOS-breaking, not fraud. Since the case involves law enforcement, well, let's just say I was sufficiently unsettled that I may have nervously fat-fingered my phone number in the field and messed a few digits up. Twice.
August 15th, 2014
|08:21 am - Wicked (Local Remix from Around Here)|
It might be crazy, but I gotta say
I can't believe how they drive today
That freakin' outtatownah with New Hampshire plates
I'm gonna flash my brights, cut him off, then accelerate
(Because I'm wicked)
Livin in a triple-decker throwin' keggahs out on the roof
(Because I'm wicked)
My sister met Papi once, if you like she can show you proof
(Because I'm wicked)
Sprayed my name on a roadside boulder right next to "Class of '92"
(Because I'm wicked)
I painted it with my pal Sully cause buddy, he's wicked too
Don't talk to tourists, got no time for that
Yelling "Yankees Suck" in the laundromat
I should probably warn you that beer is mine
No offense to your mother, but she's lookin fine
And here's why
(Because she's wicked)
Like rush hour on the T, this place is packed through the roof
(Because it's wicked)
Got kicked outta Shopper's World for rockin' the photo booth
(Because I'm wicked)
Avery Bradley ran into my sister, she got his home number too
(Because she's wicked)
Anyone who's drunk-dialed a Celtic is totally more wicked than you
Bring me smokes(It'll be wicked)
Here's a twenty
Bring me smokes
And some cheap wine
Bring me chips
And something for your brothah
Bring roast beef
Dad said "Don't forget the milk"
Bring some beer
Bring red cups
And some ping-pong balls
Bring some friends
And tell them
To bring their friends cause
Like Boiled Dinner Night in the parish hall at St. Ruth's
(Because it's wicked)
Doin' donuts at Dunkin Donuts cause you got nothin better to do
(Because it's wicked)
My sister went out to Foxboro, got drunk with both Gronk and Drew
(Because she's wicked)
If you really believe this palaver, then pally, you're wicked too
Current Mood: GO ON, TAKE A GUESS
August 14th, 2014
|11:45 pm - "Help, it's the police"|
When I was a kid, my small rural town had two or three police officers and we knew each one. The daughter of one was in my elementary school class. Our family was friends with the family of an Amherst officer; we played with their kids a lot. My stepfather is a retired officer in both the Amherst Town and Amherst College police departments. We know these people. We love them. We know they're looking out for everybody's safety, even when we get hassled a bit (my father joked that once I learned to drive, he wanted to let the police know so they could flash their lights behind me and then wave--it never happened.) We are or were in small towns, however. The personal connections are strongest there, and yet I know there are professional codes that exist, a bond between coworkers which must be maintained.
My father, who was a volunteer firefighter and EMT, once told me that debriefings back at the station were often full of the most incredibly black humor pertaining to the calls they were just on, jokes as black as the coffee everyone drank while they made hideous remarks that could never and would never go beyond those fake wood panelled office walls. He never told me a single one; I never wanted to know. It was all stress relief, laughter, a much-needed valve because the demands of the job and the sights one sees and the dangers one faces can be horrific indeed. The lingo I do know the EMTs and ER workers share is cynical though humorous and never cruel or dismissive: "frequent fliers"; the abbreviation SOCMOB which stands for Standing On Corner Minding Own Business which is what nearly everybody who comes in beat up claims they were doing; and the ever-popular FDGB: Fall Down Go Boom. But the private stuff stays private and that's how it should be. It helps them and them only.
I do not know if the Ferguson police consider what they are doing as venting. I should certainly hope not. But it feels to me that their continued actions are indeed a lashing-out, a venting of pent-up frustrations and dark anticipatory wishes which go beyond just wanting to have a try at all that fancy military equipment they got from the government.
I am of two minds of the cops' "Thin Blue Line" standard, their own omerta, whether you assert it exists or not. I respect a professional's right to silence in many cases: the rescue worker's right to vent their demons by themselves with dark humor, the doctor's right to keep doctor-patient confidentiality, the police's right to stay appropriately silent when giving out information would actively compromise a current investigation, notify fugitives of their actions, etc. But I cannot respect or condone anyone staying silent to hide, deny, cover up or otherwise ignore knowledge or involvement in illegal actions--and let's face it, shooting an unarmed man in the back and then several times again when he turns around with his hands up in surrender is straight-up cold-blooded murder, plain and simple, no "he/we both reached for the gun" bullshit.
The officer had plenty of time, as Michael Brown ran and even turned back, to assess his situation, stand down, and choose an alternate course of action. That he did not is the problem. If it turns out that he had panicked and/or involuntarily violently reacted in the face of an assault perceived or otherwise, which is a completely legitimate scenario, then he needs to be taken immediately off the force pending investigation given some serious counseling before, during and after the criminal trial. Something ain't right and they need to address it. If, on the other hand, the officer straight up gave no fucks, then he needs to be given the banhammer, no paid suspension, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law under each crime committed, hate, first-degree and otherwise. As one often hears from justice-minded citizens, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time". Here are some crimes, St. Louis. Let's find some time.
But the real problem isn't that this is happening right now in Ferguson. The real problem is that it's happening all over the country and it has been happening; only the current spate of news coverage makes it seem surprising. Yet every time it happens the issue seems to just die out. A current joke floating around Twitter right now how the three big news networks are covering the week's events: MSNBC's headline would say "Police fire tear gas into crowd", Fox News reports "Authorities bravely holding back rioters", and CNN is going "Seriously, guys, where is that plane?" This is a form of humor last seen prevalent in the Czech Republic and other parts of Eastern Europe pre and post-Soviet breakup. I am glad to see it still exists; unhappy that it has to right now.
And when there is coverage, it's often completely and horribly twisted: Today's print edition of the New York Post has a headline in 96-frickin-point bold which simply reads "COPS RIGHT". (DOWN UP. WAR EURASIA ALWAYS.) The headline tops a story about New York Mayor de Blasio, a man with an ugly name and an even uglier attitude, telling New Yorkers that when it's time for their arrest, which he makes out to seem almost as commonplace and to be as expected as muggings were in the worst part of the 1970s, that they shouldn't resist and instead just lie back and think of Brooklyn. I'm copying the relevant quotes here so as to not give the NY Post the benefit of any clicks or Facebook data. You can go to nypost dot com if you wish.
"When a police officer comes to the decision that it’s time to arrest someone, that individual is obligated to submit to arrest..."Ah, yes, this would be the same New York City court system where, in 2011, the nice lady on the other end of the police-run taxi complaint line told me that cases such as ones where a taxi driver ripped off his passengers, say, would take at least nine months to over a year to be heard, and even then both litigants needed to be personally present at the hearing. This meant, for out-of-towners at least, that if you chose to press charges you'd either spend time and money getting back to NYC only to find that the other guy just plain didn't show up, or you both don't bother to show up and the case gets thrown out. And all for twenty lousy dollars. So you'll pardon me, then, when I say that I'm not exactly confident by de Blasio's claims that if New Yorkers behave like good little doobees when the handcuffs come out, their case will be heard quickly and efficiently.
and"Arrest is not always the goal . . . but once an officer has decided that arrest is necessary, every New Yorker should agree to do what they need to do as a citizen and respect the police officer and follow their guidance. And then there is a thorough due-process system thereafter..."
The mayor, by the way, was responding to comments made by his police commissioner, Bill Bratton, who is a piece of work himself. Bratton recently about "...a number of individuals just failing to understand that you must submit to an arrest, that you cannot resist it," which puts me in the frame of mind of the government official in Terry Gilliam's Brazil who talked about how "a ruthless minority of people seem to have forgotten old-fashioned virtues" and how if only those people would just play the game...
The two weren't talking about the Ferguson police state, either; they were actually discussing the earlier case of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who recently died when police locked him in a chokehold. All over selling loose cigarettes on a stoop. I can't see any conceivable way in which that was justified. I don't care if he was mentally ill or they'd had problems with him the past or if they thought he was lying when he called out for help; you just don't kill someone over loosies. I can't believe I have to type that out. de Blasio's response is inconceivable and reprehensible. As far as the Worst New York Mayor Race goes, de Blasio is currently neck-and-neck with Jimmy Walker, both trying to gain on John Lindsay. I sure hope we don't go that far.
I was brought up, among the police I knew, to think for myself while respecting the law. The law could and should be questioned, but respectfully. The ability to stand up and say "Okay, but--" without fear of reprisal is a fundamental human right. So is the ability to say "I would like to know how/why/what..." when things personally affect you. Peaceful assembly, that's cool, too.
However, when it comes to sides and one or both break their inherent promise, things get ugly. The Ferguson PD is ugly. What they're doing is ugly. Michael Brown's death was ugly. The break-up of the peaceful protest was ugly. The subsequent looting and escalation was ugly. Eric Garner's death and the laissez-faire reactions from New York officials are all ugly. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Somewhere along the line the police turned from the people we knew and grew up with to a nameless, often-faceless force which couldn't care less about you even while they claim it's for your safety. I understand inherent mistrust; mistrust or at least skepticism seems justifiable. But there's also fear, which there shouldn't be. But there sure is.
Eight years ago I was awakened in the middle of the night by three Somerville police officers pointing flashlights and weapons in my face. They had received a call which Verizon had erroneously traced to my house; somebody claiming they had weapons and were going to either hurt themselves or someone else, I don't know. I honestly don't know the details of the call beyond that. Once the police realized they were indeed in the wrong house and neither the naked man they just scared out of bed, nor his cat, nor his other housemates were about to commit a crime, they turned off the tough guy act. They stayed police-professional, true to duty, even as they explained to us just why and how they had broken into our home (they broke in through our back kitchen door after trying the doorbell; we were all on the third floor sleeping in closed-off rooms with fans on) and that if we wanted, we could try to request reimbursement from the City of Somerville for our kitchen door, broken beyond repair, but "good luck with that". They didn't give names or badge numbers (honestly I think we were still so shocked we forgot to ask), they assured us the "full report" of all they had done would be available to view in a few weeks, and then they left us without so much as an apology.
The police never apologize.
That incident was the start of a lot of changes in my life, some good and some bad, many of which still affect me to this day. I'm not including it in this piece as an ego signal boost, neither as a message of "Oh I totally understand what the people of Ferguson are going through because look what happened to me me me" nor a message of "gee if a white middle-class guy can't be safe around cops, who can?" because honestly those are both crass as all hell. What I'm saying is that something has happened in America--let's not quibble when, it's happened--which should give us all considerable worry about the handling of authority, enough to find ways to stop it or at least make sure those who deserve justice get it. The cops who busted in on us in 2006 were Regular Guys. They had names, families, houses nearby, facial hair. They were doing what they considered to be their job. They backed off when they realized their error, which to be fair was the appropriate response. Maybe they laughed about it after their shift, maybe they just forgot it in all the paperwork. They've gone on with their lives and I certainly don't wish them any ill nor do I seek damages this long after the fact. They got it out of their system first; I'm still working on it though time does help mellow the memories. The emotions mellow much slower. Still, I can't begrudge them anything-- but I can no longer trust them.
And losing trust in local law enforcement is a terrifying outcome indeed.
|07:52 am - And now a lit-tle po-em. A-hem:|
Two little catlets sleeping on boxes.
One little catlet dreams of hunting foxes.
The other little catlet dreams bagels and loxes.
Sweet dreams, little catlets.
purr purr snoxxsznzzzzz
August 12th, 2014
|09:09 pm - for sonya, her laptop, the couch and her sanity|
Also it's usually not a wise idea to try to drive an invisible pedal car with a cat steering wheel
July 13th, 2014
|03:19 am - heave down the catfood an' heave-to yer dinghy|
Every now and then we find bits of random detritus on the ol' hard drive and while I am not trying to imply there'll be any kind of lost blog entries from Abbie any time soon, I did want to bring to your attention a fine sea chantey that was written aboard Martha the Cat's own ship, the Flying Kitten. The appearance of the ink on the pages implies that the verses were added over time, and if the page numbering is anything to be believed (the song ends on a posthumous verse), there might be quite a few more verses out there. At any rate, here is what we currently have of the chantey about Martha the Cat, which was named by a crew member who apparently wasn't very imaginative.
THE CHANTEY ABOUT MARTHA THE CAT
Oh, Martha the Cat was a mighty fine pirate
The cleverest pirate 'pon these Seven Sinks,
When asked how she did it, she said "It's no secret:
A captain is only as good as she thinks."
Yes, boys, yesMartha the Cat helmed a mighty fast vessel
That is what Martha would do.
A frigate she was, Flying Kitten her name
Her figurehead was of a panther a-leaping
The colors she flew high resembled the same.
Yes, boys, yesNow, Martha the Cat had a brother named Abbie
That is what Martha would do.
This brother, his appetite grew as he grew
For breakfast he'd start with a brunch and three lunches
And then finish off with a dinner or two.
Yes, boys, yesWell, Martha the Cat went out sailing one morning
That is what Abbie would do.
The morning was fair and the water was nice
She sailed far away and came back in a fortnight
With her tail held up high and a holdful of mice.
Yes, boys, yesOnce Martha the Cat was brought up 'fore His Honor
That is what Martha would do.
His Honor, he said "We found you with the loot!
I've only one question to ask: did you nick it?"
And Martha replied, "I don't know... but I'm cute!"
Yes, boys, yesOld Martha the Cat, she's now sailing far elsewhere
That is what Martha would do.
That elsewhere, it's somewhere you'll go and then stay
But a message I found in a bottle said "I'm good!
There's fine prizes here 'pon the old Milky Way."
Yes, boys, yes
That's where the good Kitten flew!
1. An annotation scribbled in the margin of the first page, written by Martha herself, explains that aboard The Flying Kitten, every crew member may be referred to as 'boy' because it is, in her particular cat dialect, the word for sailor. This has yet to be verified but we have top linguists working it right now. Top. Linguists.