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Fear and Loathing and The Southern Maine Ammo Crunch of 2009

I think it would be easier to find a red headed virgin in Rosalita, Mexico who wasn’t suffering from Swine Flu before I’ll ever find 9mm bullets in Southern Maine.

At least, this is what I was “lead” to believe last Sunday morning while traveling over fifty miles on a motorcycle when temperatures hit 83 degrees before I even left the house.

I made the tactical error of putting on a shit-ton of personal protective equipment – more than necessary, which includes UnderArmor, thick gloves, Kevlar jacket liner, etc – before ever walking out the door of my mother’s house.  By the time I got to my bike, one street over at my father’s house, I was pretty much covered in a thin sheen of sweat.

My objective was simple, though pulling it off would be a beast of a completely different temperament:  I had to find bullets for the new Glock pistol I bought the day before at the local Biddeford Gun Show, a gun show that was once the flagship gun collector’s exhibition in Southern Maine, but since the winding down of the Bush Administration, The Show has somewhat become a shell of it’s former glory.  Gone now are the giant booths with tactical webbing-based vests and shoulder harnesses.  Displays of military-grade firepower that only Level Three Licensees can legal own, gone as well.  Even the old guy with the snow-white beard to his belt buckle, pushing a hand truck with an old Browning air-cooled .30 cal mounted machine gun was absent from the proceedings.  No, all that seemed to remain were a few logie-looking booths and venders with various instruments of death and destruction, marked up by at least 15% to as high as 50% depending on whom you were dealing with, and how exotic the piece was.

But what had returned were the crowds.  In recent years the Biddeford Gun Show’s attendance has somewhat fallen off, which in turn, diminished the level of prestige of the participating venders.  The surge in populace this year seems to stem from the current Democratic Presidential Administration, and the fears that a black Democratic President will “any day now” pass legislation abolishing the Second Amendment and send federal law enforcement officers into the homes of every Red Blooded American who owns firearms to forcibly strip the weapons from their hands, and possibly march them to a cattle car to be shipped into the wilderness in the dead of night.

This and other mythoi were being exchanged amongst the crowd of surly late-middle-aged panic-mongers in attendance at the gun show.  As I weaved through the crowd examining table after table of weaponry I overheard a number of what some could consider outlandish accusations, rumors and innuendo from those who paid seven dollars to get their hand stamped at the door.

“Any day now, Obama’s going to raid our homes and take our guns away,” grumbled one gun owner in farm-chic clothing.  Another:  “We’re only as safe as we make ourselves, no one’s going to take that away from me!”

The crowd of about one thousand constantly seemed to be teetering on the edge of full blown riot, with tensions flowing with every disgruntled half-truth that was being uttered as (mostly) men fingered cheap Spanish-imports of cloned 1911-A1 .45 ACPs and grease-packed AK47s.  Overall the mood was dark, and if you tried to inject another point of view, shed of optimism if you will, you were seen at best as a simpleton, and at worst, a spy.

I found this out when I stupidly tried to bring to the attention of one show goer who I was 90% convinced was a member of either the Klu Klux Klan or the Hell’s Angels that Mr. Obama has a little too much on his plate to deal with the issue of Second Amendment Rights at the moment, especially concerning the economy, filling out the rest of his cabinet, partisan politics, and that whole “Middle East Thing.”  I tried to assure the barbarian that if the issue was ever going to be approached, that number one, it wouldn’t be at least until the far side of two years from now, and number two, there’s far too much support against anti-firearms legislation in the country to make a significant impact on the individual gun owner.  Similar to anti-abortion, -gay rights, and -marijuana legislation, the laws enacted would be far too controversial, and no elected official would dare disenfranchise at least half of his electoral base.

“What are you?  One of those statistic-spewing faggots?”  Said the Klansman-Biker, who then worked up enough phlegm in his throat to convince me he was going to hock it into my face if I didn’t get enough room between me and him very quickly.

For the rest of the gun show I kept a very low profile.

Purchasing a firearm is still incredibly easy, despite what gun-owners in attendance would like the layperson to think.  Aside from the fact I was standing in the middle of a 100,000 square converted ice arena, surrounded by tables and tables of guns with only one police officer standing duty by the front door, procuring a pistol, rifle, shotgun, authentic Nazi memorabilia from World War 2, or whatever you fancy is a matter of spending a few moments filling out a simple page of generic government paperwork (“no, I’m not a convicted felon,” and “no, I’m not addicted to any controlled substance, including marijuana” are actual questions with YES/NO boxes next to them.), submitting to a Federal Background Check through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and handing over a credit card to the federally licensed gun dealer to whom you’re giving your business to.

After haggling over the price of my Sig Sauer P230 .380 that I wanted to trade up to a Glock 19 9mm, as well as buying a new Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun (my father is moving to a trailer park in Florida later this summer, and asked if he could have my old Mossberg 500 for home defense), I tried to get the dealer to give me a “sweetheart deal” on an DPMS/Panther AR15 that he had listed for 1100 dollars.  I explained to him that being that the DPMS was a “flat top” receiver with no sights, I would have to go out and buy a sighting system at a cost of about 200-300 dollars.  I also brought up the point that I was already buying two guns off of him and if he wanted to move the products, he should cut me a deal.

He gave it some thought and came back with an offer of 950, a considerable mark down, but I figured he could do better.  On average, an AR15, which three years ago would have retailed for about 600 bucks, were going for between 975-1300 dollars at this gun show.  Getting him even below those numbers was a good deal, but I figured I had this guy on the ropes and he could go lower.

And I was right because he came down as low as 850 after a few more minutes of my complaining.  I then told him I didn’t want it and that I’d take just the pistol and shotgun, which seemed to piss him off a little.  I realized that I had no real practical use for a high powered rifle in a dilapidated apartment complex, and that the likelihood of me shooting through our walls and into the apartment of one of the neighbors, although enticing, could cause greater legal ramifications for me down the line.

So I sat down in a metal folding chair and filled out the proper paper work.  And even though I accidentally omitted my social security number on the federal gun buyers form (I honestly usually put it down, as I’m inclined to believe that by not, if gives the BATF an excuse to deny my background request, even though it’s marked in bold letters that providing that information is completely OPTIONIONAL), less than five minutes after I put ass to chair, I was handing my credit card over to the dealer, and walking away with two highly lethal weapons that I could virtually do anything I wanted with.

But I just had to load them first.

I walked around the floor of the gun show a little longer and came to a booth that was selling re-loaded-at-home rounds and hefted a box of 9mms.  When the booth’s vendor told me that the box of 50-count bullets was going to cost me 25 dollars (usually a box – or “square” as it’s called in certain gun-circles – of 9mms goes for about 15-20 bucks, reloads less, obviously) I dropped the box along with my jaw and walked away.  The vender called after me, telling me that he had already sold two cases (roughly twenty boxes per case, and the case I plucked that one box out of was about down to three squares left) and would probably be sold out by tomorrow.

What he didn’t tell me was that there’s virtually no ammunition in Southern Maine at all.

Due to the fear and panic in Southern Maine, which is more “red state” than the rest of the traditionally “blue Maine” people have been buying and stockpiling ammunition in bulk at alarming and albeit, unsettling rates.  I had no clue that the case was so severe until later that afternoon, after leaving the gun show with two firearms and no ammo (making them two of the most expensive paper weights I’ve ever purchased) I headed over to the local Wal Mart, where previously I’ve bought ammo on the cheap, which is exactly what I told the ammo vender at the gun show.

Blinded by ignorance, I walked into the Wal Mart and headed back towards the Sporting Goods section.  The inside of the Wal Mart looked third-world: gutted, stripped of any semblance of that cheery yellow-smiley face conglomerate that once dominated Biddeford Crossing for the last fifteen or so years.  No, the monolith with her ever expanding parking lot seemed frail and decayed, shelving bare, what I imagine a Wal Mart in some remote part of Serbia would look like on a good day.

When I got to the Sporting Goods section I ran into another red-stater, dressed in a typical aggressively patriotic t shirt featuring wording about “colors” and “running” and a picture of a soaring eagle or something to that effect, buying a hunting license of some sort.

I don’t hunt, so I have no idea what game season is in vogue right now, but being that summer’s coming up, and Maine tends to get overpopulated with tourists during this time, something about a bald, big-eared, mouth breathing caveman buying a hunting license didn’t sit well with me.

As the clerk behind the counter diddled the register to print out the hunting license I wandered around the section looking for the display of bullets.  When I found the display, a large locked glass case, I stopped suddenly with confusion.  I turned to see if anyone was watching me, any employee that could help me, but I was alone.  So I went back to the clerk at the register and inquired with him as he finished up the total on the red-stater’s order.

“Excuse me, but are you guys like,” and I trailed off for a second.  The Budweiser-swilling tradesman was barking at his collection of children, aged 6-11, about five or six of them, and his gutturally sharp chunks of words took me off balance for a second.

“That’s strike one!” he snapped at one of his brood, who were horsing around by the register.  “One more strike and you’re not getting ice cream!”

I wanted to clear my throat and correct him, in front of his children, that you technically get three strikes, (based off of baseball or Family Feud rules) but I kept my mouth shut and went back to the clerk.

“Are you guys, like, renovating or something?  Because your ammo case back there is empty and I…” and the clerk cut me off.

“We can’t keep that shit in stock for more than a day.  We put out orders for handgun ammo, rifle ammo, you name it, at least once a week, and by the time it comes in, we have so much of the stuff on back order, that it’s all sold by the time the truck pulls up.”  Jesus, I thought, they’re hording all the goddamn bullets!

The red-stater decided to inject his opinion on the matter as well:

“It’s a real pain in the balls,” he started, his voice phlegmy and choked, as if he was speaking from underneath a boot across his windpipe.  “I’ve been buying online, you can’t get bullets anywhere, not the Wal Mart in Scarborough, the Cabelas, LL Beans, Dicks,” he went on.

I was shell shocked, in utter disbelief.  There had to be someplace I could readily buy bullets today, right now.  What if there was an emergency, and I needed to shoot someone TONIGHT!  Nothing is worse than an unloaded gun sitting by itself at home when you go out to a family restaurant with your wife and mother and spend the entire night alternating your field of view between the Red Sox/Yankees game on the tv over your head and the front door of the establishment, waiting for some barbarian to come barreling in to kill everyone on Margarita Two-fer Night.

The next morning I got up early-ish and took off on my motorcycle, with messenger bag slung around my shoulders, to try every conceivable store that would be selling ammunition.

The thought had occurred to me that I could just go back to the gun show and try my luck there.  I just didn’t want to pay out the nose for cheaply “remanufactured” bullets, given the price of admission is seven dollars, and the mark up on the ammo is about 50%.

So all morning I rode up and down US Rt 1, looking for a place that sold bullets.  I first pulled into the local Cabela’s monstrosity and found that they wouldn’t open until 10 am, which by then would be too late for me, as my mother committed me to helping my tacky aunt and uncle move “unwanted” furniture from my father’s place to their place.  So up the road I traveled still, finding myself at the Scarborough Wal Mart.

Mind you, I’m on a motorcycle, dressed in a black Kevlar jacket, black “murder” bandana around my neck, black messenger bag, black boots, black Oakley Flak Jacket HJXs, and my throat is all weird from the ride.  I stride into the Wal Mart and try to find the Sporting Goods section, but if you’ve ever been into a different Wal Mart than what you’re used to, you know that their store is SLIGHTLY laid out differently.

So after walking around a bit, I find the section and come across similar results.  I’m pretty dejected, but on my way out I find a stock girl- young, petite, blonde – with a clipboard, doing some sort of inventory.  I walk up to her and get her attention.  Immediately she’s intimidated by me; it’s all but written on her face in magic marker, so I lift my shades to my forehead so she can see I’m no threat.

“Hey, you got any ammunition out back?”  I ask.  Unbeknownst to me ahead of time, my voice comes out as if I’m Dirty Harry and I just found out my dog has rabies.  Her eyes develop a sheen of wetness and her lip trembles.  Her voice small, tinny:

“No, we’re all out,” I figured for this based on the evidence and snarl a little to myself.

“Mm, what about the Dick’s up the road?  Know anything about them?”  I unintentionally growl.

“No…” it’s like a stalking lion talking to a church mouse.

“Don’t worry,” I try to ease her obvious fear of this big biker looming over her, asking about affordable munitions.  “I’m not mad, I’m not going to kill anyone,” she lets a nervous smile slip out.  “…because I don’t have any bullets.”  Her smile fades quickly and I leave the store, watching my back on the road for the next few miles for police cars looking for a homicide-crazed lunatic on a motorbike.

I have similar results at the next few places I try, either they’re sold out or not open this early on a Sunday, and after running out of time, I head back to my mother’s house to help move furniture, which is like eating a big plate of glass shards for breakfast.

Later in the day I called what was going to be my “last resort” before being forced to pay for rounds at the gun show.  I used to work for the Kittery Trading Post, an Outdoor Outfitter in Southern Maine that I’m somewhat persona-non-grata with due to an incident in their parking lot that involved myself, a stalker, and the Kittery Police Department over two years ago.  They have a huge firearms selection, dedicating their entire second floor to just guns.  If they didn’t have ammunition I could buy, no one in Southern Maine would.

I called and after being batted around from associate to associate for ten minutes, I finally got a hold of someone on the gun floor.

“Hey, I’m trying to find 9mms, you guys got any in stock?”

“No, all we got on hand right now are .41 magnums and .22s, we can’t keep anything in stock for more than a day,” the associate said into the phone.  “Once word gets out, we get nailed.  We had a shipment of ammo on Friday and we were just about sold out last night.  You’re best bet is online,”

In the end, I went back to the gun show and bought an overpriced box of 9mms, but only because I didn’t want to travel without a loaded gun.  And to add another element of horror to my story, I thought the ammo-epidemic was contained in Maine and other-like minded ignorant locales.  No.  It’s not.

When I we finally got back to The Hook, I logged on to a few different sites that specialize in “hunting accessories” to see if I could purchase ammunition in bulk, only falling into my fellow statesmen’s hysteria half way, more concerned that the ammo crunch will continue to make getting rounds in the future difficult.  Three of the four sites I visited had handgun ammo on backorder, and another had some available, but it wasn’t anything special, just Full Metal Jacketed bullets at 115 grain.

So in the end, what does this mean?  It means I’m going to call Charles Schwab later today and buy stock in Winchester, American Federal, and UCM.

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April 30, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, World Wide Events | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing At Opening Day

I honestly have no idea how to start this article.  I know I have to write it, which I think is somewhat of the roadblock in chief; that is, when I HAVE to write something, it seldom wants to come out.

I can’t FORCE it out.  I might pop an “O” Ring.

Regardless, my head is swimming with other tidbits of information that I want to put down on paper.  Britney Spears’ latest CD is actually good.  The latest Kings of Leon CD is better.  There’s no fucking jam in the fridge here at work, so how am I supposed to make my ritualistic PB+J at three in the morning to go with this cup of cheap tasting coffee?  My elbow is fucking killing me, and I wish I could juice up on steroids.  Fuck the health risks, I’m not a pro athlete nor a role model.

But I can’t talk about any of these things, because there’s a bigger story to tell, sorta.  I have to tell you about Opening Day.

***

Opening Day, for any red blooded American Male not only signifies the end of a long drawn out winter/hockey season, but traditionally it’s the real start of spring.  Look around you, men, as your favorite ball club strides out to take the field on your team’s Opening Day, and see how the women are now dressing in less.  Gone are the pea coats and scarves that cover their bodies.  They forgo turtle necks for tank tops, furry boots for flip-flops.

The calendar says Spring started weeks ago, I say it starts on Opening Day.

For the past month, the few people at my job whom I can tolerate just long enough for me to have a civil conversation with them,  planned an epic excursion to the Boston Red Sox Opening Day this past Monday.  Nate had a hook up with a guy who used to work in my company who now owns his own limo service, so we all chipped in X amount of dollars to hire him to take us into Boston and wait around for us to get absolutely shit faced while paying for the cheapest seats available to watch grown men play a game that most children get bored of playing about the same time they discover their ability to touch the tits on Next Door Nancy.

The plan went like this:  Those involved in this trip would get the day off from work, and we’d all rally at Nate’s house at for 1030 in the morning in order to catch the limo into Boston, some two hours away, to catch the 205 first pitch.  On the way into Boston, we would get absolutely shmammered by drinking an assortment of booze that we would provide ourselves, so that we wouldn’t have to pay Fenway Prices for the same experience.  We had the limo until 730 that night, so we would probably do something completely stupid, like take the limo to a casino or strip club, following the likely 530-ish end of the game, if we even made it that far without one of us passing out, getting sick or being arrested.

When the plan was first formulated there were only four of us going:  Myself, Kev, Rog, and Nate, plus one guest apiece.  I was obviously going to bring Ang along, but as the date crept closer, she became more skittish about piling into a limo with a bunch of rowdy 20-somethings to get drunk and watch baseball all afternoon on a Monday.  Same went for Rog’s female guest, who was supposed to be flying in from Miami, but backed out at the last minute.  This left Nate with his girlfriend Michelle, who suddenly became the only female on the trip.

Kev had to drop out all together from the limo ride as he found out his wife’s sister and husband were going to the game as well, and he would meet us at the park by taking his own transportation, in order to meet with his extended family first.  So now what had started at a limo of 8, whittled back down to four.

In our excitement of the upcoming event, we (the original) four blabbed the event all over work, causing some less-than-desirable characters from around the office to pop their heads up from behind their cubes and pretty much invite themselves along.  How do you say “no” to someone with whom you work, who tends to think their included in your clique?  So, in an act similar to shooting yourself in the foot, once said foot has been firmly placed into your mouth the invitations were extended to the other folks.

The upside was that now the cost of the limo could be spread out a little thinner; instead of four people paying a total of 700 bucks, it was now seven people, 100 smackers per person, which if you know anything about attending a Sox game, is the cost of admission alone.  Parking anywhere in the vicinity of Fenway Park and its tangle of neighborhood streets will run the average dupe from Rhode Island or New Hampshire fifty bucks, plus a six block hike to get to Yawkey Way or Lansdowne St, whichever gate they’re sitting at.  Tickets for the game cost an average of 70 bucks last time I bothered to look which was last season.  Concessions at America’s Oldest Ballpark will run you about $4.25 for a fucking hotdog, $4.50 for a Coors Light draught which is 40% foam.  The average family of four, not counting souvenirs like t-shirts, bobble headed dolls, baseball caps, etc, is looking at roughly a 500 dollar day to watch 9 innings of baseball you can watch for free at home.

You’re paying for the EXPERIENCE.

So I was grateful to squeak by with only paying a fraction of the cost, for an Opening Day game, which was a repeat of last year’s American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

I had never been to ANY Opening Day, ever.  I had been to some great games at Fenway, including a bunch of Sox/Yankees games from the late 90s and early 00s where Pedro Martinez faced off against an aged Roger Clemons.  I even got to see a game from a swanky Sky Box the same year that the All-Star game was being held at Fenway.  But no, Opening Day, what I consider in the world of Fandom to be the equivalent to standing in the first row of runners at the start of the Boston Marathon, had never come my way.  I was so excited about this trip that I had special Red Sox t shirts made up for both me and my wife, with our names on the backs, with the numbers representing our birth years.  Hers is red, mine’s the traditional blue.  I bought a new light jacket.  I purchased roughly fifty dollars in booze.  I stretched.  All I fucking did was chatter about Opening Day for the weeks and days leading up to it.

On the day in question, I got up early and got dressed, kissed the wife goodbye and heeded her advice about bail.  I made a few phone calls to the guys as if there was anything else they needed and took a short list with me to the local Luke’s Liquors dressed in all my Opening Day Garb.

I was walking on sunshine even though the weather was predicted to be nasty.  All weekend long we had been monitoring the forecast which called for 80% rain on Monday, Opening Day.  But I had an incredibly optimistic outlook, trying to send good vibes to the Weather Channel Gods, to keep the rain away for a day or better.  And besides, what little rain was being forecasted was going to hit in the middle of the afternoon, so there was still a good chance we would be able to catch a few miserable innings without a shining sun to warm us before knocking off to look at gyrating tits in a poorly lit strip club in New Jersey – possibly.

So into the Luke’s I walk, whistling some tune, grabbing a green grocery cart and pushing it up and down the short aisles, grabbing a few bottles of Sprite, a 12 pack of Molson Canadian, two bottles of cheapish champagne, some fruit punch, cups, ice, and to substitute my usual 20 oz Sapporo, a 32 oz Sam Adams.  I wheel all of this up to the register, which is manned by a mustached older gentleman who looks and sounds like an old sergeant I used to work for when I was a cop.

“Going to Opening Day?”  He asks as he rings in my order.

“Yuh,” I say between whistling and snapping my fingers from behind a pair of sunglasses.

“I can tell,” he beeps another bottle on to the receipt.  “You know they canceled the game though, right?”  He’s looking at me over the tops of his glasses the same way my old sarge used to when he would be correcting one of my reports.  I stop in mid beat, mid snap and mid whistle, and look at him.

“You’re fucking with me,” I say, looking into his face for any signs of a gag, a joke, a “HA, you’re on Candid Camera!”  But there’s nothing.

“No seriously, they just canceled it because of the weather.”  And he’s completely serious.

“Nah!”  I object.  Normally they won’t call a game until at least an hour before the first pitch.  To call an afternoon game in the middle of the morning was ridiculous.  The man behind the counter reaches over and turns up his radio, which is tuned into WEEI, the local sports talk radio.  Larry Luccino, one of the principal owners of the Red Sox franchise, is being interviewed:

“We at the Red Sox organization wanted to save everyone the hassle and just call the game now, ahead of time, we feel it would be irresponsible of us to make everyone come out to the park just to wait around, get cold and wet, to hear the inevitable.  All of our forecasters are predicting 100% rain at the time of the first pitch,” and he went on.

I must’ve looked like I just got punched in the dick, because the guy behind the counter, who was boxing up my booze looks at me from over his glasses and offers:

“Hey, I hate to be the barer of bad news but…” and he trails off.  I’m stunned and the look on the face of the guy who works the early shift at the local liquor store is one of a person who has just molested a five year old at the circus.  I numbly pick up my box of stuff and walk out the door.

Once I get into Ang’s car (we switched for the day) I dug into my pocket and called Nate and gave him the bad news.  Apparently they hadn’t heard yet and like AIDS I was giving them same diseased information I had just received from someone else.  He told me to come out anyway so we could formulate a back up plan.

Heading over, I somewhat figured it wouldn’t be a total bust.  I was nearly certain that the “undesirables” wouldn’t have shown up namely because they were all talk and hardly ever came out to the wild shit me and my clique did in our off time, including parties, etc.  So imagine my surprise when I walk through the door to Nate’s house, that they’re both sitting on the couch dumbly watching television.

At least one of them put forth the effort to at least wear a Red Sox t shirt.  The other was dressed as if he was going to spend the rest of his day on a couch while his kids ran around the living room screaming at the tops of their lungs.  My mood went from bad to worse faster than it takes Dick Cheney to kill something.  I shuffled into the apartment, digging my 32 oz of Sam Adams out of the box and asked for a Church Key to open it.  I sucked it down bitterly as the discussion turned towards alternatives for the day’s plans.

Mind you, we still hadn’t paid for the limo yet, which was on its way.  How easy would it be for us to just call the guy off and cut our losses here and now, send everyone home to our wives, kids, girlfriends and Xboxes, divvy up the booze and say “see ya back at the office!”  It wouldn’t be hard at all, but the look in everyone’s eyes, including those who were not explicitly invited, said one word and one word only:  party.

The room was split down the middle as far as what to tell this fucking limo driver when he showed up:  Michelle, Rog and one of the undesirables wanted to go to a casino, Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, whichever was closer and had the most affordable slots.  The other undesirable, Nate and another guy in our clique, Bryce voted for going into Boston and bar hop.  Granted, this was the safer option as it had no chance of me blowing a bunch of money on “black” but it was a sour taste in my mouth to go into Boston in a limo to pay for booze I already paid for, plus the fact that it was going to be with people I couldn’t stand.

I had to cast the deciding vote, of course.

I weighed out everyone’s arguments while seated on a toilet and judiciously proclaimed that we would split the difference between the two venues.  We’d travel to Boston to see Kev and his people, have a few drinks, and by early afternoon start the trek to one of the casinos in Connecticut where we would most likely encounter enough vice to send us all back to church the following weekend.  This seemed agreeable to most everyone and at the same time we reached the consensus, the limo pulled up to the house.

I was half expecting something ridiculous, unrestrained and gawdy, like when you’re driving down the highway and pass a stretched Ford Excursion or something else that seems to defy carbon footprint-logic.  What pulled up was an all white Lincoln, similar to what most people see in prom photos.  The driver was the same guy that Nate knew from the limo company and handshakes were had all around.  Booze was loaded along with people and soon gangsta rap music was being bumped loud enough for the driver to give up trying to explain the “rules” to a bunch of rowdy kids.

I quickly positioned myself into the furthest reaches of the 14 passenger limo, nearest to the whiskey canters where I started pouring myself a triple and adding a slice of lime for visual effects.  Everyone else started cracking open Bud Lights and breaking balls.

By the time we got into Boston, not a single drop of rain nor whiskey had spilt.  I was floaty-drunk, giddy, piss-filled and cramped from the fact that my knees were up near my chest as I tried to get a little room away from the undesirable that was donkey-laughing in my ear for the last 90 minutes.

One more round, please!

We arrived at Faneuil Hall and staggered out of the limo to find the skies gray and foreboding.   The gaggle of Red Sox adorned drunkards marched down the street towards the Black Rose, a pub/restaurant where we all agreed we would need some high carb food to help balance out the elevated levels of booze in our systems.  I ordered a turkey sandwich and split an order of onion rings with everyone at the table, making sure not to make too big of a pig of myself, risking falling off of my diet.  I washed down my meal with a tall black Guinness.

One of the undesirables was an older guy who shall remain nameless who tends to be the “mother” of the group, which means he’s usually a fucking downer.  All morning and into the evening I would catch him giving me dirty, disapproving glances, overhear him mentioning to someone else how “drunk” and “out of control” I was.

In reality, I was drunk, yes, but not to the point of being out of control.  Being drunk and out of control would be defined as staggering around with one’s pants around their knees, waving a pistol around in a public place, like a subway (the train or the sandwich shop, whichever is appropriate).  I did not partake in this behavior.

No, instead I simply drank quietly and staggered around, bumping into the occasional wall or barstool, fielding calls from my wife with a drunk accent so potent that even Ang could smell the booze on my breath on her end of the call.  I was at no time a hazard to anyone, except maybe a few waitress who weren’t moving fast enough to keep a fresh flow of booze coming my way.

But still, his comments towards me, not to me, were irksome.  If I really had been out of control, I imagine I probably would’ve said something to this guy in the form of kicking him square in the face with a black Chuck Taylor.

When I wasn’t dealing with him and his frowning disapproval of my good time, (“he’s going to end up getting us all arrested!” I would overhear him saying with actual worry to Rog, which somehow proves that this guy has never been drunk in public in his life) I was dealing with the other undesirable buying me drinks and giving me shoulder rubs.

Now, I’m all for another guy buying me drinks all night.  This would explain why I hang out in gay bars.  However, when another man’s hands touch me – to do of all things, rub my shoulders (?!), I get antsy and nervous.  I was almost waiting for him to offer me a blow job in the bathroom, to which I would’ve probably shot him on sight.  I’m not homophobic, I just think I’m classier than being taken to some bar bathroom.

So because of all this, my mood was darkening.  I soon removed myself from just about everyone in the party due to my drunken boredom with the people and activities.  We wound up playing billiards at Jillian’s, a bar a block from Fenway that is half arcade/bowling alley/pool hall, half restaurant.  I tried playing a few games but tired after my hand-eye coordination made it nearly impossible for me to make shots I would otherwise make blindfolded.  Deeper into the pit of boredom I fell.

We soon took off, back to the Cape, music playing in the limo with me laying down in one of the corner seats, alternating between texting Ang, reading the NY Times on my Blackberry, and telling everyone that I was “fine” and “just tired, ready to get home.”  What was supposed to be a male adulthood adventure turned out to be something like a flaccid attempt at coitus where you substitute the frustration of Blue Balls with the frustration of Just Wanting to Get Home Already coupled with an idiot playing with the “mood lighting” in the limo every twenty or so seconds.

No, Opening Day, … what was supposed to be the Real Opening Day, was a complete bust.  The game was rescheduled for the following day at 405, which turned out to be beautiful.  The Sox stomped the Rays 5 to 1, Becket pitching a strong 7 innings only giving up three hits and the one run.

Don’t tell anyone, but we’re planning another trip, this time, Nate, Kev and I are going to attempt to go see the Sox play the queeahs from New York on the 24th.  If anyone else asks, tell them the games on the 28th.

I’m just saying….

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fear and Loathing Around the Corner

There are many advantages to moving away from a city setting and into a more relaxed and suburban setting, as we did this past week.  For one, it’s quieter, much, much quieter.  I don’t think we’ve even heard our neighbors in the last week, and if we had, it was certainly before 7 pm.

But there are downsides as well; for instance the fact that nothing in our new little town seems to stay open past 8 at night, which can prove to be very bothersome when it’s say, 9ish at night and husband and wife are plum-out of condoms.

This was the case the other night when the discussion of whether to “get-” or “not to get frisky” came up, and responsible ol’ me remembered we were out of condoms.

Not a problem, I thought, there are two places right near by:  a small deli/convenience store and a major pharmacy that’s not a CVS.  Give me a sec and I’ll be right back.

“Bring back some OJ,” she called after me after I dressed, grabbed my keys and headed out the door.

I first drove all of a quarter mile to the local Rite Aid and found it dark and unwelcoming.  I did a small loop in the parking lot getting close enough to the door to see the store’s operating hours and found that I was in fact, too late.

Ok, well, I’ll hit up the little store across the street, I thought, and did so.

I found the little store to be well lit and empty, except the two slackerish early 20-somethings manning the check out and deli counters.  They were engaged in some conversation that I wasn’t really paying attention to, mostly because I was scanning up and down the aisles looking for the fucking condoms.

From the way back of the store, by the coolers with the drinks in them, I saw the limited supply of condoms hanging behind the check out guy.  Now, granted I’m a married 27 year old man, I still hate having to ASK for condoms behind the register, specifying a particular brand.  It’s humiliating and demoralizing.  I don’t even think I’d be able to get it up after the fact, because I would be too busy thinking about the judgmental snickering that would surely be going on as soon as I left the store with my purchases.

So I sent Ang a text explaining that they didn’t sell condoms (which wasn’t a lie; the particular “latex-free” brand we use wasn’t being sold at this particular place anyway, so I was telling the truth) and it was too late for me to drive fifteen minutes to where the Google Maps app on my phone was telling me there was the closest CVS.  She didn’t respond so I simply took the OJ and a thing of Canada Dry Ginger Ale for myself up to the counter.

The goatee’d slacker mumbled something to his partner over at the deli counter, who then hobbled over to where we were standing.  He was some sort of deformed cripple, suffering from obvious bone deformations.  He wore a green M67 field jacket, similar to mine, only mine’s gray and looked at me with a wild gaze; something that would freeze a highway patrolman dead in his tracks if he saw it in a car he had just pulled over on some lonely stretch of American Highway at 2 am.

The other slacker rang up my order and I handed him my debit card.  He then decided to include me into their existing conversation.  I’m not making the following up:

“Hey, would you rather be stabbed with a knife, or something else?”  Said the goatee’d slacker.  I pause for a second, eyeing him and his side kick Quasimodo.  Quasi’s grinning at me and I feel very tense.

“I have to get stabbed?”  I ask.

“Yeah, like, if you knew you were gonna get stabbed, would you rather get stabbed with like,” and the slacker cashier produces a standard black BIC pen from his counter, “this, or with something like,” and from under his coat, Quasimodo produces a black combat knife with a serrated back edge and hefts it at about eye level, still with that slick, sick grin.
The strangest part about all of this is the first thing I notice is how chipped the black is on the knife.  The knife’s blade has been painted black at some factory where they produce cheap pig stickers like the one this mutant is carrying under his coat.  The chipping paint tells me that he’s probably dropped it a handful of times and doesn’t own a sheath for it, or he had at one time, but lost it.  This tells me that the blade’s edge is probably dull from not being maintained or looked after properly, meaning that the knife would be ineffectual should he try to swipe at me in a slicing motion.  However, if he tried to ram it through me, I’d be in for more than a world of hurt.

I go back to my police training.  When I went through academy they taught us about the 21 step rule (no revised to 30+ feet) which is the minimum distance one should be from an adversary with a knife.  The idea is that it’ll take roughly 21 steps before the assailant with the knife can close the distance between the two of you before you can react and draw your sidearm and put a new bellybutton into your attacker’s stomach.

Between me and this freak was roughly eight feet.

I think for a second longer, I consider brandishing both my Gerber in my back pocket and my .380 on my waist, but think better of it, not knowing if these two hooligans would call the cops on me or not.

“Um, I think I’d rather get stuck with the knife,” I finally answer.  I explain that the knife’s purpose is to stab through soft tissue, where as with the pen, it’s job is to write down phone numbers, notes, etc, anything but to stab through your abdomen.  Also, the pen is far more duller than the knife (at least one would think so) so using it as a stabbing tool would be more or less using it like a punch, which would result in morbid levels of pain.

The slacker cashier reluctantly agrees with me and then goes on to note that he would choose not to be stabbed in the stomach, forgoing it for any other part of his body.

“Even your dick?”  I ask.  He again, reluctantly agrees citing that a stab to the cock would be “most painful.”

I signed my printed off slip for my debit card, keeping both eyes on these two lunatics and wished them a good evening as I backed out of the store in a hasty rush towards my truck.

I’m just saying….

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Quick Note From The Editor About Charlie Foxtrot

Jim wrote the following articles over the course of two days.  In total, the articles are over 8000 words long, and we all felt that they’d be better digested if broken into smaller parts for his readers.  The articles are listed in order as they were written below, starting at the beginning of his week in Maine, and ending when he came home.  We at the IJS Editorial/Legal Staff hope you enjoy them.  -ed.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism | | 1 Comment

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: The Great American Culture Down-Suck

From the Wikitionary:

Charlie Foxtrot:
See clusterfuck

I remember reading in a history book back in like, fourth grade, about the Town Common.  The Town Common was a place that all the town’s people would gather and share news, purchase goods and services, and all around congregate en masse throughout the day, because that, as from going to church all day, was the thing to do.

Today, in 2009, the Town Common has been replaced by Wal Mart.

A trip home to Maine isn’t complete without at least one trip to the fringe of town to visit the giant gray box, amongst the other giant box stores, that is Wal Mart.  Ah yes, Wal Mart, you faceless monolith, jutting up from the surrounding 80 acre clusterfuck of a parking lot, with your mammoth-sized foot pressing down across the throats of the small local business owner.  Your prices are too good to pass up (190 dollars for a Vizio 19″ flatscreen tv, what?!) even with your human rights record comparable to that of Old Manchuria.

This is where I found myself a lot during the week I was home to watch my last grandparent die, walking through an enormous parking lot, littered with cars and debris that made me feel like one of the filthy wretches that walked out of the 9th Ward after Katrina hit it with a thousand pound shithammer.

All around me as I walk, there’s vestiges of direct deposit-less, paycheck-to-paycheck types, shuffling from their dirt-gray-black sedans adorn in tribal tattoo decals, with their rear bumpers either smashed in and up under their trunks, or being held together with some mal-placed screws.

People don’t park in the lines either, but I can’t fault them for that, because neither do I.  I do not know if this is a product of my upbringing or something greater, a harkening to my connection to my community – because no one in town can fucking park within the lines.  What compounds this further is that for some ridiculous reason, Wal Mart places its handicap spaces perpendicular to the regular spaces, but the poor old bastards with their poor eye sight, mixed with the fact that there’s a sheet of sand over everything, can’t tell that they should park their cars completly opposite from everyone else, even with the fact that there’s a giant fucking light post in the way of their front ends.  This causes their back end to stick WAY the fuck out into the traveling aisle, causing other drivers to apparently just say “fuck it” and leave their cars parked in the middle of the aisle, get out, and get themselves a cheap 19″ flatscreen tv before they’re all gone.

Walking inside, I half expect to run into some slob I went to high school with, either as an employee complete with a blue vest and name tag (I surmise that Wal Mart keeps their cattle dressed in blue vests, as so the snipers know who to shoot if one of them strays too far in the parking lot and is looking like a possible escapee), or just some other random dick that’s never moved away from home.  But I didn’t, and actually, I didn’t see anyone I recognized at all during all three or more trips to the gray bitch.

Unless those people I should’ve recognized had gained three hundred pounds, all in their asses or neck regions.

Biddeford, my old home town, has grown not in population, but overall waist size as a collective.  The same can be said for most of America, but it didn’t really hit me or my wife until we decided to have our first Date Night since getting married roughly a month ago.

We don’t get a chance to get out much, mostly due to finances, so given the fact that we were somewhat marooned in Maine for a week, and instead of dealing with my parents’ growing hatred for one another, we decided to skip out and see a movie.

Our first attempt was combated simply by the fact that everyone else in town had the same idea as we; to go out and see a film on a Saturday night.  I found this baffling, because typically this time of year, many Americans don’t like to go out and see films; we’re still all too strung out from the holidays to really want to spend money, hence why Hollywood releases such “winners” this time of year, as “Paul Blart, Mall Cop.”

But the line for the local Cinemagic (IMAX coming in May 09!) was out the door and spilling into the clusterfuck that was their parking lot (due to construction of the IMAX theatre extension, I imagine) so after navigating around the craters and cars, and not being the ones to want to stand outside all night in twenty-degree weather, I handed Ang my phone and had her look up the movie listings for the theatre back the other way across town.

I was reluctant to go to this theatre because it was one of those unfortunate theatres that attempts to serve you a whole meal while the film is playing on the screen.  If you’ve never had the … awe… of experiencing one of these establishments, allow me to illustrate for you what it’s like.  You can imagine it’s not hard, but let me tell you anyway:

Imagine sitting down to watch a feature length film, and just about every ten minutes, some oafish buffoon with a tray of hot wings that smell like OC spray stands right in front of you to set the food down for the other buffoons who ordered it.  Also, there’s no conventional theatre-style seating; everyone is made to sit at cafeteria-style oblong tables in high-backed leather chairs.  While sitting in this theatre, it was incredibly hard to hear what was being said in the film, over the sounds of everyone collectively getting fatter.

And that’s where I’m going with this:  Ang and I both sat, half watching the film about Bulgarian Jews hiding from the Nazis out in the woods, and half watching the local citizens of Biddeford and its surrounding towns, getting fatter and fatter.  After the film ended (it was “eh” on a scale of “zzzz” and “awesome!”) Ang and I both remarked about how the average movie goer’s stomach was over his/her waist.  I saw one gentleman struggle to “belly up” to his table to stuff his maw full of deep friend potato wedges.

It was a wake up call to be sure.

Afterwards we drove the short distance (and I don’t mean down the street, I mean, like two hundred feet.  Like I said, it was cold out.) to a Tim Horton’s that apparently sprouted up overnight while I’ve been away on The Cape.  We ordered coffee and treats, hers was a disgusting-looking-yet-tasty parfait, and mine was an apple fritter.

About ten minutes or less into our coffee and treats, Ang decided to unload all her fury and angst at the poor counter girls.  She stood up and deliberately poured her coffee out all over the floor, set her cup down, and marched into the bathroom, leaving her shocked husband sitting in his chair by the window, clueless as to what set her off.

But when she returned from the bathroom (apparently to get some of the coffee off of her Ugg boots) she seemed to have returned back to her normal self and I had cleaned up most of the mess from on the table. Neither of us mentioned the outburst, and we absconded with the ceramic mugs that they provided us our coffee in.

And on that subject, I must make note:  Places that serve you in actual dinnerware, such as ceramic mugs, giant, unwieldy twenty-two ounce glass steins, pint glasses, etc, must know their going to have these things ripped off.  I can’t tell you how many different pint glasses I’ve swiped from bars and restaurants over the years.  And it’s like you get extra points if it has the place’s name on it too.  Such was the case with our mugs from Timmy Hos.

But look, I’ve gotten way off point wit this whole article.  I never wanted to mention my wife’s insane bouts of public rage or America’s obesity problem.  I wanted to talk about Memere and all the bullshit that went on over the course of the week.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: Where I Finally Dig In

From the beginning I knew it was going to be a trip that would result in a funeral.

I left work in a hurry, in a snowstorm, and by the time I got home on Friday afternoon (normally an hour or so drive, took just over 2), there was no possible way for us to imagine driving another three hours in blinding snow, even with four wheel drive and half a bottle of whiskey in my system.  We were just going to have to wait it out.

The phone call I had received that afternoon, which preceded all of this was from my mother.  Memere was getting weaker by the day and a priest had just come in to read her her last rites.  She barely got a communal wafer down; the tumors in her stomach had grown to the size of baseballs and she no longer could hold down food or water.

So the sense of urgency was there.  I explained the situation to my supervisor who told me to get the hell out of town and call with an update as to when I’ll be back.  Without saying anything, I filled out the proper paperwork, changed my clothes and drove home in blizzard conditions, only to end up nearly rear-ending my wife in our apartment’s parking lot.  We both agreed that to drive to Maine at this point would be crazy and we decided to retire for the evening, planning and packing for our trip in the morning.

We both packed for a few days.  It was hard trying to figure how long we were going to be up there for.  I had a week given to me from my work, and being that Ang is somewhat between jobs, her schedule is clear.  I also called my other job to let them know I wasn’t going to be able to work my shift this coming week, and they too were accommodating.

I packed my black suit, tie, shoes, shirts, toothbrushes, iPods, books, etc.  I packed like I was going to be going away for at least a week, but again, it was hard to tell.  According to my father, she was weak and looking like she was about to cash out last week, but managed to hold on.  And prior to that, the information I had received from my mother was that “doctors don’t know how long she’s got.  She could go tomorrow or a year from now, we don’t know.”  So packing was a bit of a brain teaser.

Two Adidas bags packed to the brims, another backpack stuffed with ferret stuff, the ferret’s cage and carrier, the ferret himself, my suit hanging in a suit bag, all of which has been stuffed into my regular cab, bench seat full sized pick up, and we’re off towards Maine in markedly better weather.

By the time we reached southern Maine, it was about four in the afternoon and we decided to rest up a little bit.  But it wasn’t before long that mom was calling me wondering where I was, and that I should get over to Memere’s house (one street over) as soon as possible.  So I left Ang behind to nap as I went over to deal with the dreadful reality that was a dying grandparent that I was close to.

What I loved the most about Memere, especially in recent years, was her ability to see through my bullshit.  I don’t know why, but around her I always played myself up to be a bit of a character I guess, someone who was a touch pompous and seemed wronged by everyone, very similar to the persona that writes this blog.  But she always saw through it and played along anyway, allowing me to be this character, loving me the same way she always had.  I filled her with pride and I took pride in doing just that.  Knowing that what I was doing made her happy, made the mundane things I was doing in all actuality seem that much more significant.

And now here I was, standing over her folded up little body with bloated stomach with a heavy heart and dry mouth.

“Talk so she knows you’re here,” my mother encouraged.  The first thing that wanted to come out of my mouth was something akin to ‘oh god,’ but I held back, digging through my mental chest of tactful things to say when the obvious doesn’t need to be said at all.  I tried not to acknowledge the spit gathering and drooling down from the corners of her mouth, or the fact that she could only hum a response to what I was saying to her.  I simply sat down at her side, took her little withered hand in mine and gave it a short squeeze and quietly said:

“Hey memere.”

“She can hear and understand just fine, James,” my mother oozed contempt, as if I was speaking to a person of Oriental appearance who was born and raised in Nebraska.  I turned away from my mother, who was in an obvious emotional state and focused all my energy on Memere.

“Jesus, that’s some snow we got, huh?”  And she grunted a response to let me know that she understood me and was listening.

Due to that fact we, myself, my mother and my uncle, talked amongst ourselves, knowing that Memere was listening in.  And that was another one of her great traits:  Listening.  My cousin Tom, who along with me delivered a Eulogy at Memere’s funeral, mentioned about how when he was a kid, Memere would just listen to him talk.  And I found familiarity in the story he told at the podium, because there were many of times I would just wander into my Memere’s kitchen, sit down, share a pecan sandy with her and just tell her stories.  All she would do was listen, nod along, and when there was a break in the conversation – such as me swallowing or breathing – she would inject those little bridge words like “ok” and “really?” and “go on…”  For someone like me, who loves to talk and dominate a conversation, she was the best.

That Saturday evening was the last time Memere would sit up and be part of a conversation.

By Sunday she was stuck in bed.  Hospice had donated to us a hospital bed and respirator, which Memere had been on for the better part of a week already.  She was too weak to hold herself up and the collective thought in the house was that it was too risky to move her, so in bed is where she stayed.  We wheeled in a little 12″ antenna tv for her to listen to, and she mostly lay quiet, her eyes half shuttered, each of us (now joined by my aunt and Ang) taking a shift sitting by her bedside, reading to her, talking to her, wetting her lips with a damp cloth, watching her chest rise and fall to make sure she was still with us.

My mother was a real trooper through all of this, taking all the late watches, refusing to eat or leave Memere’s side for more than a handful of minutes.  She was certain not to let her be left alone, always making sure that if she herself wasn’t in there, someone else was.  She was strict the same way a pitbull is strict in his approach to mauling a hapless stray cat.  Mom was running the show.

And where was dad during all of this?  Good question.

I’ve been grappling on whether or not to bring this up in the article, because it cuts close to the bone of reality.  When I write on here I like to keep things slightly buffered between what’s really real and what’s “real according to me.”  When that buffer becomes too thin, I have to really ask myself if it’s journalistically important to mention the event or is it just bullshit that can be left on the proverbial cutting room floor, never to really see the light of day except for those who lived it.  The other question that arises is that can I report on the event with absolutely no bias, which is the problem I’m having currently as I sit here and tap out this article in chief.  Am I still pissed?  Are my emotions going to run away from/with me?

Dad wasn’t around because he felt that he had been insulted by Memere a few days earlier in front of the Hospice worker.

What had transpired was this:  No one was available to let the Hospice workers in to set up their shit, so it was asked of my father to go over and let them in at such and such time.  He did so without any complaint.  When the Hospice worker arrived, a conversation started, and when asked what my father did for a living, Memere replied before my father, and called him a “Man of Leisure.”

My father, indignantly replied that he was a “retired commercial fisherman” who also happens to own a number of small apartments here in town.  But because my Memere implied to a total stranger (who probably, and most likely didn’t give two shits in the first place) that my father is “lazy” my dad decided to remove himself entirely from those surrounding my dying 88 year old grandmother.

Naturally everyone found this to be abhorrent behavior, even from me and my wife, both of us being rational people who can typically see both sides to an argument.  But really, ok, the woman’s dying, she calls you lazy in probably the politest way possible, it’s your wife’s mother and only close friend, and you decide to spend the days we’re all pitching in on, sitting out in your shop tinkering with your bikes and getting loaded off of Canadian whiskey and Budweiser.

How thin is YOUR skin?

Sorry, there goes my journalistic integrity.

So he was conveniently absent from everything except a few mornings where he ran fresh coffee over to my mother and the Wake itself.  He didn’t show up for the funeral because he doesn’t “do churches, man.”

Sigh.

On Monday morning, at just after ten am, Memere passed.  She was eighty-eight years old, and she died how she lived, surrounded by people who loved her.

When I got the call I had just woken up and was in my old bedroom.  Mom sounded frantic and told me to get over there as quick as possible.  Without thinking I hung up, got my boots on and ran out the door, all the way across to her house.  When I got in the door, the Hospice worker made room for me, and I got there just in time to see Memere take her last breaths.  I gave her hand another short squeeze, told her I was there, and said goodbye.  About five minutes later, she died.

The Hospice worker, who now that I re-read all of this, I’m not giving nearly enough credit to, called the funeral home for us, and roughly fifteen minutes later, they arrived and took away the body.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Love | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: When The Buzzards Circle

I just took a day off from writing this, and I’m loosely following what’s going on out in Illinois with the imminent impeachment of Gov. Blagojevich.  Jesus Babbling Christ, the balls on this guy.  In the beginning I felt apathy towards him, mostly due to the fact that he was just another crudely bent politician who saw an opportunity to cash in on someone else’s success.  That’s pretty much common fare for most politicos whose election was not based on a well-manicured head of hair.  Then he comes out saying that he did nothing wrong – your basic denial in the face of the media.  At this point I had pretty much written him off to page 10B, buried back in the NATIONAL section between a low-level story about some bill trudging it’s way through The House, and a short article from the AP about the world’s largest pizza being made out in Fresno.

But Blago wouldn’t go down without making another ballsy statement.  When faced with the beyond likelihood of being impeached by his own State Senate, he dismissed it with “If they impeach me, I’ll boycott the proceedings.”  Yo, that’s some Andrew Jackson shit right there, son.  Jackson, when faced with impeachment said: “So [Congress] voted to impeach me.  Let’s see them enforce it.”  Who does this guy think he is?!  He’s like the Charles Barkley of governors; even when he can’t be any more wrong, he remains utterly indignant of his accusations.

Rod Blagojevich is no Andrew Jackson.

The latest jaw dropper from this guy who shares Donald Trump’s beautician is the comparison that he’s like Martin Luther King Jr / Ghandi / Jesus, etc, martyrs, etc.  I’m thinking when this is all said and done, Blagojevich should have his last name legally and permanently changed to Ballsjovich and become a high priced … whatever it is that Al Sharpton does.

It’s been a nice distraction, but I need to get back on point.  From where I took my break last night I read backwards a little bit and discovered how clinically cold I described the death of my grandmother.  I’m not exactly sure which road to take with it though, because I don’t want to make it terribly flowery.  At the same time, I’ve never been in the same room with someone, standing over them, when they died.  I’ve been around plenty of dead bodies, being a cop plus whatever the hell else I do aside from selling sunglasses, will almost guarantee I’ll stumble across a semi-decomposed corpse every once in a while.  But to be in the same room, as the life leaves their body is completely different.

At great disservice to myself I’ll tell you that while my mother and my uncle collapsed with grief I stood and watched as a yellow-sheen seemed to instantly spread over her body and her skin grew tighter.  I’m not trying to gross anyone out here, but it’s what I noticed.  The Hospice worker came in and checked her vitals and called TOD, and that was that.  And honestly, the grief that I keep waiting to stomp me into the ground like a pack of angry biker skinheads has yet to hit me.  I’m starting to wonder if something’s wrong with me.

Late last year when our first ferret Bianca died, I was in tears and grief stricken for days.  And even weeks after the fact if I saw a picture of a cute little ferret poking it’s head out of a box or even a white mouse on tv, I got a lump in my stomach that traveled it’s way to my throat and made my chin quiver like the last tough bastard leaf clinging to the branch at the end of November.  Even know I’m struck with a thick pang of injustice at her loss.

After a moment of reflection I figure it’s because Memere was ready to go and Bianca wasn’t.  Bianca was roughly 6 months old when she died, maybe older, it’s up for debate.  Memere was eighty-eight years old.  She was tired and bent over from a curved spine.  She had poor vision and her control over her motor skills had faded.  At eighty-eight years old, she was probably waiting by the door for Death to come on by for a nice chat.

And I don’t mean that to sound like she was suicidal or anything.  Memere was anything but.  But I’m willing to bet, candidly, she was ready to check out.  Hell, how many of us sit around and think or even say “Jesus I hope I don’t grow to be that old.”  And if you haven’t, then let me inject into you some thoughts on the matter of growing old:

-You can’t shit or piss when you want to.  And you shit and piss when you absolutely don’t want to.

-Forget sleeping a full night’s sleep.  You sleep two hours and then spend four staring at your ceiling praying to go back to sleep.

-I don’t care what Hugh Hefner says, sex past 60 isn’t sexy, and I’m sure it’s probably an exhaustive effort at nothing.

-You can’t eat what you want.

-You can’t hear what people are saying as good anymore, nor see anything as you could when you were younger.  So forget reading anything in normal print type.

-No one makes the style of clothes you like or even fits, nor the food how you liked eating it, or music you enjoyed listening to.  For fact, try to find an Oldies station on the radio and see if they playing anything before 1959.

-You can’t connect with your grandkids; they know you’re out of touch, and you can’t understand a damn word they’re saying because slang changes with each generation and you’re two generations out of touch.

-All your friends are dead or dying, including yourself.

I’m sure I could think of more reasons why not to live til 90 or more, but I don’t want to make this a negative piece.  I’m just trying in vain to illustrate that perhaps Memere had called it a wrap and was patiently waiting for the bus to pick her up and take her to the Las Vegas of Atlantic Cties.

But with all that said, there was still the flurry of paper work to do.  When you die, there’s a bunch of loose ends to consider, as one can imagine.  Thank god Memere had most of her shit planned out and set up how she wanted it, because for we three, we had no clue as to what the hell we were doing.

Apparently, when my Pepere (grandfather in that bastardized Franco-American French I used to speak as a child) passed about ten or eleven years ago, Memere took it upon herself to get all her shit in order so that when she went, we’d know what to do.

She bought a casket, the same one my Pepere was buried in.  She put X amount of dollars into an account with the funeral home as so to grow interest in it so that the ceremonies and burial would be taken care of.  She left a personal note to my mother in her safe that had petty cash and instructions in it.  Memere knew what was coming long down the pipe and wanted things to be a no-brainer.

So that afternoon, after Memere passed, my mother, uncle and I found ourselves on the opposite side of a table from the funeral director.  In his hands were copies of final arrangements that Memere had made out a decade earlier, and he shuffled them around, bending them into a tube and then unbending them as he talked.

He first lulled us in with memorial cards, laminated cards that show the Virgin Mary on one side and a picture of Memere on the other with a short prayer or phrase under the picture, with her name and DOB and DOD on top.  Then he asked us if we wanted certain music played at the funeral, if there was anyone who was going to say a Eulogy, anyone who wanted to be a pallbearer, etc.  My mother was somewhat beside herself and hemmed and hawed a little.  My uncle sat soundless, useless on his side of my mom not saying a word.  So I stepped in.

Similar to when I went to buy my truck, I called on mom to come and be my heavy hitter.  She’s an awesome negotiator; she takes shit from no one.  But seeing how she was in a cloud of grief, it was up to me to play hardball with this shit vulture.

“I plan on saying a few words, I’d also like to have “Ava Maria” sung at some point during the ceremony, and we’ll get back to you with paul bearers,” I cut in.  Mom simply nodded as she dotted away tears from under her glasses.  The director wrote all of this down on the back of a piece of paper he was holding.

“Now,” he began, “due to inflation and the course of time, the prices have gone up for a lot of what your mother wanted,” and he was addressing my mom and uncle.  “And the amount of interest accrued didn’t really keep up with the rise of costs, soooo…”  And we all leaned forward to see what the damage was going to be.

In the end, it came out to about a five hundred dollar difference.  The bastard charged us 90 dollars to close the vault, which I imagine would be something they would have to do anyway, less they planned on just dumping the dirt into an open concrete box.  Fucking circling buzzards; people’s misery is their carrion.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Why Am I Watching This?, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: Two Days to Kill

We had two days to kill, because the only Catholic priest in town was up to his eyeballs in dead grandparents and his only opening was on Friday.  I called work to tell them that I was going to need a few days and they surprisingly accommodated me.  Then we sat around and waited.

We watched the Obama Inauguration with mild interest; those of us watching it in my Memere’s kitchen had wide smiles pasted to our faces with unshielded optimism (as G-Dub was boarding Marine One, my mother quipped “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!”) and we caught the news story about the guy landing the passenger jet in the Hudson.  On that, I can’t imagine anything more terrifying for everyone involved, even the poor bastards schlepping their way from Jersey into The City to go to work that morning, seeing a fucking 747 flying over the GWB at low enough altitude that you could see the tiny terrified and panic stricken faces of  the passengers in the bullet-resistant glass windows.

But the pilot pulled through, expertly landing the plane on a clear patch of Hudson River, conveniently next to passenger fairies and a fucking US Coast Guard station.   It’s almost as if Jerry Bruckheimer was piloting the damn thing.

Ang and I rented a few movies, “Pineapple Express” falling way below my expectations as an ultra violent stoner comedy helmed by Judd “Becoming-Less-Funnier-By-The-

Picture” Apatow, and starring Seth “This-Is-Supposed-To-Be-A-Leading-Man?” Rogen.  Though points were given out to James Franco’s lovably self conscience drug dealer role.

We also rented “Tropic Thunder” which was more a wink and a nudge at Hollywood than it was an action-comedy.  It surpassed my expectations overall, with laugh-out-loud performances from Robert Downey Jr and Tom Cruise.  Best line from the film:  “Who’s a Key Grip?  …Yeah?  Go over there, and punch that fucking asshole in his face, as hard as you can!”  If you haven’t seen the film, go see it.  Or maybe when it comes down to editing this … already 8 page, five thousand word monster of an article, I’ll just find the scene on youtube.com and link you to it.

So there was a lot of that, just mindless escapist entertainment that we used to just get us from being caught in the middle of the Israel v. Gaza-like war between my mother and father (who still hadn’t claimed any responsibility for not being there for my mother when she needed him most, nor apologized to anyone about being an incredibly huge asshole when the subject of my Memere came up.  And with that, any shred of non-biased reporting went right out the window), and the loss of my grandmother.

So mindless escapism, check, stuffing our faces full of food, check as well.  That’s all we did, when we weren’t going to see films or travel the mall to wander around and window shop.  We ate terrible foods because no one really wanted to cook, one and two, it was just easier to order Chinese food or sandwiches from D’Angelos or George’s or whatever.  It was also on some levels comfort food, like when you’re depressed and wind up eating a whole pint of fucking Haggen Daas on your couch amongst tear-and-snot-stained tissues, this month’s issue of Redbook, half-glass of ginger ale, and Lifetime’s movie of the week playing back on your Tivo.  There’s something about the greasy-goodness of fast food that lulls us into a false sense of living in a womb for a few hours.  And then there’s the inevitable crash, where you need to stuff your fat fucking face all over again to reach euphoria.

It’s not unlike Cocaine.  Or so I’m told.  Author Chuck Klosterman describes Cocaine use in his book “Killing Yourself to Live” as something akin to being at a party and receiving a compliment from someone you’re heavily attracted to.  You spend the rest of the night feeling that wonderful rush of joy, until it wears away and you’re left searching around the party for that person again.  If you’re not careful you turn into a real dickhead, ruining the party for everyone else.

Anyway, where was I?  Cocaine?  No.  Oh, fast food.  Yes, this is terribly addictive stuff, something that should only be enjoyed in heavy moderation, probably with a partner to spot you, if not outright drag you away from the Cici’s Pizza Buffet before you can heap on another slice of their rubbery, disgusting, vomit-looking pizza (Cici’s tagline is “it’s almost too good to be true!” which isn’t exactly false advertising.  They’re right when they say it’s “almost good.”  Though I’ve never had Cici’s before, because they’re not found around New England at all – closest one is in Whitehall, PA – they do for some reason advertise up here, and the commercials seem only to reinforce my idea that I will A) never take part in a ‘pizza buffet’ and B) wander into a Cici’s and confuse puke on the men’s room floor with the food on the service line, and probably have a slightly more enjoyable experience ingesting the vomit.)

What made matters worse was that every time I went to put something in my mouth to eat, whether it be a Riley’s bakery donut, or a slice of pizza, Ang was right there to tell anyone who would listen that I was “going on a diet as soon as we get back.”  And that was that.  I didn’t want to pull the “I’m grieving!” card at all, but by the end of the week I felt as though I would have to sneak around to enjoy eating anything that wasn’t full blown organic, mineral water rinsed, and grown by aged hippies in Napa Valley.

But that’s just the way Southern Maine is, En Toto.  We don’t do the whole “organic thing” unless you live up in Portland, and they only put that Whole Foods up there to satisfy the trendster kids on Warf St who demand farm raised Salmon paste on their whole wheat mult-grain crackers, the fucking snobs.  I’d gladly take a plank of wood with a jumble of nails sticking through one end to the whole lot of them.  I wouldn’t stop chasing them until we were out at the outer end of Forest Ave, and even then I’d probably chain whip the shit out of them until we crossed into Westbrook.

So we don’t do the whole “Organic Thing,” and I need to stay on task here.  Way too much deviation.  A testament to the whole anti-organic thing brings us full circle back to Wal Mart, where on one particular trip I managed to cajole Ang to come along with me.  She pissed and moaned about being “far above” walking into a Wal Mart, but relented none-the-less when the alternative appeared to be left alone in my truck to be ogled by the Natives who’ve obviously never seen a woman with so much class and sophistication.

We collected a few grocery items for my mother and in the small, feeble produce section, Ang quipped loudly “this place doesn’t even have an Organic Section!”  This got some of the nearby grazing Water Buffalo to lift their heads from the stacks of not-so-fresh-looking vegetables and give Ang what she called “The Bitch Face.”

Mind you, Ang made her comment while riding amongst our items in the carriage that I was pushing.

After purchasing our items and pissing off the natives, we both agreed while walking to the truck that from now on, when we both enter a Wal Mart, we would only speak in false accents to give the air that we’re sophisticated foreigners writing for an unnamed European periodical on the down-suck of American Culture.

If my faux-British accent is terrible, Ang’s faux-French accent makes babies’ ears bleed.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Love, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: Lessons Learned

It soon came time to get on with the inevitable burying of Memere and moving out of my mother.  It was decided, rather quickly, that my mom would take over Memere’s house, which is one street away from where her and dad lived for the last fifteen or so years.

The Wake was Thursday night, and we three on this committee to bury Memere decided that two showings would be too much, because in this day and age, no one goes to Wakes in the middle of the day.  It’d be a big waste of time for all the family to stand around waiting to see if anyone at all comes, and if they did, they’d probably only be old and confused.

“You mean this isn’t the Harding Wake?”

“No sir, that was two weeks ago.”

“Oh, my…”

So we settled on one evening Wake, between the hours of seven and nine.  I was genuinely surprised at all the people who showed up, from both sides of my family.  The neighborhood came out too, and then of course there were the awkward instances when I was shoe-horned into a conversation with people I didn’t know.

It was hard being the young center piece at this Wake because I’ve been somewhat out of touch with most of my extended family over the last year or so, more so on my mother’s side than anything else.  You have to understand, and without going into great detail, my mother’s side of the family is peppered with ne’er do-wellers and con artists.  Notably, my cousin Robert went to jail on aggravated assault charges when he stabbed a transvestite drug dealer when the deal went bad and the tranny tried to back out of it.

So you can understand why I haven’t been sending out Xmas cards to these people.

Anyway, being that everyone at this thing wanted to know what was going on with me (OMIGAWD YOU’RE MARRIED to So what’s it like working for ______?) I had to do a lot of diplomatic speaking, because I had no idea who I was talking to most of the time.  When I wasn’t being bogged down in an endless conversation about how great I am, and what wonderful things I was doing, and how lovely my wife is, I was being shown cell phone pictures of new borns, cousins I only vaguely remember that are apparently doing “big things” now and “Remember the Time”-stories.

“Remember the time I was coming out of that bar and I was like, ‘hey there’s Jimmy!  That cop right there, yeah that’s my cousin Jimmy!’  Hahahaha?  Remember that?”  And then a small part of my soul would die.

Dad finally showed up, about an hour into the two hour thing.  My mom’s chief concern was that he was going to hog the spotlight for some reason with his ridiculous beard and wild stories about whatever.  To his credit, dad was very well behaved and stayed towards the rear of the funeral parlor, idly chatting with his side of the family in the form of my two aunts, and my mother’s boss, which naturally mortified everyone who knew what was going on.

The next morning we were all up early to get ready for the High Mass at ten at the local Catholic Church which was directly behind my parent’s house.  Dad didn’t show up for this because he doesn’t “do churches” which crushed my mother and probably pushed her further away than anything else he’d done over the last week.  Ang was her rock in the stead of my father, for which we’re all grateful for.  I can’t tell you how much my mother bonded with Angela over the course of the week.  And this is in sharp contrast to their first meeting 6 months ago when Ang fiercely believed that my mother had it in for her.

“You’re mother doesn’t like me,” she whispered conspiratorially, one evening.  Over and over again I heard that phrase muttered in privacy, and now my mother was treating my wife like her best friend in the whole world.  Ang doesn’t feel like she did anything, but honestly, she did more than she’ll ever know, from the heart, to my mother.

I even openly and publicly thanked her in my Eulogy, which I delivered at the closing of the funeral.

The Eulogy is the toughest thing to write, any writer worth his salt will tell you that.  How do you sum up an entire life in five to ten minutes of speaking?  The night before the funeral I sat at my mother’s computer and stared long and hard at an old picture of my grandmother trying to embody her spirit, trying to tap into her psychic soul, trying to listen for her voice from beyond the grave, and nothing really came up.  There was the suggestion of using my old Parker Bros. Ouija Board, but being that the woman just died, I figured I’d give her a little time to get acclimated before making a collect call to the Other Side.

So I wrote a short speech with talking points based around historical facts that occurred during Memere’s eighty-eight years, focusing on how she inherited her strength from living through The Great Depression, how she saw The Civil Rights Movement at it’s lowest point with the assassination of MLK to it’s highest with President Obama being elected.  She lived through 16 presidencies, and the infancy of the Price is Right.

I talked for a short while, making sure at the top of the speech to thank all the appropriate people, such as Ang, Hospice, the local community church leaders, everyone who came out to the Wake and funeral, etc.  And when I was done, my cousin Tom, who was acting as a Deacon during the ceremony got up and said a few words.

I’m so glad I went first, because I would’ve hated to follow Tom.  If I beat up the place with my words, Tom killed it.  And I told him that, verbatim.  He stood at the podium, rubbing the bridge of his nose, pinching it to hold back tears as he spoke from the heart about his memories of Memere from when he was a kid.  He mentioned some sort of book, I don’t really recall what it was, but everything he said dripped with pain and loss, whereas mine dribbled my own style of awkward humor on to things (my mother begged me not to make any jokes in the Eulogy.  “You sometimes think you’re cute, and you say very inappropriate things at very inappropriate times,” she chastised.  I did have a bit about Memere’s detailed style of story telling and how it related to a tale about a colonoscopy, but I relented to my mother’s wishes and kept things very light.).

That night, with everything said and done, including helping my mother move her belongings in a hurried fashion from our house to her new digs at Memere’s, I had a long chat with my father.  He was buzzed, also probably stoned, and still unapologetic for all the hurt he’d caused.

“Honestly Jim, I moved away from your mother seven months ago,” he said at one point.  Followed by:  “I hope your grandmother gave you a hefty inheritance, because she could’ve been a lot better of a grandmother to you when she was alive…”  I sat in disbelief, sipping on a Budweiser, staring at motorcycle parts strewn about the room in a scattered fashion.

You have to understand something about my father before you sit down and talk to him:  there’s no sitting down and talking to him.  He runs the show, like a trial lawyer who’s taking up his own defense, he gestures about the room as if addressing a jury made up entirely of mes.  He pleads his case and then asks follow up questions that he then takes upon himself to answer.  And of course he’s a softball pitcher, giving himself big fat meatballs to swing at.

I gave up trying to get my point across due to his aggressive responses that would usually corner me.  At the time I wasn’t sure that I was going soft on him on purpose because he’s my dad and there’s some sort of hardwired rule inside of me that says he’s not to be challenged and he’s infallible.  It could’ve been the fact too that he won’t let you get a word in edgewise during his rants of self-pity and manipulations.

In other words, if you disagree with what he’s saying, he automatically casts you aside as “not being on [his] side” and being unsupportive.  While we… he spoke… I found many contradictions and flaws in his arguments; most of which perpetrated while also claiming to being the victim of.

Example:  He claims that he can’t get along with his best friend Gillis because Gillis is too stubborn to admit he’s wrong about something.

Or:  My mother got upset at him for a minor insult and held it over him for a “really long time,” when he felt the insult wasn’t that big of a deal and was “just a joke.”  See also:  Man of Leisure.

By the end of it my head was warbling with bullshit and I noticed the clock on the wall and new we had to get back to the Cape soon or we’d be stuck in Maine another night.  I explained this to dad and he understood, but wanted to hug things out anyway.  We hugged and my heart sagged a little.  No, it sagged a lot.  It sagged because I knew that my dad’s only friend in the world that night was his half case of Budweiser, half gallon of Canadian Club, and a bowl to be smoked later.

He had no one else.

My greatest fear is that my father is going to end up dead and alone in Mexico, a bloated carcass on some lonely stretch of beach that not even the gringo tourists go to.  Specifically I’m sure I’m the only one who has this fear, but in a general sense I’m sure it’s a fear shared by everyone in the family, and that stems from the fact that everyone knows my father is basically Peter Fonda from “Easy Rider”, a Captain America of sorts who doesn’t care where the road takes him to, as long as it doesn’t double back here.

For me, Papa really was a rolling stone.  During the twenty-seven years of my life his roll was rutted until the plates tectonic shifted and got him rolling along again.  Thinking about all of this as he clutched me tightly to his chest got me to well up a little and I sniffed loudly in his ear.

“Are you crying you fag?”  He asks me still in his death clutch.

“No,” I gasp.

“Do I gotta have the talk with you like you’re 12?  Me and your mother still love you, blah blah blah, all that Dr. Phil bullshit?”

Fucking bastard, indignant to the end.

We packed and stopped at mom’s house, the idea that it was “mom’s house” hit me flatly and I just kinda accepted it.  Ang’s purse went missing (we found it amongst all the shit we packed in the truck when we got back home), we got some sort of wall hanging that belonged to my Memere about the “Marriage Creed” that’s now hanging in our study over my desk, and we all hugged promising to call when we got back home.  We also forgot the two Tim Horton’s mugs we stole.  They were left in the dish washer.

Jesus Christ, I’m pushing 12 pages by this point, or just over eight thousand words.  I better wrap this up, or I might end up turning this into another unsuccessfully published book.

Dad doesn’t have a cell phone or a computer anymore, so there’s no way to get in touch with him that won’t require snail mail or carrier pigeon.  This is concerning.

Mom has her computer and cell phone and at this point it might be too much to ask her to go check on him to make sure he didn’t get drunk and die from carbon monoxide poisoning in his shop that night.

If I learned anything from all of this, this whole week was that I’m going to work extra hard on my marriage and the growth of my family down the line.  I never want to be stuck in a bitter marriage where the two people hate each other and don’t even bother to hide their loathing.  I’m not saying I want to shoot for the perfect marriage because that’s impossible.  That’s the same as trying to be the perfect person.  You can’t be the perfect person because then life becomes a dull waiting room visit at a dentist’s office.  Imperfections make the spice of life.

But I’m going to work on my flaws and communicate them to my wife so she knows where my heads at.  I’m going to look out for her and us together, as she’s going to look out for me and us at the same time.  We’re like Bubba and Forest in the middle of the jungles of Vietnam.  I’m going to rest against her back and she’s going to rest on mine, together, at the same time, so we’re both not stuck sleeping in cold mud.

I don’t want to be my parents.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing In The Bowels Of The American Justice System

The title of this article can be misleading, I’m sure.  By “bowels” you probably are thinking I spent the weekend in the pokey, getting passed around like a cigarette amongst hardcore gangbangers and meth-addled tweakers.  But you’re wrong.  I think I meant to say “bowels” because the American Judiciary is a shit-caked cavity, collapsing slowly under it’s own bloated weight due to a failing infrastructure, piloted by earnest and hard working magistrates and public prosecutors and defenders, who aren’t paid nearly half of what they should, yet act like they’re the mayors of this semen-stained burg that looks to crush the common man under it’s oppressive, calloused foot.

That being said, I’ve never had a “good” experience with the law.  I’ve never really been on the wrong side of it, I actually used to work for it; Law itself is a tempting, syphilis harboring bitch who will not only burn you, but steal your wallet and throw your car keys out the window from three stories over an alley shared with a chinese restaurant below, just as you’re pulling your pants up from around your ankles.

My career with Law started out as being a small town police officer for about four years, a little more actually.  It was small in the sense that there was never really much action, so for a 22 year old kid, who was itching to get into John Wu-style karate and gun fights, I spent a majority of time working the late shift, driving my cruiser to the edge of town behind the local dog kennel, and sleeping with my car’s radio turned all the way in case some shit did actually go down.

But I left for what I thought was going to be greener pastures else where, and things got all fucked up, and long story short, I ended up quitting in the middle of the night in dramatic fashion, complete with a cardboard box full of my things, turning in my gun and my badge on my duty sergeant’s desk.

Roughly six months later I took a demoralizing desk job at the district court house, where my mother also worked on the county side (there’s the county and there’s the State side, I worked for the State).  That job lasted roughly six months before I was escorted from the premises, again with a box of my belongings by court security because my I rejected my former bosses sexual advances, even though I largely suspect she was a lesbian.

So with this background, coupled with my bachelor’s from John Jay College of New York City in Criminal Justice (minored in History) I would consider that I have an above average knowledge of how our American legal system not only is supposed to work, but how it actually works.

Picture in your head two giant cogs, only one’s not fitting flush against another.  One of those cogs is the average person’s interpretation of Due Process, while the other is the reality.

This morning The Lady and I had to head back off Cape to appear in a district court house, because she is a character witness in a criminal trespassing case.  The defendant, whose name I fear mentioning will also get me subpoena’d, allegedly broke into someone’s home and stole their passports due to a jealous rage involving a female who lived at said apartment, who’s living in our country on a work Visa from some Balkan country.

(Legal deleted a lot of Jim’s explanation, just go with it, -ed)

So this prick, his face puffy, a long ratty pony tail extending down his back, stuffed into a cheap suit, making him look like a snake oil salesman, drafted writs to have everyone under the sun show up to this trial this morning to act as character witnesses either for him or against his former lover, this chick from the Balkans.  Ang never even met this guy, yet she received a total of three separate subpoenas.  Another middle aged man received a subpoena because he once or twice dropped this girl off at work when her car broke down.  A lot of the people who showed up this morning at the court house had confused looks on their faces.

But no one had to drive as far as we did.

I had a feeling in my gut that this trial was going to go one of two ways:  Either it was going to be a long drawn out day that was going to extend into multiple days, or it was going to require Ang and I to drive two hours through early morning Boston commuter traffic, to get there, spend five minutes in front of a judge and be excused.

I wished the former would’ve happened.

And if you’ve ever had to appear in court, whether it’s a criminal or civil matter, you know the drill.  You arrive early, well dressed (those who show up in jeans and t shirts, etc, you know this isn’t their first time in front of the judge), and wait.  It’s a lot of waiting.  Wait for the court room to open.  Wait for the judge.  Once the judge (usually a pompous asshole drunk on his/her own power and pantless under his/her robe) is seated, then they fly through everything on the docket in an hour, no matter if the court room is crammed to the max or if it’s a smattering of peoples.  You’re on the judge’s time now, son.

And there’s actually good reason for this:  While working in the court house I observed a lot of criminal arraignments and trials, and they’re not at all what you see on television;  the attorneys mumble through motions, if there’s a disagreement over something, a quick side bar is had, but usually there’s no drama involved.  The defendant is told to stand, told to sit, is told to stand again, addressed by his fucking holiness, and then escorted out.

NEXT!

So I was prepared for this as we were escorted to Court Room Two, on the second floor.  Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here; I skipped a line in my notes.  There’s the court security.

Ever wonder where old policemen go to die?  It’s court security, the gunless, gutless, also-drunk-on-power squadron of Nazis that love to make the common man’s pants fall down.

In Maine, the Maine State Judiciary can barely afford to keep full time security for it’s court houses operational, which is scary when you think about how many people get bad news when they show up in front of a judge.  That isn’t to say there are not armed Sheriff’s Deputies and cops just lingering about, but anyone can slip a gun or knife into the court house and take hostages.

I figured this would be the case as well in Massachusetts.

Wrong.

I was smart enough to leave my piece at the apartment, but I usually carry a Gerber knife in my back pocket as a back up/utility tool.  You never know when you’re going to need to cut something, you know?  Well dressed in an impeccable London Fog black overcoat and scarf, I saw the metal detector gates, being monitored by shlumpy looking wannabes and has beens and did an immediate about-face, which I’m sure looked as suspicious to the court security officers as a car coming to a screeching halt a quarter mile away from a well lit police road block and going back up the street.

So I ditched the knife back in The Lady’s car and stood back in line.  I was made to suffer the indignity of removing my belt, dropping my keys and blackberry into the little dish, and walking through the gate.

Ever watch Lay People troop through metal detectors?  It’s like they’re all walking an invisible tight rope; arms out from their sides, one foot in front of the other, walking slow with exercised caution.  Everyone did this but me.  (I didn’t see how The Lady went through, because I was back at the car when she went through.)

So I walk through, like a normal human being, and when I get to the other side, a squeeky-voiced boyscout in a uniform only Hitler/Bush could love is holding up my truck keys.

“Sir, I have to check your keys, you can’t have the kobeton in here,” as he dangles my keys in front of me.  I look at him as I would at something I just stepped in.

I keep a kobeton, a black light-weight miniature baton made of hard resin, used as a “compliance tool” by old school cops, as a key chain for my keys.  Yes I know how to use one, and often, not many people know what they are anymore.  So I was somewhat impressed with this Police Explorer’s Captain’s pronunciation.  Usually, anyone in the “know” who sees a kobeton automatically assumes you’re in law enforcement.

But this kid played by the rules like such a fucking boy scout hanging off his mother’s tit it made me want to blow out his chest cavity with a well place palm strike that wouldn’t stop til I got spinal fluid all over my nice coat.

So I took the ticket and belt and keys and phone and with this handful of shit I marched upstairs where the party of bewildered witnesses stood around idly chatting about what a huge asshole this guy who called everyone to be here via court order, was.

The key person, this girl from the Balkans told us straight up that the trial wasn’t going to go on today, because a key witness was in Florida.  Why didn’t we think of that?

So instead, we were all going to be present for the scheduling of the continuation, which will take about ten minutes to figure out, before we’re all asked to step out of the court room.

This is where this other guy, that other older guy who gave the girl a ride once, starts to fume.

“This is such bullshit,” he mutters to himself.  He’s one of those angry type of people who can’t help but not fit in.  He’s a square amongst round holes and knows it, but is too prideful or perhaps indignant to admit it.  I keep subtle eye on him because he’s going to be a fire cracker with a short fuse.

After letting us cool our heels for fifteen minutes, we’re finally instructed to enter the tiny closet that makes up Court Room Two.  I’m the second to last one in, and it seems that everyone’s stopped right at the door.  So I push passed everyone and have a seat on the empty benches over to the left, by myself.  I look back at everyone else, roughly six of them (oh, the firecracker guy, he came with me too, sat behind me, weird) huddled next to the door looking like a pack of kids up to mischief in one of those movies from the 80s starring Robert Downy Jr or John Cussack.

It was actually kinda comical.

And across the court room, representing himself, as a true cheap asshole would, was this guy and his pony tail which screamed for conditioner, and his off the rack suit from Sears.  He was wearing dark blue with gray pinstripes, which made me want to slash my own throat with a shoe.

Some haggling took place and the witnesses identified themselves meakly before the judge.  Well, not all the witnesses.  It went something like this…

“Please, uh, state your names, starting with you on the right there, Ms?”  Said the judge.

“Mumble mumble mumble,” said the first girl.

“Mumble mumble” said the guy next to her.

“Mumble Mumble Mumble, Mumble Mumble” said the girl next to him.

“ANGELA GODDAMN RED ROCKET H****” said The Lady, who found the only pair of balls within the gaggle.

A moment later, when it was brought to the judge’s attention that the key witness was in Florida, (also I should mention that the defendant subpoena’d a federal agent and a detective, which almost made me burst out in laughter, whom didn’t show up, obviously.)  he mentioned that the trial date be moved to some time in February.  This got the reaction I was waiting for from Firecracker who was still sitting behind me.

“Oh what the hell!”  He said.  I turned my head slightly back towards him.

“If you’re going to address the judge, you need to stand up.  Robert’s Rules of Order!”  I said in a hushed tone.  He ignored me.

“Sir,” he started.  Also, interrupting a sitting judge is probably the last thing you want to do.  The judge calmly let the guy know he would be heard from in a minute, but the firecracker kept pressing.  “I’m an over land truck driver (there’s any other kind?) and I’m losing money coming to all these things.  I don’t even know this guy, and I don’t know why I even got subpoena’d!”  By now, the entire court room was telling him to stand up, which I think he mistook for encouragement, and a bailiff came over and put herself between him and the judge.

“Who’s witness is he?”  The judge breathed out towards the ADA.

“Um, he’s mine your honor” said the defendant.

“He’s your witness?”  The judge clarified.

“Yes,”

“And he’s important to your defense?”

“Yes your honor,”

“Oh this is such bullshit!”  The Firecracker proclaimed.  The bailiff instructed him that he was close to getting contempt.  He sat back down fuming.

The judge called a side bar to see if this guy was necessary, and being that the defendant is what I imagine someone who has a above average narrow penis and an equally above average in width mean streak, told the judge he wanted the guy to be here, probably at the cost of his own case, because I highly doubt Firecracker is going to take the stand and say anything nice about this mammoth cocksucker.

And why is he defending himself in the first place?  I know it’s a right afforded to people, but really, it’s ridiculous.  This is why we have public defenders, who, although are wholly over worked and don’t give a shit about their clients, know how law works, and seldom screw over regular folks in the periphery of a case.  And did you know, that if you defend yourself in open court, provide your own council, and lose, you can get a new trial, automatically because you didn’t hire a legitimate attorney to handle your case, like you should have in the first place?

This is what’s wrong with the American Legal System.  This is why our taxes are so high.  Imagine for every asshole who thinks he’s on Law and Order, taking on his own case, you have to shell out ten dollars.  Ten dollars is going to this larger than life fuck up.  I don’t mean to sound Republican, but in this day and age of wasteful spending, that seems to be an avenue we could look down to trim down our over all budget.

So the judge, ADA, and this guy all come out of the sidebar and it’s decided that the trial will be continued to sometime in early Feb.  The guy cries bullshit again and we’re all taken out of the court room, dejected, as if we were all invited back to an exes house with the idea we were going to get back together, but instead were greeted with a small box containing our shit.

On the way out, the Firecracker is bitching like he’s in heat, saying that he’s going to lose a lot of money from not working.  It’s here that The Lady was going to tell him to shut the fuck up, because everyone was losing; everyone was affected by this selfish prick in a bad suit.  A vengeful ex boyfriend who has expanded on what I thought the limits of jilted revenge were.

Whenever other people can’t maintain, and their problems seep out from the boarder of their control, there’s the American Judiciary, ready to step in and fuck over anyone who may or may not have shared the same pocket of air with the affected.  Lock your doors, board up your windows, bury the guns in an oil drum in the back yard.  Remember to buy a manual can opener for all those stored rations in the basement.

I’m just sayin…

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Fear and Loathing, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , | 2 Comments