Archive for April, 2014

“I’m not a racist, but…”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Don’t have the nerve to be openly racist? Don’t say racist things.

BLACKS_CAN'T_SWIM_Where Excuses Go to DieThere’s nothing surprising about life circling back on karma leper Donald Sterling. And this week, L.A. feels like when they hauled the Space Shuttle Endeavor through the city: scores of Angelenos on the same proud page, even if only briefly.

Thank you Donald Sterling, shoo-in for the 2014 Utter Lack of Character Award.

As a former recipient myself, I fully admit to being an ethically spoiled A-hole in my early 20s – so much so that it took being dropped into an environment where everything I didn’t want to be crept or assaulted its way toward me every day, on a minute-by-minute basis. And frankly, it was really the only way for me to learn. The sole advantage I had was a dark sense of humor, which meant that one or two hostile wake-up calls were met halfway.

There are, though, three things I understood right off:

  1. Don’t hang around with people who like to punch others ‘cause they have to practice on someone (it’ll eventually be you)

  2. No matter what it is, say to their face. Own it. Force the other guy to do all the work, all the reacting, and all the resenting

  3. If you don’t know what racism is (learned, practiced, and legacy), you should probably shut the fuck up about how “Blacks can’t swim”

Equally clear to me (and everyone else) was that, behind bars, sentences never begin with, “I’m not a racist, but…” (more…)

A Billboard for Brainlessness

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

No, he won’t have to answer questions like “Whad they get you for?”

MUG_SHOT_MURDER_Jeffrey Wade ChapmanJeffrey Wade Chapman is about to stand trial for First Degree Murder  –but ooh–  doesn’t want to appear before a jury with “MURDER” tattooed like a billboard for brainlessness across his throat. So the pride of Great Bend, Kansas is appealing to the Barton County District Court for help.
 
Through his attorney, Defendant Chapman has asked that what has essentially become an albatross around his neck be either removed or obscured. Never mind that he lacked the foresight to have thought twice about getting the tattoo. And forget that he’s made himself a walking, talking jury instruction. (Guilty!) Chapman is as desperate as a house cat above a tub full of water. And he should be.
 
Maybe someday he’ll be able to figure out what the hell he was thinking when he mistakenly chose “MURDER” over “MONSTER COCK.”
 
He reminds me of a guy I met at Folsom Prison’s Level-4 “Old Yard,”  a guy who’d similarly chosen to market what he brought to the table.
 
They called this guy “Fresno”…because he had “FRESNO” tattooed across his forehead in big, old English lettering. Having eaten a few meals together, I eventually got up the courage to ask him why. Fresno just shrugged and kept eating. 
 
So I have a sneaking suspicion Chapman’s answer won’t be much different. (By the way, were I to go by Fresno’s and Chapman’s logic, my own face would read, “FARTER,” but that’s another post entirely.)

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Sentencing Reform in a Nutshell

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Since 1980, California has built one college campus and 21 prisons.

That’s a heckuva statement isn’t it?

Twenty-one prisons versus one college campus. It gives us a little insight into why sentencing and prison reform is becoming an ever more crucial national dialogue. And California is hardly the only state dealing with the consequences of America’s push to incarcerate its way out of crime.

Sentencing Reform in a Nutshell – When someone commits a crime and goes to prison only to emerge a worse criminal, taxpayers are not getting what they paid for.

The proverbial nutshell rarely gets easier to understand.

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Court Referred Community Service Diary – 4

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Where Excuses Go to Poop“My brain processed disgust and fault, but fairness also factored”

I meant to pay the ticket on time, but when both extensions I’d requested were granted, so much time had passed I marginalized its importance. When I finally faced the music, the Traffic Commissioner was happy to suspend my hefty fine in exchange for 50 hours of community service at a local Goodwill Donation Center. Welcome to #4 in a series…(Here’s parts 12, and 3)

March/April 2014 – Goodwill Donation Center, Friday.

It’s one thing to work alongside Goodwill’s physically challenged employees and see the nonprofit’s bighearted claims of helping the disabled play out before you. It’s quite another thing to use a toilet after them.

HAIL SATAN_Where Excuses Go to DieBut first, a little scene setting…

Disabled persons selected to work at this particular Goodwill are essentially removed from the non-disabled. To use the employee break room, for example, they have to pass through the “regular” employees’ work areas, but not the other way around –because they’re stuck in a corner. They’re not banished in any way, but they do work in a rather lonesome neighborhood of the building.

I’d rather not exaggerate things by adding that their primary function –sorting donated clothes– is the most repellent of Goodwill tasks, but it’s true. It doesn’t help that the neighborhood in question is surrounded by a wall of six-foot roller-bins, clothing racks, and giant piles of donated garments. Benjamin Netanyahu would be jealous.

Donated Clothing Fun Fact: even by the time garments reach the floor, soiled handkerchiefs and, er, other items, can often be found in pockets. It’s dicey, sure, but my guess is everyone goes through a checking-pockets phase regardless. You can’t watch how nonchalantly bags of expensive clothing are thrown from luxury cars by people who decline receipts without letting your curiosity get the best of you. (more…)

YOU are Chuck Stone

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

You’re told someone upset is waiting to speak with you on line two.

Former Daily News columnist Chuck Stone_Daily News photo by G.W. MillerHe’s alternately weeping and cursing. He’d just informed whoever answered that your office’s most experienced people don’t count for shit: it’s you or nobody.

He’s on the run, apparently, and deathly afraid of the cops learning his location. He’s a suspected murderer they’ve been after for months. He’s tired. He can’t run anymore. It was self-defense, he insists, but in police custody he knows he’s in for beatings and probably death.

Terrific. You’ve got it bad enough as it is; you don’t need more hassles. As the only black man with a desk in this white staff room, you already stick out like a sore thumb. Hell, just out in the hallway, above the restrooms, the words “COLORED” and “WHITE” are under scant few of coats of paint –and you remember when the first was applied.

THE NEWSROOMExplicit racial segregation may have been recently outlawed, but the leftovers of implicit segregation are everywhere. You know some of your colleagues are lurking, questioning why you’d even been given this job. You’re one of maybe three black journalists in America working for a major metropolitan newspaper (white owned, of course).

Not only are you lucky you’re not pushing a broom, here’s your next story being handed to you personally. No hunting down witnesses for lengthy interviews, no knocking on doors or being told to get lost. All so you can stand in the way of 20 seething badges, each of whom is banging at the starting gate for a run at your new friend. There are few things cops hate more than not controlling the narrative of an apprehension, and this won’t easily be forgotten.

But that’s okay: you’ve got this. You are Chuck Stone. (more…)

Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Men's Central Jail_MILLION DOLLAR ROWIt’s hard not to mock Chris Brown’s stay at LA’s Men’s Central Jail

It’s also really hard not to mock Chris Brown.

To paraphrase a web commentator: No one suffers like Chris Brown, just ask Chris Brown.

But Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail reminds me of election campaign rallies where attendees are pre-screened for cross-eyed party loyalty regardless of candidate, and at the same time showcased to media as “a diverse array of everyday voters.” Or of how Dick Cheney used to make those surprise visits to Iraq: no way in hell was that man gonna subject himself to real Iraqis or suffering, but gosh those visits were all hearts and minds nonetheless, weren’t they? The parallel in Brown’s case is that the court never intended for him to see the particular Men’s Central Jail he’ll no doubt brag of surviving. I’ll get there.

First, since the LA-leg of the girl-punching celebrity inmate’s tour of custody is over, let’s consider a few of the realities he’s facing that he’s probably been able to sidestep so far. Number one having been diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder, as apparently Brown has. It’s no excuse for beating the crap out of a 90-pound woman – period. (more…)

The Kevin Cook Show – TONIGHT

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

WKTA 1330_Kevin CookIf you can laugh behind bars you can survive just about anything.

I’m looking forward to assuming the guest position tonight on WKTA 1330 AM – Chicago’s Kevin Cook Show, where topics careen “from politics to the paranormal.” You can look for the interview link right here next week, or listen online. The show begins at six pm Pacific –

The Kevin Cook Show is piloted by Kevin Cook and Heidi Hollis, and while it’s scheduled to go an hour, I’m not sure if they’re going to take live callers or just make fun of me.

Either way, it sounds fun, and I’m sure we’ll get into prison reform, parolee reentry, and maybe even the top 10 self-help books currently being treated for Twinkies on prison yards across America. Many of the other excuses, subjects, and current issues found here on Where Excuses Go to Die are all up for grabs as well.

If you listen in and wind up offended, please tell your friends.

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