Archive for October, 2014

Fitness & Stuff with Jimmy

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I abhor the pretend comfort of gyms. My alternative is much worse. 

PLENTY OF CLOWNS TO MAKE THE ROUNDSWeekday mornings, my wife and I are up at 5:50, wishing we could hide behind our excuses. Our destination is a nearby gymnastics academy, where we attend workout classes that are held before the facility opens for training. The hour-long sessions are similar to those at other fitness bootcamps, yet ours seems to lack an expectation of polite behavior – and that works for us just fine. We sneer at the uniformity, the schadenfreude, and the peacockish know-nothings that inhabit the world of franchise fitness.

Kooks of a different stripe are the smart-asses our alternate choice tends to attract. We get misfits, irregulars, and the godless.

Fitness buzzwords and cheerful slogans don’t get thrown around our class, but insults, gripes, and taunts certainly do. Some of us do manage to refrain from using the word “retard,” which is interesting, because as ethnically, culturally, and socially diverse as we are, it’s the only taboo word no one seems willing to reconsider. And nothing beats “fatso” for the most commonly heard.

And it’s still better than a gym membership. (more…)

WHO THE HELL ROBS BOOKSTORES?

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

10/20 Where Excuses Go to Die at Univ. San Diego: Warren Auditorium

FREE WHERE EXCUSES GO TO DIE AUTHOR TALK WITH Q&A:

Many thanks to Gina DeLapa of Stuff You Already Know fame and the Department of School, Family and Mental Health Professions at the University of San Diego.

10-20-14_WHO THE HELL ROBS BOOKSTORES__Where Excuses Go to Die

.John Espinosa Nelson_Where Excuses Go to Die_Photo by Katie Ferguson

What, CCPOA, no opposition?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

California prison guard union’s silence on Prop 47 smells funky…

Apocalypse Hoosegow 9_CCPOA EDITION_Where Excuses Go to DieIn 2011, the CCPOA claimed it had “played a decisive role” in electing Governor Jerry Brown after dropping $2 million on his campaign alone. The characteristic boast came in the form of a video called “The Winners,” griped about at the time by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez.

That year, the union endorsed candidates it favored to the tune of $7 million and received plenty in exchange. Of 107 candidates it backed in California, 104 were elected.

It’s no secret that the CCPOA is one of the most influential unions in American history: it’s been building that power in earnest since the ‘80s, when CCPOA-sponsored legislation began to be successful about 80% of the time. Not surprisingly, this period includes some of California’s most intractable laws, such as 1984’s infamous Three Strikes legislation. “The formula is simple,” writes Joan Petersilia in Volume 37 of Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. “More prisoners lead to more prisons; more prisons require more guards; more guards means more dues-paying members and fund-raising capability; and fund-raising, of course, translates into political influence.” Naturally, the CCPOA has a vested interest in keeping incarceration and recidivism rates high. (more…)

Prison Visitor Hardball

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

As if California’s prison visitors didn’t have it demanding enough.

Process in and process out is what seeing daddy is all aboutIt goes without saying that, for family members, prison visits are psychologically and emotionally demanding. Just keeping up with background check requirements, approved visiting days, bureaucratic obstacles, and the distinct operational eccentricities of the facilities in which your loved one may be housed is an education in itself – a part-time job. And none of it applies to the wild-card of lockdowns or the myriad other things that can affect visitations, like visits being cut short due to overcrowding.

The experience itself is more akin to driving for four hours only to stand in line to deal with a speeding ticket for which you’d previously failed to appear. You get a strong sense that you’re only being grudgingly tolerated by authorities, who’ve lumped you in with the rest, with “those people.” And in fact you are literally penned in with other visitors awaiting approval and entry.

Such areas are always some variation of “Visitor Intake” or “Processing,” and they’re never short on militaristic signage and ALL CAPS ANXIOUSNESS. Depending on the facility and its administrator’s interpretation of departmental policy, waiting areas may be lined with hard wooden benches (the kind you could easily be handcuffed to), tattered airport seating, or flimsy plastic stackables. (more…)