And the creation of its page coincides with the crumbling of the walls around that secret society of thugs known as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. With its members turning on each other and the Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. finally being exposed for the Academy of Excessive Force it’s always been, I figured it was time to share what it’s been like to bring this story to market.
But what do the two have to do with each other? Everything. The Tuesday, July 3, 2012 agenda for one of several special meetings of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors lists “Allegations regarding civil rights violations in the County jails – significant exposure to litigation” as a pressing topic for discussion.
Here’s a loosely chronological nutshell of that whole story: Sheriff’s badges given to local politicians; “Not in the face;” FBI agents infiltrate Men’s Central Jail; Deputy misconduct and abuse cover-ups, Heroin Burritos, Dungeon of Death. The list could go on, but let’s move on instead.
The County Supervisors have been getting an earful for some time now. And this resonates with me, having lived through much of what’s being exposed. Watching the spotlight get thrown on the deputies who run that jail is surreal, especially with regard to the 2nd and 3rd floors and the Sheriff’s “gangs” who hide the inhumane conditions and misconduct.
Book Teaser: Some old Asian dude gets beat down for whatever reason and decides to curl up directly under the bowl of the only open toilet for 80 men. Every single one of us has to step over this unconscious person in order to squat or aim, and he’s laying in a pudding of sickness to begin with. Some guys are simply pissing on him, fuck it. Thinking someone might wanna yank the dude outta the way, I mention it to a 3000 Block Deputy who’s flirting with a female civilian assistant jailer. “Yeah-yeah,” he says, and goes back to makin’ time. Middle of the night comes, four Deputies roust everyone, find me, and shove me into a laundry room, where they hold me against a wall and take turns with the punching and kicking. The lead A-hole, a gap-toothed dickhead, keeps repeating, “Don’t ever interupt me when I’m talking to a female!” Sure pal, I’m your problem.
Where Excuses Go to Die will be available in print and in all device formats January 2013.
Meanwhile, a Where Excuses Go to Die Facebook page will best allow me to share what it’s been like trying to get this story told; from the disappointed expressions I find when I claim to have better hooks than rape, riots, and rotten food, to rejection letters and go-for-its I’ve received along the way. There’ve been loonies I’ve attracted in the process, there’s always smoke being blown up my ass and the dread of asking others to read pages (what a whole separate pathology that is! It’s like borrowing or lending money). Then there’s being along for the ride as the publishing world makes an ass of itself, all while trying not to go out the the record industry. And finally there’s dealing with those who assume I’m a profit-hungry martyr. All of it. It’s all a completely separate journey from having paid my debt to society for robbing, um, bookstores.
Writing a book about a prison sentence — wherein the absurdities witnessed might as well have happened on Pluto: The Forgotten Planet — and then trying to get it published is, yes, in itself a story. I’ve spent years feeling like a guy on a freeway offramp, rattling his foam cup and swearing people will like what they read. This January I’m finally gonna sink or swim. ‘Til then, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, good ‘n bad, and somebody somewhere might appreciate a few tips and warnings. For instance I discovered that a stack of rejection letters is good not only for achieving an ideal ergonomic monitor height, it also mean you’re doing something – unlike any number of talkers out there.
And just as I applied it to every word of Excuses as well as to this blog, I plan to apply to my WEGTD Facebook page one of the most important things I’ve ever learned about the craft of writing: “Just because it happened to you, doesn’t make it interesting. You have to make it interesting.”