Institution, electrocution

I kind of think our nation has gone insane.  I don’t know if it was the blood thirst after 9/11 or what.  But we suck.  A lot.  The fact that Americans are doing shit like this makes me wonder are we as great as we say we are?  I think it’s just a bunch of imperialistic crap.  We certainly aren’t civilized.  And we’re stupid.  How about these assclowns?  Seriously.  Not civilized.

There’s a portion of this society running around spewing hate and calling themselves Christians.  Now the Wine Dog might be a bit of a junk yard dog from time to time, but I’ve read the Bible.  And I know the tenets that it teaches.  You sir, are having problems with reading comprehension.  As did the Devil himself.  Or the current dumbest guy in the room.

I got one of those bullshit emails yesterday that was just about half truth about Denzel Washington going to the Marine Corp burn unit and pulling out his checkbook.  Close.  Mr. Washington did make a sizable donation to the burn unit on behalf of the troops, he just doesn’t carry his check book with him.  He had his people call their people.  He is a gentleman and a consistent philanthropist.  He quietly does the right thing.  And we don’t hear too much about it.  We get to hear about Michael Vick.  We’re busy worrying about Lindsay Lohan’s latest drug test.  Or Paris Hilton’s last bust.  Or watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  Or Snookie’s latest misadventure. What the hell is the matter with us?  Why does anybody watch Glenn Beck?  Why does that guy have a job in the first place?  What can you say about a guy who accused the President of hating white people?  What is the purpose of such a lame comment beyond polarization?  Fear and polarization.  Yet he gets a ton of wingnuts to attend a rally and they think that they are making some sort of break through.  No, the truth is y’all are pining for the good old days.  I call bullshit.

As a nation, we won’t get off of our lazy fat overstuffed American asses and make a difference in this world.  And not just any difference, a positive difference.  There is little honor in a lot of what I’m seeing from our country right now.  Bush I talked of a kinder, gentler nation and then took us in the exact opposite direction.  And now a bunch of wingnuts are pissing and moaning because Obama wants to restore the United States position in the world in the form of a benevolent leader.   These are the same wingnuts who are in favor of torture.  If you still believe torture works, I recommend watching Return with Honor.  It’s about our POW’s in Viet Nam.  It came out in 1998, we ought to have known better.  An aha moment would be when the men talked about telling the Viet Cong a bunch of bullshit to get them to stop the torture.  And the torture they endured was horrific.  They never told them anything that was helpful.  Only bullshit.  Do you really think religious fanatics would behave any differently?  They actually have more reason to hold out.  The torture that occurred in Guantanamo Bay and throughout the system on Bush II’s watch didn’t do a damned thing to advance the fight against terrorism.  In fact, it took moderately committed Muslims and radicalized them, increasing the threat to Americans everywhere.  That’s not progress.  That’s not Christian and that’s not American.

They crawled out of the woodwork

We are getting really close to playing NWA here at PBE.

There has always been corruption in policing.  There has always been good cops and bad cops.  It just seems to me like we’re seeing a lot of the latter as of late.  I should not be the only one concerned about this.  First there was the railroading of me.  I was speeding, so I did break the law.  Write me an honest ticket and leave it at that.  Then we find out titleslug got railroaded, and let me tell you, you know if you’re going 114 or not.  The lady sitting in her car in the parking lot with her seat belt on who got the seat belt ticket.  Sitting in her car, not even moving.  And that’s just my little tiny world.  Now I know the Q is full of people who didn’t do it.  The problem is both me and titleslug did do it, just not the extreme that we were convicted of.  That is worrisome.

I got popped again about 10 days ago.  I was going to show property and needless to say I’ve been having a tough time keeping my head in check.  I wasn’t paying attention and looked down and I was going 95 on the 24.  I immediately got off of it and braked it down.  As I was coming over the next hill there he was.  Unmarked, on the side of the highway.  I was not the only one speeding but I was the one he picked out.  Typical.  I looked down and I was going around 85.  Certainly an improvement on the 95.  He got me.  He said he got me at 85, which interestingly enough was how fast I thought I was going.  But he wrote me for 79.  He said it would be a cheaper ticket.  I can’t be mad at this guy.  He got me dead to right and was cool about it.  Why is it necessary for these other guys to be such dicks?

Auntie and Cousin just left.  They’d been here since my Dad passed.  They were driving Miss Daisy last week and a guy flew by them on Ygnacio.  Auntie mused “Where are the cops at?”  Miss Daisy replied “Looking for my daughter”.  My family thinks I’m a jackass, they always have and probably deservedly.  If they’re taking my side, there is something really wrong.

I’m not going to stop there with the police though.  Number one, never chain a dog.  Number two, if for some unforseen reason a dog does need to be chained, don’t leave them chained until the goddamn collar embeds into their neck.  Number three if you’re a cop and you are that stupid you don’t deserve to be on the force, you shouldn’t be carrying a gun and you should be terminated immediately. And if you do it to a Doberman?  Well, you’re just a good reason to play NWA.

Police stupidity doesn’t stop there.  And in this story it’s really terrifying to any dog owner.  Right now it looks like a minor altercation between a poodle and Parrot who has been called a pitbull and Shar-pei mix alternately in the reporting of the story.

Parrot is [a] two-year-old dog for whom we have cared for almost a month. He has never bitten another dog and is regularly walked along 17th street during the busiest times of day without incident. He’s extremely friendly.

Today, there was an unexpected scuffle between Parrot and a poodle. Aaron, subdued Parrot, who was wearing both a leash and a harness. To do so, he placed his hands in Parrot’s mouth and held it open, which he has done when Parrot gets overexcited when romping in the apartment. As it had in the past, this calmed Parrot down.

At this point, the policeman knocked Aaron off of Parrot. The policeman put his knee in the middle of Parrot’s back while pulling Parrot’s forelegs behind him, as one would do with an armed criminal. Without waiting to determine whether this technique would calm Parrot, the policeman grabbed Parrot, lifted him off the ground, and brought him to the top of the concrete staircase. He threw Parrot over the banister, down twelve steps, and onto the concrete floor. Then, the policeman stood at the top of the stairs, drew his weapon, and executed Parrot. Aaron cannot recall the number of shots fired.

In this photo from the DCist, it appears that the dog is subdued just fine here.  Even after he took the dog away from his owner.  This is not where the cop stopped though.  This is where he took the dog and threw it over the banister and executed it.

Parrot was not a vicious dog.  Dogs scrap.  Hell, Bubba beat the crap out of Ike, I didn’t shoot him.  Loki snarked at Ike too, I didn’t shoot him either.  What in the world makes it okay for these public servants to execute pets?  Is shooting first and asking questions later the current policy?  They seem to think that because a few criminals use them for protecting their drug rings and for fighting that every square headed dog is a problem. They aren’t.  Most square headed dogs live out their entire life without incident.  It’s not that much of a stretch from shooting pitbulls to shooting Rottweilers and Dobermans.  We need to all stand up for Parrot.

There are bad owners and there are bad cops.  Unfortunately a good dog met a bad cop.  In lieu of playing NWA…

Rest in peace Parrot.  Dogs deserve better than you got.

It wasn’t me (you clocked goin’ 114 MPH!)

“Got a lump on my head and a boot print on my chest.
What the guys in here call the Tillamook county lie detector test.
Well I did my best,
but as a you mighta guessed
it’s a tough test not to fail.
I’m sittin’ here waitin’ in the Tillamook County Jail.”
Todd Snider, Tilimook County Jail

A few months ago, our beloved Wine Dog talked about being set up and railroaded. Her story was so inspiring, I set out to follow her lead.
On 6/28 I was dressed in my best Orange and Black to match my son. The Dodgers were in town and we were going to boo them into submission (or fail to do so). It was a long game and the ghost of Steve Garvey and Walter Alston were too strong. The Giants came in 2nd. Damn Dodgers!
We took Interstate 280 South to get home. Traffic was moving very fast through Daly City, so I took the teaching opportunity and slowed to 70 mph and moved into the #3 lane (my son is 16 and studying for his learner’s permit). I stayed there until some jackhole jumped on my bumper. He was really going fast, too; asshole! Then the inbred through on his red lights. I just passed the Sand Hill Road off ramp. I pulled to the right and the jerk started yelling in his horn, “exit Alpine rd and park under the light!”. I did.
He yelled at me to tell him how fast I was going. When I said, 71/72, he stopped me and said I had one more chance to tell him the truth. I said I hit 80, in Daly City but slowed down after I moved right. He said he clocked me at 114 mph in the #4 lane, back at Edgewood Rd/Canada rd on-ramp. I was gong so fast it took him that long to catch me. LIAR!
I tried to convince Officer Fife that he was mistaken. I never drive in the number 4 land and I’ve never driven 114 mph! He cited me anyway. 114 mph is a major big deal of ticket. Its a mandatory court appearance. I was lucky they didn’t arrest me and impound my car. This asshole was causing me some major grief and this was just the beginning.
Today I had my day in court. I brought my 16 year old son, who was with me in the car and who saw everything. He had to watch 2 officers lie. They lied in their report and they lied when I questioned them. They said I was doing 88 mph, when they finally caught me. They said my car (Honda S2000) has a distinct and unique sound to its exhaust. When I asked how could they hear the exhaust with my 4 cylinder engine allegedly screaming at 114 mph, they had no answer. They lied with they said they confirmed the sound of the exhaust when I came to a stop (I stopped the engine before them came out of their car). The fat Sr. officer (Officer Bilbrady was training), lied when he said he confirmed the car they clocked was the car they pulled over. The told the truth when they said they lost eye contact with the speeding car at Woodside Rd (that’s where I would have exited if I’d been going 114 mph and the dumbass cops weren’t on my butt yet). The judge took note. I said, the speeding car must have gotten off there, but it didn’t pass me and I never went north of 72 mph (after Daly City).
The judge asked them 3 time if they’d consider amending the citation to a simple speeding infraction. They refused. The judge then decided I was guilty (of speeding in excess of 100 mph).
I’m being fined nearly $800 and getting two points against my record and I’m, grounded. That’s right, a restricted license for 30 days means I’m grounded (I’m home officed, so the to and from work allowance really means I am free to walk or ride a bike anywhere I need to go.). I haven’t had a moving violation or accident for 17 years! Higher insurance rates are in my future. I’m fairly certain the keystone cops did clock someone going that fast, but it certainly wasn’t me.
I can’t believe my tax dollars pay these low achievers! My son saw a judge without balls and he saw Officer Ponch and his side kick lie under oath. Not a proud day.
time to move on!

Take it away, Todd!

And in the end, the love you take

Bill Crowell was a farm boy, a Navy pilot, a truck driver, a Real Estate Broker and my Dad.  He was one of the most well-respected common men I have ever known.  He never made a big splash any where, but there are those who literally owe their life to him.  There have been few men as honest as he was.  Rarely can you find a man who truly did his best to do the right thing, every time.  The older I got the more I realized what a gem he really was.  He used to tell me when I was a teenager that the older I got the smarter my old man would get.  He was right about that one.

Years ago I worked at a big dance bar in San Francisco.  I’d gone downstairs to get something and found a thief down there.  He tried to escape by running up the steps, through the bar and out the door.  I chased him assuming Security would join in.  They didn’t and I found myself on a quiet San Francisco street late at night face to face with a criminal.  He hit me.  In the head.  Eight times to be exact.  And then escaped.  I walked back to the bar to get help.  One of my friends took one look at my face and closed down the bar throwing everyone out.  They took me to the hospital where the Dr. looked at me and said “How many times did he hit you?”  “Eight.”  “How do you know eight?”  “I counted.  I work out a lot and I count in my head a lot.”  It was the night before Thanksgiving.  I woke up the next morning and it was apparent that I was going to miss the Family Massacre in Davis.  I called my Uncle and told him I wouldn’t be there because I couldn’t see out of the swollen closed eye and it was too dangerous to drive in holiday traffic like that.  The day after Thanksgiving I had to work at Founder’s Title.  In walked my Father to check on me.  “When are you going to quit doing stupid shit like that?” he asked.  “Dad, what would you have done?”  “Same damned thing.”  Well, there you have it.

He told me not to get Xica.  She was a little probably 4 day old puppy when I first saw her.  It was time for me to get my first dog as an adult.  I was living in San Francisco.  I had this great apartment at the end of the panhandle.  I lost my apartment over that dog.  Later he told me he was wrong about that dog and that I’d done the right thing.  He didn’t have a dog at the time.  When she was two we had Christmas at my house.  He sat in the living room and threw the wet slobbery tennis ball against the wall so Xica could chase it in the living room.  He would have killed me for doing that at his house.  Xica had an awesome time and so did he.

Back in 1989 I was a season ticket holder at Candlestick Park.  I had World Series tickets.  That’s not something my Dad would have ever pursued, but I had them and I asked him if he’d like to go to Game 3.  We were in the parking lot when the ground came up at him.  He grabbed his chest, sure that he was having a heart attack.  I thought “Oh shit!  I don’t know CPR.”  Then I saw a 5 series BMW rocking on it’s springs.  I looked up and the telephone poles were swinging wildly.  I turned to the old man and said “Stand up you silly sonofabitch, we’re having an earthquake.”  “Oh!”  And we walked to the third deck.  Halfway up I said “How’s your ticker going to do with these stairs?”  “That’s a good question” was his reply.  We got to our seats and I turned on my watchman.  I could see on the little tiny screen that the Bay Bridge had collapsed and the Marina was on fire.  “Dad, the Bay Bridge collapsed, we got to get out of here.”  “Shhh, you don’t want to upset the crowd and cause a riot” was his reply.  No Dad I don’t but it did and they aren’t going to play this game.  With that we left.  I took all my secret routes back to my apartment.  When we got there my phone was blowing up with friends who were scared to stay in their own home.  We ended up with a dog, two cats about 10 people and my Dad camping out in my apartment that night.

I got hurt a couple of times with my Dad.  He was teaching me to ride a bike out on Boyce Road.  When I was a kid it was a dirt road.  It’s all developed now.  I was riding along just fine and then I wasn’t.  I’m sure he was yelling “Keep pedalling!”  And down I went.  I landed face first.   I broke my front tooth.  I know he ran to where I was scooped me up in one arm and the bike in the other and headed home to my Mother, who was an RN.  There wasn’t much she or the family dentist could do about that one and I spent a number of years getting my school picture taken with a broken front tooth.  Another time I was with him in the yard and he was getting stuff ready to go to the dump.  He had a big heap of lawn and yard clippings.  He was using a 2 prong weeder hoe.

He was hacking at the pile and I was supposed to be gathering it up.  And he came back with that hoe and hit me in the face right at the very corner of my eye.  He grabbed me and ran to my Mother who was inside the house.  He tore the screen door off of the house trying to get inside, terrified that he’d blinded me.  He was a lucky man.  He didn’t damage my eye.  I was no worse for the wear.

One time he was working in the front yard.  His Doberman Kurt was trained to the nines.  Kurt would lay on the porch or walk while he worked.  He looked up one day and Kurt had three little boys rounded up and cornered on the porch.  He walked up to the little boys and said “Are you the little boys that have been poking a stick through the fence at my dog?”  He made it clear that the practice would end right then and there and Kurt let the boys leave.

As a 17 year old I got a job at a title company.  It was a combination of him not wanting to see my 17 year old ass laying on his couch watching tv when he came home for lunch and his calling in of a favor with an Escrow Officer.  He came home with a phone number written on a cocktail napkin.  786-1620.  It was the phone number to Pacific Land Title.  Back then you didn’t need the area code because no one called outside the area code.  There was no 510 or 925 or 650.  It was all 415.  After I got the job (Microfilm technician)  he called my boss and told him to work my ass off.  He didn’t want me getting comfortable and not finishing college.  So my boss punished me and worked my ass off.  But I wouldn’t go away and kept coming back.  Unfortunately I was a tough kid who didn’t mind working hard.  I went back to and dropped out of college seven times.  I never got a degree.

I’m going to miss my Dad.  I don’t miss what Parkinson’s disease did to him.  It is a foul, hateful disease.  It is the worse thing that a physical man like my Father could have been cursed with.  I hate Parkinson’s disease and I particularly hate those who hinder stem cell research.  Nancy Reagan understands where I come from on that one.  That’s why she stood up to the wingnuts.  On that one, I stand with Nancy Reagan.  Strange as that seems.  It pained me to watch him suffer.  He fought that shit for 18 years.  They said he’d be wheelchair bound in five years and dead in ten.  He lived 18 years with it and never owned the wheelchair they said he’d need.  A couple of weeks ago I took him up to Horse Camp.  He loved horses.  And dogs.  We had to park up the road a little bit and he walked down the road with his cane like he meant business.  We watched the children on the horses demonstrating their new found horsemanship skills to their parents.  “Which one do you like Dad?”  I asked, knowing the answer.  “The Bay.”  I knew that.

Takin’ what they’re givin’

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to loose but your chains.
We Americans are an ironic lot. The “greatest generation” were laborers. They were laborers who formed the first middle class, in history, who bought their own homes and sent their children to college. They were laborers who paid union dues, went to work and made things and after a lifetime of service they retired with a pension. They were paid well enough to buy the things others, of the greatest generation, made. America prospered. While America prospered with a growing, working middle class, there were some crazies who thought the communists were hiding under the bed and around the corner. Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy, insisted he had a list of communists who had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. Rep Richard Nixon and Rep John F Kennedy made their names on the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC). The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China were our enemy. It would seem this is an ideological fight except for our anti-labor history.
From the coal mines of Colorado to the Pullman car plants in Illinois to the auto plants in Michigan to the docks of San Francisco, we have a history of mobilizing police and military to crush and kill organized workers. While the rest of the world celebrates May 1 as the day of the worker, we moved the holiday to the end of summer. Why does the country who built the greatest working class in the history of mankind fear labor?
I don’t know. I know it sucks that labor is viewed as a necessary obstacle between capital and their profits. If capital could produce the same amount with fewer workers their profits increase. If capital could fire just a few more of us, they’d earn even bigger profits. In 2009, CEO’s who fired the most were paid the best. America is an ironic place.
We are a country of people who need to get back to work. We are nation of crumbling infrastructure. Why can’t available labor be put to work shoring up levees and re-building roads and repairing schools and painting court houses and building rest rooms in public parks? We all benefit when people work. We benefit from infrastructure improvement. We have the workers and we have a need so why?
I live across the street from a cemetery. Every July 4th, Flag Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day a local civic organization decorates the cemetery with big, bright American flags hung on tall flag poles. There must be at 500 flags waving in the breeze. Waking up and seeing the flags is emotional. You are reminded of all the people who sacrificed building and protecting our country. Please re-read the list of holidays. Labor Day is missing. Today is Labor Day and there isn’t a single flag flapping in the breeze, across the street. The soldiers who died were laborers (or they wanted grow up to be laborers). Labor did the work that built this country. Why don’t we celebrate Labor. That great socialist, Abraham Lincoln said,
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.”
America is an ironic place, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Happy Labor Day!

The Road Goes on Forever

Today marks the end of an era. A friend of mine, if you met her or if she helped you she’s a friend of yours, too, concluded her service to the title industry. She didn’t choose this date. It was chosen for her by the data company that many of you have worked with. It isn’t part of the Evil Empire nor the bloodless empire. It was independent. She helped grow the company. She helped you and your sales rep grow your book of business, too. We knew this company succeeded because its chief competitors were incompetent. We knew, too, that if a competent competitor came along, we’d be in trouble. Mr. Foley bought a company and grew that competitor. Our company became just one more incompetent competitor to conquer. Our company’s lame management helped the Evil empire every way it could. She watched in horror as the company turned its back on the title industry and it turned its back on her. Today she is on the outside looking in. Another title expat. We welcome her to our very large and distinguished community.

Please excuse the following stream of consciousness. Somewhere between the beauty, they pomp, the injustice and today there had to be something to pull it all together.

This weekend I was in San Diego for a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding in a pretty church in La Jolla. The bride’s parents did a great job planning and throwing a first class ceremony and a first class party. Unfortunately the guests of honor weren’t so good. The bride and groom and their friends, in the wedding party, stood before the assembled friends, family and well wishers. They didn’t mingle (none of them did, including the bride and groom). They kept to themselves as if they were at the kids table at a family gathering. Weddings are a celebration of inclusion; the community of adults welcomes another couple into the community. We celebrate their relationship and their decision to join us and to become productive neighbors and friends. Their mothers and fathers let go of the celebrants as children and welcome them as equals. Somehow these upper middle class, college educated early 30 somethings thought they had accomplished something and they were being celebrated. They deserved a $40K party, in their honor, and they were going to take it. When did that happen? When did the expectation that children become adults instead of adult children change? When did kids think anyone cared when they woke up or how much they drank the night before “OMG, I’m sooooo hung over!”? Watching these kids was like watching the final episode of Seinfeld; after it was done you realized there wasn’t a likable character in the bunch!
They weren’t being celebrated. We, the assembled, were celebrating the continuation of community. We were welcoming them into the community of adults who make commitments, plan for the future and participate in the lives of others.
The church was conservative Catholic. One of the gathered was a nun. She is a well educated hospital administrator. She ran a Catholic hospital in the Phoenix area (I swear, Arizona is challenging Texas as my least favorite state). The hospital had a patient who was 11 weeks pregnant with her 5th child. The pregnancy was killing her, literally. She was experiencing heart failure. One side of her heart had failed. She had 2 days to live, at the most. She was too frail to be moved into the OR much less another hospital. The nun allowed her faith to guide her decision. She allowed the doctors to terminate the pregnancy so her 4 children would have a living mother. The Bishop excommunicated her for allowing an abortion to take place. He said her faith should have told her it was God’s will that this unborn, unviable fetus claim her life and leave his/her sibling without a mother. She knew that God would forgive her sins if she understood them and she asked for forgiveness. The Bishop thought we aren’t supposed to question God’s will (and implicitly he knew what God’s will is). She needed to be punished so he excommunicated her. There were priests, in that diocese, who weren’t excommunicated after molesting children! This woman, should inspire us. She should inspire the bride and the groom, the data company who lost its way, the Burgermeister and the evil empire should take notice, too. Sometimes, in a community of adults, you have to do what’s right. If you know what you’re doing is right, the rest will take care of itself.