I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
December 03, 2014 - 11:52 a.m.
I thought I didn't have an idiot story yesterday. I was wrong. It was my sister's Alison's birthday. I always call her on her birthday. I planned on calling her on her birthday. I woke up and said, "I have to call Alison it's her birthday." I didn't call her on her birthday. It is very hard not having a brain.
Yesterday Heather came home from her extended Thanksgiving trip to her family. I met her bus and even brought her an umbrella that we didn't need. She was hungry and wanted pizza. I knew somebody, I think Mya, said there was a great pizza place across from Penn Station. I googled, "best pizza near Penn Station" and found Pizza Suprema listed as the best and it is across from Penn. It was good but not special. Sorry Mya. Especially sorry if it wasn't you that said that. But it just feels like the kind of thing I'd talk about with her. We both get very enthusiastic when discussing food. That's a sound basis for a friendship. And for some reason we lapse into Jewish accents when we do it.
After pizza we headed back to Brooklyn, riding the subway at the height of rush hour is always so much fun especially with luggage. Not much to write about the rest of the day we hung around Heather's apartment why the handyman installed a new ceiling fan. It has exactly the same problem as the old ceiling fan. The fan doesn't work. I thought it was the switch. The landlord insisted it was the fan. The handyman is going to come by today and fix the switch.
I haven't written much about Ferguson. I was thinking about writing about shooting itself but I have no special knowledge and what would it be worth? But I will write about two aspects that my personal experience gives me some insight into.
While many friends of mine have been on jury duty I'm one of the only ones I know that has served on a grand jury, it's quite different. In New York you go in every other day for four weeks, that's ten days. Each day you hear many cases. It gives you a pretty broad exposure to the justice system. You've heard that a DA can get a jury to indict a ham sandwich. And we did vote to indict on all the cases but two. Those two have something in common with Ferguson, the accused testified. They were the only two cases where the accused took the stand. The thing is the lawyer won't let the accused take the stand unless he or she thinks it will turn the case. Otherwise it is taking too big a risk for the trial. What the accused said can be held against him or her. In one case a woman was up on drug charges based on drugs on her property. She said someone had left it there without her knowledge. There was no evidence to the contrary so we didn't indict. The prosecutor was clearly unhappy and asked us why we voted the way we did. I am not sure that's legal.
The second was much closer to Ferguson. It involved race and a shooting. I just realized that I am not allowed to talk about this. Grand jury testimony is secret. I have to talk around it. Now I have to go back and change what I wrote about the first case. OK in the second case a Korean man shot a black teen. It was quite similar though the kid lived. The Korean said the kid attacked him and the kid said he didn't. I thought there was enough evidence to indict but though a majority voted to indict we didn't have the supermajority necessary. This time the prosecutor, a different one, came out and told us we made the right decision. He clearly didn't want us to indict. That is what seems to have happened in Ferguson. The prosecutor did many unusual things. He had the officer testify first and let his narrative be the one to make the first impression. Prosecutors never do that. Then he gave much tough cross examinations to the prosecution witnesses than to the ones for the defense. Finally he just called too many contradictory witnesses. That's not how you get an indictment. The defense doesn't get to call witnesses in the grand jury. The prosecutor gets to tell the story he wants. He didn't want the cop indicted.
Now on to the riots after the grand jury decision was announced. I have a different kind of experience that bears on that. Back in September I took an emotional beating. I was very badly hurt. Then I had a trying day. When I got home I had an encounter with my housemate/nemesis. This happens all the time. He's difficult and selfish. I generally try and minimize my contact with him. That day I was so worked up that I exploded. I didn't get violent but l let loose a torrent of profanity. I never use profanity except when quoting or for humor. But I lost control. And that's what happens in riots. It isn't everyone, that' the thing about a crowd. It only takes a few people to lose control and then chaos ensues. Yes it makes no sense to burn the businesses of innocent people but it happens when people lose their senses. The tension had been building for years, before the shooting. The police and black population had an adversarial relationship. They saw each other as the other. Then the shooting came. Then the police in their military gear. Then the cop being let go and people's restraint let go in response. It isn't right, it isn't good, but it's human. I can feel it happen to me and couldn't stop it.
I should finish with something happy. I love that my friends are spontaneously creative. Carey and I were talking via Facebook comments about Michael Stipe which led to her crush on Mike Mills. I told her that she should sing "I Met a Boy Named Frank Mills" from Hair but with Mike Mills. So she then and their rewrote the song. This is what came out.
I met a boy called Mike MillsI am pretty sure most people don't do that. I'm pretty sure most people can't do it. A disproportionate number of my friends can. I decided to stop telling you what I'm eating for breakfast every day but I'll make an except for bacon and eggs because that's happy too.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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