Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Transportation Conspiracies and Cafe Cubano Catastrophies

I hate Metro. And let me just pause for a moment. I really hate those folks. Hate. Harsh. Strong. I know. But I must be true to myself and in this trueness one things is clear. I fucking hate Metro.

Some of you are aware of my newly discovered hatred of Metro route number two. Metro route number two allegedly arrives at a set schedule. However, I do not believe it. I have a theory. The Metro route number two schedule was created, fabricated if you will, to convince large groups of people to wait for the route two at specific set intervals. Metro route number two never arrives at these set intervals. The question is simple. What is happening during these periods of time when mass quantities of individuals are waiting for the two?

I do not have the answer.

I believe it is something very very bad. If you have any thoughts or ideas of inside information, please contact me immediately. Especially if you do now or have in the past worked for Metro.

But there is more to this tale. Much more. Last night, something happened.

Last night I discovered a Metro bus route that I despise even more than I despise the two. You may be thinking that this is not possible. Two days ago I may have agreed with you. Now I must assure you that it certainly is possible. The route I now despise more than the two is Metro route thirteen. Is it a coincidence that this route also travels to the top of Queen Anne hill. I think not. What we have is yet another non-schedule schedule conspiracy.

And this is how conspiracy theories are built. On truth. Hard solid fucking evidence people. Solid fucking evidence.

Last night I waited so long for the route thirteen that a muthafuckin' two arrived. That people, is a very long time.

But there's more.

My thirteen-two travels led me to a glorious cup of cafe Cubano. Thick. Rich. Sweet. Dark. All of this coupled with cool breezing. Creative companion. Well fine, tripled then. You get the idea. The two. The thirteen. Lost in my mind.

And then it happened.

Sipping. Sipping. Sipping sweetness.

"this little light of mine"

It couldn't be. Not here. Not now.

"I'm gonna let it shine"

But it was happening. It was happening badly. And it was too late.

"this little light of mine"

I sat paralyzed.

"I'm gonna let it shine"

I could not speak. I could not make a sound.

"this little light of mine"

I could not even blink.

"I'm gonna let it shine"

I was screwed.

"let it shine, let it shine, let it shine"

I'm not really sure why this happened. This horrible man was singing. Someone gave him a microphone. It was the worst rendition of the song I had ever heard. At a Cuban themed coffee house. It was decidedly inappropriate. It was a head on collision. I didn't want to look. But I couldn't stop myself. And then. I wished I hadn't.

As I walked down Queen Anne hill -- for I certainly wasn't going to tempt fate twice in the same evening by waiting for the two or the thirteen -- I began to do something I do not typically do. I began to hum.

"this little light of mine"

Oh shit.

I hummed all the way down the hill. I hummed while waiting for a non-two non-thirteen bus that typically does arrive on time. I hummed while getting on the bus. I hummed on the bus. I hummed while getting off the bus. I hummed while walking home. I hummed going up the steps to my door. I was still humming while I walked into the foyer. Glanced at the junk mail. Humming.

I have now come to believe that there is a strong and significant connection between Metro route number two, thirteen and "This Little Light of Mine."

If anyone can shed light on the above, please contact me immediately.

"let it shine, let it shine, let it shine"

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lock 'Em Up then Drown 'Em

Before you begin reading the article I have posted, I find it necessary to put this information into the proper context for everyone. One moment while I climb onto my soap box.

As you are reading, please keep in mind that not every individual housed in a jail has been convicted of a crime. Many are accused, but unable to afford bail and therefore, must remain in custody until their case is resolved. NOT that this should make any difference, but it is interesting to note that not only were these individuals incarcerated while they were "presumed innocent" under our legal system, but additionally, they were left alone, locked in these facilities to die like so much unwanted garbage.

When the filmakers begin to complete their work in documenting the horrific tragedies that have occurred recently in our country, perhaps they will be able to save money on production by lifting footage directly from the movie Titanic. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

New Orleans: Prisoners Abandoned to Floodwaters

Officers Deserted a Jail Building, Leaving Inmates Locked in Cells

(New York, September 22, 2005) — As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff's department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city’s jail, Human Rights Watch said today.

Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level.

“Of all the nightmares during Hurricane Katrina, this must be one of the worst,” said Corinne Carey, researcher from Human Rights Watch. “Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling.”

Human Rights Watch called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the Orleans Sheriff's Department, which runs the jail, and to establish the fate of the prisoners who had been locked in the jail. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which oversaw the evacuation, and the Orleans Sheriff’s Department should account for the 517 inmates who are missing from the list of people evacuated from the jail.

Carey spent five days in Louisiana, conducting dozens of interviews with inmates evacuated from Orleans Parish Prison, correctional officers, state officials, lawyers and their investigators who had interviewed more than 1,000 inmates evacuated from the prison.

The sheriff of Orleans Parish, Marlin N. Gusman, did not call for help in evacuating the prison until midnight on Monday, August 29, a state Department of Corrections and Public Safety spokeswoman told Human Rights Watch. Other parish prisons, she said, had called for help on the previous Saturday and Sunday. The evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison was not completed until Friday, September 2.

According to officers who worked at two of the jail buildings, Templeman 1 and 2, they began to evacuate prisoners from those buildings on Tuesday, August 30, when the floodwaters reached chest level inside. These prisoners were taken by boat to the Broad Street overpass bridge, and ultimately transported to correctional facilities outside New Orleans.

But at Templeman III, which housed about 600 inmates, there was no prison staff to help the prisoners. Inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch varied about when they last remember seeing guards at the facility, but they all insisted that there were no correctional officers in the facility on Monday, August 29. A spokeswoman for the Orleans parish sheriff’s department told Human Rights Watch she did not know whether the officers at Templeman III had left the building before the evacuation.

According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmates' last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench.

“They left us to die there,” Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at Rapides Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation.

As the water began rising on the first floor, prisoners became anxious and then desperate. Some of the inmates were able to force open their cell doors, helped by inmates held in the common area. All of them, however, remained trapped in the locked facility.

“The water started rising, it was getting to here,” said Earrand Kelly, an inmate from Templeman III, as he pointed at his neck. “We was calling down to the guys in the cells under us, talking to them every couple of minutes. They were crying, they were scared. The one that I was cool with, he was saying ‘I'm scared. I feel like I'm about to drown.' He was crying.”

Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison. A number of inmates told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to get everyone out from their cells.

Inmates broke jail windows to let air in. They also set fire to blankets and shirts and hung them out of the windows to let people know they were still in the facility. Apparently at least a dozen inmates jumped out of the windows.

”We started to see people in T3 hangin' shirts on fire out the windows,” Brooke Moss, an Orleans Parish Prison officer told Human Rights Watch. “They were wavin' em. Then we saw them jumping out of the windows . . . Later on, we saw a sign, I think somebody wrote `help' on it.”

As of yesterday, signs reading “Help Us,” and “One Man Down,” could still be seen hanging from a window in the third floor of Templeman III.

Several corrections officers told Human Rights Watch there was no evacuation plan for the prison, even though the facility had been evacuated during floods in the 1990s.

“It was complete chaos,” said a corrections officer with more than 30 years of service at Orleans Parish Prison. When asked what he thought happened to the inmates in Templeman III, he shook his head and said: “Ain't no tellin’ what happened to those people.”

“At best, the inmates were left to fend for themselves,” said Carey. “At worst, some may have died.”

Human Rights Watch was not able to speak directly with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gussman or the ranking official in charge of Templeman III. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department told Human Rights Watch that search-and-rescue teams had gone to the prison and she insisted that “nobody drowned, nobody was left behind.”

Human Rights Watch compared an official list of all inmates held at Orleans Parish Prison immediately prior to the hurricane with the most recent list of the evacuated inmates compiled by the state Department of Corrections and Public Safety (which was entitled, “All Offenders Evacuated”). However, the list did not include 517 inmates from the jail, including 130 from Templeman III.

Many of the men held at jail had been arrested for offenses like criminal trespass, public drunkenness or disorderly conduct. Many had not even been brought before a judge and charged, much less been convicted.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Forthcoming Fecundity on Flirtatiousness

I've been alive on this planet for some time now. And during these years of being alive on this planet, I have heard many things. Some of these things that I have heard have been quite strange. And when I say strange, I mean very fucking strange. Come on folks, you're all intelligent. Well, not all of you, but I'm willing to give most of you the benefit of the doubt, because I am a positive fucking person and I believe that human beings have a lot of potential, despite what some people may think. Therefore, I firmly believe that you know what strange means. And I don't want to hear any of your philosophical arguments about strange being relative and blah blah blah. Fucking strange. Figure it out.

At any rate, I have been hearing strange things lately. Many. And I suppose I could talk about all of the strange things I have been hearing. For example, I have heard this wild rumor that there are many many human beings who are suffering or who have lost their lives unnecessarily in our very own country because the powers that be once again have fucked shit up. Those same being powers have found it critically more important to care for the needs of the white and wealthy than the poor and "colored" because they just don't have the lobbying power. I wish I could say I was ready to write about the events in the hurricane ravaged regions of our country. I cannot. For I am far too overcome with anger and grief to form words that would do any justice to those who have articulated before me. No, I will not speak of these things today in this post. However, until I am able to do so, I encourage you all to speak out about this travesty. Speak loudly. It is time that we are finally heard. By any means necessary.

With the above said, I am going to try to segue back to the main topic of this post. That is challenging to do given the serious nature of the topic in the previous paragraph and the non-serious nature of what will follow. However sometimes we need to re-engergize and take a moment to laugh so we can actually do the work necessary in the world to enact change. This is one of those re-energizing moments. Without these moments of laughter, we as a society become paralyzed. I would like to see us collectively end this paralysis, so I will attempt to bring a bit of light hearted humor to a very difficult time. So here we go. I have recently heard another tidbit of information that I have no choice but to label strange information. I have recently been informed of the fact that I am "quite" flirtatious. Now this information was quite a surprise to hear. And I have to wonder if this is some sort of universal opinion. I thought about taking a poll, but then I realized that taking a poll requires effort. I am too lazy for that kind of effort.

And I am forced to ask, but rhetorically of course, can one be too flirtatious. And I say this because if you tell me that I am quite flirtatious, I will automatically assume that you mean too flirtatious. I have been taught to read between the lines. To look through the bullshit and determine what people really mean. Perhaps there is some sort of scale of flirtation that I was not aware of and therefore, I have been breaking the rules. If there is some sort of code book, I would ask that some kind soul please provide it to me. I will happily pay any postage charges incurred in this effort. However, as an aside, this statement does explain quite a bit. Oh no, there's that word again. Quite. It does explain why so many people think I "like them in that way" when I in fact, don't. So I have been provided with this information as of late. And I am pondering it.

I attempted, albeit half-heartedly, to inquire further into this statement. I was curious as to why some people might think that this is in fact true. However my attempt was half-hearted because I also am not quite certain that I actually care if it is in fact true. For I believe, if I am in fact, "quite" flirtatious that this is not exactly a negative. We aren't exactly kind to each other much of the time. People are more isolated now. Community has changed. As June Jordan asked, "where is the love" and while she wasn't exactly referring to flirtatiousness, there is a certain caring about humanity in such actions. Perhaps my flirtatious nature has more to do with the fact that I actually give a crap about people. Stop laughing, you know this is true. Perhaps I am what some call too nice. Too nice. Can one be too nice. I am not certain. I don't think many people are very nice to each other at all. I have not given up on the human being yet. I still hold hope for us. And what is so bad about making people feel good about themselves.

However at the same time, I do not want to be misinterpreted. I do not want to cause concern or confusion. This is turning out to be more of a dilemma than I originally anticipated. Here I thought I was going to relay a bit of tongue in cheek commentary on my alleged flirtatiousness. I inquired about this flirtatious dilemma to a friend. I was informed that I am flirtatious by nature because of my astrological sign. "Gemini's are notorously flirtatious. And fickle." Gee, thanks. Now, not only am I a shameless flirt, but fickle too. I guess I should have kept my big mouth shut.

I will probably continue to ponder this topic. If you have thoughts, please feel free to weigh in. I probably won't care. Wait, of course I will. Perhaps I will have a t-shirt printed with a disclaimer. Warning. Any actions perceived to be a flirtatious act on the part of the wearer may not in fact, be intended as such. These actions include, but are not limited to eye contact, smiling, laughing, baking you cookies, helping you paint your house, taking care of you when you are sick, hugging, kissing, licking, biting, beating you with a riding crop (uh, maybe I'm getting carried away here) or any form of contact, physical, mental, or emotional. The wearer regrets any inconvenience this may cause and is not responsible or liable for any damages to any persons affected directly or indirectly by such actions.