Musical Notes From a Long Saturday Run

Getting ready for a half marathon in October and went out on 9 mile run this morning on the Farmington Canal Bike Trail  … A big difference from my usual run-alone-in-the-woods route. The run wasn’t only a test image of conditioning, it was also a test of my musical selections. Some observations:

  1. REM’s End of the World and Warren Zevon’s cover of Knockin’ on Heavens Door are both definitely off the list, for obvious reasons.
  2. To the guy wearing a speedo and riding a bike – some things cannot be unseen, this is one of them.
  3. Dousing oneself in cheap aftershave then going on a bike ride amongst dozens of innocent runners, bikers, and hikers is, indeed – I looked it up – a war crime.
  4. Marilyn Manson’s Killing Strangers definitely stays in the rotation (see 2 & 3 above).
  5. If your child is under age 10, she doesn’t handle a bike anywhere near as well as you think she does.
  6. FREE BRADY  t-shirts were inaccurate the day they were printed, now they’re just passé.
  7. The good thing about having a titanium hip is that only one hip hurts, but I direct you to the Gary Larson cartoon.
  8. Moby stays, Eminem is out – no need for images of spousal abuse or tossing up Mom’s spaghetti.
  9. When you have a pug on a leash and he still manages to come within a cute little ear of unseating a bike rider and tripping two runners, the explanation, “Sometimes I just can’t control him” doesn’t work . . . Because he’s a PUG!
  10. Arcade Fire – though I love them – is out, too much suburban sprawl angst; Iggy Pop ain’t going nowhere; I’m Gonna Run Until I Puke and Die and anything else approaching it’s-better-to-die-trying-than-not-make-it are out. All instrumentals – Ministry, Nick Cave, a few others – definitely stay; stuff from movie soundtracks from movies that had bad endings for its characters are out, so, sorry Dropkick Murphys.
  11. Last mile and a half, at a busy intersection (for this run, anyway) a – I kid not – Hell’s Angel stopped to let me cross. Thinking I still have street cred, though for that story we’ll have to wait for the book.
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Innocent Until Investigated…

In this town, you’re innocent until investigated ~ Christopher Plummer to George Clooney in Syriana

imageI listen to people (endlessly) talk about ‘Deflategate’ and I realise they have no conception of what an investigation is. They hear ‘investigation’ and immediately conjure up a team of unbiased, dedicated sleuths doggedly following leads, discarding the bad, following the good, rewriting the narrative of the crime to fit the clues until they find the one-true-absolute answer.

This does not happen – if you stop to think about it for a second or two you’d realize it can’t happen – in the real world because if it did about one crime a year would get ‘solved.’

I blame Law & Order (all versions). Everyone, from the cops to Sam Waterston, and everyone in-between are adamant on getting the ‘right guy’, they plea bargain only to insure that a guilty person they may not be able to convict is taken off the streets.

They can do this because everyone in the show is working on exactly one case at a time.

In the real world, when someone is suspected of something they are targeted with white-hot intensity and tunnel vision. After all, a suspect is a suspect for a reason. It takes something earthshaking to remove that suspicion.

That something earthshaking is never – never – going to come from personal testimony. To paraphrase Graham Greene, it’s impossible to explain anything to anyone with power. Especially when they are hardly predisposed to believe you, a suspect. They will listen, they will interrogate, they will spin the answers to meet the narrative. Hence a replaced cell phone becomes ‘destroyed.’

This is why any still-breathing criminal defense attorney will tell you to never submit to voluntary questioning.  Never. Because there is no way to answer the question: “Mr. Brady, when did you stop beating your wife with deflated footballs?” when the guy asking it is picturing the act in his head.

I talked to an investigator once. Once. I didn’t have an attorney –Capture that’s not quite accurate, I had an attorney, I just didn’t have the $15,000 he wanted to start – which removed the ‘sorry, love to talk to you but my lawyer won’t let me,” easy out and left me with the unenviable option of refuse the interview and look even guiltier or open my mouth and make it worse.

By all accounts I did alright, not that it really mattered in the long run. Chunks of the ‘interview’ have stayed with me these last ten years, one thing in particular just plain festers:

The detective was pleasant enough, until he asked me about a case I defended on behalf of the clients who had gone a long, long way toward putting me in the damn chair in the first place.

“How could you defend them?” Came out of nowhere and with real vehemence.

“Because the suit was meritless,” my very meek answer.

He waved the complaint at me with real malice, “You remember this lawyer’s affidavit?”

“The guy bringing the suit?”

“Who else? Yeah the lawyer from Florida, you remember his affidavit?”

“Sure do.”

“And?”

“He lied.”

“Why would he lie?”

“To win the suit.”

“Well, he makes some real bad accusations at your clients, how could you continue to represent them after readin’ this kinda shit?”

“Because, he lied.”

“So you say.”

“So the court agreed, the case was dismissed.”

“Doesn’t mean anything.”

“Means the court agreed he had no case, as did his lawyers, ’cause they withdrew right away.”

“Still doesn’t explain Gowing’s accusations,” he would not let up, just got increasingly angrier, almost threatening me with the rolled up complaint (I kept picturing him resorting to ‘bad lawyer, bad’). His reasoning – if a South Florida based securities attorney filed a lawsuit, it must be true, regardless of its final disposition.

I had nowhere to go with that kind of logic thrown, literally, in my face, weathered this for a good fifteen imageminutes until he calmed down and moved on to something else.

So, talk about tunnel vision. The detective was intent on hammering me with the affidavit, but had no interest on checking it out. Had he done so, he may very well have stumbled upon what the FBI did a year or so later – a massive scam, international in scope.

I didn’t find out about it, for obvious reasons, for four, five years, but the lawyer in question was running a serious Ponzi scheme and a variation on the Nigerian oil scam, took in tens of millions over ten years or so. Gowing was arrested about two years after my interview, he will be released from federal prison in August, 2028.

Briscoe and Logan would have figured it out.

Catching Up

Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-1.22.17-PM-300x222I haven’t written in a long while, I was off  putting together a package for a literary agent for a non-fiction narrative about prison. Since she wanted a couple of chapters I was forced to go beyond the chapter outline, snatches of excerpts, quick character sketch minimum and dive back into my journals – just to get the full flavor.

It worked for the chapters, it didn’t work for sleep.

The justice system was brought back in all its broken glory in my notes and in my dreams and in my nightmares. Each has a perfectly valid viewpoint. All this in time for me to tune into the ‘DeflateGate’ ridiculousness where I immediately read and/or heard the following: 1). Tom Brady is guilty because (a) he wouldn’t need an attorney if he wasn’t; (b) if he was really innocent his lawyer would work for free; 2). Tom Brady and Robert Kraft are now experiencing the same thing poor people experience everyday when dealing with the ‘justice system.’

I have refrained from commenting on ‘DeflateGate’ beyond a rather snarky tweet wondering how I missed it when Roger Goodall regained credibility (was there a ceremony? Plaque? Certificate?) After what I’ve been sorting out over the past month, I feel somewhat compelled to say something.

So, attorney, former inmate who successfully sued in Federal District Court for his release from a hell hole, what does the NFL’s handling of this mess say about the criminal justice system?

Not. A. Thing.

A billionaire supporting a multi-millionaire married to another multi-millionaire fighting with a multi-millionaire who represents a multi-billion dollar corporation that the first billionaire is a member off is by definition something that has no correlation to the criminal justice system whatsoever. The fact that the stakes are mostly prestige and who has the biggest dick instead of being shackled, cuffed, tossed into holes for any number of years only to be released and unable to find work and … just makes it more meaningless

The worse outcome for the Patriots is losing Brady for 4 games. There is no worse Captureoutcome for Brady, those who already adore him will continue to adore him; those who already hate him will hate him more – lots more – if he wins, then finds a cure for cancer, and feeds everyone in Gillette Stadium by multiplying the nachos and hotdogs at halftime.

However, the way the rest of the universe, mostly composed of non multi-millionaires/billionaires is commenting on it says a real lot about WHY we have the system we have. No long explanation here: ignorance.

There’s no other way to explain nos. 1 and 2 above, to start. First, anyone, never mind a very well paid African-American ‘journalist’ who is forever outing the racist policies of the teams he covers (in a city that deserves him) who thinks only guilty people have lawyers is just … beyond … well … nah, no need to finish, he’s headed like a train that’s lost its brakes toward a defamation suit, or worse, any day now. I can only hope he really thinks the truth will set him free, wanders into court alone and we never, ever here from the ignorant, odious prick again.

I hope it’s pretty needless to say the African-American writer who wrote that Bob Kraft and Tom Brady now know how poor people feel in the justice system has no idea what the hell he is talking about for the simple reason not a single one of the poor people he’s referencing have ever seen a $2,500 an hour lawyer in their lives, never mind had one represent them.

As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet that pretty much every single poor person in the United States currently being held pending trial would trade a 4 week suspension and a few headlines with whatever they’re facing armed only with an overworked public defender.

Then there are idiots like the rabid white sports guy on Sirius who foams and wow-nerd-south-park-580rants about Brady’s guilt without, admittedly, ever having read a single page of any report. What’s reported by others, especially the NFL is good enough for him. A complete and total lack of intellectual curiosity is one thing, pairing it with blind belief in an organization that denied the effects of head injuries for decades is just plain terrifying. The only possible excuse is that he was one of those men the NFL said was fine after 40 or 50 concussions. But, alas, he is not, he never played a team sport in his life.

Scariest of all – for the future of this country, no less – are the regular people who tweet, blog, post, call talk radio and go off in apoplectic rages at Brady’s ‘refusal’ to hand over his phone for the investigation.

They speak and write as if this is some bona-fide investigation run by an authority that must be obeyed. It’s also more than a little scary that they don’t seem to know that everything anyone texts, or snaps, or calls, lives on. And on. Replace, burn, destroy, do whatever you will, the phone dies but its spirit lives.

It’s scarier still that they think the NFL has the right to compel anyone to hand over anything without a court order. If they think the NFL has that right, what the hell rights do they ascribe to the governmental agencies that can really do damage? Do they think they have any rights to resist?

Look, I don’t know what Brady did or did not do. I played rugby into my 30s and soccer into my, ah, er, longer, and I know for a fact unless the balls were blimps or limp folds of pig skin it made no difference whatsoever in a 45-7 waxing.

I do know that blind acceptance of a Welles report that was edited by the NFL and thereby no longer independent; being adjudicated a cheater, appealing, then having the same guy hear the appeal; dismissing ‘all that science stuff’ are symptoms of much greater import than a four game suspension for a guy who would still be going to the Hall of Fame if he started a baby chick stomping league after retirement.

It means a great deal of the people caterwauling about this 24/7 are only interested in judgement, not in a fair process. And that’s a problem, a very large, societal problem that bodes ill for serious judicial reform. Because it should be the other way around.

Unless, of course, hatred of all things Patriots has temporarily blinded these people and as soon as the Pats revert back to their comedic ineptitude of the early 80s, they’re okay with such minor matters as due process.

Speaking of Royals . . .

In honor of the birth of yet another royal baby – a discussion between William Hanlin and General McClellan concerning the French princes on McClellan’s staff – and royalty in America:

. . . the door swung open and three men, two in magnificently tailored uniforms, the other dressed like a private, strode into the room.

Philippe_d'Orleans_Comte_de_Paris_1862McClellan was on his feet in an instant, moved to them with hand extended. He shook hands with them in turn while uttering a string of French greetings.

The result of all that was a taxing of my rusty French and my introduction to three surprising additions to McClellan’s staff – the Prince de Joinville and his nephews, the Duc de Chartes, and the Comte de Paris. Three princes of the House of Orleans.

They left us in heightened moods, a standing invitation to a HD_PrinceRobertD'Orleansnight at The Willard, sore shoulders from their back slaps, and a sudden desire for foie gras.

“You know, of course, that the Comte de Paris is pretender to the throne?” McClellan said as their powerful boot steps receded down the hallway.

le-prince-de-joinville“Sure,” I lied, “and unless you loan him your army when we’re done here, he’ll be the pretender for life.”

“We’ll have to see about that,” he laughed.

“They’d make you a peer,” I observed.

“Well, then, perhaps . . . imagine, Willie, a Prince, a Duke, and a Count on my staff, who would have ever thought it?”

“I don’t know Mac, I think our forefathers fought a war to rid us of titles.”

“You believe that, Willie?” He answered, no longer laughing, “Before you answer, I remind you that you, a Boston Brahmin are addressing a Philadelphia Main-liner.”

“We don’t have titles designating that, do we?”

“Think we need them, Colonel?”

~ from The Falcon, Volume Two of William Hanlin’s Civil War.

The Ice Cream Truck and Baltimore

What happened to Freddie Gray? I have no idea. Obviously. I do, however, have an inkling. As would anyone ever transported by police, sheriffs, marshals, Correctional Officers, or any one else in law enforcement who transports more than one prisoner at a time.

In Connecticut, the DOC transports inmates with court dates to local jails for parceling out to the courts. They use buses and vans. Connecticut State Marshals move inmates from jails to the courts. They use the Ice Cream Truck. AKA, the Plea Bargain Express.

The Ice Cream Truck is exactly what it sounds like, it is one of these:

icecreamtruck no

Turned into one of these:

icecrtruck1

A squat, tinny, dark truck, split into two sections by a sheet metal wall etched with  graffiti going back to first Bush Administration. Low metal benches run along both sides; the roof is about three and a half feet high. Inmates are manacled together in legs irons, cuffed with the cuff chained around their backs so they cannot move their arms more than a few inches. Continue reading

Odds and Ends from a Long Week of Bad History, Bad Law, Trolls, and …

“There are in this country, as in all others, a certain proportion of restless and turbulent spirits – poor, unoccupied, ambitious – who must always have something to quarrel about with their neighbors. These people are the authors of religious revivals.” ~ John Quincy Adams

 Some thoughts and impressions from quite the week:

battlefield-earth-02Tell me again why we need Religious Freedom Acts when the First Amendment is unchallenged and Scientology is not only accorded the same rights, privileges, and protections as all other religions, it was not summarily dismantled after the release of Battlefield Earth.

Obviously – to everyone not employed by Fox News, the law was drafted and enacted to allow people to do what Federal, State, and Local governments are estopped by the Constitution and 200 plus years of Supreme Court decisions from doing – use religion to discriminate against others.

This was explained perfectly by someone, somewhere in Indiana who proclaimed – “this law doesn’t discriminate against anyone … it just protects those of us who do.”  That, by the way, is genius. Continue reading