Aziz Gökdemir's Archive | THTB Index | September 2000
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September 2000: 2 - 5 - 8 - 9 - 11 - 13 - 16 - 23

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September 2, 2000
Partings


Airplane

Plane approaching Washington's National Airport. Photographed from the edge of Fort Foote, Maryland, winter of 1996.

This is the start of Labor Day weekend in the US, when we celebrate three-day vacations and purchasing orgies at deceptive megastore sales.

I will be working diligently at home, of course, so I can't partake in the festivities much. In any case, the holiday is not really about laborers anymore. I suspect what we're really celebrating is our right to make increasing amounts of money to the detriment of others (and I won't be quite participating in that either, with the meager rate I charge for my services and with all the stuff I do for free). This is a time for us to hold up the examples of the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti and declare to the world, "Here's what happens when you fuck with our manifest destiny."

Vacations and Labor Day. I took M to the airport this morning for her visit to see some family members in Nebraska (who knew anyone lived there, right?). I relish the solitary time as much as the next writing-puttering kind of person, but I already miss her.

A touching scene at the airport. Drove home by myself on the parkway, some dippy song on the radio with the volume turned up.

I'm just nervous about all these plane crashes too. There's too much evidence out there that safety has taken a back seat with all the competition and consolidation games the airlines have painted themselves into. I can't believe the pilots are putting up with this.

Anyway, I'll think positive thoughts while she's gone.

A new month, a new banner. So it shall be from now on (and there's a much more benign manifest destiny for you).

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September 5, 2000
Long Faces


Man on the streetspacePeople with deliberately uglified faces are proliferating in the Washington DC area.

I was taking my daily walk Friday (you have to do that a lot more than once a day, actually, to keep yourself sane when you work from home) and I saw a woman whose face was so scrunched up she looked like she was on a steady diet of the bitterest lemons. It was the lunch hour, and she had probably come out of an all-glass building, and she was on a mission to find the perfect sandwich in her allocated four and a half minutes or thereabouts. Then I saw another, a man this time, overweight, white shirt, ambitious jaw -- your typical old-school CEO type who could smile for the cover of Business Week but not much else.

You couldn't tell by looking at these individuals that a three-day weekend was coming up. I wanted to stop them and ask, "Excuse me, did someone die? Did you just find out you have terminal cancer? Did your man-child hero Dubya just announce to the world he was coming out of the closet?" Or something? What IS IT?

People of privilege in America usually have no clue as to how well they're doing. If they can't find a replacement part for their "sit on your ass and annoy the neighborhood with your racket" lawnmover during their frantic Saturday errand run, it's a goddamn Grade-A crisis. Perhaps everyone should be mandated to intern in a country where doctors working for state hospitals make sub-McJob salaries. Where if three cops are knocking on your door at 4 am, it's probably because of something you published in the paper the previous day.

I used to work at a camera shop in a blue-suit district, on the ground floor of your usual nondescript tall building. We had a steady stream of "executive" customers who figured we all had to be high school dropouts (or in some such loser category); in any case, since they bossed around everybody else up on the 45th floor, they somehow had the right to be the boss down at the lobby too. Of course, when they didn't know how to compensate for snow and their Christmas photos (which was usually the only roll they exposed during the year, and sometimes a roll would cover two years) turned out looking less than desirable, it was our fault. One guy had a reprint order he'd written up all wrong, and when he got reprints he didn't want, he got all huffy. He actually said, "I don't screw up at my job, and it's a lot more complicated than this." Well, for future reference, asshole, the way you order reprints is by specifying the little number you see on the edge of the corresponding negative frame. You don't pick out the strip and say, "OK, I want the second photo from the left, so I'll write '2'."

Dick. Thank god someone came out with APS for these people.

Didn't know this was going to turn into a rant. Really. I'll have to write some day about all the pleasant people I encounter during my walks.

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September 8, 2000
Lonesome Dove: The Mate's Return


Two pigeons

An emic calling card company records a long sequence of digits calling up a line of credit. The phone rings on my end. I pick it up.

"Yah?"

"Hi honey, it's me."

"Who is this?"

"It me! What is the matter with you?"

"Oh. Oh I thought you'd left me."

"You did?"

"You haven't?"

"No! What--?"

"Well you didn't call for five days..."

"I was having fun."

"OK."

"I'm sorry, I didn't..."

"Shit I have to call the realtor."

"Why?"

"I told her we were going to sell the house."

"What the--"

"Well you know..."

"Honey..."

"What am I supposed to think, you don't call for days and--damn what time is it?"

"It's almost 4:30, why?"

"The deposit, I put in a deposit for a one bedroom. I gotta--what time did they say they were closing, 5 or 6? Either way I can get over there if I left now."

"I see. Well, my flight's boarding."

"OK I'll pick you up."

"I can take metro too."

"No I'll just pick you up."

"OK, love you."

"Love you too. Where did I put that realtor's number... oh, better call off the mail-order bride thing too..." (trails off)

(Laughs)

CLICK--

Married people are weird.

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Thanks to Al's Nova Notes for putting in a kind word.

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September 9, 2000
The Gays Have Landed, Sah!


lone pigeon

In a story reminiscent of White House security personnel donning white gloves while "welcoming" gay leaders to a special meeting with the Clinton administration to address the concerns of the gay community such as the rise in discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians, Turkish police officers at a popular port denied entry to members of a GL cruise a couple days ago. At some point the Keystone cops were chasing after buses that had already departed for the ruins of Ephesus.

Attempting damage control, authorities apologized almost immediately, saying the cops had acted on their own. Of course, "We are not in a position to make judgements about people's sexual preference," as the Tourism Minister put it, may qualify as an apology in some quarters, but unfortunately it also reinforces the misconception that homosexuality is a preference.

Now why would anyone "prefer" to go and join a minority that's always in the cross-hairs of some Neanderthal wielding a baseball bat? Oh, I'm sorry, I forget: they control the arts and entertainment industry. They sign up for the dough. "Hey Jimmy! They bend over for the money!" Now it's crystal clear.

Soundtrack please:

I want my I want my MTV
[Hrrumphpffr-duhh-darradoom-barra-buzza-buzza]
Now look at them yo-yo's that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and chicks for free
Now that ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Lemme tell ya them guys ain't dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb

See the little faggot with the earring and the make-up
Yeah buddy that's his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he's a millionaire

-- Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits
"Money for Nothing," December 1984

One of the delicious ironies about this silly episode is that the site in question, the ancient Roman city of Ephesus, was no doubt a center of gay life in its heyday. And of course, homosexuality is ingrained in Turkey's more recent past and present as deeply as denial.

Some years ago I was watching on television -- with my grandmother, oddly enough -- a man who can best be described to an American audience as the Turkish Liberace. For those out of the loop let's just say he was flamboyantly gay. He was also the most popular singer in Turkey until his death a few years ago. His bisexuality, his lust for beautiful men and women alike, his orgies with young admirers at his mansion were open secrets.

"Don't ask, don't tell," at a national level. With others -- your son, your uncle, your favorite writer -- you could pretend, but there was no mistaking what this man was, yet people chose to ignore it for the most part, as if it were some dirty, unredeemable factoid about him -- a blemish. Some people could go on and on about how despicable "fags" were, yet they loved this man as their favorite singer.

Anyway, my grandmother watched him for a while with obvious admiration, and then said, with a sigh, "They say such bad things about this nice man, spreading lies; makes me so sad, so sad."

I just looked at her. (Yes, I know this is eerily similar to a Bloom County cartoon about Steve Dallas's Mom and Liberace by Berkeley Breathed -- who was accused of appropriating other people's stories a few times -- but it realy did happen. You've got to know my grandmother.)

The case of Thomas Anders of the forgettable German bubble-gum disco duo, Modern Talking, also comes to mind. For some Turkish males coming of age in the 1980s, the appearance of the androgynous Anders in the band's debut video, "You're My Heart, You're My Soul" was quite the concern! "I know he's a man, but that long hair, the glitter on the cheekbones, the gloss on his lips -- man, I noticed myself stirring down there watching him and freaked," is an actual quote from a certified beach stud from my childhood. These guys subsequently had to turn up their homophobia to 11 to deal with this, I'm sure.

From here I could segue into the equally bizarre oil wrestling & gay spectators fiasco or how cleverly Arnold Schwarzenegger has constructed a "middle ground" between homophobia and homoeroticism throughout his career, going back to his early Mr. Olympia days, but quite frankly, I'm too lazy.

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September 11, 2000
The Tomato War


Red tomato pic stolen from tomatopatch.comspace
(Red tomato pic stolen from tomatopatch.com)

When we have nothing better to do, M and I find ourselves arguing about tomatoes.

She buys them too ripe, and I buy them too green; that's the gist of it. The way I see it, I've had to prepare way too many emergency salads because a tomato she'd just bought hours earlier was already going squishy. When I complain about this she says, "Well, the ones you pick are too hard, they're impossible to eat." I try to explain that the idea is to let them sit and ripen but I fail to convince M that you end up with better tomatoes this way -- and more important, that I'm not a total weirdo. M and the bumbling Q, indeed (if you're not familiar with 007 terminology, this'll be too obscure; I'm sorry).

It doesn't help that I've picked up the habit from my father, who is a proudly weird person.

When I was a kid we would sometimes buy tomatoes together from the guys with the rolling carts on the street and it would always go like this:

My father would grab a bag and reach for the tomatoes.

The tomato guy: "Hey, hey, HEY! No picking, brother. Hands off, I'll get'em for you." It was one of the rules you wouldn't find in any tourist brochure, and the sellers would enforce it with gusto (but thankfully without resorting to actual violence).

Then my father would say: "Don't worry, the ones I want you'll be eager to get rid of."

The street seller, looking at all the green ones going into my father's bag: "Yeah, I'll say (sucker)!"

The tomatoes would then sit on the windowsill for a few days and redden in the sun. The most delicious ones I've had in my life.

Trying to duplicate this in my house was doomed to fail because we would always run out of M's tomatoes for salad and she would ultimately turn her eyes toward my pick, biding its time quietly and unobtrusively by the window. "Well, I suppose I could use that unripe tomato you bought. It's better than nothing."

"It's not ready. It's too young!"

"All right, gimme."

(Sigh.)

What I finally did last week was buy the right number of "decoy tomatoes" to be sacrificed while my Ace reddened up. Then, without making a big show of it, I cut it up and put it on the table.

"Wow, this tomato is delicious," M said. "Where'd you buy it?"

"Not the point," I said in my most annoying way. "It's a labor of love. I was finally able to apply the family secret all the way up to maturity, thanks to my refined strategy."

"Well," she said, "as long as the strategy doesn't involve putting them in the fridge, I'm fine with it," referring to the Turkish practice of refrigerating tomatoes -- a definite no-no in American vegetable kenneling.

I judged her comment to be a tad too snide for my temperament at that particular moment and felt a strong urge to give M an impromptu milk bath using the carton I happened to be holding. But in the last possible instant I remembered she was my sweetheart, so I refrained from drastic action.

The following day we were back to our old ways at the supermarket.

"Now make sure you pick ripe tomatoes."

Ngnnngngngnnnn.

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September 13, 2000
So Long, Bobby Knight


bobknight-screaming-garyhershorn-reutersspacebobknight-screaming-wpost-apspace
Somewhere in the wilds of Canada, a rather imposing hulk of a man is trying to inject a little bit of peace into his volatile life. He's doing what guys do when they embark upon this kind of personal quest: he's fishing.

More specifically he's going medieval on a fish about to pass into a better realm. "You fucking fish, how's it now? Who's cocky now, cocksucker? Who's giving me the fucking fish eye now, huh? There I poked the other one out too, howdya like that? Give me that look now if you can, bitch. How about I pluck your scales one by one you piece of worthless shit?"

So Bob Knight plucks at the scales for a while, and when that gets dull, hacks away in the general direction of the fish for a few minutes. A cell phone rings in his bag just then. He was going to turn it off, but he forgot. Too late now, the day's ambiance, so carefully put together, is shattered.

bobknight-screaming30Jan96-tomrusso-apspace"The fuck is it?"

"Knight?"

"It's Coach, or Mr. Knight, kid. I thought I explained that as I was twisting your arm."

"Bob, this is Myles Brand."

"Oh. Well, how are you, asshole?"

"Bob, I'm going to be a gentleman and give you the chance to resign."

"In your dreams, bitch."

"Fine, you're fired."

"Yeh yeh suck my dick."

Bob Knight hangs up the phone and then in a fluid movement throws and smashes it against the nearest tree. Then he picks up his discman and, swinging it by the headphone cord, brings it down on the remains of the fish resting on the tree stump. Now his face is splattered with innards and fecal matter. He licks some of it off absentmindedly. "Gotta get me some face paint," he mutters. And a pig's head on a stick.

bobknight_chairthrow-ap23feb1985

Don't cry for me Indiana; I've always been like this.

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September 16, 2000
Oz: Penis Penis All Day Long*


Oz inmate peering through cell slotspace
I have so much to write about, and thanks to Bill Gates' formidable bloatware MS Word, I can't.

A client's file finally descended into the abyss Friday after days of slow "corruption," so I have to work over the weekend to replicate several days' worth of editing. Word is not stable enough to handle multiple users working on a document with tons of embedded graphics and spreadsheets, guys. And a note to fellow editors out there, strip such documents before working on them. Embedded objects will be your downfall.

I knew this, I've told others about it, yet this time I foolishly ignored my own dictum. Serves me right. Let me see if I can avoid working on my monster document for another 10 minutes, though.

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I forgot to write about the Oz finale when it aired a few weeks ago. For those who don't know, Oz is supposedly a hyper-realistic prison show on America's darling cable channel HBO (which I actually admire and which we keep on receiving for free somehow after discovering it on an idle channel two years ago). It's the brainchild of the Tom Fontana / Barry Levinson production team (which, as you know, gave us the excellent, now-canceled Homicide: Life on the Street).

I don't mind the violence on the show, or the profanity; some people have objected to those, but how else are you going to do a prison show that aims for realism? With knitting chats and five o'clock tea?

My problem is with the oft-praised acting. Oz tapes 8 episodes a year, and most of the cast are talented character or stage actors squeezing these performances into their busy schedules. There's not much time for rehearsal, and there's kind of a disorganized, guerilla aspect to the shooting schedule, according to none other than HBO.

And it shows. Prisoners in HBO's own excellent documentaries are nothing like this. The guards, likewise. I watch Oz's cast and think, these are method actors trying to act like convicts (ang guards, prison administrators, etc.). It's a bit hard to explain, it's just a feel (I guess you either like the acting on Oz, or you think it's hokey, there's no middle) and it's not helped by those horribly intrusive, staged intrusions where the guy in the wheelchair talks to the audience wearing some kind of costume.

I'm not a fan of the ever-present, African-inspired percussion soundtrack either. It's trying hard, not unlike an obnoxious salesperson, to inject tension into every single scene, and it's just not working for me.

And then the penis factor. Did we really have to see Chris Meloni pissing into a bucket in that much detail? Did we really need the lingering shot of Dean Winters' uncircumcised penis flopping about? How many times have you watched a well-filmed love scene and thought, "Well, OK, but we need more, dammit. I want to see the thing going into the thang. Otherwise I'm not convinced they're really doing it."? Or a murder depicted on screen and wondered, "Hmm, I wonder if they really did it? I want to see the coroner's report."?

It's just overkill.

Most of the time the episodes look like they've been filmed during rehearsal, with the director (who's sometimes a celebrity guest) trying to come up with ways to duplicate or beat the novelty of the cast of Hair prancing naked on stage. That was more than 30 years ago, wasn't it? We should be able to come up with more evolved approaches now. Something that doesn't involve stilted acting, a "hip" set design, and most important, Dean Winters' flaccid penis.

No, Oz is no Sopranos, I'm afraid.

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space * The phrase is from a song in the famous Saturday Night Live skit with Matthew Broderick, Kevin Nealon et al. The word was mentioned close to a hundred times. Oz indulges in similar (but visual) overexposure, hence the title. (Go back up)

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September 23, 2000
Money and Death


We're still doin' it. 72 years and still going strong. Go America!space
(Photo shows the execution of Ruth Snyder, January 12, 1928, Sing Sing prison. The image may be in the public domain; I don't know who owns the copyright. Certainly not I.)

The Washington Post ran a stark full-page ad Thursday. Here's what it says:
bar

Can You Imagine?

Sentenced to Death And Your Lawyer Did Not Tell The Court Somebody Else Confessed to the Crime?

Impossible? Not hardly. [Shouldn't that be just "hardly"? Am I missing something? Anyway, nitpicking.] It happened to Ronald Keith Williamson. After 11 years in prison, he was finally set free. The system is broken. Mistakes by incompetent lawyers and other serious errors like ["such as," ahem] forced judges to throw out more than two-thirds of the death sentences between 1973 and 1995. The only way to assure [better to go with "ensure," hmm?] competent counsel is to join The Justice Project to pass the bipartisan Innocence Protection Act.

Pass the Innocence Protection Act Now!

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You would think this would cause an outrage, wouldn't you? You would think people reading the ad would be shocked, ashamed, infuriated that innocent people are going to jail, facing death even. You would think they would not write but march to Congress all together, spontaneously, organize a sit-in and refuse to leave until legislators promised to abolish a form of punishment that is irreversible in the event of a horrible mistake, promised to provide federal funds for adequate representation of the indigent, quick review of egregious trials, prosecutorial misconduct, DNA testing, etcetera.

And you might think that while they were at it, they would express some displeasure about how the health care system has abandoned the poor.

You would be wrong, of course. You would be wrong because your average newspaper reader had this little subconscious train of thought as he or she skimmed the page Thursday morning before setting down the coffee cup and heading off to work in his or her SUV (half of all new passenger vehicles sold in the US today are sports utility vehicles):

This would never happen to me. It will never happen to me because I can afford a good lawyer. I can afford a good lawyer because I have money. I have money because I'm a winner. He who does not have money in this land of equal opportunity is automatically a loser. And as such, they deserve... That guy in the back of my head who was convicted of rape and murder and spent some 20 years in prison, got raped in there, got himself some AIDS, was freed when DNA exonerated him (which would have been too late to save him if he'd been sentenced to death cause he'd have been executed 10 years after the trial, surely)...? See, that guy will never be me cause I can always get myself a Jackie Chiles for a lawyer.

"Yeah, Stace? I'm stuck in a traffic jam here, let's move the merger meeting to 10 o'clock, shall we? Get them salmon from the Ebbit or something, keep them happy. And rebook the New York shuttle. Don't forget the chopper ride from JFK. You already... great. You're the best."

How else do we explain the lack of outrage in the face of clear evidence that reasonable doubt has a price? Easy: If you have money, you must be doing something right. If you don't, well, you must be doing a lot of things wrong, baby, cause it takes a real, grade-A moron to go hungry in this great country, you know what I mean?

How else do we explain the plethora of idioms on the money theme peppering our everyday speech on unrelated topics? I feel like a million bucks (Really, how does it feel?) That's the $10,000 question. It's right on the money. My two cents' worth. You bet (You bet? Why do you need to bet?) Show me the money (How about I show you your crassness?)

Where does the expression "so and so is worth X amount of money" come from? Why can't we just say the person has this much money, or this is what their personal wealth is? I mean, when did worth come into this, wasn't Getty a worthless bastard?

Why do so many movie reviews use the expression, "such and such scene alone is worth the admission." Is that what we're thinking, losing our sleep over when we go to the movies? Did I make a good investment here? Was my money well spent? What did I get out of it? Enough? Did I break even goddammit!

Speaking of movies, why do Monday's entertainment columns lead off with the weekend grosses? Gross indeed. I mean, if you care about quantity, why don't you give us the number of people who've seen the movie? That way, a film from the 1950s would still be able to compete quantitatively against the latest blockbuster. But no, you have to keep updating that list of top ten grossing films of all time, or films that break the 100 million barrier, and so on. And next year it'll be some other movie on top even if a smaller number people go see it -- because ticket prices will have gone up. But that's OK, because that's all that matters. And in a couple years after a movie has come out (and not done so well at the box office), even serious critics will opt for the word "flop" as a one word description. Not even "commercial flop," just "flop."

We can go on about this, but you get the point, I'm sure. Where does this sort of this sort of thinking come from? I don't know, but there's no question that it's there, and it's ingrained, automatic. I was reading the Post a few years back, and someone who heard a horrendous collision in the night described it as a "$7,000 crash." Yes, you hear that sound, and the first thing that comes to your head is not that someone might be dead or dying, but that the car will need moola for repairs. This person is not necessarily a prick, he's just been socialized to put money over and above all and it bleeds into his language, that's all. Listen carefully to how we all talk and you'll notice it too, I promise.

Let's get back to the accused for a minute, though. I think that's been one of my irrational fears for a long time, being accused of something I didn't do. Yeah, I watched The Fugitive as a kid, and I remember being little and going to the store with my mother, then we went to a second store, and she had to pay for a jar of Nutella (we called it Chokella over there) a second time because I had tossed the first store's receipt and now the second store was "busting" me for being a shoplifter. Age 10, or thereabouts. That shit stays with you.

I'll probably never go to Malaysia, for example, because I hear someone can slip a gram of pot in your pocket and you could get executed. (I know, ironic, seeing as I hail from the land of Midnight Express, but what I am gonna do?)

So my ultimate nightmare is being set up as the fall guy for a murder rap. Kind of what OJ's lawyer dude Shapiro proposed to OJ pal (though I guess not anymore) Bob Kardashian in a moment of chutzpah. Never mind that Kardashian had nothing to do with the murder!

So I'm on the stand, testifying. It can't go right. I'm so nervous I'm guilty before I say a word. Polygraph test? Forget it, I'll be off the chart.

The dickhead (I mean the prosecutor): "So Mr... Goldemyre -- am I pronouncing that right?"

"Close enough, yes."

But wait, we don't even get there yet. I'm offered to "solemnly swear on the book" first.

"Well, actually..."

"Shall we bring a, what is it, a Koran, for you, Mr. Godd, Guldl, Gdkhh...?"

"With all due respect, I'm not religious, you see, it would be hypocritical."

"I see. Can you swear on your honor, then? You do have honor, don't you?"

Esteemed members of the jury -- my "peers" -- are scribbling in their notebooks at this point: "Atheist." "Satan." "Evil." "Guilty." "I'll show you to blaspheme, jerk!" "God hates fags."

So anyway, I'm on the stand now, answering questions.

"So, could you tell the court, Mr. Goondemyre, how much money you made last year?"

My attorney should probably object to this question and many other subsequent ones, but my lack of means to acquire a decent one is made obvious by my answer to the prosecutor's question: "$[An embarrassing amount]"

The prosecutor, suppressing giggles: "Really? Is that before or after taxes?"

"Before." The jury scribbles, "Loser."

"Well it might be tempting to label you incompetent, Mr. Gotmedire, but I would have to concede that your income last year positively shines in comparison to a couple years back when you made virtually no money. Were you disabled, sir, or something?"

"I was writing a book. I did admin work for room and board, I wasn't--"

"Room and board, I see. Did the book sell?"

"Well, for a first book..."

"I see. May I--"

Finally the judge objects. "Mr. [dickhead], let's move along, please. And Mr. [worthless lawyer], could you at least try to look awake and pretend to stick up for your client? It would save us some appeals in the course of your client's stay on Death Row."

The proceedings resume.

"Have you ever published any sentiments that could be classified as anti-American, sir?" (gently, teasingly waves an apparently incriminating clipping as he walks about)

"Well, I believe I criticized our foreign policy."

"I see. Applying deadly force, specifically, I gather? Ironic coming from you, in retrospect, of course, but..."

"Well, I--"

"Truth is, you'd rather have the world walk all over us, wouldn't you, Mr. Goldameir? Are you certain you didn't become an American citizen for that magic passport and for that alone? Perhaps you would like to tell me about your fantasies concerning federal buildings; after all, doesn't America need to be taught a lesson regarding -- what was it you called it -- our "deadly" foreign policy?"

This all happens before they get to DNA evidence, my lack of alibi (didn't think I would need one, silly me, you should make sure you're never alone, that you're never the book-reading solitary type), and so on.

Everything else after that is kind of a blur. I swim out of my daze to hear Her Honor ask: "Madame Foreperson, have you reached a verdict?" "We have, Your Honor." "In the matter of Ozzie Golkmedir versus the great state of Virginia and this glorious country and everything it stands for in all its unabashed glory so help me God and our enemies be fucked up the ass, what say you?" "We say, Fry the bast-- I mean, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!"

Did you know we executed someone in Virginia last week because his DNA was found on his murdered girlfriend? (Maybe he was guilty, but come on, whose wouldn't, unless they practiced abstinence?) Witnesses contradicting the prosecution's theory were never called to testify (we can't inconvenience the DA's office, can we, when they have a perfectly good suspect). And more advanced DNA testing on additional crime scene evidence was turned down (Do you have any idea how expensive DNA testing is? The US is a poor country, we'd rather execute the wrong person.)

Here in this country we have a Supreme Court who's ruled that strong evidence of innocence alone does not warrant a new trial or a stay of execution. We have states that limit the introduction of new post-conviction evidence to three weeks following a verdict. So if after 22 days, video showing someone else to be the killer surfaces, you're presumably out of luck, though I'd like to see the governor defend that one to a media mob.

We have people claiming (perhaps correctly) that no innocent individual has been executed so far, and then pointing out that the system works when someone is freed from Death Row a couple days before execution. It doesn't seem to occur to them that if the reforms they advocate (for speeding up executions) pass, this "working system" will surely execute wrong people if it hasn't already. (Meanwhile, we have judges ordering the destruction of DNA evidence for already-executed people. God forbid we discover after the fact that we killed the wrong person.)

And in the "really takes the cake" category we have people arguing that executing the wrong person is not as bad as abolishing the death penalty and thus risk having additional people killed by repeat offenders.

And we're in the same bin with Iran, Iraq and Libya: The label on it says, "These countries execute children and mentally disabled people." As if executing anyone, period, is not bad enough.

Yeah we civilized we cool. We kick major ass, man. We make big bombs they so cool. They shine you run your hand over them, some parts they're all shiny and smooth, other parts hard like shark skin so you know it means bizness. We fry humans real good too, we used to I should say, now we inject. They just go limp like pups. That's more civilized. Just like us, more civilized than the rest of yawl, we know what we're doing. You better believe, yeah that's what we do too, we have faith, you hear? And nobody better mess with us cause you know, we're the kings of the world. You know? Good.

break

As for the other full-page ad that's been running the past few days, telling us that we have suburban sprawl not because folks with too much money and a soft spot for the ostentatious are ruining the countryside, but because of poor immigrants flooding into our country... I have two words in particular for the sponsoring organization, which I'm sure I don't have to print here since they've been hearing them a lot lately. I do have other words too, and thus they run: "The ethnic group you single out for your vitriol makes up all of 2 percent of your target county's population, and some of those are not even recent immigrants. Look it up, you idiots..."

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