Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Ridglea Theater

My mother, Jewel, and I shared a love of movies. My childhood memories that were not played out on  the softball field or in a gym somewhere were most certainly recalled in theaters. We enjoyed the actual act of going into a theater, with a big bag of popcorn, planting our butts down and watching everything from the classics of the golden years  to what Hollywood was serving up in the mid to late-seventies.

Jewel’s favorite actress was Katherine Hepburn. She liked to tell the story of being at a big movie premiere in downtown Fort Worth in 1940.  She was at the old Worth Theater and the local newspaper had put the word out Hepburn would be  there to promote her film,  The Philadelphia Story.   Jewel recounted the story that after waiting for two hours in the lobby, she ducked into the restroom.  She was 19 at the time and recalled exiting one of the stalls to wash her hands.  A woman walked up to the sink beside her and Jewel heard the legendary voice directed at her.  “Please be a dear and hand me a towel.” said Kate.  My mother obliged, smiled and watched the only person to ever win four Academy Awards walk out of the restroom and her life, just as quickly as she had entered it.  Jewel’s favorite actor was John Garfield, so much so, that’s what she named my brother.

My mother introduced me to James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor at the old Jerry Lewis Theater in Euless, Texas in 1974.  A re-release of Giant was my first movie ever to have an intermission.  Giant’s running time was about four hours, but I can remember being mesmerized by the actors and the incredible cinematography of that film….never once tiring of the rigid seat covered in red  vinyl.

Jewel took me to see my first “R” rated movie in 1975, JAWS.  We walked up the street from my house to the Bellaire Theater in my hometown, Hurst.  I was petrified and wouldn’t even get into a swimming pool for a month after I saw Robert Shaw devoured by that huge mechanical shark.

In 1976 we saw, “A Star is Born,” with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson at the Plantation Theater off of University Drive in Fort Worth.  That theater had a reputation in the 70s at being “artsy” and “fancy.”  The seats rocked, actual rocking chairs like you were sitting on your old plantation porch.  They also had killer lemonade.  I had fallen in love with Streisand several years before when I first saw Funny Girl, but this film sent my pubescent heart into arrest.  I was madly in love with Babs after 1976 and remain so to this day.

In 1976 we also saw “The Omen” at the Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie, also in Fort Worth.  That movie starred Lee Remick and Gregory Peck, a classic horror movie about a kid that is the son of the devil.  Remember, 666 on his head?  Jewel didn’t care for that one, but sat in the balcony with me, eating her smuggled McDonald’s cheese burger and fries.

The Ridglea Theater was bigger and better than any other theater I had seen.  It had beautiful murals and rugs in the lobby.  Fantastic snack bar and restrooms…and a sweeping staircase to my beloved balcony.  There was something about sitting on the first row of the balcony, overlooking the crowd and coming eye to eye with your favorite movie stars.

These movie house weekends were not just about the theaters mind you, they were about me and Jewel.  After my father died in 1976, we hung close on the weekends.  I still participated in sports, but I also made sure not to run too far off from the house….lest mother shouted, “Hit the Cadillac, it’s time for a movie!”  If we went to the twilight showing, the adult ticket was $2.25, and the child ticket was $1.75.  A “child” was 14 and under and I was 14 in 1976….and in 1977…..and in 1978.

I wasn’t kidding about the smuggled burgers.  If something could fit into Jewel’s purse, it was going into the Ridglea.  She drank Tab soft drink like it was  going out of style and had two cans in the side pocket.  Jewel’s purse was bigger than the suitcase I took on vacation.  She liked popcorn, but really enjoyed dinner and a movie.  Jewel was a pioneer it seems, eating full meals long before the movie taverns of today.

Jewel is gone, as are most of the classic theaters in town; long since vanishing into rubble.  The Ridglea Theater though has been beautifully remodeled by its new owner.  It doesn’t look quite like it used to look, but it is darn close.  The first floor of the theater has tables spread throughout, films and live music acts frequent the historical venue.  The balcony is very similar to the snapshots of my youth.  I went to the Ridglea after the grand re-opening to participate in a “sing-along” showing of The Sound of Music.  As I stood singing along with the Von Traps….I wished my mother was with me to see the place return in all its grandeur.  I wished my mother was eating a chicken leg in the seat beside me, looking for the salt in her coin purse.

I am a nostalgic person, if you read this blog, …well, yeah.  Nostalgia doesn’t envelop me, but it is a part of my every day life.  My partner is sick of channel 7 on my satellite radio/sounds of the 1970s.  I still dress like I did when I was an awkward 14 year old…15…..okay 16, t-shirts, shorts and sneakers.  I still enjoy films, and when I say the word “film” I mean movies prior to 1990 or so.  The crap that is released today is out on DVD the next week and on your TV the week after that.  Channing Tatum or Robert DeNiro?  Jessica Chastain or Katherine Hepburn?  Case closed.

I live in a lovely, historical townhouse, right in the center of everything here in Fort Worth.  I love that it was built in 1942 and has the hardwood floors and architectural touches and design that quite simply cannot be beat anywhere in north Texas.  I sit out on my balcony and wonder about residents and the good times that have come before my occupancy.  I think of Jewel and all the wonderful theaters that were all shining brightly when the townhouse smelled of new paint for the very first time.

I think of Jewel.  You know how it is when you heart aches so you don’t feel that you can catch your next breath?  Even after eight years I have that reaction still quite often.  But for some reason, sitting on my balcony makes me happy and fills me with peace.  I watch the trees sway side to side in the Spring air and imagine the long branches to be Jewel’s arms reaching out to hug me….or is that a cheeseburger she is handing me?  A wry smile crosses my face as I look further beyond the trees and I see it.  “Do you want the first floor or shall we go up to the balcony Julie?”  The view is perfect here Jewel.

ridglea

His Name Is Noah Pozner.

NoahPoznerThis is Noah Pozner, forever six because of the unspeakable madness of Friday, December 14, 2012. A news reporter prompted me to write this blog on this very sad Sunday. He looked into the camera and asked if the viewers remember the killers’ name in the Columbine killings of 13 years ago. Two names quickly came to my mind, which I refuse to put in this blog. The reporter then asked if I, the viewer, remembered just ONE of the victims’ names at Columbine. My stomach tightened and I felt personal disgust, at the realization that I could not come up with a name. Then it hit me, that is the ONE reason this American shame continues.

The sick aggressors’ names are rattled off on the evening news as each mass shooting occurs. The next murderer wants his name in that infamous club. It has to STOP. This plague on our country has to stop with tighter restrictions on gun control. Personally, I would like to see a three-month training course and psychological evaluation given to anyone that wants to own a handgun. This blog, however, is not about my personal stance on a hot button political topic. I know that is odd coming from me, but today is about names. It is about the FACT that I am going to erase the killer’s name in Newtown, CT. from my memory. It is also a FACT that I am going to remember forever another name, that of one of the victims.

As I read online this morning, the list of victims in the shooting in Newtown, I closed my eyes and made a vow. I was going to pick one of the victims and remember them…truly remember that they existed on this earth…for the rest of my existence on this earth. One of the names was going to be inprinted on my psyche, along with a smiling face. Forevermore, when someone mentions Newtown, CT., I am going to associate it with the smile of a six-year-old boy. His name is Noah Pozner.

I am not related to Noah Pozner and know nothing of his life, other than the fact that it ended this last Friday at the age of six. Think about that for a minute, six years. I am sorry, but a lunatic does not get to decide if Noah’s being gets to end like that, I refuse to give him that victory.

Noah’s family and friends will have to grieve and live with the tragedy of his ending for the rest of their lives. I hope they get to a place someday where they can feel a smile ease across their face, when a memory walks passed them. It is a given that those that knew and loved this little boy will never forget him.

I am choosing today, right here and now, to join those that loved him. I vow to never forget Noah Pozner. Won’t you join me? Pick a name on the list from Newtown and vow to always remember. After this blog, I also vow to stop calling Noah a victim. Noah Pozner was a beautiful human being whose life was six years in length. For all I know, those six years might have contained more beauty and enlightenment than I have had in my fifty years on earth.

Noah Pozner existed, he was here with us, and now he is not. That is what I know, that is what I cannot change. What I can change is based on a name. I will never think or speak of the monster’s name again…or the monsters who came before him.

I will remember one name, until I remember no names.

His name is Noah Pozner.

It’s Time for Mick.

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Juju stood in the middle of aisle 4 of M.E. Moses Five & Dime, mesmerized. She had one, crisp twenty-dollar bill jammed in the right, front pocket of her Levi’s. It was Juju’s tenth birthday, Friday, December 24, 1971 @ 2:00 p.m. and the money was a gift from her father.

Upon receiving the cash, Juju had run to the backyard, retrieved her red Schwinn, with the black, banana seat, and high-tailed it up Oak Street to the Bellaire Shopping Center. She was on a mission as she flew down the sidewalk past the Super X Drug Store, and parked the bike in front of her favorite store, making record time.

Not one for fancy stuff or jewelry, it had shocked Juju’s mother when she had told her that she had been eyeing a watch at Moses. Not the pink princess watch, with the real gold border, not the Batman watch, and certainly not the Brady Bunch one! Juju had zeroed in on the best of the lot, in her opinion, the Mick.

She plunked down the $14.50, plus tax and the watch was hers. Juju rode back home at a more leisurely pace, feeling her double-digit years…this was what getting older was about, going shopping and buying something with your own money, on your own time.

Mickey’s yellow gloves joined at the 12 and it was Christmas day. Juju got a guitar that Christmas morning that she never learned to play. It did look very cool resting in the corner of her bedroom by her record collection though. The Lite-Bright had been on her wish list and was under the tree, along with the requested Chemistry Set. Juju had the time of her life.

Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present and into the future.

Time keeps things from happening all at once.

Juju put on the Mick and stood in the middle of her bathroom, looking into the mirror. It was the end of her fiftieth year on earth and she was once again feeling her double-digit age. The visage looking back at her in the mirror was quite different from the girl on the bike.

Mickey had a new leather band and crystal. Time had required some upkeep, but overall he had survived the years well.

He had been there every day at 3:05 p.m. when the bell sounded, ending Mrs. Threadgill’s fourth-grade class. He had been there in 7th grade history and 11th grade Trigonometry. He had been on her wrist as she walked the stage to graduate. Mickey had matriculated to college and beyond with Juju.

Mickey got wound up sometimes, but usually remained steady, and gave her a secure squeeze on her left wrist, as the time marched on. Mickey kept everything from happening at once.

Surprising as it may be to most non-scientists and even to some scientists, Albert Einstein concluded in his later years that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. Einstein’s belief in an undivided solid reality was clear to him, so much so that he completely rejected the separation we experience as the moment of now. He believed there is no true division between past and future, there is rather a single existence.

Juju’s single existence has been quantified by one $14.50 watch. Her past, her present, and her future tick away on a 1971 model Timex Mickey Mouse. She proved Einstein’s theory as she stood in the bathroom, staring into the mirror….staring down at the display case on aisle 4. She raised her left wrist to her ear….tick- tock, tick- tock. Juju looked and found the time to be Christmas.

Spend your time well and have a joyous one!

The Narrator.

The water from the fire hose stung on his skin and pounded him up against the brick wall. Each drop of water felt like a pebble of sand, moving about 900 miles per hour. Even above the blast of water and the cacophony of sound it created, Edgar could hear the two cops laughing. He lost his footing and fell face down in front of the cafe. Sprawled out on the steaming concrete, the water flow subsided. The Alabama sun and the crowd glared down upon him. The pressure on his back was of a different origin. A knee now, digging into his spine, 243 pounds of a cop behind it. “Cuff ’em and stuff ’em,” yelled the Sergeant, “I got me some pecan pie waiting inside!”

By the time he was tossed into the holding tank, Edgar was bleeding from a gash over his left eye. He had dared to look up, directly into the eyes of the white secretary, as he shuffled down the hall of the police department. His leg-chains had made peculiar sounds against the linoleum tile. A syncopated rhythm with the jangling of the keys hanging off his jailer’s belt.

“When will you people ever learn?” the jailer said as he went off to finish his book-in paperwork. Edgar was actually thinking that exact thing, when would he learn? It had all started with a group of his friends drinking out of the wrong water fountain. Peer pressure bravado that turned, in a matter of minutes, into a full-on street revolt. The hoses and dogs always seemed to come together on the same truck. He actually preferred the pain of the water sting to the incisors of a German Shepard latched onto his calf. Only a black man in 1963 Alabama could make that differential commentary he thought. That fucking jailer doesn’t even know the definition of “differential” Edgar thought…a smile eased across his bloodied face.

Two weeks later Edgar was standing approximately three hundred yards from Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington D. C. Tears replaced blood and tracked down his cheeks. This man spoke his heart, this man was the narrator for his life.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Jangling keys on the belt of the jailer….now transforming jangling discords of our nation. A lot can happen in two weeks of a person’s life. A local pastor, back home, had collected Edgar at jail after he had sat there for seven days and nights. There had been five people arrested for drinking out the “Whites Only” fountain that day at the cafe. All five were now standing shoulder to shoulder in a throng of over 200,000 people. The man to Edgar’s left was a white man. He turned to him and saw a mirrored, tear streaked face.   Edgar felt he may indeed be dreaming!

Local people had given up their seats on a bus headed to hear the Reverend, voluntarily given them up to the five brave people arrested that day. Edgar knew his bravado bordered on suicidal actions, but he was so very thankful. Thankful to witness this mass of humanity and to hear these words coming from this man. This world is bigger than that cafe, for sure bigger than that jail cell.

Edgar sat in his easy chair. His granddaughter rushed to the kitchen to get some chips during the TV commercial. The words coming out of the man had been the script of his life. They echoed back to his childhood. They whispered in his ear as he bent down to take that sip of cold water. They woke him as he lay on the floor of the jail cell. They invigorated him as he stood among a throng of many. They slipped lyrically in his good ear, as he walked his driveway every morning looking for his newspaper.

The racists stomped in fits and raised their fists. There were threats made, false allegations and ignorant people did ignorant things. The TV anchor announced that Barack Obama had just been re-elected as President of the United States.

Edgar was a retired civil engineer. He was a father of three and grandfather of seven. His life was one well lived and he was thankful. Thankful that he had lived through the bitterness of the twentieth century, to taste the sweet of the twenty-first.

The President was giving his acceptance speech to the world. Edgar saw his lips moving, but heard the booming voice of another.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

Edgar had long ago, left the valley of despair. America was divided politically, but he knew change would come. Edgar had hope. Edgar always had hope. Hope and change were not just buzz words for a political campaign to him.

The narration that began that hot August 28, 1963 had maintained, steadfast encouragement to fight the good fight. Different people mouthed the words, but the origin could always be traced back to that one man…the narrator. Words can lift up a generation. Words can flow from one voice and lend grace through the decades.

Edgar asked his twenty-four year old granddaughter what she thought had been the hardest obstacle to Obama being re-elected? The young woman responded, “The unemployment rate?” Edgar felt a smile ease across his face…as it should be, he thought to himself, as it should be. She would never be a veteran of creative suffering.

For the Next Guy.

My mother motioned for saleswomen at department stores like the guys in red shirts that direct the jets off Naval aircraft carriers.  She had style, and what you would call panache.  As the saleswoman nodded in acknowledgement and began our way, my mother would fart and casually walk away.  I would be left standing at a carousel of pants, in a fog….politely asking the woman if she could help me find the tall and chunky Levi’s.

I thought of that story last night as I got ready for sleep in my bedroom.  You know how it is when you have out-of-town company at your house all day and you just can’t relax and be yourself?  Certain things are left internal all day long, ….things that beg to be heard.  As those things escaped and my partner ran for the covers…I thought of my mother.  Yes, Jewel…..your memory comes to me as noxious, gaseous fumes permeate any space that I happen to inhabit.  Ahhh, it’s kinda like a Norman Rockwell memory.

Yeah, I was traveling down memory lane last night, as I waited on the two Benadryl to kick in and give me respite.  My mother giggling as she ran off towards the bra department after dropping a bomb came first.  Followed closely by the time that she hit a waiter square in the middle of the eyes with a flying peanut.

I took my mother out to dinner quite a lot.  If you want to get to know a parent, take them to a great restaurant, put a hot plate of food in front of them and start asking questions.  I tell stories in this blog that came straight from my mother’s mouth, in between mouthfuls of chicken parmesan of course.  If your parents are alive and you don’t know about the first time they went on a date, or about how they bought their all-time favorite car…then you are missing a fantastic opportunity.  An opportunity to try to know them as a friend and not just a parent.

The all-time faux pas for any waiter was really just an error in math.  If you are approaching three people at a table, that bread basket BETTER have three rolls in it.  See how simple that is?  I actually verbalized, “Oh brother,” because I knew what was going to happen next….or did I??

In 2001, I took Jewel, my mother, to a local restaurant in Fort Worth where part of their thing was to have a pail of peanuts on every table to shell and eat.  That’s always a sign of a classy place to me if they give you, the diner, some physical task to perform while you wait on your dinner to arrive.

The waiter dropped the bread basket on the table and trotted off toward the bar.  “What are we supposed to do with this?” Jewel asked.  Well, I said, do what you do best and motion for him to come back over here.  With that she started flailing about (like aforementioned Navy guy).   The waiter acknowledged my mother by simply holding up his right pointer finger…as if to say “in a minute.”

The waiter was laughing and engaging other members of the wait staff by the bar in a raucous conversation….he turned his back on my mother.  With that Jewel reached into the classy, metal pot on our table…that sat beside the wholly inadequate, and evenly numbered basket of bread.  She retrieved the single largest peanut she could find and in one swift motion sent the legume hurdling across the restaurant.  It sailed at a speed where one would imagine it left the hand of Nolan Ryan, not an eighty year old woman.

One of the other waiters must have told our guy that a peanut the size of a VW was coming his way, because he whipped around towards our table.  The head whip came at the exact moment the peanut invaded his personal space.  PLOP!  It hit the poor kid right between his wide-open eyes!!  His friends fell out about the place, laughing hysterically.  All the poor kid could see was my mother, again in the background, waving him to our table.  All I could think of was whether the waiter’s spit was going to add any flavor to the baked potato that I had ordered.

The waiter came back to our table and my mother explained the simple math problem of two rolls and three diners.  What she lacked in tact, she made up for in humor and a smile.  “Now young man, I am telling you this for the next guy.” For the next guy was a term I had grown fond of over the years.  Learn how to count change back…for the next guy.  Always bring the ketchup with the french fries….for the next guy.  Take that peanut to the head…for the next guy.

It seems odd to me, and for sure to you, that I think of my mother at the same time as peanuts and flatulence.  I do get that.  But I wouldn’t change it for a second.  I knew my mother, with all her faults and quirks.  I knew her as a parent and as a buddy.

I told the saleswoman she  might wanna get some air freshener at the register, her department smelled kinda funky, like bad Tex-Mex.  I am not being critical of you I said….I only tell you this for the next guy.

The Ice Cream Sandwich Caper

If you ever go looking for common sense in this world, do not seek it out at your local municipal court.  As a defense attorney I have mistakenly tried to find it there recently, to no avail.  I let it anger me so, every time I enter the front doors of these courts, I know I am one exclamation away from spending a weekend in jail.  The crime of contempt is the one offense that I come close to committing every week.  Speeding is the one offense that I actually do commit, daily.

I have a client that is about 46-years-old and handicapped, possessing the  mental status of about a 12-year-old.  He also happens to be one of the nicest people I know.  We will call him Joe for the benefit of this blog.  Joe, like all of us, likes an occasional ice cream sandwich.  One ice cream sandwich brought Joe into my life, this is his story.

Joe lives in an adult care facility about two miles from my law office.  He and his eighty something mother came in to hire me one sunny day.  It was then that I heard of the great ice cream caper of Fort Worth, Texas.  A crime so heinous that I must give you a warning at this time that if you are under 18 or weak of heart, please, oh please stop reading this blog and go about your business.  *******

If you are still with me, I shall proceed telling you the terrible circumstances of Joe’s crime.  It seems that Joe and a couple of his buddies like to go for walks.  They amble down the road on good weather days and hang out around local businesses and hospitals.  Joe lives in the hospital district of Fort Worth, so several hospitals and their nice, air-conditioned waiting areas are close to him.

On one particular day, Joe and his two buddies were inside a local hospital, walking through the lobby, when they noticed the snack bar.  Cups and spouts for soft drinks were out in the open for anyone to help themselves.  And beside the soft drinks was an ice cream box with a top glass slide door.  Inside you could see ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches.  Joe and his buddies decided the ice cream looked like a good idea after their long walk.

The trio sat down and started to enjoy their treats, not noticing the hospital security guard fast approaching them.  Now, anyone of average intelligence, can figure out when talking to Joe….say after about two minutes, that he is indeed,  a special guy.  Evidently, average intelligence is not needed to get a security job at this particular, to remain nameless, hospital.

The security guard proceeded to yell at Joe and inquired if he had intended to pay for the ice cream sandwich, which was now resting comfortably at the bottom of Joe’s stomach.  Joe told the guard he did not have any money.  Joe and his buddies didn’t really think about money, or prices of items…the ice cream was out in the open, no clerk standing in front of it.  It had appeared to Joe, that it was a just a very special treat….one glass-slide door away.

Does Joe know right from wrong?  Yes.  Did Joe think about right and wrong when he took the ice cream sandwich.  No.  His buddies said let’s eat some ice cream and he did.  Did Joe have money back at the center to pay?  Yes.  Would his elderly mother had driven down to pay and pick him up?  Yes.  Would his center Director have driven down to pick up the trio and paid?  Again, yes.  Did any of these options occur to the guard?  No.

The guard issued Joe a citation for Theft Under $50.00, a  misdemeanor in Texas, and set him on his way with a criminal trespass warning.  Does Joe understand what to do with a ticket?  No.  Does Joe understand the crime of criminal trespass or a warning on same?  No.

Joe does nothing with the ticket but tuck it away in his closet.  He never tells his mother, not wanting to get into trouble.

Flash forward ONE YEAR.  The Director of the center where Joe lives tells him that one of his buddies is in the hospital.  His friend is dying and the Director tells Joe and several others to come get in the center van for a trip to the hospital to say a final goodbye to their buddy.  Joe is sad.  Joe gets in the van and never once thinks of the criminal trespass warning issued twelve months prior.  If you were to tell him about it, at that particular point, he would not know what it had to do with his friend dying.

Joe entered the hospital and was stopped by the same guard.  The guard unbelievably recognized Joe!  Joe was arrested, prior to saying his goodbye, for criminal trespass.  His mother bonded him out of jail and then they sought me out for defense counsel.

Criminal trespass is a higher misdemeanor, therefore it was prosecuted by the county district attorney’s office.  I got the Director of the center to draft a letter explaining her order to Joe to return to the hospital.  The letter also addressed his residency at the center.  The D.A. immediately dismissed the case.

The ice cream sandwich caper was TWO years ago.  Today I was in municipal court regarding the theft ticket.  The city prosecutor will not dismiss the case in the “interest of justice” even after I told her Joe’s story.  The city will not dismiss the case after reviewing the letter from the Director.  The fine on the ticket is approximately $900.00 at this point.

The Judge told me this morning she would consider dismissing the case if I got a second letter concerning a current mental evaluation, or perhaps regarding Joe’s I.Q. status.  Really?  Can’t just take my word on it as an officer of the court, ….with me willing to put my law license on the line if I am found to be lying about Joe’s story???

It seems the prosecutor talked to Dirty Harry….er, I mean, the hospital security guard. He showed up today, ready to testify in regard to the great ice cream sandwich theft.  Slow day at the office, I guess.  The guard told the prosecutor that he has another opinion about Joe, that he feels he is quite competent.  Does the hospital require an M.D. or PhD in psychology for all guard applicants??

Joe doesn’t sleep well thinking about this crime hanging over his head.  I didn’t even tell him about the court date today to spare him grief.  I cannot consider trial, as I think that would be detrimental to his health.

The only solution is to file a motion with the Court outlining my belief that my client is not competent to stand trial.  I will file it on his behalf, as an indigent client, and make the tax-payers foot the bill.

The shrink will charge about $1500.00 to evaluate Joe.  He will come back to the Court and agree with me that he is a sweet boy, not competent to aid in his own defense or stand trial.  Oh yeah, the ice cream sandwich?  89 cents.

Righteous Anger

I was accused this week of cramming my “gay agenda” down a throat or two.  I am gay and I do have an agenda, so that part is correct.  I humbly disagree with the “cramming” part however.  But I want to thank that person, it got me angry enough to blog again and I have been suffering from writer’s block this summer.

Yeah, it’s going to be one of those…so if you prefer my funny childhood memories, click off here and have a good day!  

For those of you still with me, here I go.  I do not believe that striving for equal rights in the United States….US Constitutional rights is ‘cramming’ anything down anyone’s throat.  Of course, the haters will always disagree with me.  James Earl Ray probably pulled the trigger because he couldn’t stand MLK Jr.’s non-stop harping on equality for black people.  Why didn’t MLK Jr. just stop that and accept his second-class citizen status?  Well, he had the law and righteousness on his side, that’s why.  MLK Jr. had death threats every day, but continued to get up every morning and fight for his rights and others.

Now, in no way am I saying I am on the same level as that of my hero, MLK Jr.. I like to think that growing up reading about him and my other hero, President Kennedy, that their vision was ingrained in my psyche.  I feel their words deep inside of me, I feel their passion.  It’s that righteous anger again.

Now the Bible, Ephesians speaks of righteous anger…that anger that is expressed in such a way as to bring glory to God.  I am not a Christian, but I like to think that Christians would say that’s fighting the good fight.  Fighting for equality under the law would be something that their God would think was righteous.

I will get hateful and angry comments sent to me because I just wrote the above paragraph.  They will try to say that queers are going to burn in hell…even though Jesus never did address homosexuality….you can’t prove that to me.

I have to authorize all comments to be posted on my blog, so haters beware.  Most of the time I do not allow your comments, so feel free to blast me to burn, but know I am the only one that will read your commentary.

I bring up religion because all the haters…uh er, Christians always want to say that the Bible says ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN.  A family member “friended” me on Facebook this month, then put that as her status.  Facebook is the best thing EVER in my opinion.  The lying faces that smile at you at family reunions cannot resist posting their thoughts for the world to see in social media.  It is a wonderful thing.  She felt righteous about posting it because she was acting under her beliefs and I felt wonderful “de-friending” her, acting under mine.  Win, win.

The family member felt compelled to write me an email and say that I was going to burn in HELL, not for being gay mind you, but for not following the WORD.  I am glad she feels badly for me and will miss me in heaven.  Like Billy Joel sang, I would rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints.  Is it getting warm in here??

I won’t go into my Constitutional argument for marriage equality…read previous blogs.  I will reiterate that I do not want to marry in a church…yours or anyone else’s.  Marriage in the U.S. is a civil contract….so keep the Bible out of it, okay?

The inevitable is going to happen, marriage equality is going to become the law of the land.  I think that is why the haters are getting so angry and revving up their engines.  Dan Cathey, the President of Chick Fil A, admitted recently what has been widely known for years in the gay community.  He admitted that the company is against marriage equality and has made million dollar donations to fight against it.

Now, if someone makes this statement, which he has every right to make in America, you gotta know there is going to be a fall-out.  He made a tactical decision to verbalize the company policy, good for him.  Always good when the haters make themselves known whether in your family or at your local chicken shack.

Now imagine, someone is saying that a national business has donated millions of dollars to keep you from exercising your US Constitutional rights.  How would you feel?

My family member is straight and married to a white person.  But what if they wanted to marry a black person and it was before Loving v. Virginia was decided by the US Supreme court in 1967?  What if the local owner of the chicken shack started mouthing off about the black person they loved and wanted to fight against their right to marry them?

The family member happens to live in North Carolina, where in 1967 it was ILLEGAL for a white person to marry a black person.  The first interracial marriage in that state occurred on October 6, 1971 when John A. Wilkinson’s marriage to Lorraine Mary Turner was officially recognized, Wilkinson was black and Turner was white.  North Carolina was one of 15 states that had to change their law after the Loving case was handed down.  It seems my family member has probably settled in the right state for them…if you get my drift.

So my point is, I am sorry if you view my continued struggle for my rights as cramming it down your throat!  I know if you were in the same situation you would act just like I am acting.  That is the funniest thing about the whole deal. The downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the abused, the discriminated against ALWAYS get both sides.  Why don’t the opposition see it?  They do, they insist on making the religious argument when they know it is a civil right…because under the laws of this country, they know they are going to lose.

I am going to hold the course on my gay agenda.  I am going to continue to lose family members in my righteous battle for equality.  It is all good, I sleep quite well at night.

MLK Jr. was a man of God and a reverend.  I know some of you will say that if he were here today, he would be against marriage equality.  I do not think anyone can make that assumption.  I will not pose an argument….I will just leave you with this quote.  Get some righteous anger my friends.

“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

 Martin Luther King, Jr.     August 28, 1963

May 9, 2012.


What a historical day, May 9, 2012, became as President Obama FINALLY verbalized his support for gay marriage equality. As a former Constitutional law professor, we all knew how he stood internally, the conflict had always been WHEN to tell the world how he truly believed…how any educated and knowing person believes. Whether you love queers, hates queers, or are a queer…the answer is the same. All Americans are afforded equal protection under the law, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I expected him to wait until after he was re-elected, then to make the announcement. Politics and the way it makes rational men behave is a sick system, but I understand how the game is played. The unbelievable courage it took for him to give the interview before the election makes me respect him on a whole different level. Now, don’t think me a fool, I know this move was plotted out, internal polls and statistics considered…but I still know it was the equivalent of laying down a black-jack bet in Vegas.

I think it might turn out to be a total wash. That is, the number of votes he lost with the announcement is about equal to the number of votes he gained. The majority of votes Obama gets in November, he was going to get on May 8th.

I am sometimes accused of being a “one-issue” Democrat. Well, hello??? Wouldn’t you be if YOU were being denied a basic civil right because of one genetic marker you just happened to be born with? Why the hell would I vote Republican when Mitt is preaching that he will push for a U.S. Constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman?? Sure, let me vote Republican and then go home and stick pins in my eyes! Good grief!

The only thing…the ONLY thing that would be interesting if Mitt Romney becomes the President is the separation of church and State issue. All of the Bible-thumpers who are always screaming that they want religion back in the halls of government and in our schools will be doing a complete 180 in their thinking. The first time they hear President Romney talk about his magic underwear in the oval office, the Southern Baptist Convention will issue a statement on what a beautiful thing we have in the Separation of Church and State in America!!

It is funny when I think about it that the racists who sooooo hate Obama have to live with the fact that Palin and McCain were such a bad ticket that America voted a black man into the White House! They have had FOUR years to get the black man out of there and a Mormon is their best candidate?? I can’t wait until Romney picks his running mate! Guess what haters? It took the first black President to look into the camera and acknowledge my existence as an equal citizen!!

I have watched my hero, John F. Kennedy’s, June 11, 1963 civil rights speech dozens of times. I watched it again on May 9, 2012.

“The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who will represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?”

 

Who among you would want to wake up tomorrow and know, at your soul’s core, that you were gay? Life as a queer girl in Texas is not an easy road. I am humbled and grateful that President Obama was not “content with the counsels of patience and delay” when he decided to speak out in the second week of May, 2012.

On April 19, 2012 President Obama visited the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. The museum houses the infamous bus where American hero, Rosa Parks, declined to yield a seat to a white man. The President took the exact same seat and pondered. I know I was thinking it was a complete “full-circle” moment when I saw the photo taken that day.

“I just sat in there for a moment and pondered the courage and tenacity that is part of our very recent history but is also part of that long line of folks who sometimes are nameless, often times didn’t make the history books, but who constantly insisted on their dignity, their share of the American dream,” said President Obama.

I like to think that when it came time for the President to pick the date for his equality statement that he thought for a second about sitting in that bus seat. My being gay is as unchangeable as skin color, some people don’t believe that, but it is a fact.

I have never made a stand like Ms. Parks, where my physical well-being might have been threatened. I do like to think that with every word I speak, with every word I blog, maybe someone who hasn’t listened or paid careful attention before, well…maybe they do at last.

At last, a sitting American President stood up for gay Americans. I know how black Americans felt now on June 11, 1963. Tears roll down your face, your chest heaves, and you are speechless. That’s right, I became speechless. For once, someone else, someone of greater significance was speaking my truth. I am forever thankful that President Obama sat in my seat on that day.

Armed with Skittles.

In eight years as a police officer, I encountered hundreds of “Trayvon Martins.” You, the reader, can choose to interpret that first sentence in various ways. What I mean is the following: A teenager ambling down the street. Period. Now, some teenagers are up to no good. Some are walking away from the scene of a crime. But some are just walking home in anticipation of chomping down a bag of Skittles. This particular case makes me sick to my stomach because it didn’t have to happen. I have ALWAYS hated “citizen patrols” and this case is exhibit #1 for evidence of my loathing. It doesn’t matter if Martin was an honor student or a kid walking away from a car burglary. He was unarmed and did not need to die on that particular day.

Based on George Zimmerman’s account of what took place, and I post this with a caveat that the only information that I am privy to regarding this case is what I have read in the media. From my personal experience with the media we can believe about 50% of what is written. Having said that, I believe that Martin is dead because of the intentional actions of Zimmerman. I am not going to address the perverse, “stand your ground” law that is in place in Florida, I will save that for another day, another blog.

Zimmerman was told by the police dispatcher to cease following Martin, whom he identified as a suspicious black male in the gated community he “patrolled.” I do not believe Zimmerman is racist, nor do I believe the dreaded Hoodie played a part in this event. Zimmerman was just an overzealous, under-trained citizen on patrol. A man who when advised by the REAL law enforcers in the city to back off, simply ignored their command. He pursued and engaged Martin in a conversation that became physical, then deadly. Why deadly? Oh yeah, because Zimmerman and NOT the suspicious black male was walking around a GATED community with a loaded, deadly weapon.

Zimmerman says he was in fear for his own safety and had to resort to deadly force. Okay, I lied….one reference to the “stand your ground” law. The law in Florida allows for someone to use deadly force if they fear that they will suffer bodily injury or death at the hands of another. They DO NOT have to retreat, but can stand their ground (insert any John Wayne movie quote here) draw their weapon and use it to defend themselves. So when Martin toting a drink and some candy is encountered by Zimmerman, not a cop, he probably told him to F-off, just like I would have in that situation. Zimmerman remember was told by police dispatch to back off, what was his reasonable suspicion for the contact?? Had he witnessed Martin commit a crime? NO. So Zimmerman generates the situation, brings the deadly weapon to the party, then escalates it by displaying it (deadly force in and of itself). He created the entire situation and then claims self defense….this is LUDICROUS!!

By Zimmerman’s account of the incident, I could have killed one person a month in my eight years of patrol…probably more. I could have created situations every night in dark alleys, on Main Street, in grocery store parking lots. Drunks would have been the easiest, they never liked being handcuffed. Under the “Zimmerman Rule” I could have just used a few choice words, pushed them, pulled out the cuffs and start to wrestle with them on the side of the road. Wait a minute, this guy is bigger than me! I feel he might be getting the best of me, he might be trying to take my weapon from my duty belt. DRAW and FIRE!!! SELF-DEFENSE!!

Oh yeah, right….I had more than adequate training in all facets of law enforcement. Patrol, engaging suspects, traffic safety, handcuffing techniques, weapon use and safety in handling….self-defense…hand to hand combat….I can go on….but you get my point.

What would have happened if Zimmerman would have used a few of his IQ points and backed off until a patrol officer arrived? The officer would have pulled up to Martin, got out of his car and asked a few questions. ( The 1968 Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio gives police the right to stop and ask a few questions if there is a reasonable suspicion to do so. They can even frisk the outer clothing of the individual for officer safety reasons, again if they have reasonable suspicion he just committed a crime or was about to…or they have suspicion the subject is carrying a weapon.) Hey guy, what’s your name? Where are you headed? Oh, your parents live down the street? Coming from the store with some Skittles? Yeah, I love those little suckers too. This citizen patrol guy thinks you are up to no good. If I check on the radio, have you got a record? How about juvenile? Ok, you aren’t doing anything that rises to the level where I need to check. Don’t worry about it…have a good one kid.

Have a good one kid. A kid he will forever be because some idiot decided he was being suspicious and created a situation that resulted in him not being anything anymore.

Criminals

“To err is human, to forgive divine.” Alexander Pope.

People screw up all the time, it’s in our nature. Now some people choose to not care and others pursue wrong-doing as a career choice…but what about everyday folk? As you read this, I would venture a guess that about 99% of you think you are “everyday folk.” Would you believe that everyday folk pay all my bills? They do, revenue from everyday folk keep my criminal defense practice afloat and provide me a nice living. We screw up small and we screw up large…and it is folks just like yourselves. So when you watch the evening news today…see if you can find yourself….then go one further, can you forgive? America can’t sit down to dinner thinking everything is wrapped up all tidy because the criminal was marched to jail.

“Judge not, lest thee be judged.” Jesus Christ

You might be willing to admit that you have driven home from a party “buzzed.” You might not be willing to admit that you were a hair’s breath from taking out a family of five at the intersection. My clients are young people with money in their pockets that steal make-up at Target. My clients are drunk professors that choose to drive home from the country club. My clients are bank managers that steal millions before their scheme is uncovered. Which of the three aforementioned is more of a criminal? Which one could you identify with if you knew the whole story? Which one did you quickly judge?

I have blogged before about mirroring….seeing yourself in the behavior of others….assimilating. For instance if you could see that I was born gay, that my thoughts were queer from about the age of four. It might be easier for you to give me equality under the law if you saw yourself in me. When was the last time you heard someone on the street corner yelling at a straight person….challenging that THEY were born straight? That’s a queer inquiry. Ask yourself why is that? Why did heteros criminalize homosexuality?

Screw ups are not born criminals…or are they? Are we? Did you drive 58 mph to work this morning? Well, that’s 3 miles per hour over the posted limit. Why did you do that? What’s that you say? That’s an acceptable breaking of the law. Whom among us makes that determination?

I talk to “normal” people in my office every week. They live otherwise “normal” lives, but an aberration occurred and a criminal charge was filed. I listen to the factors that preceded the criminal act. I assess the client before me. I explain the laws, procedures under the law, and possible outcomes to their predicament. They hand me money, and I begin to do my job. I do not judge…ever…even when severely tested, I have learned to work and not judge.

Some people belong in jail. Some people belong in jail for very long periods of time. I believe in punishment. I believe in humane punishment for those found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in a court of law. With some clients I know that punishment is at the end of our relationship. My job is to protect the client’s rights and to get the best possible scenario for him/her concerning that punishment.

I layed that out for you because it is NOT what I want this blog to be about. Why do we screw up….why do we ALL screw up? Some get caught, some don’t….some think this blog doesn’t apply to them.

It is hard to go through your life and not commit a crime. If you just had the thought that you have done it thus far…I could prove you wrong in a ten minute conversation. You are a criminal. I am a criminal.

Maybe I want this blog to be about compassion. I don’t want you to be a bleeding heart liberal like I am, just a bit more compassionate.

They always give you the scenario where your daughter has been raped and killed. Could you kill her attacker with your bare hands? Sure you could, I will applaud you after you are finished. You are missing the point.

Start reading USA Today online and watching Brian Williams in the evening with a different slant. The soldier that took out 16 Afghans is your brother, your neighbor….he is you. Let’s agree that we are all humans and we are all criminals.

Compassion and reviewing the events preceding the criminal act will outline how to prevent the act from repeating. It will unfold in such a way a first-grader could understand it. Cause and effect.

I am not saying that given the same set of circumstances all humans will respond the same way….commit the same crime. I am saying that some humans will…it is up to the rest of us to do the work to ensure that there is no repeat cycle. It is in all of us. Why do we pull out of Iraq and some are already yelling to move on Iran. That didn’t surprise anyone…predictable. Will we allow it to happen?

People will always screw up. Basically because there are new ways to do it found every day. It is up to us to constantly be evolving, to recognize the predictors. It is up to us to mirror the actor and acknowledge he is closer to us, than not. You start to look down your nose and judge….nothing is ever going to stop. Let me know if you start to watch the TV news differently after reading this. Oh yeah, and watch your lead foot on the drive home today. You know that’s against the law…why do you do that?