26 November 2014

Fickle Ears On Location – 11/26/14

#HANDSUP! – Outside the United States Courthouse, Los Angeles

Today, being for the first time in years time-rich and excuse-poor at just the time of a major national injustice, I dragged myself to downtown LA in order to stand up and be counted. Officially the headline cause was to demand Federal civil rights charges be brought against Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown; but of course protests have a way of getting rather precipitously "off-message," and why the hell not, seeing as "It's all connected, man..." I learned about some local incidents that I suppose I could have researched on the internet but would never have thought to look for. And no shit, but the moment of silence really was something special. I resisted snapping this photo until it had officially elapsed and been broken.

And then, textbook emotionally distant man and distracted artist that I am, and as is my custom at social gatherings of all sizes and kinds, I just kind of left without talking to anyone. According to one speaker, Los Angeles saw more arrests of protesters yesterday than any of the 170 U.S. cities where demonstrations erupted. There also were extensive reports last night of "kettling" by the police. Call me Bourgeois and overcautious but I wanted no part of any of that, especially depending as I only ever seem able to on employment in the security industry, which usually carries with it certifications and/or clearances that can be revoked in a heartbeat with little recourse. So as the march continues, I am safely back home in the East Valley typing this rather than clamoring for the release of last night's catches from the city jail.

At the risk of alarming those of you whom I have not caught up with for a while, I should share some things that I've experienced at my job in the last year or so as they have some bearing here. Since I started work at this school in August of 2013, I have experienced one active shooter incident, one horrendous traffic collision involving three of our students, one schizophrenic homeless man lunging at me while clutching a hunting knife, two trespassers who refused to identify themselves or to leave campus, numerous aggressive, crazy, or just plain uncooperative loiterers, and all manner of distracted, intoxicated, and/or generally incompetent Valley drivers careening every which way through a crosswalk that every student and staff member crosses several times per day. I have called the police dozens of times in the last year; my only complaint to this point is that they usually take forever to materialize when the situation is less than critical. Once they're on the scene, they typically handle themselves impeccably. And so, to the neanderthals out there in cyberspace who would posit attendance at an anti-police brutality rally as some kind of hypocrisy in someone who has ever once relied on the police to bail them out of a sticky situation: yes, I sure am thankful for the police when things go sideways in the neighborhood, but it is hardly hypocritical to ask just how things got so sideways in the first place! HOW did a convicted felon get his hands on a machine gun? WHY is there a shadow society of homeless people, many of them with mental health problems, living in a ditch a block away from a private school that costs a small fortune to attend? These are valid questions, they demand answers, and they effect everyone. And when less than everyone seems to be able to understand this, it is time to drop the slower ones a hint by taking to the streets

On a lighter note, for those of you academic music people, my teenage proposal to stage a protest at an AMS/SMT conference still stands in middle age.

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