Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Using my study hall time wisely

Not study hall but the adult equivalent. I bailed on the community meeting early.

Given all the bitching and moaning I've done over the past couple of years about how people should be involved in politics at every level I really should feel more guilty about that. I don't. If you'd been there you'd understand. Thanks to the magic of the interweb you can have the next best thing, I'll tell you all about it.

Put on your diapers now, this is the sort of thing that's so fabutantastic you might just wet the sofa.

Or perhaps not.

There's a little Lutheran church around the corner. It's got a pre-school in it, too, and I keep mentally tagging it for a visit if/when I ever teach kids again but I've never been in. Turns out it's falling down around its parishioners. Some pews are blocked off, big portions of the painted ceiling are covered in primer or spackle or something. In short, fabulous. I loved it and briefly I was sorry that I didn't have my camera. Then I realized that my camera couldn't actually take any half decent pictures of anything that's not in direct sunlight. So then I wished (AGAIN!) for the super cool camera. And then I thought about how even I am bored of hearing myself whine about wanting the damn camera and if I would just get my stupid taxes together and send them to the nice lady in Long Island I could use my tax return to get the camera and quit my bitchin'.

So, yeah, meeting off to a slow start.

There was apparently a substitute captain giving the report. The report could easily have doubled as quarterback's calls from the 50 yard line (24, 63, 52, 87 HIKE!). Crime is up 20 some odd percent from this 28 day period last year. But that's deceptive (really? that is the part that's deceptive?) because if you break it out by week we're down a couple of percentage points per week. If someone with the math smarts can explain to me how that's true I'd be interested. But explain it in small words and tiny concepts, please. I suspect that it's because he's comparing apples and oranges. He's not comparing each week of last month with its corresponding week last year but comparing the numbers for each week of last month with the average numbers in the precinct for a week. I don't know if the average weekly numbers are a lifetime average, average for this year, average for the last 12 months or what. In case you haven't guessed I did not find this portion of the presentation to be very impressive.

The captain talked about a double homicide in another part of the precinct and about the rise in burglaries and asked us to peruse the 10 most wanted pictures he'd brought - he even pointed out it was actually only 9 since they'd caught number 10 today. All in all he spoke maybe 5 minutes before turning over the floor to questions.

Did you hear me mention his information on the shooting outside my building?

There's a reason for that. He didn't.

He then calls very formally on our councilperson.

Background: I only went to this meeting because I hate it when people laugh at me. I ran into my excitable neighbor on the street a few days ago and she hustled me half a block to see a sign saying that our councilperson would be speaking about the shooting at the precinct meeting. I misread the notice and thought I couldn't go and I said so. She laughed at me in that scoffing way that we all have as if she thought it totally absurd that anyone of any caliber would be unable to get to this extremely important event. There are few things I handle less well than being in a room with people who are panicking. If this really was an all hands on deck meeting then I was going to crumble pretty swiftly. I really shouldn't have worried.

My neighbor was at the meeting with a group of her cronies from the complex. There was a smattering of other folk from the buildings. From what the councilperson said there were a lot more people than there usually are at these meetings. Total I'd guess there were about 60 people. I'm guessing that's 2 to 4 times more people than they get at most meetings.

I stood in the back so I could leave whenever I wanted without disturbing anyone. But I made sure my neighbor saw me. And now I know what the deal is on these things so I can better gauge when it's in my interest to go to them and when it's silly.

When I read the flyer I interpreted it to mean that as part of the meeting the councilperson would be speaking about the shootings. Um, no. She was just going to stand and ask her questions of the presenting officer like any other citizen in attendance might do.

Now, here is where we hit another one of my weaknesses. I'm prejudiced. I don't like dumb people. I have no patience for them whatsoever. In my opinion this police captain made a dumb move.

I have found that when one is faced with an angry mob one has a short grace period while they sharpen the tines of their pitchforks and that time is best spent being forthcoming with the damned truth. You can spit shine the truth, you can turn its best side to the camera, you can prop it up like you're Andrew McCarthy in Weekend At Bernie's but you better tell the truth first and well. ("Yes, I had my dick in her but I didn't know she was your wife." "I forgot the birthday cake but I did remember the ice cream." "Yes I ate the ice cream but the Ambien made me do it.")

Not so in the captain's world, apparently. He just waited for her to ask about the shootings and then acted surprised. Dude, the posted notices from your own department said that this woman was going to be talking about this shooting, your complete ignorance of the situation does not show you off in your best light. You know, just for your information, in the event that someone is ever, you know, shot in your precinct again and perhaps the community is, you know, interested in what happened you might check out some other knowledge dispensation options.

Here are the facts as they were pulled kicking and screaming from the captain's mouth. (If you'd like the short version it's this: Criminals are dumb, dumb as dirt, dumb as posts, dumb as captains.) At the bank in my building there was some sort of altercation. Over 30 rounds were fired. One suspect was shot in the bicep, the other in the forearm. One round lodged in the window of the coffee store but no one was hurt. Both suspects were apprehended at local hospitals. (LOCAL HOSPITALS! If you've got enough money to buy a gun you've got enough money to buy a TV. Check out an episode of Law & Order. Hospitals have to report gunshot wounds. Police stake out hospitals after a crime. God I hate dumb. I don't care what your fucking job is, try to do it well.) Later on, on the roof of another building up the street 2 individuals were arrested with some other guns. Gossip circle says a bag full, captain says "some". The 2 idiot suspects at the hospitals both claim that they were walking along the street, minding their own business and Whoa! all of a sudden felt pain so they went to the hospital. So, the shooting? Kind of a dead end. Without witnesses or confessions there's no way to connect these incidents or to get to the bottom of them.

Then, at the councilwoman's request he did a rocking rendition of Officer Shot by Ricocheting Friendly Fire, to explain the incident on Friday night. Did I tell you about that? I would recount it for you but I've already been typing for 45 minutes and I nodded off briefly when he got the intro wrong twice.

And then everyone else got to ask questions. I handled about 10 minutes of My Pocket Was Picked, Why Don't You Close That Park and I'm Going to Ramble About All My Grievances Because The Councilwoman is Standing Next to Me before I bailed.

No one cared to find out more about this shooting. Not one of the people chatting in my neighbor's group in the back stood up and asked for more clarification.

At some point over the weekend I felt bad that I wasn't more worried by all this hoopla. I was all Morales in Chorus Line about it. I actually didn't think I could feel more blase (I don't know how to do the accent over the e) or less afraid because of this. Today, though, I topped my previous record. This was a fluke. This was one of the things you get when you put a big bunch of people in a smallish place and it's what I signed on for so to get all bent when it actually happens seems stupid and small and hypocritcal. I don't like any of those things and I'm trying my best not to be them.

Nest time I'll do something with pictures, I promise.


  1. "I'm prejudiced. I don't like dumb people. I have no patience for them whatsoever."

    ***Yeah, me, either.

    "You can spit shine the truth, you can turn its best side to the camera, you can prop it up like you're Andrew McCarthy in Weekend At Bernie's but you better tell the truth first and well. ("Yes, I had my dick in her but I didn't know she was your wife.")

    ***HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! That's an interesting perspective - it's the truth...but...

  2. Kizz, I didn't once say "give me photos" on this one. I like your longer tirades, and this one is all too righteous. I like how dumbness is compounded by mind boggling statistics.

    Did you get that e-mail I sent? Well, I ended up going to an inaugural party for the New York Water Museum (a guy in the elevator at the hotel invited me) and leaving almost immediately to finally see Capote. The Water Museum party was filled with Chelsea area art creeps. A nightmarish, half baked scene. The organizer means well, but basically he's created a front for the galleries. Capote was alright.

    Next time.