Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bums vs Homeless People

One of the main moves of the homeless folk around here is to stand at a street corner, wait for a red light, and then try to get money/cigarettes off of the people waiting in their cars. I see this all the time. Sometimes they'll pretend to cry, sometimes they'll be wearing big smiles, sometimes they'll be holding signs that say stuff like "anything will help, god bless!"

The place where I work is located on a fairly busy street corner. This means a lot of foot traffic and a lot of homeless people hanging around. I've come to know a couple of them since I see them all the time. My favorite is a guy named Hawk. He's a guy I would classify as "homeless" and not a "bum". Bums are the ones on street corners. Homeless people may beg, but they're not in your face about it, or may do odd jobs for a few bucks.

After Hawk and I talked one night, he realized I was a sympathetic figure and kind of began taking advantage of me. If he asks for a couple bucks, he does so in a very polite way. Usually, though, he washes my car. I'll be walking around the store, into the parking lot, and notice a running puddle of water.

"Please don't let that be my car."

But, of course, when I turn the corner I see Hawk wiping away on my hood.

"Oh, hey! Three more minutes and you woulda never known I was here!"

I then have to sit around and wait for him to finish up, make small talk, and fish out a few dollars when he's done.

Not that big of a deal. I'm a few bucks poorer, but, at least my car is clean (kinda). It may get annoying how he'll do it whether my car is dirty or not (three washes in two weeks? C'mon man) but it's still better than him just saying "Give me a buck."

A few nights ago, I ran into a Bum. Capital B. This guy is a bum in all sense of the word. I saw him standing on the corner of 14th and Williams street at one o'clock in the morning. Work was stressing me out and I didn't have any patience for the scroungy white dude on the corner with a sign asking for my money.

I pulled up to the red light and tried not to make eye contact with him. Once eye contact is made, a bum won't leave you alone. He stood maybe ten feet away from my window and I could feel his stare burrowing into the side of my head. I finally gave him a quick glance, shook my head, and gave a little dismissive wave. This is a move I have perfected. It usually gets them to leave me alone with one try. Usually.

After my dismission maneuver, he continued to stare at me, holding his sign. I looked at the green light that I didn't have, noticed the pedestrian-walking sign was still lit, and knew I'd be there for at least a few more minutes. His beady, angry eyes, were still drilling me through the window.

I did the move again. He saw this and did the move back to me, highly exaggerated, mocking me like a six year old. I gave him the what-the-fuck hands and he got pissed.

He dropped his sign, began walking towards me car, and yelled, "Fuck you!" He continued coming at me so I looked left, looked right, and ran the red light. I figured that if I got pulled over, I could just tell the cop what had happened and he'd probably understand. I watched in my rear-view mirror as the man kept staring at me until I turned a corner.

I don't know why this guy had targeted me like he did. There was another car right behind me the whole time and he didn't even look at it. He figured I had money that he deserved and didn't want to wait to get it. That's what amazes me. He was pissed that I didn't give him my money. What the hell? Why does he deserve it so much? He should be happy/grateful/shocked if I actually do give him money. If I don't, he should be like, "Yeah, well, I mean, it's not my money anyways."

So that's cool. Bums are annoying. Homeless people usually have an interesting story to tell you. Go talk to a homeless person and avoid every bum you see.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I can understand police brutality.

It's pretty easy to say police brutality is wrong. Because it is. The inherent abuse of authority it implies is enough to make the case for it's wrong-ness. Not to mention the beating of a defenseless individual.

That being said, I can easily understand the need sometimes to kick an asshole's face in after finally slapping the handcuffs on him/her. Think about it, if you had just chased somebody, at very high speeds through residential areas where kids run around and bunnies frolic, wouldn't you want to punch him in the face for selfishly endangering everyone around you just to avoid paying the price for their own actions? I imagine the thought of a squished kid running through the mind of a cop as he/she kicks the criminal while he lays on the ground.

At least, that's what I would be thinking while I did it. If I were a cop, I would definitely beat the hell out of at least a few people by the time I retired. For sure. I get mad enough at people doing the job I have now, I can't imagine what I would do if I saw assholes like this on their worst day, every shift.

"Stop. Selling. Drugs. You. Useless. Pile. Of. Shit." I would yell as I punched until my arms got tired, trying not to rip up my knuckles too badly.

Plus, our penal system is pretty screwed up. Someone may get arrested and released on the same day, only to go back and do whatever they did right before they went in. Maybe if they were put in a figure-four leglock before being tossed in jail, they would learn that prostitution/selling drugs/stealing cars is illegal.

I'm not saying that all police brutality is acceptable. Far from it. About a month ago I saw a cop standing on the sidewalk with a man in handcuffs lying on the sidewalk, apparently unconscious. The cop looked around, took out his nightstick, and bopped the guy in the stomach a couple times. This isn't acceptable brutality. The man on the ground was no longer a threat, he had probably already gotten a healthy beating before I arrived, it was the middle of the night and no one was around (so it's not like the guy was endangering and innocent, church-going, citizens). If the guy had been pulled from a car around 3:45 p.m. I might be able to understand a little better. But this guy didn't pose a threat. Good try, cop. But you have to learn to withhold the beatings for more qualified applicants. Or at least do a better job of making sure no one is watching.

"Hey! You'll be singing a different tune when you're the victim of some overzealous cop!" you may be saying. Yeah right. Been there, done that.

When I was in high school, a cop got a little liberal with his method of apprehending me. I don't hold it against him. I deserved it. He would have been totally justified in kicking me in the ass and throwing me into a wall. I'd be okay with that. Sure, not while it was happening, but looking back on it now, he would have been right.

I'd bet that the majority of police brutality cases are just some egotistical cop wailing on some minority. However, there are some instances where the cop is totally justified in giving a leg-drop of the top ropes to some asshole.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fuck (some of) the troops.

It's too bad this video was released on the day Tiger Woods had a press conference because it got swallowed in the black hole of the news cycle.

This is a video of U.S. soldiers taking out what they think to be insurgents. As the video explains, what they think to be a gun turns out to be a camera held by a journalist.

I understand that it's very difficult to know what something is from a great distance. I understand that when a threat is posed during a war, that threat will be removed. I understand that there are probably twenty different things that happened right before this that led to the helicopters being in this position and the perceived necessity to fire. I have never been in any form of the military or in a situation like this, so I understand that there is a lot of things I don't understand.

That being said, this is fucked up. Listen to how eager the shooter is to shoot when the van pulls up. There is nothing that looks like a gun yet they can't wait to annihilate them. The celebration and light-hearted banter between the soldiers shows just how much they have been desensitized towards the Iraqis.

My main beef with branches of the military is this brainwashing and groupthink mindset. "Your enemies are not people. They are enemies." The van rolled up and the shooter only saw Iraqis, enemies. Even though they didn't have guns and were only helping wounded people, they were enemies. There was no thought to how the deaths of these people would affect family members, friends, or whatever. There was only the thought of, "enemy." Therefore, they were ripped apart by a giant gun in the sky.

A lot of people are stressing the fact that this video shows U.S. soldiers killing unarmed civilians. This is horrible, no doubt about it. But that is not the part that pissed me off the most. It's the dialogue. It's the blatant disregard for the people seen through the binoculars (or whatever they use these days).

"Let me engage. Can I shoot?" says one of the men while the van is being loaded with the wounded.

Does this not sound like a ten-year-old playing a video game? Is this what we get for giving young, immature men giant guns and telling them local, brown people are evil?

To be fair, I know not all soldiers are like the ones shown in the video. When the children are found at the end, two soldiers scoop them in their arms and literally run them to safety. Sure, they were eventually turned away, but it still doesn't dampen the compassion shown by these soldiers.

These are the soldiers that deserve those stupid, yellow magnets you see on the backs of minivans in suburbia. But to blindly support ALL troops means you also support the bratty kid with a fucking cannon unloading on a dude for trying to take pictures. And if you support that troop, you're a fucking asshole, too.