Archive for the ‘Growing Up Socio’ Category

A small sprinkling of snow entered my car as I rolled down the window.

“What’s wrong officer?”

“You seem lost,” he answered after a few seconds, knowing damn well that didn’t constitute probable cause to execute a traffic stop. “Can I see your license and registration?”

Getting lost on Beech Mountain is not at all uncommon. Once off the main road, it becomes a maze…a spiderweb…of identical dirt roads, miles of them weaving through the trees and bending around the mountainsides. The roads focus around a half-assed ski resort, reminiscent of Hot Tub Time Machine, and a golf club.

“I’m not,” I answered, gathering my documents. “I’m headed to check out the electrical system on a house my friend might buy and he gave me bad directions. I was headed back up to the top of the mountain to try and call.”

Cell service is spotty and unavailable for most of the 3000 houses that line the windy narrow passages, only 10% of which are occupied year round, and it’s patrolled by an eight man staff of externally sourced police, some from the same region as most of the property owners, south Florida.

“Do you have anything in the car that you shouldn’t,” he asked next, “drugs, weapons, anything like that?”

This is rural North Carolina. Appalachia. Resort town. Rednecks with shotguns and OxyContin crazed hillbillies are as common as tourists in Landcruisers…

“Nope,” I answered, “just electrical tools and trash.”

…just as common as guys who do electrical work and favors for their friends on snowy Tuesday afternoons.

“Do you mind if I have a look inside?”

Whooooooaaaa…the locally sourced police didn’t usually act this way.

“I do mind,” I answered. “I haven’t done anything and I have things to do.”

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Arrest photo of the actual cop…er…ex cop…

“If you don’t consent Mr. Brennar,” he said, “I’ll have to call the county K-9 unit. You might be here awhile.”

I chose my words carefully, considering factors such as his ethnic and regional heritage, the number of witnesses, his ultimate willingness to push the issue and most of all, the fact that I, for once, was innocent and simply being harassed. He was about to discover that I was, indeed, his huckleberry.

“You go ahead and do that,” I said, stone-faced, “and when I’m done suing you for illegal search, you’ll be back to pruning palm trees in South Beach. I’m a decorated veteran and if you want to violate my rights, you’re going to have to make that call.”

“Wait right here sir,” he responded, his voice quivering in anger.

He stomped back through the snow to his cruiser like the spoiled little shit that he was, angrier than a child denied dessert before the due process of dinner.

The officer ran my information, in vain, before returning and sending me on my way. Nothing more was said of the search, nor of my rude and racially insensitive remarks. I bid him a good afternoon before abandoning my friend’s house prospect and heading home.

imageThat shit wouldn’t have worked out in my favor if I’d have pulled it on the same guy in Metro Dade. In Miami, if I’d have implied he was a Tin Starred Landscaper, he’d have called an army of assholes just like him and they’d have dragged me from my car to the curb. After being Tased and maced, I’d be pseudo raped by a dogpile of angry blue men, each getting their licks in, one indistinguishable from the next, even with multiple angled helicopter footage. I might even be killed. And that’s considered preferential white guy treatment.

If I’d have been black or Hispanic, they’d have just killed me, maybe without even pulling me over, as their dash cams recorded them screaming at me to drop the knife. A box cutter would later be found in my tool bag, locked in the trunk. But, as it was, I drove home feeling pleased with myself for such a tiny victory against the heavy handed oppression that seems so prevalent in the big city police departments. For once, I’d succeeded in emasculating a tiny piece of the authoritarian culture, and it warmed my cold Grinchly heart.

The point of the story is not to pat myself on the back for racially insulting a pushy cop (I’ve done plenty of patting already, trust me), but that the encounter went just as it should have, anywhere in the country, regardless of the racial element. The officer, after blatantly ignoring his constitutional obligation to establish probable cause before pulling me, attempted to intimidate me into submitting to a further violation of my rights. His behavior, and its potential for affecting me in an emasculating way was returned in kind, tit for tat, certainly not rewarded. I, on the other hand, experienced a psychological reward, a wonderful mix of chemical endorphins, and it probably makes me more likely to act the same way again.

So it’s probably good that I live in a little town like South Park where I can get away with bullying a bitch-assed city-mouse cop…as opposed to somewhere like New York City…where a guy might find himself being cop-raped with a toilet plunger. To death. Talk about emasculation…

…and speaking of rape…

imageI suspect the psychological implications of being dominated and brutalized by those in authority might be very much akin to those of being ass ravaged by a mob of big soapy meat daggers in a cold, dark prison shower. In each situation, feelings of powerlessness and dehumanization are easily inflicted through detention/immobilization and reinforced, often enough, through pain. While one might not be able to relate to the actual experiences of being detained and beaten any more than being cornholed inside out by a pack of Aryan brothers, it’s more understandable, in these graphic terms, the sort of feelings that might result.

And that really only applies to the survivors of police bullying and brutality. Last night, I spent the better part of two hours watching YouTube videos of unarmed civilians being shot and killed by American policemen. I spent this time wide eyed, intently watching as though I’d bet money on the outcomes, watching sometimes handcuffed people bleeding to death in the streets, with no clip being repeated save one, that of five heavily armed New Mexico cops firing on a homeless goofball who was camping in the desert. After gassing and shooting him multiple times with assault rifles, they fired beanbags into his motionless body and argued about who was going to secure his four inch knife and get the cuffs on him. He died shortly thereafter and not a cop lost a job. Incidentally, the victim just happened to be white.

It’s not just the black men who are gunned down and beaten, although they certainly constitute the majority, but it’s people of all races and backgrounds who make up the larger cultural subgroup of the disaffected. They’re often poor, mentally unstable, unemployed or homeless, sometimes drunks or addicts, but the common thread is a lack of an ability and the financial means to stand up against overreaching authority. For every dead Sunday school teacher with fifteen bullet holes in her car and an angry community demanding accountability, there are a dozen, or more, socially disadvantaged minorities with holes in their bodies where holes don’t belong. We never hear about those people because they often have no one to speak for them and even if, it turns out that most people simply do not care.

It must be a sobering thought, likely one nestled in the forefront of the consciousness of America’s disaffected city dwellers and for minority groups in general. Sobering, that is, to realize on some level that the value of one’s very right to exist rests upon the whims of a police subculture which not only assesses them at a lower value than those who have the means to defend themselves, but actually targets them because of this weakness.

And it seems to only get worse.

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GITMO in Chi-town?

A Guardian article claimed recently that the Chicago P.D. have been operating a “black site” for a number of years, sort of a way station between apprehension and booking where off camera interviews have been allegedly conducted and these interviews were described as being both coercive and abusive in nature. The police denied it, of course, but I also remember a fair amount of denial when it came to accountability regarding the goings on at Abu Gharib and GITMO. It’s only natural, after all, when you’re asked about systematically violating people’s human rights, to deny everything.

In the end, denial only carries you so far. Sooner than later, reality pulls up with a past due bill and a collector who looks like Jason Voorhees with a head full of PCP. If you’re lucky, at least. When the CIA was beating and torturing people, essentially raping away the masculinity and self respect of people like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the other leaders of ISIS, we’d all like to think they “misunderestimated” the outcome of those interrogation sessions, but who knows…it’s not like it’s the first time humiliation and brutality sparked the flame of violence and hatred in a man’s heart.

imageWhat we can all safely assume, is that if you spend your time turning fellow prison inmates into your own personal sex dolls, one day, eventually, you’re going to get stabbed in the neck with a fucking toothbrush. That’s just how it is and it’s just as true when it comes to other forms of physical and emotional emasculation. The more a man is subjected to such abuses, the further he has to go to find balance again, to feel strong and to stop feeling raped.

Back when I was a squirrely little third grader, I thrashed a classmate, mercilessly, in the bathroom after recess one day. They sent me home for fighting, of course, but allowed me to return after hearing the truth from my mom. Not one to tattle, I’d neglected to mention to the principal that right before I beat him stupid, the other kid had been intentionally pissing on me. Nor was I one to relish an ass beating from my pops, so I’d told my mom the truth. And then she smelled it on my jeans and my red Chuck Taylors. It was exonerating for me; the other kid stayed suspended. That was ’86…or maybe ’87.

Times has done gone and changed on us.

By the time I graduated high school in the mid nineties, corporal punishment and a student’s assumed right to defend himself from bullies were a thing of the past. My response, as appropriate and effective as it had been, was to be tolerated no more. In the new century, I’d likely have faced criminal charges for seizing that mealy mouthed bastard by the throat and playing “Ring Them Bells” on his skull.

Today, children are allowed only a little leeway when it comes to preventing bodily harm, just as adults are, but as a general rule, we’re expected to tattle, to file reports, ultimately to defer our own protection to others. That’s all well and good…it’s just fine to tell the teacher after it happens…but it doesn’t do anything to stop some degenerate pre teen from whipping out his weasel and watering you like a houseplant in the first place.

Between the schoolyard and the streets of adulthood, things don’t change much. Bullies continue to rob, rape and urinate on decent folk, and the expectation remains to defer protection to others, in particular, the police. Again, that’s all well and good, but what happens when the policemen are the ones with their anteaters out splattering warm urine on anyone close enough to get hit and too poor to do anything about it? Who do you tattle to?

imageSomeone, at some point, thought it was a good idea to complain to the federal government, who responded by promptly by issuing surplus military hardware to any cornpone breadbox bunch of keystone cops with the space to store it. City police departments, seemingly, have gone without armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles for so long they forgot how much they needed them. That’s sort of like me tattling on the bully, only to come to school the next day and find him wearing a Kevlar Hall Monitor vest and a Skorpion machine pistol, with the principal helping him aim his little piss rocket towards the smaller children.

Sort of…you get the point…at least if you’ve lived somewhere like Ferguson you do.

I know where you think I’m headed with this…to the mattresses no doubt. The clinical sociopath is about to suggest we start locking and loading on the Big Blue Dick, that the two cops shot in Ferguson, the other two in Los Angeles, that it’s been a long time coming and the poor should rise up against the oppressive white devil swinery… That sort of shit, right?

Sorry to disappoint, but that just ain’t the case. Not that I’m against fair play, mind you. On the contrary, I vehemently disagree with peaceful protesting, turning the other cheek, all that worthless crap, especially when the other side is squirting tear gas into a crowd of the same people who pay their salaries. But, I’d be encouraging people like Eric Garner or the two Columbine boys, and that doesn’t solve anything. My solution, simply put, is easier, and lies in the future generations.

In the same ways our children have learned to trust those with power to protect their rights, they can relearn to trust themselves. We can teach our children that, as the larger social collective, they hold the true power to redefine our culture. They can learn that the things we protect and hold dear, the materialistic trappings we are so afraid to lose, mean nothing when you’re being beaten or raped or murdered…mean nothing when your brother or neighbor is experiencing the same. Through our children, we can reestablish our social identity as one which simply will not tolerate a bully culture, much less pay its salary.

Indeed. The answer doesn’t involve conferences and legislation anymore than it does Molotov cocktails and lynchings of murderous asshole police. The place to fix bully problems is in the third grade, on the level plane of boy’s bathroom floor tiles, with a dad-taught right cross and a punishing series of left jabs, all empowered by a fundamental understanding that not being suspended for fighting is infinitely less important than not being urinated on.

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“I have to stop in and see the principal this afternoon,” my friend told me yesterday.

“You been looking up skirts under the bleachers again,” I joked.

“Not this time,” he laughed. “It’s a bully.”

His fourth grade son’s friend had told him in confidence. Two dreadful little shit asses were stealing the little fellows lunch on a daily basis. My suggestion of planting chocolate Ex-lax in his lunch bag was a fine idea but wouldn’t have worked. The rotten bastards were dumping it out and grinding it into the floor with their Nikes.

I had a bully once. His name was Chris Haggart. I was in the seventh grade and the first time it happened I was wearing my Rude Dog and the Dweebs t-shirt. Chris leaned back, during class, and backhanded me in the side of the head.

While it didn’t hurt all that bad, I was in shock that it had happened. I was pretty quiet and stayed off most people’s radars…Chris was my first experience in being bullied. He didn’t want my lunch, my milk money or my sneakers. He just wanted a victim. A bully lacks self esteem and seeks out others whom he may rob of theirs.

It’s quite an unfair exchange. The bully is raised badly, possibly even abused , and comes to see himself poorly. The difference between a bully and any other abused child is the bully’s capacity to revisit this treatment upon others. The public assault and subsequent humiliation isn’t personal, mind you, but it is certainly the only way the bully sees to make himself feel strong. It’s a false boost of ego, but it’s a boost nonetheless and it’s damn sure better than nothing.

The victim gets fucked over double in the process. Not only does the abuse come externally, but the victims personal identity changes. A seventh grade boy assumes the other kids think he’s a pussy when he doesn’t go out like Chuck Norris, jumping up and roundhouse kicking Chris in the face. That’s what we’re taught by our culture and the popular media. A real man stands up and defends himself at all costs. Right?

Chris had fifty pounds on me easy. He was two grades behind. Hell, he was smoking already. And I didn’t know how to roundhouse kick.

What was I to do? We’re taught, these days, to tell. Report it to the teacher, the principal, the police. Report it, seek protection and ultimately defer our self esteem and safety to the benevolence of other people who are placed, through circumstance, into places of power in our lives.

Our power is taken. Go ahead and roundhouse kick the bully. You’ll get suspended too. That was the nineties, these days, they call the law. Either way, I didn’t want to get in trouble at all. Trouble at school is bigger trouble at home.

It happened twice more before I asked my dad what to do. He didn’t explain how bullies operate. Instead, he taught me to apply terror.

“Catch him somewhere private, get the drop on him and hurt him so bad he never does it again.”

I was in shock. Really?

He began to elaborate. People, like animals, follow patterns and within these patterns, lie our vulnerabilities. He reminded me how we often exploited the predictable feeding patterns of deer and squirrels in order to kill and eat them. He said Chris was like a bear. He was big and scary and formidable, but he was a food source nonetheless and the plan was to take him down.

I began to watch Chris at school. I stalked him. Within a week I’d found a hole in his pattern I could exploit. Two weeks, a dry run, and two failed attempts later I got him. He was on his way out to smoke behind the building.

You need the right tool to hunt a bear, dad said. I shouldn’t leave any marks on Chris, so this hunt would require a special weapon. I ended up in the school library, checking out a big assed book about the ocean. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in my backpack and I had to carry under my arm. I bet it was an inch thick. When I swung it I had to use two hands. And I practiced. My dad said a book wouldn’t leave a mark. It would cause the same injury as falling onto the floor.

Or down the stairs.

It was after lunch. It was my third attempt. No one else came into the stairwell. Chris had no idea I was around. It was correctly timed. It was correctly executed. Jeez, I’d been planning it for three weeks. My book was nearly due to be returned.

The stairwell was optimal. Getting behind him as we descended the stairs gave me as much height on him as I needed. Think about the way a deer hunter uses a tree stand…

Chris was two steps from the bottom when I hit him. It was a solid hit to the back right corner of his skull. My dad said a blunt head attack would confuse and partially blind him. I would have what is referred to, strategically, as the initiative.

The book made a loud thump when it hit him and he stumbled down the stairs, falling face first into the red steel door at the bottom. I hit him again.

My first instinct was to run. My dad said not to. He said that beating up the bully was not enough. This was not to be a hit and run. This was a conquest of an enemy and the enemy needed to know his place.

As Chris went down to the floor and I hit him for the second time, I spoke to him in the most menacing way I could imagine and I made sure he knew it was me. I also tried to make a scary face. He was done hitting me, I told him. He wasn’t to speak to or look at me unless I spoke to him. Next time I’d use an aluminum bat.

“I could kill you right now,” I said as I turned to leave. “And no one would know.”

At that moment, I felt strong again, more even than before Chris had begun to tear me down. Hell, at that moment, I was strong.

My retaliation against Chris marked a transformation of my identity. I was no longer a victim and at that moment, it was all that mattered. It didn’t matter that I had become a predator and a terrorist. Sometimes, in life, a man has to be willing to go a step further, to worsen himself in order to better himself.

The reality is that we are taught conflicting ideas. Culturally we’re taught the Chuck Norris method but socially we’re taught to defer our defense to others. As I see it, the framework of our society necessitated my admittedly excessive actions in order that my developing self esteem be preserved.

Chris was ok, by the way. No one ever said a word and he never bothered me again. It probably helped that I changed schools a month later.

My friend spoke to the principal. The principal said he would put a stop to it.

Problem solved?

When I was three years old, I tried to burn a kitten alive in a red hot wood stove. Maybe I was four…it doesn’t matter…I remember it quite clearly though. My grandmother had stirred the fire up and then stepped out the back door to fetch a load of firewood. With the stove door ajar, oxygen had poured in and the coals were glowing bright orange. Now I can’t say why I did it…I have no idea…but I laid hands on that Siamese kitten and shuffled over to that wood stove and chunked her in like a stick of kindling.

Now apparently, there is an art to properly incinerating a small animal and as a small child, of course, I didn’t understand this. Actually getting the animal into the fire was the hard part and although I was successful initially, I completely dropped the ball when it came to closing the door and finishing the job. Although a simple step in the process, it is key and this is why:

If the door is not closed, the cat escapes and cats escape danger like no other creature on this planet. That kitten launched out of that stove like a Roman candle, a smoking sparking streak of singed fur and utter terror, straight across my shoulder, bounced off the wall and disappeared behind the sofa. I remember small wisps of smoke trailing up until she stopped simmering.

Besides being the only way to keep the cat in the fire, closing the door also removes trace evidence. Even a little boy can embrace the Deny Everything principle. Who knows…the cat could have just left. But I didn’t close the door, remember?

My grandma stepped back in after a few moments and, well, she didn’t have to be Columbo to smell burnt cat all over the living room. I was busted. There was no denying it. No getting away. The proverbial stove door closed on me as she cornered me and beat my little ass,

My little ass was still hurting a half hour later when she snatched me up and beat it again. I had no idea that heaving a kitten longways into a bed of hot coals would be such a big deal.

Maybe if I had I would have closed the door.

I never got around to perfecting the art of live cat cremation, not yet at least, but I have closed a stove door or two in my day…that part I did get down.

It’s important, you know, for a guy like me. Evidence is never a good thing, after all, unless you’re a special federal prosecutor or a theoretical physicist and last time I checked, I am neither.

What I am, is a high functioning, primarily non-violent sociopath. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is what I call it, for lack of a better way to place myself somewhere on the human behavioral spectrum and to avoid using words like sociopath or psychopath.

I won’t refer to the terminology again…because I don’t like any of it and it isn’t the truth. I don’t think of myself in psychological terms, but as an individual, just like everyone else.

Just like everyone else…ha.

I don’t process fear the way you do. An abnormal functioning in my brain limits my fear response significantly and virtually obscures any level of your fear from my perspective. For example, it didn’t occur to me that the cat was in fear or pain when I shoved it into the fire, I was only curious about what would happen. It’s not willful disregard of the cats suffering-the suffering never exists in the thought process in the first place. And as for my fear…if I gave a shit about getting caught for trying to barbecue my grandmother’s cat in her living room I’d have closed the fucking stove door.

The reason I don’t process the fear you may feel is because I lack empathy and it’s the same reason I don’t easily pick up on any other emotions you happen to be expressing. It’s not that I don’t care how you feel, I just don’t notice.

I’m not a bad guy, I promise. I have close friends and family, living pets and the best fiancĂ© ever. I have to work for these things, mind you, and success at interpersonal relationships is a constant struggle of trial and error as I try to make my life work around and amongst other people.

It’s hard, after all, for a selfish prick like me to leggo half his eggo to anyone.
Flame broiling a kitty like a Whopper is much friendlier business but fortunately for my cat, my grandma nipped that little problem in the bud with a piece of hickory kindling. Twice.

I did threaten to toss my cat in the wood stove last week. She just gave me the “I-double-dare-you-to-try-motherfucker-look” and pretended to cover the cat sausage she just fired out in the floor next to the litter box with some sort of pretend cat sand.

Maybe I deserve a cat like Bunny.