Monday, November 29, 2010

The Jurist

On December 6, I report to the County Court to serve my jury duty.

I am looking forward to it. This wasn’t always so. Back in my working days, I would moan and groan and wiggle liked a hooked fish to get out of it. I never did.

However, though I have been called four or five times in the last twenty years, I have never actually been on a jury and have only been empanelled once, which shows the system is fairly efficient at keeping crack pots off of juries.

The one time I got empanelled I was frantic to avoid getting picked. Someone told me that if you told the judge and lawyers that you believed in the death penalty, you wouldn’t get selected. From what I was hearing from the interviews with the other panelists, it seemed like the case involved the theft of car radios. My mind was racing to find a way to work my views on the death penalty into a radio pilfering case. Even for a hardliner, it seemed a touch severe to execute someone for depriving a motorist of Howard Stern.

Neither did I want to waste two weeks of my life pondering the fate of a radio thief.

With a heavy heart I took the chair to be interviewed by the lawyers and judge. After several preliminary questions, however, one of them asked if I had cause to be incredulous of police testimony.

Suddenly, I saw a shaft of sunlight breaking through the clouds. As someone who grew up in the city, I firmly believe no one in his right mind would ever believe a thing a cop said. I also feel the same about lawyers, but if everyone who thought cops and lawyers were liars was disqualified from jury duty, our criminal justice system would grind to a halt.

However, I pointed out that, as a member of the borough council in my town, I was involved in a law suit with our police chief whom we were trying to discharge for sexual harassment of a crossing guard

This was the infamous case of the Pissing Police Chief.

Before I even got to the pissing part, the judge dismissed me.

Now that I am retired, however, I hope I get a case and it is a juicy one. Nothing violent with gory crime scene photos and splatter analysis though; and definitely not anything where retaliation against the jury is even a remote possibility. Something involving a high class escort service with lots of yummy young ladies vamping to the jury would be ideal.

Or something involving malfeasance in the county Republican Party. I’d love to send those guys to the chair.

I don’t think I’d want me on my jury though. Kathie says I never listen and form my opinions before any of the facts are in. Guilty. If some goon shows up without a necktie, I’ll send him up the river before he can open his mouth.

I also can’t remember anything I have heard or read for more than fifteen minutes, so it is totally possible that I could completely forget someone’s alibi: “Oh, he was out of town? Oops, I forgot. We can straighten it out on appeal.”

That brave juror in “Twelve Angry Men” who steadfastly holds on to his belief in the defendant’s innocence against the 11 others is not me. I am more the if-you-want-to-fry-this-guy’s-ass-that’s-fine-with-me-where-are-we-going-to-lunch sort.

Also, I don’t see well or hear well, have to go to the bathroom every half hour, get antsy if I have to sit in one place for too long, and always doze off after lunch. Sounds like it might not go well. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


You must be worried about me.

I know what you are thinking: “If they rescind the tax breaks for the top one per cent of earners, will this hurt Jerry?”

Well, put your minds at rest, I am firmly ensconced in the lower 99%. In fact, as a struggling writer (lower 5 %) and artist (lower 2.5 %) who is also unemployed, I am dropping in the rankings faster than the N.Y. Mets in September. I have a very comfortable cushion between me and tax cut rescindination, thank you very much.

I don’t feel too sorry for those one-per-centers, either. I had to cough up my unemployment, so let them kick in a few zillion to keep the Polarized Express rolling on the tracks.

I am not a mathematician (upper 20 %), but it strikes me that 99 per cent is clearly a majority. Why do we keep electing people who just want to help the top tier?

Supposedly, because it helps us. I am not an economist (top 10 %), but theoretically, some of the money they save is supposed to trickle down to the masses. Let me tell you, I am an old guy and have been waiting since the Reagan administration for some of that gravy to reach me, but my drip-pan is still dry.

There are other reasons that many of us think that it helps us to help rich people: a.) we are not smart; in fact, many of us watch Fox News; b) we really don’t want to see Oprah get screwed; c) we don’t want to screw ourselves, since it would be just our luck to hit the lottery AFTER the tax breaks have been rescinded.

This exposes an inherent flaw in the Trickle Down Theory: rich people ARE smart. Unlike us, they don’t run off to Wal-Mart to buy a hot tub and a new shotgun as soon as they get a few extra bucks. No, they invest. And what do they invest in? Hedge funds. And who runs hedge funds? The top one per cent of wage earners. I rest my case (lawyers: top 5%)

Also, the rich can afford the best. Who produces the best? You guessed it, the top one per cent of earners. Let’s personalize this by focusing on writing. A rich person couldn’t buy this crap if he wanted to because I can’t sell it to anybody who would sell it to him. So if he wants something to read, he has to buy a book by James Patterson.

According to the N.Y. Times Magazine, this guy is like a digitized Dickens who works on 12 novels at once, all sure-fire best sellers. While texting one with his toes, he tweets another on his iphone, dictates a third and has a legion of minions working on the others. In other words, he is in the top one per cent of earners. No gravy for moi.

So as you tuck yourself in tonight, say a prayer for Rush, shed a tear for Cheney, but don’t worry about me: I’m good. Oh, and a goodnight thought for my children: don’t lose any sleep about that whole estate tax thing. You don’t have a dog in that fight.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sneaking Up

I just got an email asking me to rate and review my new sneakers.

The vendor said that, if I did this, I could not only then Twitter and Facebook my review to my legion of friends, but would also be automatically entered in a drawing with a cash prize of $1,000.

In the first place, I am an Old Writer and actually remember the days when writers and reviewers, rather than being “eligible” for a cash prize,actually got paid for their services. In the second place, it takes more than a long shot at a thousand bucks to get me off the couch.

That’s pretty chintzy, I must say, in a day when a grand won’t even buy a pair of sunglasses or a half hour with one of Elliott Spitzer’s companions.

In fact, every time I purchase Aleve at the pharmacy the clerk tells me that, as the 3,632nd customer of the day, I have just been entered in drawing with a cash prize of $10,000. Let me tell you, it is a lot easier to pop pain killers than it is to write reviews.

Raise the stakes to twenty Gs, however, and I am ready to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

In the third place, most of my friends and acquaintances don’t give a rat’s ass if I live or die, never mind concerning themselves with my state of well-being footwear-wise.

All of that being said, however, I like my new puppy palaces. They are still new with that wonderful new sneaker smell, and not the rancid odor of a decomposing swamp creature they take on later.

I don’t buy new sneaks often, but one sign that the time has come is when I have to look for them on the front porch rather than their usual parking place in the middle of the living room floor. Another is when, as we are leaving on an auto trip, my wife suggests that, rather than packing or wearing my sneakers, I might want to bungee them to the roof of the car.

It is also time to re-shoe when walking in them feels like riding in a car with four flat tires. These new guys have so much bounce that I can’t resist breaking out in a few choruses of “The Happy Wanderer” as I schlep to the post office.

I usually only buy new sneakers in the fall or winter because in the spring or summer I quickly forget I have on the new ones and mow the grass in them. Grass stains are a sure fire sneaker killer for me and once they are thus sullied they are never allowed out in public again. A man wearing grass stained sneakers is saying three things: a.) I am too poor to own more than one pair; b.) I mow my own grass because I can’t afford to hire illegal aliens to do it for me; c.) I use a walk behind mower because my yard isn’t big enough to use a tractor. All of these things, if nothing else, brand you as a Democrat at a time when it probably isn’t safe to be one.

So, I am not going to take the vendor up on his offer to review my shoes. I have better things to do than write about sneakers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Autumn Song, Redux

As you sit at your desks and do what you do,
I am raking leaves and stepping in pooh.
As through the leaves I gamely do slog,
No time for Facebook, Twitter or blog.
If bad poesy’s your bag, here’s an oldie for you.
If it offends, just scrape from your shoe.

The last leaves have fallen from their perches on high,
And litter the ground right up to his thigh.
In their legions and armies they boldly stack.
Small children and dogs have to turn back.
As he thinks of his wife it gives him the lumps
She can't go to work with leaves on her pumps!

He rattles the heavens with a mighty cry.
“If you weren’t already dead, now you would die!”
He straps on his vacuum, the dreaded El Toro.
(Which he had to buy since he couldn’t borrow.)
He falls upon them from hillock to gulch
And grinds the quivering foe to a powdery mulch.

Like the heroes of old he absorbs all his licks,
Leaf dust up the nose and bites from the ticks.
As he lays about him, he considers his shoe.
Oh, no! He’s stepped in the neighbor’s dog’s pooh.
He stops for a sec to consider this scandal.
He wonders if noble Caesar,as he slaughtered the Vandal,
Had to stop to clean dog shit off of his sandal.

For weeks and weeks the grim battle roils
On and on the suburban Hercules toils.
At missing his football and baseball, he curses.
He is caught in an epic with too many verses.
As the Aeolian blast delivers the neighbors' pile,
“I’ll bet they’ll miss their cat,” he says with a smile.

The bags of the fallen line the drive.
Oak, maple, cherry, none made it alive.
He shoulders El Toro and surveys the field.
He is glad he fought on and never did yield.
His chest swells with pride like mighty El Cid
Then his wife whispers: “Next year, hire a kid.”