DO. NOT. PASS. GO…
I was waiting for this minute to come to me for several days now. I'm unamused in my life right now. I know what I would like to do but I don't know how to go about it. I see the double-dutch rope turning and I can't figure out how to jump in. My timing is off badly.
These are the moments I would rather sit still and be quiet and alone. That was so much easier before I had anyone to look after me. When I was back in the basement and I felt this way my parents knew well enough to leave me alone. This is who I have been since childhood. A loner essentially.
I like to write because it helps me sometimes to describe the feelings that I have inside of me. I can illustrate my joy and my pain with a pen and a pad better than any picture I have painted. Please pardon the excessive alliteration. I haven't been feeling my life as of late and I think that finally manifested itself several days ago.
I woke up unusually early for work, about 6am which is rare since I'm known for going to sleep at 5am on the regulack. Instead of staying up all night trying to put articles on this website I have been electing to go to sleep more often as opposed to fux'n with naps. I am hoping that my energy returns to my day job output which in turn allows me the freedom to pursue my after hours passions. This particular day at the day job was going to be stressful too. I had two inspections lined up at sites in Harlem. The inspector would be from another city agency and his endorsement of these projects would be a tremendous lift. His denial of the work would have the inverse effect conversely. I needed to pass these inspections.
The first inspection passed swimmingly. One minor objection was noted onsite and even then I was able to mitigate that by proving that the contractor completed the work that the architect drafted on the plans. I wasn't as fortunate at the second jobsite because construction is still obviously well underway. A few areas of the museum space are completed but the project as a whole isn't finished. The inspector gave me the look that says why are you walking me through a space that you and I both know can't be signed off? He was right too. Sometimes I have to think about the city as a whole entity and not simply the agency I work for when I am doing my job. At the end of the day I work for the advancement of the entire city.
One passing grade out of a possible(but not probable) two would be a Hall of Fame average for a baseball player so I thought well enough to take my stats back to H.Q. and prepare the paperwork and correspondence for the day. First I was going to give myself a decent lunch. I've been catching up on the bills I've ignored for the past several months and with this Friday being a payday I could at least afford to have some crabmeats for one day before the checks are sent out. I knew just where to go too. My base office is in Queens and I grew up in the area adjacent to Shea Stadium called Corona. Right across the Roosevelt Avenue bridge is Flushing. The home of best dim sum in NYC, even better than Chinatown.
I love a little restaurant across the street from one of my library projects. The fried rice is filled with bean sprouts. The shrimps barely fit inside of the dumpling skin. After two iced teas and my generous tip I am still under the $10 mark. Now I can return to work, but first I make a move to the library and to some of the cleanest bathrooms you will find in Flushing not inside a massage parlor. If there were ever a more apropos name for a town it would have to be after I had finished my business. My mind was so clear and unobstructed right now. My body felt lighter than a feather. My heart was filled with a song. If I had the foresight I needed I would have frozen this moment in time because this was as good as it would get.
As I was driving my car towards the highway I was busy reading e-mails and TWits from the Blaxberry. Just then my eyes caught the hyper-white paintjob of an automobile in my periphery. It was definitely the jake and I quickly put my phone down on the passenger seat. I received my first seatbelt and cellphone tickets back in the spring and at $120 a pop I could ill afford to pay that digit again. I straightened myself up and proceeded to drive as a responsible citizen. The police drove up behind my car. "Woop-woop". That's the sound of the police. It was on and unfortunately my seatbelt wasn't. I pulled over to the right and took out my license to give to the cops.
We had a brief discussion upon which I made my initial plea to the officer for leniency since I was really feeling too good to wear a seatbelt at the moment. That wasn't my defense(natch), but I thought that the other things I mentioned were legitimate, like the fact I was at work and I worked for the City of New York. No dice. This young cop was one of the heroes that joined the force post-911 and he was going to save New York City with his zeal and his gun. As soon as I saw he was a tough guy I shut my mouth and decided to eat the $120 ticket. My sneaker budget has been in shambles the past few months but I suppose that is fair and balanced since I currently have hundreds of pairs.
After a few minutes of waiting I am alerted when the cops moved their cruiser into an agressive angle towards my car. What the fux? Both cops approached my door and the lead jake told me to step outside of my vehicle...
For what? A seatbelt ticket?!?
No sir, your license is suspended.
WTF? No way, that is a mistake.
That's not what my computer says. It says failure to pay fines.
That is a mistake. I PAID my tickets!
That's not what my computer says. Step out of the car please sir.
This is some bullshit. Now I am being handcuffed on the side of the road. The clear, Indian summer sun is shining on my face. Damn, this is too nice a day to be getting arrested. I'm led into the back of the police cruiser and that shit is smaller than a tinderbox. I have to put my knees up into my chest and I can't do that. The cop closes the door on me and my mind starts to race. The car is hot and steamy and the windows are all the way up. As the blood starts to enter my eyes I can feel my heartbeat start to pick up the pace rapidly. I'm officially having a heart attack. I frown my face and grit my teeth. I close my eyes. I try to breathe slowly. Very slowly.
My anxiety attack slows down and I start to exhale deeply. That was close party people. The last time I was cuffed I was put through this crazy shit where the police drove me around for almost an hour in a windowless paddywagon with a homeless dude that smelled like caked up ass and urine. When I came out of that truck I was ready to tell the police that I had killed John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. My senses were that ambushed and defeated. I can only imagine the number of people that die during torturous interrogation. That shit is no joke. I didn't realize that I was now unable to be handcuffed for long periods. When I was a kid this wasn't shit to me.
Before I was let inside the stationhouse holding cell I was forced to remove the strings from my shoelaces and my drawstring shorts. I initially refused to take the string from my shorts since that seemed egregious. What was I going to do? Strangle myself over a seatbelt ticket? GTFOH!?! The standoff didn't last more than a few tense minutes. I wanted out of this shit so I capitulated. You have the right to sit your ass down and shut the fux up should read one of the signed posted in the cell. I asked the officer what all of this trouble was leading up to and how soon were they going to release me. I was pissed off and I needed some alcohol, or some weed. Mostly I needed out of this pickle.
The officer told me that after he finished processing me that I would be turned over to the courts. OH NO! Not the bookings?!? Why couldn't you just give me a D.A.T. instead? (D.A.T. is jailbird parlance for Desk Appearance Ticket). Krupkey asks me what I know about D.A.T.'s and I told him that I was an almost 40yr old Black man that lived his whole life in NYC where 2/3's of all the Black boys experience the system. The officer then replied that he wouldn't give me a D.A.T. since my license already says that I failed to pay fines. I told him that was a mistake. The two fines I had tickets for were paid. The officer's reply was classic and I had set myself up for it. "Tell it to the judge", he said. I sat the fux down.
Inside the precinct's holding cell were two teenagers who beat someone up at school. They didn't send dude to the hospital or anything dire but school assaults now are handled by the local police precincts and no longer by the school safety personnel. I suppose you could blame me for that too. These kids were going down the wrong path fast. My only advice to them was to think about what they wanted from life. It would sux to be 40yrs old and sitting in the box like I was. They couldn't hear me though and I wasn't even being preachy. True story is that during the six hours that I sat in the precinct's holding cell a dude came in who was busted with 3/4 oz. of weed and he was given a D.A.T.
The next stop was the bookings. My transport arrived right at dusk. I gave up any hope of returning to the streets for some Friday night frolicking and decompression. This clusterfux was shaping up to be one of those three day shortstays. The following day was the jewish new year so court would surely be slower with so many people taking the day off. I prA'li wouldn't be back outside until Monday morning. The one thing I learned from previous visits to the bookings is to not let my head get filled up with thoughts of could have-would have-should have. Its hard not to get those thoughts when you sit inside the box and you are deprived of your good senses. My mind went blank. I was in jail for real.
The first person I called was wifey status, Chocolate Snowflake. I only got her voicemail at work and on the cellphone. She was prA'li heading home from work. I called my attorney, Combat Jack. Actually, he's my friend, but he is an attorney. I got his voicemail too. I told him he was fired as my lawyer if he couldn't get me out of the box. I then called my mother and got her voicemail too. I left her a message telling her that she had two jailbird sons. Sidenote is that my mom has spent so much money in the last six months bailing out my younger brother that she was considering taking out another mortgage to give her some operating money. I told her that I wouldn't talk to her again if she did that. You know what? She did it.
I called my own voicemail. I had a message from Rafi telling me I was late to the Sound Of Young America podcast show. I wish Raf would have left his phone number so maybe I could have called in to the show and told everyone that I was in jail and maybe someone could bring me some clean underwear and put a few dollars in my commissary account. I was alone and it wasn't half bad to tell you the truth. If I had my action figures with me or my comic books I would have been good money for days. I kept myself busy by putting the laces back into my shoes and my shorts. This was going to be a long ass weekend and so the opposite of epic.
As the fog in my brain started to clear I thought about the folks that I knew who might be able to fix my situation. My dad, Mr.Penn, was a great fixer. He had all the connections and even a couple of 'get out of jail free' cards up his sleeves. My kid brother and I damn near used up all my dad's magic though, but Mr.Penn wouldn't let me spend a weekend in the clink after all I had done to pick myself up off the ground. I remember getting dusted out of my brain in Miami at the 'How Can I Be Down' rapper convention. I called Mr.Penn up and told him what I had done. He talked me down and told me where to go to spend the night before flying back up to NYC the following day. He NEVER even mentioned that shit to me ever again.
Mr.Penn wasn't gonna be able to save me this time though. I was on my own for serious. I called my dude SOS. He is younger than me but he and I have a special bond. He rode shotgun with me on several roadtrips and he has wild respect for me even though he doesn't totally understand me. I remember the face he made at me when I busted out the Smurfshiki at the Brooklyn Museum of Art's First Saturday party. SOS has also seen mad shit I do become popular years later so he believes even though he crams to understand. SOS works in the Brooklyn House of Detention so I know he has to have some connects in the Queens building. SOS picks up his phone on the first ring...
SOS, this is DP, I'm in jail.
What the fux are you doing in jail?!
Some suspended license shit. Can you get me out this bitch?
Is officer so and so on the job?
I don't know. What does she look like?
Lightskin. Fat ass.
Oh shit I think that is her over there... Officer so and so?! Nah, that ain't her.
Call me back in 10mins fam, I got you.
My phonecall to SOS made me feel a little better. The other number that I could remember off the top of my head was ThunderCracker's mom. That number hasn't changed in thirty years. God bless the old Earths. It was past 11pm but mom picked up the phone and lit up when I told her it was me. I don't call her enough and I definitely don't visit her enough either. As God would have it this was the same day 18 years ago that he took TC home. No lie. I don't remember those days though, only born days. I leave it to God to remember the darkest days and then give them light. Mom was so happy to chat it up with me she told me to come to the house next weekend for my new year so she could barbecue.
I don't have a pot to piss in right now so I will definitely be there with my tupperware in my knapsack. ThunderCracker's sister was a correction's officer until she transferred to some next shit, but her husband still works in the system. As a matter of fact he works in Queens central booking. After midnight he came to get me from my holding cell to put me n the 'feeder box'. This is the largest pen in the bookings where you are interviewed by the legal aid counsels or your own lawyer if you have one. The only problem for me now is that all this movement is too little too late. Night court ends at 1am and there is less than 45mins to go. I'm excited and tense. If I get called by a lawyer I'm out of here, if not I will be in this crowded ass box for the overnight.
The box in Queens on this night is way different from my previous experiences in Queens, Bronx and the tombs in Manhattan. First off, it's more multicultural than I remembered it being. You have the African-American diaspora from Queens which are regular Blacks and west indians, there was the Mexican diaspora of spanish speaking peoples like Dominicans, Colombians and of course, Mexicans. There was even the Hindude diaspora of arabic asiatic cats. A couple of chinese(prA'li Korean) and a smattering of poor white. All accounted for there were 35 dudes in this box for the overnight. I didn't realize how much a part of this crowd I was until they called away the last few people for court and went on lockdown.
By their own admissions no one in the box did anything wrong. This one dude that was arrested with a G-pack of crack was complaining that the police illegally searched and seized his drugs. He was in a cab headed wherever when the police pulled the cab over searched his pockets and found the drugs. He spoke as if the cab was the neutral zone and he had couldn't be tagged whilst inside there. Another dude had his house raided by the ASPCA and his dogs, monkeys and alligator were all confiscated. He was willing to surrender the alligator, but he wanted the dogs and monkeys back. Everyone inside the box was a criminal. Including myself. I was driving while texting and not wearing my seatbelt. The fact that my license was suspended is my fault for not being on my business hardbody. I belonged in here too.
The overnight was excruciating. This white who was without his heroin addiction medication was throwing up on some crazy shit. He sounded like he was about to die or shoot a sneaker or a baby out of his mouth. His hacking continued until 4am. basically that toilet was forever zeeked in my mind. There were people lying on the floor only inches from that toilet too. Bodies were sprawled all over the floor of the box. People were lying down with their bare skin on the floor. A couple of dudes had their faces flat on the floor. Me and another dude horsed the only bench in the box and alternated laying back on it. My back wasn't happy at all but I would not be defeated to sleep on the floor. My pride was still stronger than my vertebrae.
At 6am the officers came through with the breakfast plan. Boxes of All Bran cornflakes and 1% milk. Aww hell nah! All Bran? That shit is gonna have fools catching the wicked bubble up in this bitch and all I have been smelling for the last six hours are the pissy walls and the vomit from homeboy horsehead. Sure enough within the hour fools are screaming for the C.O.'s to bring them some T.P. My favorite victim was this dude nearly in tears who wanted to be switched from the box to a less crowded cell so he could shit. There is no privacy in the box. If you have to shit then you must prostrate yourself in front of everyone. It is more humbling than taking a shower in front of men. Suffice to say, I avoided the All Bran cereal.
When the morning session began at 930am I was one of the first people called into the counsel booth. The young Black lady lawyer didn't have anytime to hear what I had to say. I don't know why I thought it should be any different than what I do during my day job when I am talking to bureaucrats that can't think outside of the box. I can think outside of the box though and all I wanted to do was GET outside of the box and back into the world I fux with. I was led into another cell right outside of the courtroom. Next to my cell were some sexy latinas who were no doubt here for prostitution. These chicks were garrulous and obnoxious as hell and asked one of the men in my cell what he was looking at. She may have had a penis too. Before I could spy her for an Adam's apple the court officer called my name and then led me out of this last cell. Inside of the courtroom I did a quick scan of faces to see if there was anyone that I knew. I felt a bit relieved that there wasn't. The judge said some things and I couldn't really understand what was coming from his mouth. He was like that teacher on the Charlie Brown cartoons. What did he say I asked the lawyer?
The young Black lady lawyer's interpretation to me was that if I wanted to contest the charge of driving with my license under suspension I would have to return with a lawyer. Huh? I have to retain an attorney to contest a misdemeanor? Do you know how rich you have to be just to be poor in New York City? The answer is very. Please just tell me how much I have to pay so that I can get the fux out of here. The judge said some more judgespeak that was inaudible to me since I don't speak bullshit. The court officer handed me a slip that totaled my amount and the date with which I had to pay up if I didn't want to have a bench warrant issued in my name. And with that I exited the courtroom and found my way to the outside of the building.
Ahh the smell of car exhaust along Queens Boulevard. Even though I may have slept in upright discomfort for only small increments I felt energized now that I was out of the box. The only thing that would remind me of the previous day were the paper forms in my pocket - the central booking property voucher release and the Queens court hearing statement. What does a hotel in midtown Manhattan cost per night? Well then I was paying for a hotel in Queens, albeit with the shittiest customer service and the worst bathroom evar. The real lesson I am taking from this night on lock down though isn't how to reconcile it within my mind.
Mr.Penn and the rabbi architect would both have been heartbroken if they were here to see me. I've let them down several times before with my irresponsible antics. And here I am still walking through life like Peter Pan. Still refusing to grow up and accept all my responsibilities. Still paying my mortgage and maintenance so late that I am under foreclosure. Still paying my bills so late that I have invoices on the colored paper. Still dreaming about that television development deal, that book deal, that consultant fee, that golden lottery ticket that isn't ever going to come. It was high time for me to get back to life, back to my reality. The real lesson that I came home with was that I was truly on my own and that was fine with me.
The internets is not my reality. It is fun and entertaining but it is not how I keep my lights on or how I keep the Nassau County sheriff from putting an eviction sticker on my door. Forgive me if you feel like I have duped you into coming to this URL for something other than my own selfish thoughts and ambitions on the universe. In all honestly I'm not really any different than someone sitting in jail right now. I'm just thinking about how I can come up. I need to improve my lot in life starting with this new year. I will be still for a while and listen to what God tells me what to do. Thanx, as always for your time, your donations, your kind words, and your readership. We'll see each other again I'm sure.