Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Labor Day Weekend Feeling

Taking the day off.  From what?  I can hear it now.

Off to put the seersucker suit and the white bucks in the closet until next Spring.

Have fun on your own!  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Sunday Feeling

I don't know what happened between that kid and the cop in Ferguson, Missouri a couple of weeks ago.  Neither do you.  

And I am as pro-law enforcement as they come.  I like visiting with cops whenever I get the chance.  I had dinner with a prosecutor buddy last week. I have referred any number of bad actors to investigators over my 28 years with Uncle.  

So don't get me wrong.  

But here are things I don't understand.  

I don't understand how an unarmed teenager catches numerous slugs from somebody trained in the use of weapons and supposedly operating under rules of engagement for both aggressive confrontation with a citizen and the use of deadly force.  

Look at the picture above.  

I get riot gear.  I don't get camo.  This is Missouri.  This is the United States of America. This is not Beirut.  

I get cops protecting themselves.  I don't get pointing automatic weapons at a person whose hands are in the air.  The optics are terrible.

Speaking of optics, if you are scared of black folks, you might find my trainer Dennis to be a pretty scary dude by the first glance.  He's built like the former DI defensive back and boxer that he was.  He wears his hair in dreadlocks.  

He's also former Navy Special Forces and a former Memphis cop.  Indeed, he recently interacted with law enforcement when he got pulled over by LRPD for some traffic thing.  I asked him how it went.

" I told him that I was a former cop in Memphis, that I have a concealed carry permit and a Glock in the door.  And I told him that I wanted to get home that night just as bad as he did."

And that pretty much diffused any potential tension.  The officer checked out his paperwork and sent Dennis on his merry way with the admonition to lighten up on the gas pedal.

I asked Dennis what he thought about the police response to the discord in Ferguson.  

"You never point a weapon at somebody unless you are 100% ready to kill that person," he said.  "You don't point a weapon at somebody who is complying.  You never point a weapon at somebody who is just running his mouth.  Mouth never killed anybody.  In fact, the dude that is running his mouth ain't likely to do anything but that.  It's the ones that don't talk that you have to watch. But you don't produce your weapon unless you have reason to and are prepared to put that individual away."

It also makes for bad optics.

Here's another thing I don't get.  Ferguson, Missouri has about 20,000 folks there on a good Saturday night.  

What possible need do the cops there-or any similar sized police agency- have for military grade equipment?  I get the fact that since 9-11 police forces throughout the US have legit concerns about terrorism.  However, I sincerely doubt that Shining Path has a sleeper cell in Bryant, Arkansas.  I say take the toys away from Barney Fife and give it back to the Feds.

I also don't get elected officials calling for removal of the prosecutor there and convicting the police officer involved in the media.  Cool heads need to prevail.  

I don't know what happened between that kid and the cop 2 weeks ago. Neither do you.

State and Federal authorities are all over this terrible situation.  All we can do is await the answer.  

And hope that Mayor Stodola and our new Chief of Police are reviewing the policies and rules of engagement in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening here in Little Rock.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Too much stuff going on this weekend to fool with blogging.  Will be back soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Sunday Feeling

One thing that is true both of baseball and the performing arts is that just when you think you have seen it all something else comes along to fool you. Early last week I was introduced on Facebook to Puddles the Clown and his website In reality Puddles is a 6'8" singer and performance artist out of Atlanta named Mike Geier who performs as "Big Mike Geier."

The video embedded here is of him doing a cover version of Lorde's "Royals" both of which I had been unaware of until I became aware of Puddles as well.  As my young friend Lucas Murray would say "it's a well constructed song." And Geier sings the living Hell out of it.  

The imagery is striking.  Here's a big man in white face portraying a melancholy clown singing a song written by a woman.  He silently comes on stage carrying a suitcase and a lantern giving off a vibe of homelessness and searching.  As I've gotten interested in this act, I've noticed that Geier typically starts a performance by staring at the audience with no expression on his face at all a la Andy Kaufman.  If Andy Kaufman were built like a lineman and dressed as a Pierrot.  At about 3 minutes (I've timed him) you start to hear nervous laughter from the audience.  

And then he just starts singing.  The video here has him silent for about 30 seconds before he gets going.

One of the most striking things about Geier is that he reminds me of Philip Seymour Hoffman in that both are big men and yet so graceful.  As you watch the video take notice of the gestures and the changes of expression.  I watched it 5 times in a row the other day and caught something different every time.  

And the expressions.  Is Puddles angry? Euphoric? Psychotic? Depressed? Hubris infected?  Overly in touch with his fem side?  Gay? Straight? Dunno. Maybe yes to all.  The expressions change with every measure.  Which leads me to the next point.

Geier isn't just screwing around (I resisted the word "clowning") up there. This character is the product of a lot of thought rehearsal and discipline.  And Geier isn't stupid.  This video has gotten over 8,000,000 views.  Geier's got as nice a baritone voice as I've heard lately.  But Bryn Terful he is not.  And Mike Geier doing grrl music isn't going to get 8,000,000 hits.  

A Bunyanesque man in whiteface with a nice voice and a crown just might.  

Is Puddles a gimmick?  Of course it is.  But unlike Kiss, Gwar, Insane Clown Posse, and even Parliament, this is a benign gimmick in service of the music. And Geier, in creating this semi-menacing character, has achieved what every performer wants. After all, you can't not watch as that beautiful voice comes out of that, that thing.  My friend S was over the other night.  Clowns scare her and she couldn't take her eyes off him.

This is pretty crazy.  But it's inspired crazy.  

And if the brain trust behind the Batman movies is reading this I've got another candidate to play the Joker.

Oh, and check out the video on You Tube where they cover Lorde's "Team." Watch for the saxophone player.

Like I said, this is pretty crazy.  But it's inspired crazy.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

My Sunday Feeling

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice did a very bad thing last February in a New Jersey casino. He cold cocked his then fiance.  Shortly thereafter he got caught on camera dragging the obviously unconscious Janay Palmer out of an elevator.  Take a look for yourself.  The imagery couldn't be more stark.

It shows the powerfully built Rice dragging an inert and utterly defenseless Parker.  Not only is this video damning in its depiction of the obvious differences in power between the two figures, it also amply demonstrates how not to transport someone who has sustained a concussion.  A fair fight this was not.  

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rightly considered this incident to be a violation of the league's much ballyhooed "personal conduct policy" for which Rice caught a 2 game suspension and a fine of $529,411.24 (3 game checks).  And all Hell immediately broke loose among women's rights groups and advocates for victims of domestic violence claiming that the punishment was too lenient.  After all, other players have received stiffer penalties for smoking dope and doing performance enhancing drugs(PEDs).  

Goodell defended the punishment imposed upon Rice, saying that the other disciplinary actions were consistent with penalties negotiated with the NFL Players Union, so Rice's case fell under the evidently much more amorphous personal conduct policy which is the direct province of the Commissioner.

I am a lawyer.  I get this.  There was no policy in the collective bargaining agreement with the player's union that covered this incident. Rice was a first offender who Goodell said "has taken responsibility for this." And Rice, who was charged with assault by the authorities, has agreed to enter into counseling in a pre-trial diversion program for domestic violence.  

But still, Terelle Pryor caught a 5 game suspension in 2011 for selling Ohio State memorabilia BACK WHEN HE WAS IN COLLEGE. Granted, he also got Ohio State put on probation but the question remains why Goodell imposed 5 games on Pryor and only 2 on Rice.

Janay Palmer married her batterer.  (Which I don't get but which is a another topic entirely.) She also asked the league to be lenient with Rice.  Maybe that impacted Goodell's decision as well.  

Or maybe he doesn't get it.  After all, he wouldn't be the first.  Granted, I didn't much get it until I represented battered spouses in divorce cases.  And I later went on the serve on the Board of the local women's shelter.  I've seen women with broken jaws.  I've seen them with shiners.  Hell, I've seen a 4 year old with a shiner.  One of my best friends had the daylights beaten out of her when she was married to her first husband. It changes the way that you look at these issues.

It doesn't make me man of the year.  But it does mean that if I were Roger Goodell Ray Rice would have been suspended for a big chunk of this season. If only to make an example of him.  

Here's my proposed rule: You hit a woman you don't play football for a very long time.  Seems simple to me and entirely consistent with the hyper-macho culture of the NFL.  After all, I was taught that only "sissies" hit girls.  But that was only because "narcissist" is too big a word to explain to a 7 year old.  

As for Rice, he is saying all the right things.  

"[O]ne thing going forward that I can control is being a better father, a better husband, being a better role model going forward, being a better person going forward." 

And "I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down...because of 30 seconds of my life that I know I can't take back."

Ray Rice has a reputation for being a good guy.  I have no reason to doubt his sincerity.  And I hope he learns his lesson.

But he is a big powerful man in a league full of them.  It is not inconceivable that he could have killed Janay that night.  Or that she could have been hurt worse than she apparently was.

The League and the Union need to adopt penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence.  I like my proposal.  You hit a woman and you don't play football for a very long time.  Open the can.  Get out the lawyers.  Negotiate this.  Bring in some experts.  Go visit a shelter.  Get this done.

After all, hasn't the NFL supposedly gotten serious about concussions?