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WHY NOT A JERK PATROL?
by Lewis Grizzard
New York City has formed what I presume to be the
first bigot patrol in the long history of law
enforcement in this country.
The move, announced last week, was instigated after outbreaks of racial violence in the city, "just like down South," as Mayor Ed Koch put it.
Before racial incidents occurred in such places as New York's Howard Beach, Mayor Koch thought bias and prejudice ended just south of Baltimore someplace.
According to reports I read, New York's bigot patrol will work like this:
Cops in plainclothes or disguise will go into
neighborhoods with a history of racial disturbances
and act as bait for bigots, or bigot-bait, whichever
Black decoys will work Howard Beach, for instance, to deal with anyone manifesting racist tendencies.
Assistant Chief John Holmes, commander of the new unit, explained it all this way:
"We want to say to bigots: the next time you set upon somebody in the streets, he is liable to be a police officer and you are liable to be under arrest."
I hope Archie Bunker has heard about all this.
But why not a bigot patrol? We tried legislation
and education as a means of ending prejudice and that
hasn't worked. Perhaps a little police muscle will do
And if the bigot patrol is successful, think of the other social misfits we could round up and haul off in a paddy wagon.
For example, we could have an ugly patrol.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to come with me downtown."
"But what's the charge, Officer?"
"You're in violation of the city's ugly ordinance. Nobody with a big nose, ears that poke out, or, in your case, is cross-eyed, can be on the streets before dark."
I'd like to see a cliché patrol, too. If there's
anything I can't stand it's people who use clichés.
Anybody who says, "Have a nice one," "Hot enough for you?," "So how's the wife?," or "You know" more than five times in any sentence could cool their heels in the slammer for a few days.
I'd get people off the streets whose clothes
don't match, too.
"Spread 'em, Sucker," a member of the GQ patrol might say, "that tie does not go with that jacket you're wearing. It's vermin like you that give civilization a bad name."
Maybe we could also have a jerk patrol. Think how much better life would be if we didn't have to put up with people who do jerky, annoying things like drive forty in the passing lane, talk loudly in a movie theater, or throw their gum on the sidewalk for some innocent, law-abiding citizen to step on.
People who sneeze as they sit on the stool next
to you while you're eating a bowl of soup in a diner,
who bring large cassette players onto public
conveyances and play music to have a nervous
breakdown by, who play slowly on a golf course, who
get into the express lane at the grocery store with
more than twelve items, who don't put their hand over
their heart when the national anthem is being played,
who don't use deodorant, have a bad case of dandruff
and idiotic ideas you don't agree with.
I don't know why somebody didn't think of using the police to get rid of all our social warts and blemishes before. It's worked in other countries-- so why not here?
As Mayor Koch says, "Up against the wall, you redneck mother!"
The following article appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on March 29,1998
by Bo Emerson
In their steps: Author Tony Horwitz walks in a soldier's boots for insight into what fuels Civil War enthusiasts and re-enactors.
"We have tried to forget the Civil War, but we have the defeated army on the premises, and he will not allow us to forget."--Edmund Wilson
To understand the lives of Civil War soldiers, Wall Street Journal reporter Tont Horwitz put himself in their ill-fitting hobnail brogans.
Then he donned rancid socks and s stinking, butternut wool uniform, marched through miles of brambles, slept in the mud and ate rations of fetid sowbelly. ("My kosher grandfather, I'm sure, is rolling over in his grave," he says.)
These spiritual deprivations are a regular practice for the Civil War re-enactors who favor a "hard-core" approach to accuracy. His participation gave Horwitz insight into the period, and into those who are obsessed with it. He found a war that never ended, which he chronicles in the boisterous travelogue "Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches From the Unfinished Civil War" (Pantheon, $27.50).
In addition to re-enactors, Horwitz found young people still killing each other over the Confederate flag, clubs vouchsafing eternal allegiance to the Lost Cause and gatherings of the Children of the Confederacy, at which tots practiced a catechism that included such question-and-answer liturgy as:
"Q: What were the feelings of slaves toward their
A: They were faithful and devoted and were always ready and willing to serve them."
A Salisbury, N.C.,man told Horwitz, "I remember learning that the Civil War ended a long time ago. Folks here don't see it that way. They think it's still halftime."
Horwitz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the war in Bosnia, was precociously fascinated with the conflict, and as a child painted a mural of the murderous events of Antietam and Shiloh on his attic bedroom walls. He revived his childhood interest when he ceased covering wars overseas and moved to Virginia, where much Civil War history is lying about underfoot. "Confederates in the Attic" began as a lark, an opportunity to examine contemporary memory of the war, while tramping along the path of the major battles.
"I really just wanted to have a good time, to travel to parts of the South I'd never been to before, to participate in some of the wackier re-enactments," says Horwitz from his Waterford,VA,home. "But in the end I [couldn't] get away from the more serious issues that the Civil War raises. I kept deving into them even when I was trying to have a good time. The present would rear its ugly head in a way that would remind me,`This isn't playacting.'" Those issues, in particular the bitter divisions of race and region, overtake his jaunt and color the second half in a somber tone.
The book is strongest, however, when Horwitz postpones examining the larger questions and enjoys the sideshow of the American South. One of the more vivid characters he meets along the way is fellow Virginian Robert Lee Hodge, super hard-core re-enactor and spiritual guide. Hodge introduces Horwitz to the "period rush," the heightened hallucinatory pleasure of retreating to another century. Hodge also coaxes Horwitz to join him on what he calls a "Civil Wargasm," a power tour of historic sites, and the center section of the book. Hodge, the model for the book's front cover photograph, is diplomatic about Horwitz's desire for temporal verisimilitude.
"He was curious," Hodge says. "He was willing to go levels deeper than other reporters." On the other hand, while camping in the Five Forks battlefield,the two were divebombed by mosquitoes as mean as yard dogs. Horwitz, Hodge reveals, "farbed out." That is, he indulged in the proscribed use of insect repellant and then hid out in the car. "He didn't write about that."
Many of the scenes and people Horwitz paints are familiar fixtures of the Gothic South. They include the cartoonish "fergit,hell" members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Atlanta's much-noted Scarlett O'Hara imitator, Melly Meadows.
Horwitz recognizes the slant of his reportage and acknowledges that his book views the South through the lens of the Civil War. "I don't want to pretend that this is a balanced or thorough look at the South," he says.
It is, instead, a look at the way the war colors life 130 years later, a topic, he says, that remains relatively unexamined in the 60,000-plus books written about the Civil War.
Is it strange that the war continues to fascinate? Only in this land of short memory, he says. "Only in America would it seem odd that people are debating something that happened 135 years ago. If you go to the Middle East, they are still debating things that happened in the eigth century."
AND NOW, A WORD FROM...
by Lewis Grizzard
A couple of Atlanta television stations this
fall decided not to run any political advertisements
during the city elections.
Perhaps they figured they give us enough drivel with the lineup of network programming they cast upon us.
Whatever the reason, they are to be commended. Think of what we are spared:
"My opponent wears smelly socks, kidnaps little puppies and eats raw wienies."
"That's nothing. My opponent sucks eggs, runs rabbits, and doesn't close his eyes during prayer."
"You think that's disgusting. The idiot running against me has a wart on his nose,supports thespianism and sold Kool-Aid to Jim Jones."
If only television stations could be convinced to become more discerning toward all sorts of commercials, not just those of a political nature.
I made a list of the sort of television commercials I despise the most, and in a perfect world, I would never have to see them again.
Here is my list:
"Hey, we're giving these cars away! No, we'll pay you
to take them off our hands!"
I actually come from a long line of used-car dealers and horse thieves, but local car dealers have no business doing their own commercials on television. They are loud, they are obnoxious and they kidnap little puppies. Call BR 549 if you agree.
There simply can't be that much difference between
cereals. Muleslick, or whatever it's called, can't be
any better a friend to your colon than Bowel Bran,
Of course it can't. And, furthermore, I don't care if cereal becomes soggy, that's why I put milk in it. Bowel Bran, today. Can Tree Bark be far behind?
Feminine Hygiene Products: I'll keep this simple and discreet. I don't care if it will hold and absorb the entire Atlantic Ocean, I don't want to have to sit in my den and hear about it on my television.
Diarrhea and Constipation Commercials:
This family goes to Hawaii and they all come down
with diarrhea and can't get out of their room. It
But I don't care. Just pretend you're doing the hula and find a facility.
Perfume and Cologne Commercials:
I could abide these if they made any sense. But they
rarely do. There's a naked couple, except for
sunglasses, riding orangutans through a field of
nuclear waste, and it's a commercial about a new
cologne named "Goat Sweat."
A man likes to smell like a man. A woman like a woman. Not a bodily function or the scent of the North Dakota female doodle-bug in heat.
Every ambulance chaser in the country has his or her
own television commercial. "The law firm of Loophole
and Whiplash will sue anybody, living or dead, for
the low, low price of $29.95. Judge Wapner is our
first cousin, by the way, and we've read all the John
Grisham novels. Trust us."
Yeah, and those law books behind you were painted on the walls. Go for a court-appointed attorney and hope he or she doesn't stutter.
Pet Food Commercials: "This dog food is beefy and chewy tasting." How does the announcer know that? The dog didn't tell him.
Hair Commercials: If God hadn't wanted you to be bald, you'd have been born with a cat on your head.
Get rid of insurance commercials featuring aging
actors and stop telling me that Juan Valdez is from
Colombia. We're suppose to believe that he's got
coffee in those sacks?
So many bad commercials. So little space.
Polk County Confederates