Gary a note!
The following is solely a product of my imagination, for entertainment purposes only. (wink)
Hi Kay and pals,
I hope everybody had a nice holiday. This was my seventh behind bars and personally I’m glad it’s over. The season isn’t much fun in prison, sort of an exercise in misdirection. Here at River Junction Work Camp (and throughout the Florida State Mental Hospital grounds around Chattahoochee), the Christmas decorations were everywhere, so overdone as to be somehow desperate. They begged for a believer in the face of much sadness, and the images that came to my mind were better left untapped.
As many of you know I’m pretty powerless here in the Florida system. All I can do is write. I can write about power, though; I can describe it perfectly. All kinds of power. Big power, little power, the absence of power, the loss of power by erosion…. What has happened lately in Tallahassee has exceeded the legal limits on power. I was personally affected this past month, and eventually they provoked me enough to write the following story. Happily, by the time I was finishing it up, the authorities here at River Junction were taking steps to correct this latest try by the famous Michael Moore to bamboozle the plebes. I rewrote the ending to reflect their efforts.
Still, the problem solvers here may be an anomaly. The DOC may not be inclined to fix things statewide. So I offer you this ridiculous sermon, hoping the families of Florida will fight this latest DOC exercise in unfettered power. I call it
DRESSING THE PIG (in buttons and bows)
by Gary Brooks Waid
“For the benefit of Mr. Kite,
There will be a show tonight…”
I have a new pal here at River Junction Work Camp, a guy named Haggerty. He’s new to prison, a short-timer, white collar, confused as hell, and a real rube. He and I just got shut down for trying to order, respectively, short pants and sneakers from the Special Order Sheet. A hundred other men also lost out, because the DOC of Florida suddenly requires you to maintain a running deposit of at least $45 over and above the price of your order.
…Where to start…
Maybe I’ll begin with a bio of Michael Moore, the Secretary of Florida’s Department of Corrections. Michael Moore’s illegal monkey business is getting some press now, and the straw that’s threatened to break the Hag’s back is one of those Moore-isms for sure, so let’s all get on the same page. All this stuff is absolutely true in every respect, of course. I wouldn’t lie. I got my info from a biker named Bill Wagener, who claims that he’s a monument to credibility. I ridiculed him, but he told me to shut up:
“Shut up, Waid, I’m a biker, for Christ sake. I got friends.”
Anyway, Michael M., as many of you already know, came from Texas. He was the only son of a God-fearing pillow manufacturer named Samuel Eider Moore and his wife Downy. They were the salt of the earth, log cabin stock, one-room schoolhouses and a covenant with beans, potatoes, and gravid clouds of disapproval lying heavy by the hearth. The Moore family did not play cards, tell fart jokes, or listen to the radio, and smiling on Sundays was strictly forbidden. Needless to say, Michael spent much of his youth alone in his room admiring his bird catalogs, playing vigorously and repeatedly with whatever was handy, and studying complicated ways to do simple things.
When he finally grew up, and also to escape such a joyless existence, Michael became a prison guard. Suddenly his arid, aching, gloomy days were replaced by the thrill of thumping on men in prison garb or riding as gun bull through the onion fields, swinging his leather utensil down in majestic arcs, cracking the whip over convicted backsides that included ridgebacks (Indians), wetbacks (Mexicans), jumpbacks (blacks), and getbacks (white trash), bastards every one.
Which made the young scholar-athlete Moore very happy. He was happy, but he was also ambitious. So walking home in the afternoons, humming, say, the mandolin serenade from Don Giovanni, or the tutti con tutti molto from Aida, * Michael pledged total commitment to the corrections way of life. He was determined to rise to the top, no matter how hard it was to excel in such a competitive field. After all, he reasoned, there are floaters and sinkers in every toilet, and to truly create a splash you have only to bob up over the lip.
*Convict Wagener was a bit unclear here. He insisted that Michael Moore loved Opera but considered some of it unacceptable for Texas men.
“The big guy thought Madame Butterfly was faggy,” said Wagener. “Kinda shallow, if you ask me.”
So at the end of that first year he became a lifer, and to honor the occasion he gathered his belongings and moved out of the nest, into the trailer park that was to be his home for the next thirty years.
Michael was good at his job. Every day he’d go to work, and every decade or so he’d get a promotion. Life was lonely, but at work he could be a tower of rectitude, and the lack of love, its diverse sublimations, only made him stronger, if, I must report, a tiny bit odd with regards to normal human behavior.
Then one day in his 40th year of life, he met a fat white duck named Rosemary, fell instantly in love while they groped hungrily in each other’s arms (or I guess wings, in Rosemary’s case), and married in a private ceremony at the Desert Arroyo Mobile Home Village and Dump Station in Goatnut City on the Brazos. Michael was a warden by then, the head honcho at Goatnut City’s Juvenile Detention Farm. He recalls with fondness those days, the many happy hours he spent teaching smooth young boys things to do with their hands.
His work life was busy and productive, then, and his nights were infernos in which Michael and Rosemary rolled in their own incorruptible, feather-splitting envelope of passion, squeezing and caressing and stroking and…fluffing, and finally producing many frothy, viscous, honkers, pungent and greasy and…quacky (what the hell). Oh, my, Oh, duck, Oh, Oh, etc…
So it came to pass that with the power, which bloomed astride Rosemary, anything was possible. Soon Michael had carved his niche in the feculent fabric of Texas bureaucracies, and had become a friend of the most powerful family in the state, the Bushes.
Well I’ll be fucked a duck ain’t that something!, you might say.
But it’s true. From humble beginnings to a giant egg comes hither…or is that…uh, comes fried…no, is Created... A giant egg is created. And one voice in the wilderness can change the world.
Governor George Jr. (now President) was a famous Texas hunter in those days, by the way, so he accidentally shot Rosemary and ate her.
But Michael Moore didn’t care about Rosemary by then. One slutty duck was as good as another, and he was on the fast track to the big time. He’d been recommended by his Bush buddies for a position as the big cheese of South Carolina’s woefully humane prison system. He figured he’d go to S.C. and find another fowl, maybe a nice bouncy chicken this time, in which to expel his seed and orate bombastically in front of and practice his vinegary, lipless smile and get sticky goo on the kitchen floor of his…. Hmm….
You know, Biker Bill Wagener could be shitting me. This really isn’t going anywhere, is it? Wagener’s pulling my leg. Some sort of biker code, trying to screw up my Journalistic perfect record.
That’s okay, though, because Moore and his nestlings say what they want to also. And if the Florida DOC can say and do things that impact my life, I get to say what I want to, too, right? Am I right? I mean, I haven’t broken any laws since 1992. The DOC breaks them every day. So I don’t feel bad at all about using a little poetic license, except maybe as you can probably figure out here, the facts are a little distorted. Actually, Biker Bill doesn’t even know if there is a ‘tutti con tutti molto’ in Aida. And he says the duck’s real name was Kim. But it’s not my purpose here to insinuate anything about Michael Moore’s having carnal relations with beasts. I personally could care less what he does, as long as he doesn’t do it to me!
It’s too late for that, though, isn’t it?
Where was I before I began this Michael Moore crap?
Oh. Paul Haggerty. His recent problems. Yeah. It’s been a bad month or two for Haggerty. He’s new. And he doesn’t understand prison or the inefficient, imbecilic methods instituted by guys like Moore. Let me explain.
Most free people have a certain sense of entitlement. Their expectations regarding fairness: progressive rewards for accomplishment, morality as a factor in any decision making process, etc. They believe that doing well will get you somewhere. But all that is turned on its head once you enter prison. Prisons are staffed, largely, with dyed-in-the-wool underachievers, who take direction from a nasty bunch of sociopaths attracted by the perks of DOC (or BOP) life. The bureaucrats make rules without regard to human values, rules that actually target individual accomplishment or thought. They promote recidivist ideology. You’re only a number, so to get anywhere you have to become just what they want, a sycophantic piece of shit, a do-boy for the hacks, or you have to ignore everything and become a block of stone. Most people don’t want to become a sycophantic piece of shit, but new guys often learn the hard way, and a painful process of dehumanization becomes intolerable the more things pile up.
So the new guy calls his various family members and goes off. Let me give you the benefit of my vast experience and just say that a lot of what goes on in prison, the smooth moves and slick sleight-of-hand, are not explainable over the phone. They’re dervishes whirling behind the wire that turn to smoke and absurdity when you try to give them shape. They’re connected to a low-wattage outlook, too, that ultimately is about want and need and numbskull provocation that shouldn’t be. It’s a great circle that feeds on itself, devouring good officers as surely as it does inmates, and it’s as preposterous as it is immutable. Two plus two is not four in prison. They’ll tell you what two plus two is, and that’s what you’re to go by, no matter that the people telling you are covered in duck shit.
Guys that have been down a while, the blocks of stone, are usually pretty self-contained. For them, lies and catastrophes are to be expected. The moral world has long been turned aside. But the Hag is new so he’s still in shock. He has all the outrage of a free person. He hasn’t come to grips with the idea that his opinion is now, if not completely worthless, at least suspect. He remembers when logic still worked. So Haggerty makes calls to his people, outraged calls, and gets advice and warnings, then strained cheerfulness, then confusion and more advice which ignores all that prison pathology I just told you about and somehow implies he’s deserving. And he isn’t appreciative of the misguided verbiage, so the phone conversations quickly become protean exercises in acid reflux, understood by no one.
Paul Haggerty talks to me. He won’t shut up about his family. He misses them. He goes on daily binges of love and loss. And he imagines them conferring with one another about him. Discussing him. Like he’s a baby or someone too ill to function. They’re still using all that free world fairness bullshit.
He wants to explain. He can’t. He rehearses what he’ll say next time.
But when he tries to explain something to his people, who are all part of America’s achievement-oriented, performance attuned class, by the way, his outbursts frighten them. His demands that they see the sin, the wrong, the moral dilemma and empathize, only convinces them that prisons will be father’s undoing and, oh, God, I hope daddy’s not destroyed by those people.
Sadly their fears were awakened when two months ago Daddy’s reading glasses were stolen and the prison refused to let him order a pair from home. He must wait six weeks, they said, for a prison pair. He wandered around the dorm, blind as a bat, blinking into lights, angry as hell. Then, a week or two later, the thief punched him in the head as part of some personal, crazy-guy campaign. A big, red, untidy welt was raised, creating more simmering rages.
After the punch up I said something like: “Don’t tell the wife, Paul, she’ll faint dead away.”
But he must have told someone and they must have braced him up, because fortitude and courage were in the air for a time and he was hopeful that his lawyer and a Tallahassee mediation service were making gains in securing him a spot on the work release docket.
Then he got a DR for Introduction of Contraband, which sounds like bringing in kilos of heroin from the South China Sea, but in reality was nothing more than an incorrect charge involving an old sweatshirt he ignorantly wore back and forth to work. He tried to explain, but was booed up and ridiculed, which introduced him to the invasive, in-your-face process designed to scare inmates into compliance with ignorance. They took 30 days of gain time and set back his plans another 90 days. In addition his custody level was raised and he came to work in the hospital laundry.
So he decided to appeal the DR. He needed some photocopies made and some help or advice from his lawyer, which episode produced the next lesson in convict dehumanization and caused great internal rages and angst and angina attacks and possibly a brain aneurysm or two. He sent off a packet and got a Post-it note back. It said:
Dear Paul—Sorry for being brief but I’m in trial.
Unfortunately there is nothing I can do in regard
to your problem. They have their own rules, as
you well know.
The photocopies were not included.
Ol’ Haggerty by then had become a little obsessive. But “Eric,” who took $10,000 from him, did 10 cents worth of work on his behalf, and assured him in writing that “anything you need, anything at all while you’re locked up, just let me know,” was a piece of shit. “Eric” actually called the family and in angst-ridden prose, tortured himself vociferously over the wire so that together they could all form a consensus about how to ‘handle’ father. Eric, piece-o-shit, ten-grand-and-counting, Mr. Tambourine-Man-lawyer-person, bypassed the boss hog and began to play a song for the piglets…
…which of course pissed off father, and is a good example of why most lawyers aren’t loved in prison. They’re considered by many to be part of the inviolable Justice-Corrections loop in which actions based on moral principals are passé.
“What should I do?” Paul asked me. “My family thinks I’m nuts.”
“Welcome to the dog pound,” I replied. “Arf, arf.”
Some hilarious Haggerty moments:
1) To teach him about DOC medical care, the Nurse Practitioner refused to allow him his medicine for Rosacea, a painful condition affecting the nose. The guy gave him cortisone and turned his nose into a smoked ham. Haggerty wanted to know why.
“Why, Waid? Why me?”
“You look like Rudolph, Paul. Cover that thing.”
“I think it ate the skin….”
“Is your name Haggerty or Hormel?”
“I gotta get outta here. That thing’s gonna blow.”
2) Then, to show him what efficiency means to a DOC employee, the law library gave him a call-out to report there in the morning, then closed for the day. When he didn’t go (and I suppose stand in front of the closed door), they threatened DR action.
“But it was closed!” he cried.
So they threatened DR action for disrespecting an officer in performance of whatever he was performing at the time. Later they booed him for not going to work, then refused to let him report to work.
“You can’t go to work,” they said. “You got a call-out to the law library.”
3) One day the Nurse person took him off his blood pressure diet.
“I’ve gained six pounds,” he told them, three weeks later.
“Don’t eat the cake,” said the Nurse person, inadvertently misquoting the Queen of France. Haggerty’s blood pressure soared.
And on and on it went, every day a new lesson. Then a couple weeks ago I stopped by and invited him to the yard for a walk. “Let’s go get some exercise.”
Shuffling out the door and down the hill, Haggerty said, “Maybe soon I’ll get my new sneakers.”
Which is how Michael Moore got involved. At least the Hag wasn’t expecting the sneakers. At least he knew enough by now to only muse aloud about their possibility.
It is my opinion, and this is only an opinion mind you, but I feel sure that Michael Moore is a duck fucker.
There, I’ve said it. He’s not alone, one of many actually, but that’s not the point. The point is that he’s the one with the hammer in Florida’s DOC, and laws, moral reservations or constitutional principals don’t affect a thing he does. He’s caught exceeding his authority all the time and ignores the chastisements or says “oops” without conviction. Even the officers hate him. He’s a myopic fascist.
For instance: In cooperation with the BOP, Jeb Bush, the DOJ, and whoever else wants to cash in, Michael Moore is continuing to break the law as it pertains to me (see my earlier writings and FS 944.091). But I’m a drop in the bucket. His DOC extorts millions of dollars from poorer families with their unbelievable telephone kickback scheme. (To talk to my brother it costs $4.50 for the first minute. In the feds I paid $1.00.) He’s recently decided to stigmatize inmate families, a scarlet letter on your brow, the mark of Cain. He instituted regulations (and was busted for it) demanding Social Security numbers from visitation applicants, demanding the info at the door from visitors, turning people away who wouldn’t comply. He decided that the DOC is an investigative agency. DOC employees are investigators.
Talk about dressing a pig like a prince! I had to spell the world “Library” the other day for one of Moore’s investigators. I did so over and over, finally agreeing that “Liberry” was just fine, write it that way, what the hell I just need to go get a book.
Do you want to trust this semi-literate officer at the gate with your SS number (bank records, credit info, etc…)? To make your SS number public record? To allow your financial history an avenue into the average DOC brain? But to Michael Moore, the Privacy Act is not a federal law but a thing to do in the bedroom with his duck.
Then there’s the attempt to inflate the census count, a slimy budget scam that uses bodies. He’s illegally rewritten the requirements for work release so that inmates won’t qualify for the programs until they’re seven months short. The pig took wing and flew for a while, until an inmate forced a hearing on the issue in Tallahassee last October, and the DOC had to say “oops” again. Now they do the seven-month shuck informally.
Or how ‘bout that ‘health and fitness’ bullshit? The inmates had to write and complain, I had to expose the lies, and the ladies of at least two woman’s prisons put their heads together and said “NO,” which means the DOC had to renege. They had to feed us. The pig lost weight.
Now Michael M. has closed all the regional business offices, making Tallahassee the repository of Bo coup bucks and the hub of the DOC system of usury. Hasn’t M.M. ever considered history? Doesn’t he remember the pigs in Animal Farm? Let me repeat that one vile word—USURY!
The reason Paul Haggerty and I and a hundred other River Junction inmates recently had Special Orders rejected for “Insufficient Funds” is a perfect example of both incompetence and contempt by the hierarchy in Florida’s DOC. And it’s illegal, a 14th Amendment violation, actionable in court, easy to grasp even by lawyers like the previously raspberried Eric.
Here’s what happened: On October 30, 2000, a bunch of us signed Special Order contracts for goodies (shoes, games, shorts, etc.). We called our families beforehand and had the money sent in. The contracts, which even included our thumbprints, stipulated a processing date no later than November 10th.
At some point a new policy was instituted. It said: “Under the new inmate banking system, there must be sufficient funds OVER AND ABOVE the canteen balance to cover a special withdrawal. You cannot use funds currently set aside for canteen purposes.”
Nobody told us, but it doesn’t matter anyway. The DOC ignored the November 10th deadline. Our processing date was over five weeks later, on December 18th. So any inmate who wishes to purchase, say, a $6 pair of shorts for his health and fitness regimen, would have to pony up six bucks plus a forty-five dollar deposit (the automatic canteen allotment per week). This deposit could never be touched, because your canteen money is topped off automatically. If I had fifty-one dollars in my account, and bought a stamp, my special order would come back Insufficient Funds. With the institution of this policy the DOC makes interest profits on an almost perpetual deposit (remember, October 30th to December 18th is how long they took) forced from an inmate’s family up to four times a year, and an inmate can never use his canteen to buy a soda unless the family provides additional money to top off the account. So inmate families can never keep a running account high enough to satisfy DOC requirements, especially if the DOC pays no attention to the processing dates, which, because they’ve closed down all the business offices and because prison personnel don’t give a shit, is what’s happening (whew).
Michael Moore, of course, doesn’t care. He’s a cheap crook. He knows he’ll get your money anyway. One of the reasons he’s in Florida is because South Carolina fired him for screwing up their prison system. Entire forests have been cut down for the paper used filing all the lawsuits that that state is still digging out from under.
But…ahem…let’s crunch some numbers. I’ve been lonely lately, and my pal Biker Bill Wagener keeps this cool rubber Susie doll under his mattress, you know, with “French” features and great big, air-filled fun bags. And hell, he says I could, you know, if Special Order allowed such a thing (for personal use only, under the covers, no loaners, no weird noises late at night, one skin-tone tire patch kit and a quart of gear lube), I could order one for about ten bucks.
$10.00 -- Super-pneumatic Susie doll.
+ $45.00 -- Automatically updated canteen
=$100.00 -- Eventual delivery of duck…er, I mean, Susie doll.
My new babe would cost me a hundred bucks, which as I said, is a classic 14th Amendment violation, the prohibition against discrimination based on race, religion, color, size, sex, number of arms and legs, or being poor. Families who can’t afford to float large sums for small items should be outraged.
So Haggerty and I decided that I should write this story. We also decided to complain. We sent off our ‘inmate requests’ to the proper officer, a Ms. Banks, and wonder of wonders, she immediately saw the problem. She told us to write Tallahassee.
Instead, we did a pair of Informal Grievances to the Major. Three days later a memo was posted. They’re going to reprocess the orders ‘immediately.’ Canteen funds ‘are to be used.’ My grievances were never acknowledged, no admission was ever made, but at least locally they understood the threat of lawsuit. I don’t know what’s happening statewide.
In China, when a man goes to trial for certain crimes, usually political or ‘social,’ and is found guilty, he is made to kneel and is shot in the back of the head. The next day a bill is presented to the man’s family. The bill is largely ceremonial. It’s for the cost of the bullet. The family must pay for the bullet as a sort of penalty for spawning such a person.
In America they hide things better. But you can dress a pig in buttons and bows; he’s still a pig. And the rest of us must quack and quack and quack, or prepare to be married to Michael.
So what about Haggerty? Well hell, if this were Hollywood, Haggerty would have an episode, toss aside the mantle of civilization, and become a hardened con like Sylvester Stallone. Ben Hur in chains. But we’re sorry, the Hag ain’t the Hur, and this ain’t Hollywood, so he’s still stumbling along, confused as hell. The other day he discovered they’d mailed one of his letters home to some Hispanic lady in California. I laughed.
“What’s so funny?” he said.
I began to choke. My stomach hurt. Biker Bill Wagener walked up.
“Look, Waid, this is my goddamn mail!”
I fell off the bunk. Tears exploded from my eyes. Biker Bill burped.
“Who runs this circus anyway?”
I got the hiccups. Biker Bill farted.
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