Thursday, August 17, 2006

Richmond, VA: More Turds Than Dirt


made_it_myself
Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.
We used to sit there in the living room on patio furniture, right there in the middle of Ellwood Avenue in Richmond, VA, right there in the middle of winter, 1999, just listening to the child abuse take place downstairs.

The Worm, as we called the head of the household below us, would savagely beat her preteen son and his two younger sisters after a long day of beatdowns handed out by the kid himself. Neither me or my roommate were exactly employed, so we were home to hear skulls thumping off the walls at midday. I swear I smelled that oldest kid burning a cat or something in the alleyway before lunchtime one day.

Once the kids set off a bunch of firecrackers in the living room and blew parts of the window out into the yard. The oldest girl -- no more than eleven, mind you -- would crank Metallica and stand on the porch in miniskirt and stare off in the distance through squinty, hardened eyes. Her older brother got in a fistfight with the kid from upstairs -- next door to me and my roommate - and threw him into the door to the upstairs of the building.

His fat little body cracked the rotten wood of what turned out to be a hollow door, and all these cereal boxes fell right out. Apparently our landlord put them in there for insulation or something. They didn't even make some of that cereal anymore. Remember Waffle-O's?

Although the kid whose body broke the door was headed down a rotten path, he wasn't a serial killer in training pants like our little buddy from downstairs. That little involuntary battering ram was a good kid going bad, raised by an earth-shakingly stupid single parent whose only contact with greens as a food involved a box of lime Jell-O. My roommate and I would take turns calling child welfare, the cops, anyone with the power to involve a social worker. Nobody ever made it. Our hearts went out to these people, and we tried like hell to help them out when we could and generally be good neighbors.

Then we got exhausted and real, real jaded.

There was this dog that belonged to our neighbors on the second floor. The dog was named Shadow. Shadow's owner, the dumb kid's dumb mom, would occasionally walk Shadow, but usually he stayed chained up out back, barking furiously at anything from black people in the alleyway to minor changes in barometric pressure. Shadow and his vocal cords rose at dawn. The kid's mom was leaning on her second-floor balcony one day when the rotten railing underneath fresh paint just snapped and she barrel-rolled out into space, hitting the ground and sustaining a compound fracture to her arm. No more walks for Shadow.

Nobody ever, EVER cleaned up after Shadow. The whole back yard was just dead branches and dog turds in various states of decomposition. We did the math one time, crunched the numbers and worked out that one dog times 30 square feet time three turds a day for 3 years -- it meant that the yard was more turds than dirt. A thick layer of turd dust was covering everything at the ground level in our backyard. The dust would rehydrate when it rained, releasing an unbearable stale stench.

People that walked their dogs in front of the building never cleaned up after their dogs either. The whole grassy strip between curb and sidewalk was an absolute slippery minefield. I almost got into a fistfight one day for shouting at a man that if he didn't pick up his dog's shit, I was gonna jam it back in there.

One night I snapped. I had been stepping over one pile of shit, and in doing so, stepped into an entirely different pile of shit. My roommate and I took to the street, circling every turd we saw with bright orange spray paint, the kind they use to mark sewer lines. It was a public service, and for a while it worked. You could step right over the slimy little land mines, and other people were hesitant to let their dogs stop for too long.

These guys have elevated that sense of furious fecal art-making into a whole new realm. When I saw this gallery today, I laughed so hard I started crying. See if you don't agree with me ... and if you've got a dog, see that you've got a plastic bag handy, too.

3 Comments:

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous abby said...

from dog shit to your grandfather, I adore your insight. laughing out loud and tears welling up in the span of 8 minutes. at work. thanks.

 
At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dear Mr. B___:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the elements of the offenses you have been charged with, the penalty for those offenses, your right to trial, the government's proof against you, and the government's plea offer.

On March 9, 2006, you were arraigned in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on two counts of simple of assault against W______ S_______ in violation of 22 DC Code Section 404. These offenses are alleged to have occurred on March 7 and March 8, 2006.

If your case goes to trial, the government's evidence will be that on March 8, 2006, police officers received a call for service at the 1500 block of P Street, NW in regard to a simple assault that had just occurred. When officers responded to that location, they were met by the complainant who was standing next to you. The complainant began yelling, "This is the guy, this is the guy!" as he pointed directly at you. The complainant continued to state, "This is the guy that punched me yesterday and stuck shit in my face and ear today." The complainant advised the police officer that on March 7, 2006, he was walking his dog eastbound in the 1500 block of P Street NW when his dog stopped to go to the bathroom. The complainant stated that his dog did not go to the bathroom, and he and his dog walked westbound in the 1500 block of P Street, NW. As he and his dog reached the halfway point in the 1500 block of P Street NW, you were riding your bicycle and approached him from behind. You then punched him in the shoulder blade. The complainant used his cellphone to call 911 and you attempted to take the phone out of his hand with negative results. You then fled westbound on the 1500 block of P Street NW. Police arrived and took a police report in reference to this incident. Then, on March 8, 2006, the complainant stated that he was again walking his dog eastbound in the 1500 block of P Street NW when he was approached by you on your bicycle. The complainant stated that you stopped and picked up a pile of dog feces that was on the grass and stated, "Is this yours?" You then smooshed the dog feces into his right ear and the right side of his face. The police officers observed a soft substance, consistent with the look of dog feces, on the right side of the complainant's ear and face. You advised a police officer that you did have a confrontation with the complainant on March 8, 2006 and did pick up the dog feces and state, "Is this yours" You did not state what you did with the dog feces after that. You were then placed under arrest for simple assault.

The government has made the following plea offer to you. If you plead guilty to one offense of simple assault, the government will dismiss the second offense of simple assault, the government will waive stepback, waive enhancement papers, and reserve allocution and will ask for a sentence of 180 days in jail, execution of all but 45 days suspended. Waive stepback means that the government will give up its right to speak as to whether you should be incarcerated pending sentencing. Sentencing will most likely be postponed to give the government an opportunity to obtain a victim impact statement from the complainant. The complainant can either submit a written statement to the prosecutor or appear at your sentencing and give an oral impact statement. Waive enhancement papers means that the government will not serve papers on you that can increase the maximum penalty if you have previously been convicted of an assault charge. This does not apply to your case because you do not have a previous conviction for simple assault. Allocute means to speak to the Court at the time of your sentencing. Regardless of what the government's position is regarding you being incarcerated pending sentencing, the judge has the final say on this matter. The judge is not a party to this agreement between you and the prosecutor. Regardless of what you, I, and the prosecutor say at the time of sentencing, it is still the judge's decision as to what your sentence will be. No one can make any promises to you as to what sentence the judge will impose if you plead guilty. The fact that you have no prior criminal record definitely operates in favor of a period of probation. As discussed, you could write a letter of apology to the complainant and bring it with you to the next court hearing, and you could obtain counseling from your pastor prior to the next court hearing.

If you decide to plead guilty, you will be giving up your right to trial and the right to appeal your case. An appeal is a review by a higher court for mistakes made during your trial by either your lawyer or the judge. Only if a mistake is made during your trial that would have had an impact on the outcome of the trial will you be granted a new trial. If you plead guilty, the only thing you can appeal is an illegal sentence. An illegal sentence is one that exceeds the boundaries of the law. For example, sentencing you to 1 year in jail when the maximum penalty is 180 days, is illegal and can be successfully challenged.

The plea offer will only remain open until the status date of March 29, 2006. If you decide to plead guilty after thatt date, you will have to plead guilty to both offenses of simple assault. If you set the case for trial and Mr. Selepack does not show up and there are no witnesses available to testify against you, the case will be dismissed. If you set the case for trial and Mr. S_______ does appear to testify against you, you can always plead guilty at that time. However, if you plead guilty on the trial date, you must plead guilty to both offenses and the government might ask for more than 45 days in jail. Again, the judge has the sole discretion to determine what your sentence will be.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial, court costs ranging from $50 to $250 will be imposed. You will be given a reasonable amount of time to pay court costs.

I will be on vacation from March 18-24, 2006, and contact you after that date to discuss your case.

Sincerely
(my court appointed attorney)"

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

What a pathetic scene in Richmond. And we wonder why there are some fucked up people out there. With beginnings like this, it won't be long until a few more are added to the adult population. We might actually have more luck reforming the dog pup-ulation.

 

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