Archive for November 22nd, 2012

Flying On The Ground Is Wrong

Recently we learned that a Mesa, Arizona woman had determined that her husband’s failure to vote November 6 had ripped a hole in the fabric of space/time, thereby singularly enabling the black man to be re-elected president.

This required her to then run down him with the family SUV.

Now we discover that another Mesa woman has been directed to bounce her vehicle onto a runway at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, cruising along with a pacifier in her mouth, in search of a shoe.

[A]n airport operations worker was testing the gate when the small sedan crashed through. The worker promptly notified police and the control tower, which ordered a halt to air traffic operations.

As the car made it onto a runway, [the woman] lost control, then took off again.

A police probable-cause statement said she then hit a portable toilet and kept driving until an officer rammed her car and caused it to spin around and crash into a fence.

Police found [the woman] in the car with a pacifier in her mouth. All she told officers was that she wanted her flip-flop shoe.

Apparently this sort of thing is more or less routine: errant motorists commonly invade Phoenix runways with their vehicles.

In 2005, for instance, a man chased by police crashed through an airport gate and then serenely plowed through the pathways of many jets.
Two years before, joyriding teenagers veered wantonly all over the busy tarmac.
In both incidents, complete chaos ensued, with air traffic completely halted, all sky pilots in the vicinity completely paralyzed by Fear.

It is not right and proper, however, to solely slag Phoenix drivers and pilots for running unutterably wild upon the runways.
For up in Maine, where they like to think they are Sane, a truck last week went a-chooglin’ across a runway, causing a single-engine Cessna to smash into it, and then, in the course of things, crash, and burst into flames.
And the allegedly Sane officials of Maine have now announced that the truck behaved in a way Totally Normal.

Investigators say the driver of the pickup truck that collided with an airplane that crashed at Knox County Regional Airport last week followed proper safety procedures.

A preliminary report issued Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board says the driver, Stephen Turner, 62, of Camden, used a common radio frequency to announce his intention to cross the runway before the fatal crash late Friday afternoon.

When no one responded, Turner drove onto the runway. His pickup truck collided with a single-engine Cessna 172 that was taking off with two University of Maine students and one recent UMaine graduate on board.

According to the NTSB report, Turner used a taxiway to follow another airplane out to the edge of a runway.

Turner “held short” of the runway before announcing his intention to cross on the airport’s common traffic advisory radio frequency.

The airport, which has no tower or flight controllers, has a policy that says people in vehicles are supposed to communicate by radio with planes, and vice versa.

The report says Turner “heard no [radio] response nor saw anything on the runway, and he proceeded to cross runway 31.”

The report does not say whether [the pilot] acknowledged Turner’s radio message or whether he even heard it.

The report says Turner saw something “grayish in color”— it does not mention that he felt a collision—before continuing across the runway. At that point, Turner got out of his truck and saw an airplane attempting to climb.

Are you people flying out of Maine? Please don’t.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, an ur-human firearm-fondler out of Pinetop, a burg located about 150 miles from the Phoenix-runway pinball-machine, has declared that—just so everyone will know he has a burning cross tattooed on his forehead—from his arsenal of death, he shall sell no firearms, at this or any other time, to anyone who voted November 6 for the black man.

No big deal. Obama voters, generally, are evolved beyond the need for firearms.

Silly things. Old and in the way. Long over.

Like planes.


That Made It Right

(A slice and dice of several previous red Thanksgiving pieces, including those here and here.) 

One Thanksgiving I spent in jail. I was young, and therefore brash and rash, and so thought myself immortal, impervious. Didn’t think then, there in stir, about doing serious prison time, which is what I was facing. Just had to wait for the holiday weekend to pass, I figured, then the lawyer could tease the bail down to a Sane level. Which is what happened. The serious grinding over the prison time, that came later.

Thanksgiving was my third or fourth day in the place. I occupied alone a single-cell, which I belatedly learned was supposed to be a sort of punishment. I could smoke in there—can’t do that no more, in the jails in this state—and I could think and plan and wonder and reflect. There were tolerable volumes from the jail library with which I could pass the time. Nobody bothered me. I could talk to the folks—though yes I couldn’t see them—in the cells on either side of me. But I could choose not to, too.

This was 25 years or so ago, when they still fed you decently in the jails around here. And so on Thanksgiving they shoved through the bars a fair approximation of a traditional American Thanksgiving repast: turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, yams, etc. I ate all of it. Yams I hadn’t much eaten before, and I haven’t eaten them since. But I had already discovered, there a monkey confined to a cage, that I’d eat just about anything the keepers slid my way. You do tend to get hungry, in every way, when your life is caged.

After Thanksgiving dinner the screws punched a video into the TV/VCR combo that sat on a low metal table rolled about on casters in the hall outside the cells occupied by we “serious felons.” I absolutely could not believe it: the film was The Black Stallion, one of my favorite movies, a tone poem completely about freedom, but one that I figured these cynical magpies in the “serious felon” row would hoot down and away, dismissing it as a “children’s flick.” How wrong I was. They, as it developed, had been on this row much longer than I; they had seen this film several times before, and they valued it. They got it as only people who don’t have it could get it.

Because it was Thanksgiving, that night we got a double feature. The second film was a ninja thing. As soon as it was punched in, we heard a groan from the guy in the cell to the far right.

“What bullshit,” he groused in his gravelly voice. “This is the one with the guy who takes more bullets and lives than even the guy in Scarface. What bullshit.”

And it was true. The ninja hero at one point was riddled with what looked like 20 or 30 bullets, mostly to the head and chest . . . but still, he kept on coming. As this nonsense approached its zenith, the guy in the cell at the far right kept muttering variations on “bullshit” and “check out this shit” and “no way.”

My unseen jailbird companion to my left at one point whispered to me: “That dude at the end, the reason why he’s pissed at this stupid shit: he’s in here on murder. He knows what it takes to kill a person. And it ain’t much.”

Several years later I spent Thanksgiving at Denny’s. I didn’t have to be there; I could have been other places, with other people. But Denny’s is where that Thanksgiving I chose to be. Even at the time, I knew that my Thanksgiving in Denny’s was worse than the Thanksgiving I’d spent in jail. Because then, in jail, somebody else had locked me up. But in dining at Denny’s, I had entered a jail of my own making.

Usually, these days, I don’t associate Thanksgiving with jail. But in 2010 it came back at me. Because the day before Thanksgiving, there in 2010, a jury out of Texas decided that Tom DeLay, former majority leader of the United States House of Representatives, had committed enough crimes to stash him away in a cage for the rest of his life.


We’ve Always Drowned Your Voice With Our Shouting

A holiday treat. One of the finest films ever made. And with the Jim Sheridan/Terry George films In The Name Of The Father, Some Mother’s Son, and The Boxer, the complete filmic explication of the 20th Century version of “The Troubles.”

Gobblelypse Now

“The horror. The horror.”

—Colonel Kurtz

When I was four years old, and therefore far more in touch with what is really going on than I am now, I received a vision that potato chips had grown tired of being consumed in mass quantities, and were therefore plotting Rebellion.

I prepared an illustrated handbook documenting this revolt. I believe the creatures eventually sprouted hands, and employed such weapons as machine-guns and gas-powered balloons.

If memory serves, they ultimately prevailed over the United States Marine Corps—no great feat, anyone can do that, as succeeding decades have amply demonstrated—and retired in peace and serenity to some far island.

I should now note that, some decades on, I have recently received Word from a worker in a potato-chip factory who reports that the chips in his care are becoming unusually restive.

Writes he:

I’ve seen some weird-looking chips, and also “bad” chips, that I’ve tried to throw away, but who resist such efforts.

So: be prepared. If the things soon come boiling out of the bags, bristling with Bad Intentions, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Knowing that centuries of human abuse of the animal, mineral, and vegetable kingdoms will someday, and probably soon, result in even the potato chips taking up arms, I was not at all surprised to learn that, as the American humans enter onto Thanksgiving Day, turkeys in Brookline, Massachusetts have gone totally wild, besieging humans on the streets, in vehicles, even in their homes.

“They were attacking the vehicle,” Karen Halvorson said outside her home in the Aspinwall Hill neighborhood.

After getting in her truck, a neighbor came and ran the birds off but it didn’t stop there.

“Then, the turkeys came and started attacking my front door,” she said.

A second run-in came a few weeks ago as she walked nearby.

“I looked back and three of them charged me,” she explained.

She moved to the center of the street to avoid the animals, but it wasn’t enough.

“The turkey flew in my face and scratched my neck,” she said.

Halvorson’s husband has prepared many piles of stout sticks, scattered about the neighborhood, which can be used in combat against the rampaging hordes.

“At least we can throw a stick at them and run into the house,” said Halvorson.

The beasts do not respect even the children.

“Some people are going to work, and they’ve been chased by turkeys,” said Brookline Animal Control Officer Pierre Verrier.

He spends nearly every morning trying to keep the animals away from students at Brookline High School.

“Sometimes I even take a tennis racket to try and shoo them out,” he said.

Humans who attempt to photograph the wishbone terrorists can expect to be attacked maniacally.

Whatever you do, don’t feed them or try to take a picture.

“There was a gentleman who took a picture with a flash and they flew right into his face.”

The humans are now scheduling “meetings,” in which they hope to settle on solutions for grappling with the Menace.

A frustrated Karen Halvorson is now working with Brookline town leaders to organize a meeting about the problem. Neighbors need guidance and an opportunity to vent, she said.

“I can’t believe we’re living this way,” she said. Town Selectman Nancy Daly is helping coordinate the  gathering which she said will likely be held December 6. She wants anyone who has had a run-in with a turkey to attend and tell their story.

A similar meeting was held last week in Newton, where aggressive turkey reports are on the rise as well.

Too late. As anyone who has watched the Alfred Hitchcock documentary The Birds well knows, when once these fine feathered folks decide they’ve had enough: it’s over.

One of the dudes just defeated Captain Underpants. Just sayin’.

When I Worked

November 2012
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