Saturday, November 14, 2009

This is my lawn. You know what to do.

Is it a sure sign that I'm getting old when I blog more about crotchety-old-man topics than anything else? I need to get out more. Maybe I need to join a band (again) and, you know, leave the house, interact with adults. Stuff like that. Or I can put on my headphones and write more.
First off in Old Man JD's craw today: changes in the TSA's rules of security theater.

A few months back, a guy who works for the Campaign for Liberty (formerly the Ron Paul presidential campaign) was trying to get through airport security when he was stopped, sequestered, harassed, threatened and, eventually, let go. The reason? He was carrying a lot of cash (which just happened to be campaign contributions, but that was none of the TSA's business). This type of thing, I'm sure, happens a lot since 9/11--the TSA was made into a pseudo Federal police force with no oversight. The reason it made news this time was that:
  1. Being part of the Campaign for Liberty, this guy takes his constitutional rights seriously, and asserted them repeatedly, much to the TSA agents' confusion; and
  2. He turned on his iPhone audio recording app once he was taken aside, and posted the entire 30 minute ordeal on the internet. Priceless.
Anyway, the ACLU filed suit on his behalf, and the TSA admitted that they did not have the right to engage in search and seizure outside of their duties to keep dangerous materials off of planes. A small win for liberty, but these days you have to take what you can get.
The longer I live in Las Vegas, the more it seem like a big wasteland. I think I have a full article to write on that topic, but here is my Vegas Rant of the Day™:

I'm walking my dog, and notice that the street near my house--a typical Las Vegas road with 8 foot high block walls on either side--had a lot of new graffiti. Across the street was a man of about 50 going to town with a spray can, painting squiggles, squares, and random marks. It was white paint--same color as the graffiti, and definitely not the original color of the wall. I crossed the street to confront him.

I came up behind him and asked "What the fuck are you doing?" It's important to note here that I've spent my entire life being a socially awkward numb nut, and I see no signs of that trend abating. For some reason, he didn't take to that very kindly to my greeting. I can't imagine why.

In a thick accent that seemed to be Eastern European, he replied: "What the hell does it look like?" He puffed up, walked over, and looked, for a moment, like he wanted to square off with me. Not that I look intimidating, but he apparently decided that fisticuffs in the middle of the street with a 215 lb jackass and a 70 lb Malamute didn't sound productive, and he went back to work. "I'm covering up graffiti," he continued. "Are you trying to be a smartass?"

I took a step back to re-assess his work. It just looked like a bunch of squiggles. But, I decided, it was possible--probable even--that there was more graffiti underneath and that he was doing exactly what he said he was. It looked like shit, and was obviously intended to spite the taggers more than to mask the graffiti itself, but, I figured, at least he's trying (I've done the same on my street, but I, at least, tried to match the goddamn color of the painted surface). I bit my tongue as hard as I could and continued my walk. I even wrote his license number down, but decided later that reporting him to the graffiti hotline would be nothing more than Old Man JD being vindictive and petty, just because we had a misunderstanding.

I guess what I did there was I delineated graffiti-as-vandalism from graffiti-as-reclamation. And, apparently, I've decided that the latter is OK. I'm still not totally sure about all of that, but I guess that can be filed under "picking your battles".

In my mind, it all just adds to the large-scale ghetto vibe of Las Vegas. The kids tag the neighborhood, the "good guys" (there aren't quotation marks big enough to contain my sarcasm) almost come to blows over it, and I'm unsure if I'm part of the problem, the solution, or just standing around watching it all go to hell.

Like I said, I have a whole bag of rant about Las Vegas...more on that another day.


katey said...

I'm generally good at faking not being a socially awkward numbnut, and I would've done the same thing. Sadly I'm 5'2" and only have a little cat, so I probably would've gotten my ass kicked. But I'm pretty scrappy.

Right on though, seriously. Get the fuck off my lawn.

Jamie Eyberg said...

When I was renting a house in small town Iowa some kids decided, at midnight in December with air temp of 5 degrees, to park on my lawn. They were blasting their music and gunning the engines. I ran out there in nothing but sweatpants and beat on their windows and told them to get the fuck off my lawn. It was fun. I think they thought I was crazy.