"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Thursday, April 16, 2009

4/16: Memphis- Lawdogs

When we last saw our hero, he assumed he was riding toward Little Rock and pondering contact possibilities. In reality, he would awake in the hamlet of Searcy, AR, nowhere near Bill Clinton's old whorin... er... stomping grounds. Devin had decided to bypass it via my old friend from last summer in Asheboro, NC: US-64.

I scoped out the unfamiliar Walmart parking lot area, then Chris and I stopped into IHOP to feed ourselves and our cells. From there, it was a pleasant couple of hours riding thru back country Arkansas toward West Memphis, then across my Rubicon into "The East". I always get an odd feeling crossing the Mississippi, it's a much different world on the Memphis side, at least to me. I then repeatedly mocked Chris's goofy notion that we were now on the "east coast".

We needed veggie so, once thru the city, Devin chose an area to scavenge where Chris and I paired up for the now- familiar routine of chatting up eateries. We are quite good at this, as you can imagine, and after perhaps an hour, we hit the used- grease motherlode at The Cajun Catfish Company, a swanky seafood place.
The manager was all about bio- diesel and, more importantly, they had a FULL dumpster full of nearly pristine oil. In addition, there was ample space out back to park the bus and do our thing. The weather was perfect, sunny and in the mid 70's, and once we got going, the whole process was fun. The people we chatted with through the course of the day were all friendly, and some quite amusing. Particularly Bob at "Bob's Place". He reminded me of the owner of "The Country Bunker" in the Blues Brothers. Was that character's name Bob, too? "Well, I sure would appreciate it..."

We filled the tank and all the spare receptacles at the Cajun Catfish Company, and got back on I-40 in good spirits, happy to be in Tennessee, and making arrangements to meet up with Kim and her boyfriend when we got to Nashville to stop for the night. It was a great day... and then...

Flashing lights.

Leif had passed an unmarked cop parked in the median. We noticed them, and commented on the fact that they were gawking madly at the bus as it passed. The pullover was half- expected... what happened next was a disgusting display of misplaced power, paranoia, and pathetic futility... all under the guise of your "safety and security."

The reason given for the pullover was that they "couldn't read the dirty license plate", which is Piggie for "we think you look suspicious." If you're over the age of 15 and believe differently at this point in your life, please go away. Then keep going...

Chris has already provided a rundown of the details, so I'll try to conserve space, but it entailed having all of our IDs pulled, being interrogated (complete with poorly- veiled threats), then pulled off the bus to sit on the side of I-40. All with the machismo that even Pancho Villa would find better suited to a frat house.
I've discussed my disgust for these arbitrary, Gestapoesqe "I don't like your look" searches, and at length with Chris, Shalain, and Kim before. I see them as the primary, singular example of un- Americanism; abuses of authority. The one thing that anyone living in this country should be immune from, based on (what used to be) our ideals.

It occurred to me to ask, forcefully, WHY they were running my ID. What cause did they have to search me? My blood was boiling rapidly, but quickly realized that these weren't ordinary highway cops. These were drug- hunters looking for traffickers. To my amazement, and perhaps everlasting shame, I managed to keep my mouth shut. I answered their questions, and sat on the ground watching in quiet rage as Devin signed a search consent, they brought in the dog, then proceed to literally ransack the bus.
All for NO real reason.

Amerika, I love ya!

As bad as this was for the rest of us, what they did to Leif was unconscionable. He suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder so naturally stammers a bit, and gets visibly perturbed when he's nervous. These investigative "geniuses" thought they were REALLY onto something while all four loomed over him, in ATF/ tactical- ops looking outfits complete with sidearms on display, asking him why he was "so nervous." Mocking him. I still don't have the words to tell you how disgusted I was, and still am. I've never had a great admiration for cops, due to my own "adventures in justice", but this was something different; it had a sinister, authoritarian stench to it.

Of course they found nothing, much to their obvious chagrin. They seemed perplexed as Scooby Doo bounded off the bus to play with his handler next to the highway, while the rest of The Corp of Futility had finally had enough and told us we were "free to go". They were going out of their way to let all of us know that Snoopy had snooped out a baggie that had "once had held pot, he'll find anything!" Obviously Blondie's sniffing powers were something to behold. Yeah, that's amazing... except Wonderpup and his Band of Merry Fascists missed the jarful of weed, sitting in plain sight, next to the driver's seat. I had to laugh when a certain, distinct smell made it's way to the front as we approached Nashville.

So... consider all the shady ethical examples presented by Tennessee's Finest. THEN consider that they missed the very thing they were after? THAT'S the illusion of safety & $ecurity that erodes freedom and liberty. Maybe you Tea Party people should start there rather than with approved- party dialectics.

We all felt quite violated after this, and tried to console Leif who was feeling guilty and was obviously traumatized after the way they tried to humiliate him. I've grown quite fond of him. He's a gentle, good- hearted person who's just uncomfortable and nervous in his own skin at times. He most certainly did not deserve that.

The next few hours to Nashville were a bit edgy. I set up a place to meet Kim and Chad on the far NW side, keeping in mind that we ALL needed a drink or ten.. .