Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A challenge to the powers-that-be
(from me and my new dog)


I personally have not been calling the police every time someone flies by my house on an off-road vehicle — usually through the stop sign — though I know people who are calling, every time. And, for whatever reason, they're getting lip from dispatch, and I don't understand why. Aren't we on the same side, the good citizens and the police department? I know the police department is currently in a state of change (oh, we hope for the better, very soon!), and I know, too, there are bigger problems than the local douchebaglia riding around, helmetless, on ATVs. However, nearly everyone I talk to around here — neighbors, activists, officers, elected officials — subscribes to the "broken windows" theory: we shouldn't let things go too far, or the problems will be more difficult to fix down the line.

So, why aren't the police responding to the calls coming from my neighborhood about illegal off-road vehicle use? If we turn our backs on this problem, it's just a matter of time before other types of criminal activity escalate, and, for instance, we have open-air drug dealing over here again. Or someone gets killed. I'm not exaggerating; both could easily happen.

I'm tired. I'm emotionally drained. And I'm pregnant. And many of my neighbors are knobs who let their dogs yap all the livelong day and night, probably while they're cruising East Trenton on their stupid dirtbikes. And I'm so damn sick of lowering my standards the second I set foot back into this city. Why on earth should any of us have to do that? I'm done sugar-coating the crap that goes on here, sanitizing it so that my loved ones don't worry about me. I'm done saying, "You know, this isn't a bad neighborhood by Trenton standards." What happens here — right outside my door — is wrong, and illegal, and is complete bullshit. It needs to stop. There are times I look around and hate just about everyone within my sight, but eventually, I cool off, and see that there are so many good people here, just living their lives, many of whom give a lot back to Trenton.

I am one of them.

I am not a drain on this city's resources. I am not an irritant to my neighbors. I want my concerns to be properly addressed. That's all.

Elected and appointed officials can look at this time, and see what's potentially in store for this city's future, and get the heck on board, or they can continue to sleep in the shit of this city. They can continue to marginalize the intelligent, caring, devoted people who are just hoping to see Trenton live up to its potential, but if they do so, (not to go all Bush on you) the knuckleheads will win. The elected and appointed officials are fostering an environment here that is not conducive to the American Dream, or even a developing nation's dream. Change can't come overnight, but there are so many little things that can be done right this second to start turning things around, and for the life of me, I have no freakin' idea why the powers-that-be are sitting on their damn hands, watching this shit happen during the day, and sleeping in it at night.

I have family members and friends with ATVs, and I suppose I could borrow one and ride around my neighborhood. Maybe if the local boyz saw my lame ass practicing my wheelies in French Alley, just like they do, maybe it would be less cool to them.

Truth is, ATVs and dirtbikes don't do squat for me. I hate the stink of fuel in my hair and on my clothing. And I doubt I'd be able to ride with the same impunity, even if I were more of a risk-taker. A woman, Leatha Barr, was killed six years ago — almost to the day — on East State Street; struck by a kid, Recardo McKoy, riding illegally on an ATV, and the trial, which is going on now, has received a good deal of press. There's some disagreement about how and why the kid struck Leatha, but the bottom line is, the kid should not have been allowed to ride the ATV on the city streets; he probably did so because we live in a city that CONTINUES to turn its back on this problem.

I know I live in a city; there's a bit of extra noise here. I knew that, and accepted it, when I signed the papers. But what happens here doesn't happen anywhere else, really. And for crying out loud, it's hot, so we have the windows open, and I'm 30 weeks pregnant, and I have enough trouble falling asleep each night even without the noise of the dirtbikes (and loud music, and neglected dogs, and the screaming, deranged idiot who lives behind us), thank you very much. So, maybe I'm asking for a special favor, with regard to my condition, even though it pains me to do so, since no one should have his/her requests ignored (dammit): but for the love of God, can we please get some order and peace around here? Can you people with the power to bring about peace and order just do me just this one solid? Please? I've had enough upheaval for a good long time, and I have somehow managed to hold it together really damn well; I have not caved in to pregnancy hormones, but right now, it sounds really awesome to just lose my mind in a hormone-induced fog. I know there have been instances where wonderful protective/aggressive/nurturing maternal hormones can be used as a credible defense in the court of law. But I'd rather you just do your job and send over an officer when someone calls about a problem in my neighborhood. It's so much easier.

But who knows, right? Easier is not always better, anyway. Regardless of your (or my) opinion on Bernhard Goetz, his vigilanteism is often cited as the catalyst for a decrease in crime in New York City. I really don't think it's my calling to be the insane pregnant vigilante here in Trenton, but who knows, maybe the hormones will push me in that direction? Imagine the press. Imagine the books that will be written. Oh, and my legacy will be rockin' (unlike many a current politician in our fair city). Only thing, I don't have a gun; though I do have a hose with a good jet attachment. And I have a new dog, Steve, though he is not so much ferocious as much as he is, hmmm, unsavory, since he often has a nugget of poo affixed to his butt fur (damn these little dogs who need grooming!), and has a little bit of a yucky eye infection, and at least right now, he has no shame in humping anything and everything his itty, bitty legs can mount. He's my secret weapon, and all y'all thugs better watch out: me and Steve might be coming for you (and I don't think you can handle this hurricane). And all y'all dawgs in power who aren't doing anything to help improve the quality of life here in Da Hood, do you really want to be outdone by a pregnant chick with a 7 pound goopy, poopy-covered humpy dog?


Miss Karen said...

1. You are the master (mistress) of the animal close-up.
2. The groomer who used to be on Olden and is now on 5th St in Ewing (Pampered Pets) is very good. I know all about the butt poop. It is beyond disturbing.
3. I will totally and completely back you up, help you get the best defense attorney money can buy, start a letter-writing campaign, etc., if you give in to your hormones and just start soaking the asshats with your garden hose.

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

they're getting lip from dispatch
"Lip" is ok, I guess. But when they cross the line from "lip" to "guff," that's when I have a problem.

I've called the po-po maybe three times in my current stint as a Trentonian, and each time, the creature on the other end of the line was a... uh, it rhymes with the last name of the guy who created "Candid Camera."

Anyway, I've noticed a streak of intolerance in some recent posts in the Trenton Blogosphere. What's wrong with you people?!?

If you can't appreciate the poetic beauty that is a 35-year old man in a throwback baseball jersey and matching oversized cap, tearing down your street on a dirt bike, there is definitely something wrong with you.

Maybe you should live in Hunterdon County with the "Mayor."

Nicholas Stewart said...

Regarding your point about someone potentially dying and referencing the riders' refusal to wear helmets:
Someone has been killed and it wasn't the rider (even though the rider wasn't wearing a helmet at the time - instead the rider was wearing a scarf to conceal his face).

Sadly, the killing took place during a city bicycle race. So, a life was lost and the perception of Trenton continues to be negative. Whether you are strolling down a neighborhood densely populated with gangsters and hustlers or simply attending a city event designed to showcase Trenton and encourage people to spend time here [during the day and with police present and highly visible], you simply can't predict what will go wrong.

The killer's defense was that it was an accident. Considering the fact that he was consealing his face, that causes me to believe that the person was fully aware of the fact he should not be riding the ATV on a city street and into a section of city street blocked for an event. But, that's just me trying to be sensible.

By the way, the bicycle race no longer exists. Another venue gone.