Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mischievous Bullet

Warning: cussin' laden

I suppose I am one of those people who thinks the universe is opinionless about our lives. It's not for lack of exploration or lack of desire to have some kind of belief in god. I'm not looking to debate, or get converted, or convert. It's just what I've been able to discern from my time here, and that's all, and I mention it so you may better understand my heart as I offer my latest tale of woe from Trenton.

I don't mind randomness as a general rule. Sure, it can be a big scary world out there, but that's just not completely fair. We live on a lush, round planet, and it is not difficult to see the beauty in the chaos, if you want to see it.

And, I think, regardless of our motivation for finding and being and doing good, most people, in most communities do want to find meaning in the randomness. It's what we humans are designed to do. We may have no choice but to live in a random universe, but it is in our nature to defy that uncertainty, all the same. So most people try to make positive and meaningful lives, with the resources they're given.

But I have found myself in a place where making our lives count is plain difficult, where the negative aspects of randomness are celebrated. This became clear to me earlier in the week when we discovered a bullet hole in our garage door, which led to the discovery of a bullet lodged in the radiator of Glen's car.

Do I live in a city where a random fucking bullet does not matter?

I think I do. And, I'm probably wasting my time bitching about the random fucking bullet that hit our car and put a hole in our garage, since a different random fucking bullet that hit 7-year-old Tajahnique Lee in the face in 2006 (while riding her bike), and yet another random fucking bullet that killed 13-year-old Tamrah Leonard (at a block party), failed to sustain the proper indignation among the good people in Trenton to crush the mentality that breeds random fucking bullet shooting assholery.

You pro-gun people out there: please don't fret: I'm not making any kind of statement about the rights to your firearms. I'm just saying that average citizens who use them in cities a) don't have any common fucking sense, and b) are assholes. If you don't agree with me on this one, well, maybe you a) and b), too.

So. Back to my random fucking bullet. Upon its discovery, Glen, of course, called the police. Despite this abhorrent act, my neighborhood has seen so much improvement — albeit with a little up and down — over the years. Yet, in the last weeks, we have found ourselves at the relative center of some of the ward's hot spots. We know this because a not-so-random bullet took down (but did not kill) a local thug a block a way, and Glen was around to hear the activity. And, there have been other skirmishes, on the other side of Olden as well. When your garage and car have been shot in your usually random fucking bullet-free neighborhood, it may not be your first thought to remind the officers of the problems nearby, especially since, well, come on, they should already know.

The officers who responded to Glen's call did not, in fact, know of any recent problems in our neck of the East Ward, nor did they remember any reports of guns fired. Therefore, our random fucking bullet was relegated to mischief, but only if we wanted to file a report at the station.

The now-mischievous fucking bullet, of course, could have just as easily hit the house, a window, a child, MY child, a friend, a neighbor; it could have even easily hit an asshole down the street. But it hit our garage and our car. Everything about this bullet is appalling and unacceptable, and it changes everything.

Yes, yes, I hear you, all of you: I am not so egotistical or stupid to not see relocating the fuck out of Trenton is a viable option. We have lost much sleep over this mischievous fucking bullet, and it brings me no peace to say, "well, at least it's the first time in six years THIS has happened." It's a bullet, for crying out loud. I'm pissed at the assholes who put the bullet through the garage and into our car; I am pissed at (some of) our empty-headed, elected seatwarmers who do nothing to improve the city because they're too busy trying to impress their friends, and I'm pissed at their friends for being impressed with their mediocrity; I'm pissed at the cops who dismissed this particular bullet as unworthy of further investigation*; I am pissed that my friends and family will be all the more unlikely to visit; and I'm pissed that the yard I love so much is mere feet away from the bullet's trajectory.

I'm just so pissed about this – obviously. And, I really don't know what to do. You know, in a practical sense. Yes, again, I hear you: we could move. But do you really think that will happen tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Don't we all know people in super-appealing suburban neighborhoods who've been selling their homes for MONTHS, even YEARS? Okay. Let's move on.

Right now, all I feel I can do is bring attention to this, and to continue to bitch that random fucking bullets are not acceptable. And they're not mischievous. I want a new way of thinking for my neighbors who have grown so accustomed to poverty and violence that their priorities are stunted to the point that they have forgotten that we, as humans, are capable of so much more than simply getting and giving that stupid ghetto version of respect. I want them to remember our design, our strengths, and stop shooting at anything, even if no children are harmed in the process. I want them to have a glorious Personal Responsibility Epiphany, which motivates them to shun the deplorable conditions and people they once considered companions.

Next, I simply ask our elected officials to banish your dumb ideas, egos, and designer clothing and accessories in favor of more sensible attire that can sustain a bit of dirt. I am pleading with you to wash your brains and kick your own asses, in the appropriate amounts, depending on the amount of time you spent warming seats instead of rolling up your sleeves and getting busy. PLEASE get outside and and lead by example. I urge you to not only look outside this city, but also to the city's newcomers who have made homes here, for ideas of how things work on the outside. And things DO function outside the city. What's happening in Trenton, isn't. If you recoil at this simple request, please look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, "What have I done so far that has worked?" I invoke you to keep staring deep into your own eyes, and into your soul — I know it's still there — until the answer comes angrily from your own lips: "Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!" I call upon you to use this shocking revelation to motivate you to stop tolerating bullshit, turning a blind eye to self-serving favoritism, idiotic accusations of zoophilia, and appointing your friends to key and/or imaginary — yet well-paid — positions because, look the fuck around: your actions to date haven't stopped the lifeblood from hemorrhaging from this city's arteries. I want you to continue to look deep into your reflection, until you're whimpering, "no more." Then, get your ass outside and, I don't know, maybe weed an abandoned property, stand with other good people on the drug dealer's corner, scare off the state workers who come sniffing for drugs on payday, help a prostitute clean up her life, feed the hungry, play with some kids, sift the shit out of the litter boxes at the animal shelter, or do something for no other reason than to help. Yeah, I know it's not your job, but times are tough. Plenty of us are doing those things besides, and we're not on the city's payroll.

Perhaps I've lost my mind entirely, but wouldn't it be lovely if all of the Trenton-hating, white-flight pizza eating mofos just shut up for a minute about the city, because, come on: even with random/mischievous fucking bullets, it is not NEARLY as bad as they say. There are wonderful people here; I spent Thursday evening at Papa's with easily 30 such folks, many of whom I never met before. The problems in Trenton are everyone's problems, in the form of higher taxes, failing schools, creeping-into-the suburbs violence, and wasted lives. Writing off an entire city, or even a specific group of people, does nothing to make anything better. Instead of hating Trenton, and eating your suburban (and inferior) pizza, maybe you can help ease the burden in our heartbreaking animal shelter; you can help plant and maintain gardens around our meticulous and graceful architecture; you can ease the pain of the homeless and the hungry and the addicted. By doing so, you help to break that cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy of poverty and underachievement. On a fun note, you can come to our great ethnic restaurants, and our nifty bookstore and art galleries. Visit our museums, or watch show at the planetarium. You can try our bakeries and of course, our outstanding pizzerias, or take a tour and see that this place is not a write-off, and in fact, full of beauty and history. Or, you can sit on your asses and post nasty, racist, and poorly constructed comments on the Trentonian's website. If you do that, well, you suck.

We live in a random universe, and while many people and communities rail against the chaos in favor of order, we live in close proximity to far more people who exacerbate the randomness, and we are currently led by those seemingly inept at even holding a flashlight for us to pull ourselves onto solid earth. We see and experience so much frustration that whittles away at our quality of life; we have a different set of standards for the behavior that happens here. I hope that we cling to the good core within us, and stop using phrases like, "well, it's not bad, by Trenton standards." We need to look in that mirror too, and stop accepting depravity from our neighbors and halfassedness from the employees of the city. We need to sweep our porches and make it uncomfortable for knuckleheads to do their stupid, knuckleheady things. And we just have to stop tolerating random fucking bullets.


* The community affairs officer has since been made aware, and has acknowledged that maybe the random/mischievous fucking bullet was part of something bigger. That's where we stand now. Maybe someone would like to take a closer look at the entrance hole or the bullet, or SOMETHING, because maybe, somehow, it's tied to something else. Maybe? I would think in a normal place, there would be follow-up. Here, I'm not so sure. Someone, please prove me wrong.


Captain Har said...

Chrissy let me first say I am glad nobody was hurt. I, like you have had my house struck by a random bullet. I keep it in a cup in my dining room. One day last summer I noticed a piece of stucco was missing on my porch. I didn't think much of it at the time so I just mixed up a little cement patch and fixed the spot, a little dab of paint and I was done. About a day or two later I was cleaning my sidewalk when I spotted this copper object on the sidewalk. I picked it up and that is when it dawned on me that the stucco did not fall off but rather shot off. I contemplated what to do about it, should I call the police and I thought hell they can't Even track down shooters when bullets hit people what are they going to do about a bullet that chips off some stucco. I though about taking it to the East Ward CPAC meeting but decided to just keep it and go buy a lottery ticket instead.

I am glad Matt and you and your husband are OK, as much as you can be after something like this happening. Take care and stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Trenton refugee in South Dakota
wrote :

Guess that "shot detecting network of microphones" highly expensive
system that Douggie bought is working out real good for Trenton.

Seeing as how the MIB JBT TASING DOG-KILLERS never even showed up.

Could it be the thugs in training
in your alley had a negligent discharge of a NFA(suppressed)weapon
and thusly it wasn't detected by the elaborate microphone scheme?

The reason no cops knew of $hit in your neighborhood,is the human factor has been removed from policing.

The greasy,hinky,leech like members of the biggest gang in America only do what computer printouts tell them to do.They rely on a jacked off
computer system (bought by Douggie
for over million dollars called compstat) rushing from one EMERGENCY call to another all through their shifts.

911 state the nature of your emergency,...

Most of these big gang in blue droid/enforcers no longer have any retention of what they did 2 days ago much less 2 weeks.

Pumping roids and getting your arms and necks covered in tattoo's has a way of diminishing ones IQ.

Time for them to get out of the fancy SUV's and dodge hemi powered vehicles and take back the city on foot ROBOCOP STYLE.

DROWN COMPSTAT in a bathtub!

Until then you may as well nuke Trenton from orbit (only way to be sure).

Mister Fucking Clean said...

This post was fucking awesome. Before I left fucking Trenton, my biggest headaches were fucking drug dealing in front of my fucking house, and fucking assholes with their fucking car alarms. I think I was getting all fucking worked up over fucking nothing. Thanks for the fucking perspective.

Mister Clean, Recovering Trentonian

Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear this, how upsetting. Glad to hear that no one was hurt, of course. After this incident, no one would blame you for renting your house to Section 8 tenants and relocating to safer lands! Hope you can hang in there, though, and stay safe!

Anonymous said...

Unfucking-believable!!!!! We are on Quinton and have 2 1 year olds. This steams me to no end and what steams me even more is the fact that NO ONE is doing anything about it. We keep getting "Well....." from our elected morons, the cops don't even come to the association meetings any more (apparently they find it taxing to donate some time to the city they work for because they live elsewhere!) and Mack is too busy being an under-educated asshole to even worry about it! God how I wish I could just write my house off and get the hell out!

Anonymous said...

Trenton refugee in South Dakota
wrote :
bullet was part of something bigger. Maybe someone would like to take a closer look at the entrance hole or the bullet, Maybe? I would think in a normal place, there would be follow-up.

Closer look?Don't hold your breath.

I got hit by a stolen car with a snapped tie rod in '90.

Trenton's finest wouldn't even
dust the car for prints which were obviously present(driving a car with one wheel turned 45 degrees off it's axis and constantly skidding requires both hands and a lot of tugging on the steering wheel leaving plenty of prints).

Made me go thru a mug book I found the perpetrator/criminal and identified him as the driver.

Didn't hear $hit after.

I tackled the bum as he made his escape all the way from
Trenton Brake to Phillips Ave
5 times fighting off 20 "inner city
ambassadors" who were aiding him in his escape the whole while.

Leave while you still can!

And Eff the %ouches on Trenton speaks for not sending me a login.

You cops are so wonderful!
Bad things to good people
linking to this article?

Go do some more unlawful felony
stops (guns drawn)on the few white people left in Trenton.

Russ Derricott smokes boat and gets
illegal pu$$y off Walnut and Chambers!

Reversing the charges!
How do you like a gun in your face
Never forget a face!

Captain Har said...

I am really pissed, at 11PM on Nov 30 6 to 10 gunshots rang out in my neighborhood on Cleveland Ave. It looks like an auto had it's rear window shot out, and I could not determine what else was hit. It drew a large police response, but nothing about it in the news. I know the house in question have people hanging on the parch all day long so I am going to assume it is gang drug related.

Trentoncop said...

Please don't blame the street cops about the labeling of the crime. This information is forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), they make the call. Apparently like on Cleveland Avenue, since "no one" got shot at, only a becomes Criminal Mischief. I have been scratching my head at that one all week. Apparently the car, not another human being, was the intended

Captain Har said...

Hey Trenton Cop, I live around the corner from Cleveland Ave. and I heard the shots, and they came from multiple firearms. I actually hit the floor because they sounded like they were in front of my house. We as tax paying citizens deserve better then this. I know the police try and do their jobs and some times the court system does not serve justice but this is America not some third world Banana Republic. If the Mayor can't handle it maybe it is time to bring in the State Police or the National Guard.

Chrissy Ott said...

Hi TrentonCop, I just want to make it clear that most of my dealings with the police — street guys and detectives — have been great. And, I don't blame the police for the terminology of this particular act, as grossly inadequate as it is. I'm just disappointed that the guys who showed up when Glen called didn't take a report, and told us if we wanted to make one, we'd have to go to HQ. They also told us there had been no reports of nearby shots fired any time recently, despite the fact that Glen watched some of the Hector Serrano shooting unfold, a block from our house a few weeks prior, AND the newspapers carried stories about the shooting on Garfield Ave, not far from here. For the record, our garage was vandalized a few years back, and we called the police then, too: those officers filed a report.

Also Captain Har lives close to me. The fact that he's had a recent shooting outside his house, too, is a pretty big indicator that maybe something bigger is happening over here. Maybe the police department is keeping it quiet since it's part of a bigger investigation, but I don't know...I get the distinct sense that nobody gives a shit, and that just doesn't sit right with me.

Sorry to ramble on, but to be fair, Council President and South Ward rep, George Muschal called me last week, and he (a former police officer) was indignant about how this incident was handled. He made a few phone calls, and within a short period of time, we had a detective respond, as well as a forensics unit. The projectile was recovered and was sent back to the lab for analysis. On one hand, it bugs me that unless you know how to reach people in power and make connections, there's a good chance stuff like this falls away; on the other, I hope this helps the police solve some crimes around here.

West Village Bill said...

Holy shit, Chrissy. That's the extent of my intelligent commentary on the fact that your garage door was penetrated by a bullet that lodged in Glen's car. If I believed in a God, I'd pray for your safety. Instead, I'll just cross my fingers and send good thoughts your way.

Anonymous said...

I like it when you cuss. Would've been a hoot 28yrs ago.

(you don't have to post this. i just think your writing is fucking brilliant)