Today We Begin a Journey on Flickr.
Last July 14th my daughter and I decided to see how many of Chicago’s finest used bookstores we could hit in a day.
To ‘weird it up’ just a little bit I decided to go barefoot and see how many of the stores would kick me out.
None of them did.
Always one with an appetite for adventure I found a rare two volume set of the complete expedition journals of Lewis and Clark.
They were quite expensive but I could not resist and perhaps it was my being barefoot while I negotiated the price with the proprietor that led us to come to terms favorable to moi and led to me becoming the owner of these amazing volumes.
I knew that because the books were special that I had to come up with some rather unique way of reading them.
I couldn’t just read them like any other book.
I felt like I had to read them in a way that ‘put me there’ so to speak.
After long and thoughtful consideration and an iron willed discipline to resist cracking them open I came up with a plan.
I noticed that the journey of discovery that Lewis and Clark would undergo started on May 14th 1804.
It came to me right then and there.
I would wait until May 14th 2013 to begin reading The Journals of The Expedition of Lewis and Clark.
Exactly two hundred and nine years later to the day.
And I would read the journals as they were written.
One entry each day… that day’s entry… on that day.
I would be able, I supposed, to ponder the journey and the significance of the words journaled in a deeper and more meaningful way.
I would be a member of that expedition over the more than two years that they took to travel more than eight thousand miles.
Today my friends marks the first day of that adventure.
The first entry was rather short…
‘Monday May 14th 1804
All the preparations being completed, we left our encampment. This spot is at the mouth of the Wood River, a small stream which empties itself into the Mississippi, opposite to the entrance of the Missouri. It is situated in latitude 38’55’19” 6/10 north and longitude from Greenwich 89’57’45”. On both sides of the Mississippi the land for two or three miles is rich and level, but gradually swells into a high pleasant country, with less timber on the western than on the eastern side, but all susceptible of cultivation. The point which separates the two rivers on the north, extends for fifteen or twenty miles, the greater part of which is an open level plain, in which the people of the neighborhood cultivate what little grain they raise. Not being able to set sail before four o’clock P.M., we did not make more than four miles, and encamped on the first island opposite a small creek called Cold Water.’
I’ve waited since July 14th 2012 to read this entry.
Ten months to the day.
And here on the day that the expedition set off I’m led to wonder just what Lewis and Clark were thinking starting such an epic journey at 4 P.M.?
I mean… what… a couple of hours of drifting in the current and you gotta find an island and set up camp for the night.
I dunno dudes… I may have just waited until May 15th to shove off.
But that’s just me.
And I wasn’t there.
But in a way I guess I’m going to be.
Discussing this with my oldest daughter in the car this afternoon we both thought it would be interesting to keep a journal of our own as we participated on the journey ahead.
A new project was born.
This is my first entry in the ‘Journal of Viewminder: Expedition Member on the Lewis and Clark Expedition’…
Man… it rained like crazy all day. Almost all day actually. Everything was soaked and Lewis and Clark kept discussing whether or not we should actually leave today.
By four in the afternoon me and most of the crew were all ready to just call it a day and leave the next morning… but nooooo… Lewis was all like ‘I said we were gonna be leaving today and we’re leaving today.
Which was really dumb because we got like all of four miles until we had to stop for the night and set up camp on some swampy mosquito infested island in the middle of the river.
I figured maybe I could sneak back and spend the evening in the bars at St. Louis and somehow maybe walk back by the morning… if I got lucky I might be sleeping in a more comfortable bed if you know what I mean.
‘Cept Lewis had us camp on an island and I didn’t feel like swimmin’ across that river.
We didn’t see anything cool anyways and I think it was a stupid idea to leave today.
I can’t wait to see some Indians.’
I had to figure out why they left so late so I started to look into it.
It was raining that day and maybe that had something to do with it.
Starting off on such an adventure at four in the afternoon though…
there’s gotta be a story behind that.
My daughter suggested we post our journal on Tumblr and maybe she’s on to something.
I’m really looking forward to this whole adventure unfolding and I think it’ll be a lot of fun for all of us.
Looking out the window I thought to myself ‘this was how it was on the day that they left and I’m going along with them.’
How cool is that?
I’ve waited a long time for this day…
to open Volume One right where the epic roadtrip without roads began and here I am.
I’m going on an adventure.
If my daughter gets the Tumblr site going tonight…
maybe we’ll take you with us.
Rotten Finco Drops the Bomb on Flickr.
Rotten Finco and the Convicts tore it up at the Live Wire Lounge on Friday night.
That night tore me up a little too.
You know those nights where you’re still out when the sun comes up?
That shit’ll whack me for a week.
I hope you had a wicked weekend and you letcher freak outta the box good.
It was nice out.
I can feel the good times to come.
Summer’s gonna be good to us.
Friday-Love Chitown Style on Flickr.
Good gahd it’s finally Friday!
Are you feelin’ the Friday-Love?
What a freakin’ week.
I’m telling you.
Life is some crazy shit.
I can’t wait to let my freak outta the box this weekend.
Un Tipo Muy Gracioso on Flickr.
At first he didn’t want his picture taken.
Then he didn’t want the poppin’ to stop.
The guy was funny as hell and he was on fire!
He just couldn’t seem to keep his cigarette lit.
He reminds me of a character from my favorite book… Ernest Hemmingway’s ‘The Old Man and The Sea.’
Chicago’s Tommy6unz popped me while I was taking this picture.
His photo is in the comments.
Faces on the street
35mm 1.8 contrast and expo messed with
Geronimo on Flickr.
I met Geronimo when I was walking down the street one night.
I shot him close up and he really dug the pictures.
We talked for a little while and he insisted on me taking a few more shots.
It was a cool moment that we shared.
Two very different people on the street.
I dig these encounters.
I enjoyed meeting you Geronimo.
Chris Bernhardt ~ BMR4 on Flickr.
I got a chance to check out BMR4 and shoot Chris Bernhardt up close at Andy’s Jazz Club in Chicago on Saturday night.
They sounded pretty sweet and Chris was makin’ that acoustic bass sing up there.
I don’t know what it is about the LED lights that they use at Andy’s but they always do the strangest things to my shots.
I could never use flash but man those lights are a challenge!
I’ve been beaten by those lights half a dozen times.
Thanks for the great show Chris!
I hope all of you had a fantastic weekend gettin’ your freak on in Springtime Chitown!
You can check out BMR4 HERE and if you ever get a chance you should check these guys out live!
Strange Bedfellows on Flickr.
The events that night in the parking lot changed me forever.
I used to look at things as so much more ‘black and white.’
‘The police were good’ I thought.
And ‘our government existed to serve and protect the people.’
There was a certain bliss in living with that ignorance.
One night shattered that and life itself would never be so simple again.
I knew that anyone could go bad.
I’d seen that before.
But the systematic coverup I was witness to…
that whacked my reality big time.
Since then I’ve made quite a few friends who happen to be cops.
I’d say that in my experience about half of them are an honor to the badge.
The other half…
you’d be shocked that they’re nothing but another street gang bunch of thugs…
only they hide behind those badges and blue uniforms.
And they’re authorized by the state to carry guns and use deadly force.
I don’t think anything’s ever offended me so much as seeing that bullshit up close.
It was like some fog was lifted and I saw what went on ‘behind the curtain.’
That shit really shook me up.
I’m talking about people who’ve not only got no problem murdering someone…
but they’ve got the understanding and the means to get away with it.
There’s more than a few people in prison who’ve been sent there wrongly convicted of crimes these guys have done.
They know how to pull it off.
The only thing that they really fear are the half of the cops who wouldn’t tolerate that stuff.
The problem is that in some departments the ratio’s pretty skewed.
The whole place is filled with bad apples.
The stories I started to hear were unbelievable.
Lying on police reports.
Giving false testimony.
And of course…
firebombing the garbage dumpster in front of my office.
I saw that one with my own eyes.
Or that phone call I got about the Police Commisioner’s federal conviction for selling a couple of kilos of the white stuff.
The same guy that owned the bar that installed the illegal poker machines.
The ones that were all gone when the county went to raid his place because Iron Fist supposedly got tipped off and told him he’d better get rid of those things fast.
And I heard Iron Fist was pissed.
Not because his Police Commissioner had an illegal gambling operation going on in his town…
but because he’d kept it a secret from him.
Iron Fist kept secrets.
You didn’t keep secrets from him.
There’s some dark shadows on the other side of that ‘thin blue line’ and I’m telling you that I hope you never see them.
They get away with way too much.
They get away with murder.
The corruption is so endemic to the system that I have no faith at all that it can ever be eliminated.
There’s a secret code.
If you’ve ever gotten a ticket and the cop thought you were an asshole all he had to do was to make sure that when he stapled your drivers lisense to the paperwork was that he put the staple through your picture.
The next cop that pulled you over knew right away that some other cop had a problem with you.
Because you had staple holes there on your license.
On your face.
That’s the kind of shit that they do.
That’s the ‘code.’
One thing that they do better than anything though is to stick together.
‘Professional courtesy’ they call it.
In Chicago givin’ another cop a ticket for DUI is an instant career dead end.
The older cops with more experience know how it works.
The young guys get sucked into it in order to prove themselves.
And to survive.
You gotta tow the line if you want backup to help you out in a timely manner when you call for it.
It’s almost a rite of passage.
You don’t pass the test…
you’re gonna get your ass kicked on the streets or worse…
and no one’s gonna drive really fast to help you out.
You’ll be on your own.
Over the years the cops have developed an ‘us or them’ mentality.
They become jaded about the way it all works…
they socialize amongst themselves and the women who they call ‘holster sniffers.’
They start to hate the legal system…
the judges and the prosecutors…
and then all of the sudden they’re one of the ‘bad apples.’
You hear about them every once in a while…
either they’re busted by the feds or they’re turned on by the guys around them because they pissed someone off.
You got no idea how bad it is really.
Not until you start hearin’ what’s going on ‘off the record.’
You’ll never sleep as well as you did before you heard the stories.
What makes it all worse is when corrupt politicians start to use the police as a ‘personal army.’
That only makes everything dirtier.
The cops know that they’re gonna get away with so much more when the guys above them are corrupt too.
That’s the way it went in Deadwood.
Iron Fist used the police like they were his own little militia.
If he had a problem with you then you had yourself a problem with the cops.
And keepin’ Iron Fist happy took precedence over ‘law and order’ any day of the week in Deadwood.
You got old Iron Fist pissed off at you that’d be a real quick end to your career in ‘law enforcement.’
While Iron Fist ran the place the town was known as a really desirable place to live.
You didn’t put a ‘for sale’ sign in front of your house if you wanted to sell it when he was in charge.
The old man would never tolerate that.
He had a list of people who wanted to live there and him and his cronies would figure out who they were gonna let buy your house.
They didn’t want any ‘undesirables’ moving in.
And by ‘undesirables’ I mean black people.
Iron Fist thought that ‘for sale’ signs on people’s homes made him look bad.
Dude should have been a cult leader the way he operated.
If you went around ‘the system’…
and some people did because they felt that Iron Fist’s little policy was cutting their profits on the sale of their homes…
Iron Fist would send the cops out late at night and snatch that ‘for sale’ sign right out of your front yard.
The guys I talked to said ‘Secret Squirrel’ was always up for the job.
He was the guy that drove around with the trunk full of machine guns.
The Village was sued in federal court for the practice by real estate agents and the Village lost on First Ammendment grounds…
but they still kept doing it.
Iron Fist reduced the police to commonon thievery.
For a lot of them I think that was the line that they’d first crossed into the corruption that soiled the place.
Kind of like a little ‘initiation’ into the way things were done in Deadwood.
They wanted to make damn sure no ‘undesirables’ were ever hired on to the police department too.
They asked applicants to provide a picture of themselves with their applications.
You better not have a dark complection if you wanted to get a job there.
The thing that really made everything so corrupt was that the Chief would always end up with a big old bag of dirt on Iron Fist…
just as much as Iron Fist’d end up with a big old bag of dirt on the Chief.
The relationships never seemed to last too long because Iron Fist knew the game better than any of the clowns he’d make Chief.
He’d take ‘em down before they really became a threat.
When Skeevy left there to run another department it wasn’t too long before the feds were all over his ass.
It was Skeevy who’d installed the guy that’d become the next Chief…
The one I sent the ‘nutcracker’ letter to.
Where I told him ‘I was gonna squeeze his balls until they popped.’
The letter I had to read in front of the jury with all the good stuff blacked out.
Man I really thought I was gonna be charged with some serious felonies for that action.
Even my lawyer said he was worried about it.
‘You don’t go around writing that kind of stuff down’ he said ‘say whatever you want but you don’t write letters like that and send them to the Chief of Police signed with your name.’
Fortunately the statute of limitations has run out on that one and I ain’t got no problems that way.
I really tortured poor Chief Hotdog…
got inside his head and fucked with him big time.
The way I saw it he deserved it.
I mean… he was the boss… and he coudda done something to make things right for me and my family.
He was given the chance to do the right thing.
They all were.
But when he came out lying to the media about what happened that night and defended the actions of his street thug cops I knew I was goin’ after his ass any way I could.
Right after the case against my wife was thrown out Chief Hotdog resigned.
Of course The Kid said it had nothin’ to do with the bungling of that case…
and insiders said it was because he didn’t do really well at fundraising for The Kid politically…
but I didn’t care.
He was just one more corrupt motherfucker that I had in my crosshairs that went down in flames.
Whatever it was it ended his career.
The department went without a Chief for a few months and everyone speculated on who was gonna be named Chief Hotdog’s successor.
I was shakin’ the place up with allegations about the use of the contaminated well but that was all kinda behind the scenes…
the media or the feds hadn’t picked up on it just yet.
When The Kid appointed the new Chief, me and The Mole both let out a collective gasp at the same time.
He appointed a woman who used to run the water department.
I couldn’t believe it.
It was such an obvious payoff and anyone in the know could see that right away.
It was blatant.
The Kid wasn’t just ‘ball-less’ he seemed to be brainless too.
That was the first time I knew I really had those assholes and I knew I had them good.
They knew the feds were comin’ sooner or later because I wasn’t letting up and appointing Stewbauer as the new Chief of Police was a sort of premptory strike.
They wanted to keep her quiet and they wanted to keep her loyal…
put her on the ‘short leash.’
I think she was scared shitless about what was comin’ down the line and thinkin’ about makin’ a deal herself with the federales.
The Kid appointing her as the new Chief was probably a confidence builder for the woman.
She was working part time as a detective for the department before she was appointed Chief and I’d heard she wasn’t a bad cop.
But she knew the truth about the use of the contaminated well and I knew that in appointing her that The Kid was hoping she’d never tell that truth to anyone.
Especially the feds.
I heard that her husband was a convicted drug dealer who was sitting in prison at the time she was appointed as the new Chief too.
She couldn’t have been a very good detective if she didn’t know that the old man was dealin’ drugs out of her house.
Or she was a very corrupt detective.
Take your pick.
She was working as the Chief of Police in Deadwood when she was indicted on something like twenty three felony counts by the US Attorney.
She had to surrender her gun and her firearm owners identification card to the feds right after that.
Deadwood gave her a paid ‘leave of absence’ so now she gets paid for doing nothing.
Except takin’ a fall for Iron Fist and his crew and keeping some serious secrets.
Of course they’re paying her legal bills too.
I can’t believe they get away with that shit but they do.
If I was a reporter I’d tear ‘em a new one over that story.
I guess that made her the second Chief of Police that I’d end up takin’ down in a row over this whole thing.
The Mole once pointed out that ‘fucking with you doesn’t seem to be a really good career move.’
We shared a good laugh over that one.
I was makin’ enemies there almost as fast as I’m known to make friends.
And I was using the enemies of my enemy pretty effectively too.
That’s why I’d reached out to Congressman Bobby Rush.
Krista’d made the introduction.
I’d read that when Rush was first elected to Congress that Iron Fist was pretty pissed off that now a black man would be representing Deadwood in Congress.
He was quoted in the newspapers saying that he wanted to secceed from the congressional district because ‘there was no way that that man could represent the white ethnics of Deadwood.’
That comment really pissed off Congressman Rush and I don’t think he ever forgot it.
Or forgave it.
I remember thinking ‘this guy will really be a help in nailing Iron Fist to the cross’ and I was right.
Congressman Rush and I are not the kind of guys who you’d ever accuse of seeing ‘eye to eye’ politically but we had a common enemy in Iron Fist and that’s all it takes in Illinois politics… or politics in general to gain a strong ally.
I remember the Congressman pulling me out of a big meeting saying that he wanted me to get in front of the cameras with him and talk to the press.
Right after he’d given the best political speech I’ve ever had the great pleasure to witness.
I’m telling you I swear he channeled the spirit of a baptist preacher from the deep south of the seventies on that one.
I think the Congressman wanted Iron Fist to see him with his arm around me there smiling.
Kinda like twisting the knife if you know what I mean.
I also remember the Fox News reporter with that tight sweater and the most amazing pair of tits I’d ever seen…
I thought it was pretty funny that I’m standing next to a Congressman with about a half a dozen tv cameras in my face blowin’ the lid on Iron Fist and his dirty and despicable deeds and I can’t take my eyes off of this woman’s rack.
I’m usually not like that…
but damn… the combination of that sweater and her upper body were a work of freakin’ art…
a thing of incredible beauty.
That moment was the closest I’d ever come to feeling a woman up on live tv.
I’m glad the Congressman did most of the talking.
When I watched myself on tv that night I looked like a really honest guy lookin’ right into the camera like that.
Only me and God knew where I was really looking though.
And I blame the whole thing on God anyway.
That was not the work of some plastic surgeon…
and if it was, then it was God that gave him that talent…
so I still blame God and I think he’d be honored that I do.
I felt like dirt for thinkin’ that way there though.
Iron Fist and his shenanigans killed people.
Innocent people that had no idea that they were drinking that cancer water.
There were so many people with cancer there at that meeting.
I shook their hands and I hugged them.
I looked into their eyes and I listened to their stories.
And it all got me even more pissed off at what those assholes did.
Yeah… there was a certain selfish satisfaction in the imminent crucifiction of the people who’d hurt my family…
but more and more I was beginning to find myself taking up the crusade to bring these guys to justice not just for what they’d done to me and my family…
but for what they’d done to the people that trusted them.
They had to pay for what they’d done and it seemed like I was the only one with the balls and the motivation and the understanding of the situation to keep driving them towards justice.
And now I had some powerful people on my side.
Rush had called Eric Holder, the US Attorney General from the meeting and told him what was going on.
Shit was getting stirred up alright.
I was excited.
I’d seen enough in that parking lot and in the days after to know that they were soul-less and corrupt and I wanted to show everyone that.
I wanted revenge ever since that night.
There was a battle going on inside of my soul by this time.
And I found myself slowly letting the whole concept of revenge go.
More than anything…
I really wanted justice.
And I wanted it for the frail thirty eight year old woman I’d just hugged who had cancer all over her body and was sick right there from all of the chemo…
I wanted justice for her.
They had no right to do that to another human being.
Iron Fist and his whole crew hadda go down for this.
From the series ‘There’s Something in the Water’ here on Flickr… www.flickr.com/photos/light_seeker/sets/72157627041317913…
Alone in the Middle on Flickr.
Your government’s let you down.
They were supposed to protect you from this kind of shit.
They were supposed to be there to make sure that the water that comes out of your faucet when you open it up was safe.
There’s supposed to be an absolute relationship of trust there.
At the very least they fell asleep on the job.
I have no evidence to indicate that the officials at the Illinois EPA were anything but incompetent.
Except that scary phone call with Saavu.
And the way they seemed to always try to minimize what the officials in Deadwood did.
No one’s accused them of taking bribes to look the other way.
No one’s said they benefitted in any way from letting the people in that town drink poison ‘slow death’ water for over twenty years.
They were supposed to be looking out for you and your families.
As taxpayers we paid them billions of dollars that year to do just that.
I know that they’ve obfuscated the truth… I know they’re a part of the coverup.
I knew that I couldn’t trust them to do the right thing.
What I saw when the dust had settled after the intial story’d broke was a bunch of lame ass paperpushers looking out for themselves… trying to save their jobs… covering their own asses.
They weren’t even pointing fingers… they were hiding their faces behind file folders and studies.
It was enough to make me sick.
It took me months to get them to do anything… and they only did that after we gave all the documents to an environmental reporter with one of the big newspapers and he had the balls to run with the story.
It was front page news.
A mayor who was once called ‘America’s Best Small Town Mayor’ was at the top of a racket that was intentionally using a well, known to be contaminated to provide drinking water for the citizens of the town he ran.
He’d been doing it for more than twenty years.
And he ran that town with an ‘iron fist.’
He’d said it himself.
It was a case of ‘absolute power.’
A case of ‘absolute corruption.’
‘I know every curb, every sidewalk, every stormwater drain. I know all the dikes’ he once boasted to a reporter… ‘I built most of them.’
Old ‘Iron Fist’ knew that the residents of that town were being slowly poisoned by the shitwater coming out of Municipal Well Number 1.
He just didn’t care.
He was the king and that water was good enough for the serfs to drink.
It was good to be ‘Iron Fist.’
He knew everything… and he didn’t believe those idiot scientists for a minute when they warned that really bad stuff could happen to people that drank that water.
Iron Fist knew better than all of them.
He always did.
He was always telling The Fall Guy to use more of it.
‘Open up that godamn well and keep it open.’
Iron Fist knew exactly what was going on.
It’s not the vinyl chloride that’s the real boogie-monster in the water.
That shit’s bad enough and it’ll do horrible things to you.
It’s an industrial solvent and it has no business in the human body.
That motherfucker deserves the death penalty if you ask me.
And the US Attorney doesn’t even idict him?
He indicts the poor suckers who cowered underneath King Iron Fist for all of those years doing exactly what Iron Fist told them to do… and he calls Iron Fist ‘Public Official A’ in the federal indictment itself.
Didn’t even have the balls to name him publicly… to shame him even?
They say Iron Fist’s not fit for trial… he’s too old… he’s got Parkinsons disease and ‘mild dementia’… he can’t even participate in his own defense.
Even though I heard he just got his drivers license renewed.
He’s gonna skate.
Enjoy his riches and retirement down in Boca Raton.
While someone’s watching their mother die of cancer a pool of her own vomit in Deadwood.
There’s not going to be justice here.
Your government doesn’t want that.
You know why?
Iron Fist’s got them by the balls as much as I had all those guys by the balls.
When the truth comes out… and I’ve already taken all of the steps to make sure that happens… you’re gonna be looking at incompetence and corruption the likes of which will sicken everyone who’s not already sick from drinking water from that contaminated well.
Iron Fist getting taken down would mean the government demonstrating all of the ways they failed us.
If I don’t blow into a breathalyzer when they haul my ass down to the police station I’m gonna get arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
The government has no qualms about presuming I’ve been drinking if I don’t blow into that tester… they’ll ‘presume’ me to be a danger to the public and they’ll charge me in a second… even if I don’t give them any evidence.
But Deadwood avoided testing their municipal water supply for all those years by lying to the Illinois EPA and the US EPA about where it came from.
And Deadwood has the nerve to send out press releases saying that there was never any evidence of dangerous contamination in the water!
Because they made sure there was no evidence!
They NEVER TESTED that shitwater for any of the contaminants likely to be in it.
You ain’t gonna find evidence of an invisible chemical you ain’t looking for… unless people start dying unexplainably.
And the government itself makes sure at every juncture to say that there’s no evidence that the water was dangerous.
These people are fucking clowns.
That well was just over eight hundred feet away from the Sanitary and Ship Canal.
Scientists say it’s one of the most polluted bodies of water in the world.
There are signs there that say ‘incidental contact with this water may be dangerous.’
The government mandated that they be posted!
Forget vinyl chloride and hexa haka whatever that they’re talking about in that well…
Those people were drinking water out of that canal for years.
Deadwood was bustin’ at the seams with dirty little secrets.
That’s just one dirty little secret even the fed seems to want covered up.
They can’t even dredge the canal because the sediment on the bottom is so toxic that they’d have to dump it in a toxic waste dump and that’d cost a flippin’ fortune.
Nobody talks about that.
But I know why the government is so stuck on saying things like ‘only’ twenty percent of the towns water came from the contaminated well… which is bullshit and Krista’s got the documents to prove it…
because geologists have created a map that shows what’s called the well’s ‘zone of influence.’
And on that map there are these circles that go around the well at various intervals… like elevation lines on a topographic map.
Each of those circles represents how far the water’d come from that got sucked into that well based on how many gallons were drawn from the well itself.
And if you go to the third circle… the circle that represents the ‘zone of influence’ for the well if it was providing thirty percent or more of the drinking water for the town… the Sanitary and Ship Canal goes right through it.
The people of that town were drinking untreated canal water from the most toxic body of water in the world for years.
And the state and federal government have no interest in that little factoid ever reaching the light of day.
Yeah… they’ll indict a couple of clerks who had absolutely nothing more to gain from using the contaminated well than keeping their jobs… they’ll make sure that they go to prison for ‘lying to the government’.
But the government itself is lying to you.
But it’s not a crime for the government to lie to you and me.
It’s only a crime if we lie to them.
Kind of a built in to the system ‘double standard.’
I don’t want to bore you to death with examples but this one’s so stupid I couldn’t believe it when I heard some doctors from the Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) say it.
I was at a meeting with Congressman Bobby Rush and he heard it too.
The CDC was ordered to study the cancer rates in the town.
Congressman Rush, a cancer survivor himself, wanted to see if the rates of cancer would be found to be elevated.
So the CDC was gonna get the statistics… and I pestered them on how they might do it.
I’d seen so much incompetence already that I presumed the worst from the beginning.
‘Easy’ the idiot from the CDC said ‘doctors report newly diagnosed cases of cancer to the health department.’
That sounded good but I bothered him more about the methods that they’d use.
‘The cases are reported by zip code’ he said.
‘Deadwood shares a zipcode with two other towns’ I replied.
Two other towns that don’t drink the water from the contaminated well.
The results would have been useless.
I could see that.
The CDC couldn’t.
I told ‘em that since the US Census was coming up maybe they could have the Census people… who’d be knocking on every door in the town of twelve thousand… ask a few more questions…
like ‘do you or anyone who’s ever lived here have cancer.’
They just gave me dumb looks.
No study would have been perfect… but at every turn the government seemed to obstruct the truth from being learned.
The truth is that the government agency that was supposed to protect us from this bullshit didn’t.
Where’s their trial?
Where’s their judgement?
I doubt anyone at the Illinois EPA even got a sternly worded letter in their personnel file.
They messed up.
They let us all down bigtime.
And the people are gonna pay for it.
The CDC study said that cancer rates in the town were ‘significantly elevated.’
But the government can’t attribute that to the poisoned well.
It’s freaking criminal incompetence.
Here’s a good one for you government officials.
I found in my research on the internet that fish enthusiasts in town were talking since the mid nineties about how they couldn’t keep tropical fish alive in their fish tanks in Deadwood.
Especially the fish in saltwater fish tanks.
Fishtanks filled with water from their faucets.
The fish hobbyists would test the water for nitrates and it was really high.
They couldn’t understand why.
Nitrates shouldn’t have been in that water at all.
They even published the nitrate levels on their forums.
You could see the numbers from fifteen years ago.
Unless you work for the government.
Then you couldn’t see the truth if you ran right into it.
They were using a lot more than twenty percent contaminated water in their deadly blend of toxic tapwater.
There’s a multitude of ways to figure it out.
But the government doesn’t want you to know just how much.
Because that would show us all how much they failed us.
They’ll just charge a couple of clerks with 23 felonies apiece and call it quits.
It looks like they did something that way.
You’ll never know the truth.
Not the whole truth.
In the first trial of this whole affair my attorney was getting frustrated with the amount of information I would give him.
I was overwhelming the poor guy with my facts.
‘It’s the truth… that’s reality’ I’d say.
Finally he layed it out to me… ‘look man… a trial has nothing to do with reality’ he said.
I thought that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard an attorney say.
Time and watching that trial would prove me wrong.
That dude was brilliant.
Everyday the light of the truth is getting dimmer.
And everyday Iron Fist is sittin’ down poolside in Boca Raton gettin’ away with murder.
We’re all suckers.
They say that we get the government that we deserve.
It’s always hard to imagine that the people of Deadwood deserved this.
From the series ‘There’s Something in the Water’ here on Flickr… www.flickr.com/photos/light_seeker/sets/72157627041317913…
The Sun Sets on The Truth on Flickr.
I don’t know if my wife deserved to be put into handcuffs and arrested there in that cold and dark parking lot that night.
I’ll leave that judgement to the people who know the truth.
Over time it would become obvious to me that the truth in many ways was hidden from me… obliterated by design or obscured by the events of chance…
Still, I did what any husband would do.
What any father would do.
I rushed to the scene to defend the woman that I married.
I raced there to protect my children.
I must’ve hit a hundred on the way… blowing through red lights and everything.
My brother’s words on the phone echoed in my head.
‘You better get up here fast’ he said ‘they’re arresting your wife and they’re taking your kid.’
He was breathless.
And he sounded really serious.
He never sounded that way.
The last thing he said before he hung up was ‘you’d better get up here right away man… they’re gonna take your kid away.’
The way that he emphasized the word ‘gonna’ made me floor the truck.
They were words that chilled me to the core.
I could hear yelling and screaming in the background when he went to hang up the phone.
I could hear crying.
I could hear them threatening to arrest my brother too.
It was pretty obvious that the scene was out of control and that tempers had already flared.
What was happening to my wife and children right now?
Why was it happening?
It sounded like chaos.
It sounded like the soundtrack to ‘Dante’s Inferno’ if ‘Dante’s Inferno’ had only had a soundtrack.
It was the sound of agony and anger all mixed together to create some squealing and blood curdling satanic sounding melody… it was the sound of pure evil being done.
It is an awful music that I would wish on the ears of no one.
Only minutes before I’d sat there in my office overcome with the warmest of feelings… wonderfully proud of my kids for what they’d done… completely content with where life had put me… overwhelmingly satisfied with my family being safe, warm and together…
Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted a truer picture of what’d just happened in my office.
A moment ago things were so perfect.
Everyone was warm… they were all safe… we were together…
Now it was beginning to feel pretty much like I’d teletransported smack dab into the middle of some third world country.
In an instant my family’s existence had gone from one straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting to something more like Pablo Picasso’s ‘Bombing of Guernica.’
I was shocked, I was absolutely stunned and mostly I was just confused.
My family had set out to do a good thing.
For Godsakes they were going on a little outing to donate money to charity!
In a little golden basket!
What the hell was going on?
What the fuck could have happened in the few minutes that went by since they left my office that my wife was now under arrest and the police had taken my daughter?
And what about my other daughters?
Where were they?
The phone rang again right after I’d hung it up.
It was my wife this time.
She was crying and she sounded pretty incoherent.
I could barely understand a word that she was saying.
She said she’d been arrested… that they took our kid away.
She said something about parking in the firelane.
‘Don’t say another word to the police’ I told her adamantly… ‘I’ll be right there baby… I’m on my way.’
I hurriedly parked my truck right in front of our station wagon which was parked right in front of the entrance to the Super Store.
Right under the sign that said ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed.’
My wife and my older daughters were nowhere to be seen.
My two year old daughter was sleeping soundly in the car seat right where I’d put her just a few minutes before.
There were two police cruisers and a jeep parked together some distance behind the station wagon with their mars lights on.
I knew that being cool, calm and collected was going to be the only way to approach the situation or I was gonna end up in handcuffs myself.
Suppressing the anger that was welling up inside of me was a survival necessity for the sake of my family.
Somebody had to have a ‘level head’ here.
My brain was racing in overdrive trying to piece together the puzzle and figure out what’d happened.
I needed to talk to someone who knew what the hell was going on.
I approached one of the police cars… there was a woman in a police uniform talking to another officer in the car.
I could see another officer standing in the parking lot talking on his cell phone.
When I got up to the car I asked who was in charge.
And I asked pretty nicely.
The guy in the car said he was.
And he didn’t say it nicely at all.
Just then I saw my wife in the back seat of the other police car.
She was bawling her brains out and you could tell that she was in handcuffs.
The pieces were all starting to come together now.
‘Listen’ I said… and I said it in a really ‘buddy to buddy’ kind of way… ‘that’s my wife you’ve got in the back of the cop car there and that”s my daughter sleeping in the station wagon.’
I’d figured it out.
When she went to take the kids to donate the money my youngest daughter had fallen asleep in her car seat.
So my wife parked the car a couple of car lengths away from where the bellringer was taking donations.
She left the two year old in the car while her and my older daughters went and dumped the change into the Salvation Army bellringer’s bucket and took a few pictures.
They could have been out of the car for just a couple of minutes and the doors were still locked.
The kid was still sleeping.
The officer inside of the cop car poked his bony finger into my solar plexus and he said to me ‘your wife is under arrest and your child is now in state custody. We’ve called DCFS… they’re on their way.’
They had arrested my wife for child endangerment.
I could see that logic wasn’t gonna be a part of the conversation that night but I tried anyway…
‘Why don’t you just write her a ticket for parking in the fire lane and we’ll all call it a night and go home’ I said it nicely again in that same ‘buddy to buddy’ kind of way.
With a glaring look of contempt, maybe even anger, the officer looked at me and said ‘your wife is going to jail and DCFS is going to come and pick up the kid.’
I couldn’t believe this… ‘why wouldn’t they give my kid back to me’ I wondered… ‘it wasn’t like I left her locked up in a parked car’ I thought.
I didn’t do anything wrong.
Neither did my daughter.
Why were they coming down on us like this?
I was starting to get angry… I didn’t want my daughter leaving there to spend the night with strangers… I wanted her to go home with me.
I wouldn’t let them do this.
It wasn’t right.
It was beyond fucking wrong.
It felt like a Goddamned kidnapping by the state.
I pointed my finger at him and I said ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this… I am going to make a really big deal out of this… I am going to make a really, really big deal about this.’
‘Go right the fuck ahead’ he said.
‘Look around man’ I said… not so nicely this time… ‘there are video cameras everywhere… did you guys even go inside and look at the video to see what happened?’
‘We don’t have to’ he replied in a really sarcastic and condescending kind of way… ‘Your wife is under arrest and we’re taking your kid.’
It was easier to just tear my family to pieces and throw my wife in jail than to actually investigate and try to see what happened… to see if reality matched up with the story that my wife gave them.
It seemed like a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality.
It was an absolute nightmare… it was surreal and it was insane.
And it was happening to my family, right in front of me… and there was nothing that I could do to make it stop.
Those sworn to ‘serve and protect’ were mercilessly tearing my family to pieces while I stood there completely powerless to disrupt their abuse of the authority that the people had given them.
And this they did because they could.
They did this because they had the power to do it.
It was more ‘violate and neglect’ than ‘serve and protect.’
And it seemed so unbelievably malicious.
I could see that ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ wasn’t gonna get me anywhere.
I walked over to the squad car my wife was locked in and I tried to talk to her through the window.
I told her it was gonna be alright… not to say another word… that I loved her and that I’d figure all of this out.
Her face was wet with tears and red from crying and it was tough to see her in handcuffs like that.
Right in front of me my family was shattered and their destiny at that moment was completely out of my control as a father.
It was like watching someone you love being raped… in agonizingly slow motion.
This was like something you’d hear out of Sadaam Hussein’s Iraq.
It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be in America.
I looked over at the other police vehicle expecting to see my other two daughters in the back seat and I didn’t.
‘Where’s the girls’ I tried to ask my wife.
Just then an officer approached me… he told me if I didn’t back away from the cop car that he’d arrest me for obstruction of justice.
‘Jesus’ I thought ‘this place really has turned into a third world country.’
The cop opened the door and he rolled the window all the way up… then he slammed the door on her.
My wife just collapsed in sobs and tears.
I’ll never forget the way that she looked at me then.
You’ve never seen a woman in pain like that until you’ve looked into the eyes of a woman in handcuffs who’s just had her baby taken away from her.
By some cops who could care less about justice, decency or the welfare of children.
‘Where’s my other kids’ I asked the cop.
He only gave me a dumb look… it was quizzical almost.
It was clear that he had no idea what I was talking about.
I walked back over to the officer in charge’s car and I asked him the same thing.
‘Where are my other children?’
He just gave me this stupid look too.
‘Aw fuck’ I thought as the bottom fell out of my stomach.
In the irony of all ironies, they had arrested my wife for child endangerment and they had lost my other children in that cold, dark and busy parking lot.
The same parking lot that they’d arrested my wife in for leaving our two year old locked in a parked car only a few steps away from her.
The parking lot that they pointed out was dangerous.
‘Anything could happen’ they said.
And now no one knew where my eight and nine year old daughters were.
My family was never in any danger that day… until the Deadwood Police came on the scene.
That’s the most danger my family would ever find themselves in… when the state decided to look after my two year old’s welfare.
The iceberg had hit the Titanic and my little family’s world had just been turned upside down.
I promised myself those children would see justice one day.
Once I found them.
Today I did that.
C2E2 Close Up ~ The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo on Flickr.
It’s an amazing show…
filled with artistry of all kinds…
the people who made their own costumes…
the beautiful prints and posters.
The girls and I rocked C2E2 this weekend.
‘We WILL be going to this next year right dad?’