SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: The Three Things I Like Best About That City

My favorite image of the town I grew up in and lived for 22 years….

 

Everybody has a hometown.

Technically, I have two…

Riverside, CA, fifty miles east of Los Angeles, where I was born, spent the first nine years of my life, and have idyllic memories of as I lived with loving grandparents in a rural community outside of that city.

The other place I consider my hometown?

Santa Monica, CA, fifteen miles west of downtown Los Angeles, a town famous for its beach and pier.

It’s in Santa Monica where I lived for 22 and a half years, eighteen in one house.

It’s in Santa Monica where I spent my pubescence, adolescence, and young adulthood.

And it’s in Santa Monica where I did the milestone/rites of passage; play little league,  get my first  (unrequited) crushes on girls,  graduate high school, work at my first jobs, things like that.

Though it’s approaching twenty years since I lived there, moving to Culver City at the end of 1998, there are three things about that seaside town that provide fond memories.

I won’t waste any time with listing those three things:

 

1.  THE AFTERNOON SEA BREEZES

Being that it borders the Pacific Ocean (or technically, Santa Monica Bay), Santa Monicans have been blessed with what I call God’s air conditioning, as starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. winds from the ocean cool that city – and neighboring ones like Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Marina Del Rey – and make it very desirable while starting at between five to ten miles inland the temperature significantly rises.

On hot days, that means that while people in Santa Monica and other beach cities are reveling in those cool breezes, folks living inland are suffering.

Why else does the beach in Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and other places get crowded with wall-to-wall people during heat waves?

 

 

A VERY nice view of the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Point Dume at sunset. Photo courtesy of shuttlestock.com

 

2. THE VIEW OF MALIBU AND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ON A CLEAR DAY

On a clear day, particularly after it rains, I always loved looking north and viewing the Santa Monica Mountains and various places like Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Point Dume.

The views of those area is especially spectacular from the Santa Monica Pier, which I took some time to do on Christmas morning in 1998, just a few days before I moved away as I wanted to set my eyes on that incredible view one last time.

I unfortunately haven’t been able to see that sight due to the pier being crowded with tourists and life’s obligations in general, but rest assured that view is something about Santa Monica that I’ve always appreciated.

 

 

My all-time favorite place to eat – sorry that the picture is so small! Photo courtesy of camposfamousburritos.com

 

3. CAMPOS FAMOUS BURRITOS, ON 20TH STREET AND PICO BOULEVARD

There has been no other place where I’ve preferred to eat in my lifetime.

Since age eight, I have been enjoying the tacos, nachos, and burritos from what was originally called Las Palmas until it was renamed Campos around the late 1970s.

Having lived two blocks from Campos for 18 years, I have had a long history with that place…

I remember taking field trips with my junior high school Spanish class to that Mexican eatery for lunch, taking dares to drink the hot green salsa.

Though I was a bit too much of a goody-goody to do so, many of my friends have ditched school to enjoy Campos food.

I can recall taking dates there during my early 20’s.

And my latest enjoyable memory of Campos?

Going there on my 50th birthday to buy avocado burritos, which incredibly enough I had never tried as I always preferred ground beef tacos in my youth and chicken tacos and burritos in later years.

I don’t have to tell you the waves of nostalgia that passed through me that day.

In fact, if someone asked me what my number one memory of living in Santa Monica is, Campos would be it.

I thank God that there’s a branch about a block and a half from where I live in Culver City; their tacos was the first meal I had upon moving there.

I’m quite proud and blessed that I’ve been eating and enjoying Campos food for over forty years, and will continue to.

 

So there they are – my three fondest memories of my twenty-two and a half years in Santa Monica.

Hopefully these descriptions make anyone from that town who may be reading this smile.

 

 

The inside of the Original Campos on 20th & Pico in Santa Monica, which is so successful there are several branches all over Los Angeles’ Westside. Photo courtesy of tripadvasor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RANDOM THOUGHTS OF SUMMER

Being that I grew up in Santa Monica, I thought it only appropriate that I posted a picture of its beach. Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com.

 

I think it just comes with the progression of life in general;

The notion of summer being one long holiday when you’re a kid, ala the end of school and that “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…” thing.

Think about it…

Unless you screwed up in class and got bad grades during the regular school year, thus sentencing you to hard time in summer school,

Or if you’re of high school age and working at some crappy minimum wage, no benefits or basic rights, one step up from slavery type of job – or trying to get such,

Summer is three months (or two and a half today) of fun as in going to camps specializing in things you love to do, taking vacations to far off exotic places, visiting paradises like Zuma Beach in Malibu or Disneyland or whatever theme parks you may fancy, and watching spectacular fireworks displays on the evening of July 4th – and buying firecrackers and setting them off yourself.

Which you can’t do anymore in all but perhaps one or two communities in the Los Angeles area.

Not to mention hanging out at the local swimming pool and eating delicious barbecue at parties.

Or doing nothing at all, like many of us did back in the day – or at least I did as the majority of my summers were spent lazing around at my grandparents’ in Riverside, CA, not venturing outside until dusk due to the 90 + degree weather, watching TV, getting to play outside until 8:00 p.m., and essentially just vegging.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr0tTbTbmVA

I forgot how good this song was; an essential tune of summer by Will Smith, or the Fresh Prince (& Jazzy Jeff) as he was known then when this dropped in 1991. Courtesy of YouTube – just click on the link.

 

Unfortunately, all that ends when you become an adult in society’s eyes.

Contrary to when you’re a kid, life doesn’t stop when June 21st comes around;

Rent and bills still have to be paid,

Your place of work doesn’t go on a two-or-three month hiatus as the best you can expect is two-week vacation – and that’s if you’re extremely lucky as you can’t put it past your overseers – I mean supervisors – to come up to you at the very last minute and inform you about some big project that you need to do, thus nuking your long-awaited freedom.

Personally, like more or less every other youngster I used to think that summer was the best time of year, for obvious reasons.

Now, and for pretty much my entire adulthood – I would say since my early 20s – that is not the case as I prefer Spring and Winter.

Spring? the leaves are just budding and it’s not so hot.

Winter? I like the chilliness and bundling up.

Not to mention the major holiday commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior that anchors that season.

 

Another essential thing about summer; fireworks displays like these in Long Beach, CA every 4th day of July. Photo courtesy of timeout.com

 

Speaking of chilliness, there’s one big reason why summer doesn’t particularly hold my fancy anymore…

THE HEAT.

My body has gotten less tolerant to it as I’ve gotten older.

And the fact that it’s gotten hotter the past decade or so – we all know how temperatures have reached 120 degrees in places like Phoenix, AZ the past few days (my condolences to those folks) – hasn’t helped.

To sum it up in three words…

I HATE HOT.

And to sum up my feelings about this just-begun season…

I miss the way summer was as a kid, the way it was something to look forward to with all the fun and relaxing that often went along with it.

Now, that’s not really the case.

It’s a bit of a pity, but also inevitable as that’s part of one’s evolving as an adult, the responsibilities that don’t stop just because it’s June, July and August.

As such, for those who can afford it,

I hope your summer’s a good one.

 

I like the rainbow-like colors of these lounge chairs at this beach. Photo courtesy of the odysseyonline.com

 

 

 

TURNING FIFTY: Personal Musings About A Milestone Birthday

 

 

THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS FROM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN WITH ASPERGER’S AS I APPROACH MY 50th BIRTHDAY

18, 263 days old – at least as of this coming Sunday.

I’ll be honest, as I usually am…

Anytime anyone reaches fifty years of life, it needs to be celebrated.

Particularly – considering the sometimes extreme tension and polarization that we are currently in – those who are Black males in America.

And on the Autism Spectrum to boot.

Which is why I’m celebrating my 50th birthday this weekend with something that I haven’t done in decades and won’t do again…

Throw a big party.

I can’t imagine being fifty years old, and I probably won’t be able to imagine it even after the fact as when I was a kid – and throughout my life, really – I saw fifty as being, for lack of a better way to describe it, on the border between regular adulthood and senior citizen status.

What’s more, it’s hard to imagine the people I knew as kids, who I went to school and grew up with, turning fifty.

Yes, I know what people say:

“50 is the new 40 (or 30 or whatever)”,

“Age ain’t nothing but a number”,

And I don’t disagree with those sentiments as save for a gout condition and the hypertension that I’m controlling quite nicely with medication, changing my diet and exercise as well as playing pick-up softball on a regular basis for over twenty years, I think I’m in pretty good shape.

 

 

I like this mug – shows the year I was born and the fact that yes, my parts are original! Photo courtesy of amazon.com

 

 

However,

It’s still weird to think of myself as a fifty-something.

Especially when I look back on my life, as I reckon folks commonly do when they reach a milestone birthday.

When I think about it, although there have been some struggles in my social and emotional development due to having Asperger’s as I was bullied and shunned as a young guy in school and have had troubles working for someone else in subsequent years, not being able to hold a job for longer for three years,

Which is the reason why I became a writer and online blogger with a book describing my experiences as an Aspie, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, nearly done with a target date for (self) publication at the end of the summer,

And although I have missed out on some of the stages of life considered normal in American society such as marriage and opposite sex relationships as my behavior has for the most part rendered me as “not boyfriend/husband material” – which I have accepted as marriage is not for everyone,

I can honestly say that I have had a blessed life to this point, a life for which I am grateful.

I have a family, friends, and particularly a mother that has loved, understood and supported me, which considering my place on the Autism Spectrum hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do,

Grandparents who gave me an idyllic childhood, who I’ll always love and, as they are no longer with us, dearly miss,

And have enjoyed a relatively middle class life.

In other words, I have been quite lucky and fortunate that God has blessed me this way.

Especially since there are SO many people whose lot in life hasn’t been close to being how they would like as living in the Los Angeles area, the nation’s homeless capital, I see plenty of the less fortunate.

 

 

This is really cool; a list of things that happened the year I was born, including celebrities who will like wise be celebrating their 50th birthdays – though they spelled Kurt Cobain’s (RIP) name wrong. Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

 

 

My Biggest Birthday Wish (Besides the usual good time at my big shindig):

I want to spend Sunday – my actual birthday – in the place where I was born and spent my early childhood…

Riverside, CA, as that was where my grandparents gave me my idyllic childhood, living in a rural area (more suburban today) outside of town where my neighbors had horses and I had cows for a time; there’s even a picture of me at eight years old feeding one.

As there’s a heat wave approaching the area this weekend and my tolerance for 90 to 100 degree-plus weather has waned in recent years, I won’t be devastated if I don’t get to be there as I’ll do something else special.

But it would be fitting if I was in the town where I spent my early formative years fifty years to the day that I was born.

Outside of that, I just want to have an enjoyable weekend.

And if someone came up to me and said that I could have one wish, I would say to be in good health as a friend of mine puts it quite well,

“The best wealth is health.”

 

Summing Things Up As My Big Day Approaches:

The first thing I’m going to do when I wake up the morning of June 18th is say a big prayer of thanks to God for letting me see my 50th birthday.

I see it as a gift a there’s quite a few people I knew and grew up with who are tragically unable to have a 50th birthday as they are no longer here.

That’s why my overall feelings are those of appreciation and gratitude.

I won’t take this birthday, or any subsequent birthdays, for granted as being an African-American with Asperger’s, I am very thankful that my life has gone the way it has.

I hope that I feel the same way, and be able to say the same things I’m saying now, in the next three decades.

 

 

I certainly hope this birthday is a happy one for me. Photo courtesy of monicahswe.wordpress.com

 

 

 

LOS ANGELES REBELLION (or Riots) 25-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Where I Was On That Day

 

REMEMBERING ONE OF AMERICA’S LARGEST RACIAL UPRISINGS FROM A PERSONAL STANDPOINT

 

I’ll get right to the point:

I was living (figuratively speaking) pretty far away from the infamous flash point of Florence Ave. and Normandie Ave. in Santa Monica, CA the day those verdicts in the first Rodney King trial in Simi Valley came down, setting those bigoted policemen free despite that tape showing the most obvious incriminating evidence of all time.

Though I was never brutalized like Rodney, as a African-American male in his mid-20s I could certainly relate to being racially profiled, being stopped by the Santa Monica police a number of times; there are two instances of this that stand out in my mind:

 

* I was getting some food from Campos, a Mexican place two blocks from my house whose food I grew up on, loved, and still love to this day.

As I was walking out with my order a policeman, out of the blue, stopped me and began to ask me questions, saying that I “fit the description” of someone they were looking for.

If it wasn’t for another guy walking across the street that yelled out, “That’s not him!” I would have most likely been arrested for something I had no knowledge of.

 

* One day in July of 1997, a month after my 30th birthday, I had left my house to get a newspaper when a plain clothes policeman stopped me when I was literally across the street from my home, exiting his car.

“Get your hands up!” he said, putting me in handcuffs.

Thankfully I was able to convince the cop to let me into my house so I can show him my ID, proving that I wasn’t a stalker.

To the cop’s credit, he apologized, but that did nothing to ease my irritation.

 

Being that I lived in the Pico Neighborhood, Santa Monica’s inner city for all intents and purposes, I knew deep down that being a young black man in that area, I was both a target and would be suspect for anything that went down.

The irony in all this? Santa Monica had an African-American police chief in those days, James Butts, who’s now the mayor of Inglewood.

 

 

TV news footage of that fateful day at Florence and Normandie, courtesy of YouTube

 

 

Anyhow…

I remember the day everything went down on Florence and Normandie quite well;

My mother and I were watching it all go down live on the local TV news. I specifically recall seeing a van ram into the front bars of a store, breaking the bars and leaving that store ripe for the looters, which we likewise saw.

I believe I saw Reginald Denny get smashed by that brick as well.

The other memory I have of that uprising – I’m making it a point to not call it a riot anymore – was the next couple of mornings as I was leaving the house to go to work; though no fires or looting happened in Santa Monica or the Westside, I could smell the smoke drifting from the many fires in the rest of L.A.

I was a physical education assistant teacher at a couple of elementary schools at that time, and the kids at both places, most of them white, were quite upset not only with what was going down, but also with the cause of it as being the liberal town that Santa Monica was and is, pretty much everyone felt that those four cops who beat Rodney got off scott-free.

At one of those schools there were a couple of African-American kids, both 4th graders, who lived in what was then called South Central L.A. (they were able to attend the Santa Monica school because their mothers worked in the town and were able to acquire permits) and were subsequently adjacent to all the chaos if not in the middle of it.

I knew that those two youngsters would be at least a little stressed and traumatized, so I made it a point to ask them if they were OK.

Things went more or less back to normal in Santa Monica and the Westside after the so-called “riots” ended, but you know what?

 

 

Rodney King’s famous “Can’t we all get along?” speech, courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

After 25 years, I think everyone – at least every one of color, especially Blacks and Latinos – would say that nothing has changed as far as young African-American men getting profiled, targeted, and killed by the police across America.

If you don’t believe me, ask the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and the many other young men who are no longer with us.

And ask the black folks who live in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, MO, if things are better.

To be honest, particularly under the still relatively new leadership of our President-Whose-Name-I-Will-Not-Mention, I’m surprised that “riots” like what happened in L.A. in 1992 don’t happen twice or three times a year.

And the worst part of all of this?

Considering the polarizing climate in these United States, racial and otherwise, I honestly find it difficult to see any light at the end of this pick black tunnel.

At least for the foreseeable future.

As Malcolm X once said, it’s going to take God himself to solve this dilemma.

Which I wholeheartedly agree with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Way (for me) To Help Panhandlers and the Homeless

 

A feast for the less fortunate during Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of csmonitor.com

 

 

The other day I was at a bus stop when a young man approached me and asked if I could spare him a dollar so he could get something to eat.

Being that I live in Los Angeles, CA, the homeless capital of these United States, such interactions are very commonplace as if you are out and about in L.A. on a regular basis, you can expect for the less fortunate to ask you for money.

I reckon roughly 98% of folks, out of compassion and conscience, give money to the panhandlers when asked.

While I have much compassion thanks to Jesus being my Lord and Savior, my way of helping those unfortunates are a tiny bit different.

Though I have given money to those I see living on the street, sometimes without them asking, there’s another way of helping them that I much prefer – and which I did for this particular young man…

To be brutally honest, I have never really felt comfortable giving cash to people on the street, for this reason:

 

You never know if they are going to use the cash to buy food, like they always say they are, or if they are going to use that money to buy alcohol, drugs or even cigarettes.

 

Am I saying that all panhandlers use the money given to them to get drunk, get wasted, or pollute their lungs and ours with tobacco smoke? Absolutely not!

What I’m saying is, you don’t know if they are.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t want to enable those bad behaviors, behaviors that (for booze and drugs) may well have led them to being in that less fortunate situation.

No, I am NOT saying that all homeless are there because of booze or drug problems as I’m well aware that there are many young people on the street who are runaways or (worse) throwaways, but still…

Anyhow, fear of enabling is the reason why I did this for that young man who asked me for a dollar…

 

RATHER THAN GIVE HIM MONEY, I BOUGHT HIM FOOD.

 

I took him to a CVS store across the street and bought him an ice cream bar, which of course he was quite grateful for.

That’s how I prefer to help panhandlers and the homeless as I have promised myself that whenever someone asks me for money, I always ask if they’re hungry, which I’ll expect them to answer in the affirmative.

Then I tell them, “I’ll be happy to buy you something to eat.”

That’s when I go to whatever convenience store or fast food place is nearby – I once bought someone in a wheelchair a bag of potato chips and a banana from a 7-Eleven when he asked me for some change – and buy something for them.

It cuts out the middle man and more importantly…

 

It guarantees that your money will TRULY help that person, rather than possibly feed his alcohol, narcotic, or nicotine habit.

 

Of course if you want to give panhandlers your money, by all means do so; it’s not my intention to tell anyone how to do good.

But the bottom line, at least for me, is that it’s better for me to actually buy food and drink for panhandlers and the homeless rather than give them my change and risk enabling them.

Plus it obviously helps them in the long run.

Which is all any decent person wants to do.

 

Enjoying a meal during what I’m sure was some holiday. Photo courtesy of rt.com

 

 

A FEW THOUGHTS ON AMERICA’S NEW REGIME AND THE REACTIONS OF SUCH

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The home base of the new leader of the free world. Photo courtesy of nbcnews.com

 

The many marches that took place not only in every major city in these United States, but throughout this planet, in light of the inauguration of this country’s new president – I absolutely refuse to write his name in this post and on this site; this will be my policy throughout his administration,

Was, to state the obvious, a HUMONGOUS reaction to what everyone who is not white, conservative, Christian, male, straight, or a combination of the five is fearing may happen now that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (to borrow a phrase from Harry Potter) and his right-wing cronies are in power.

I think it’s great that millions of folks have marched in protest of our new president and the now ruling far right conservative’s views, policies and plans. If it were not for the fact that I can’t take huge crowds for too long before I get a sense of being straitjacketed, I would have been at the Los Angeles march.

I also think it’s very cool that different groups, organizations and states like my California are planning to stand up to and resist the policies that You-Know-Who is planning to, and has already started setting the motion to, implement such as deporting all eleven million (so-called) illegal immigrants and repealing now-former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act.

 

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A scene from the Women’s March on Washington. Photo courtesy of reviewjournal.com

 

However, as I was reading about all the marches and checking out the photos of celebrities and others taking a stand against You-Know-Who, I couldn’t help thinking this…

No matter how many women’s marches, or any other kind of marches for that matter, that are put on, I really don’t think our new President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or any of his people will care, simply because he and his followers don’t care about anyone who is not a Caucasian of European descent, a Christian, a conservative, a female whose views are not conservative, or a heterosexual.

Or any combination of those five descriptions.

I truly don’t see him or any of his people backing off implementing their plans and keeping all the programs and policies that Obama enacted.

Especially since You-Know-Who has a right wing Republican Congress, meaning that he’ll have an easier time getting his agenda passed and implanted than Obama did.

There is one thing that’s foremost in my mind as this Second Cultural & Ideological (Cold) Civil War has gotten a bit hotter…

Despite everything, it’s my hope and prayer that our new Commander-In-Chief does NOT get impeached or assassinated.

The reason?

Our new Vice-President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (I likewise refuse to write his name in this article or on this site) is worse!

As is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who by law is third in line to the Presidency and whose name I won’t mention either!

I was told by some of my friends on social media to give this new president of ours a chance, but you know what?

I’m counting the days until the 2018 midterm elections, which judging by the massive protests will spell the end of the terms of many conservatives in the Senate, the House, and among the various governors and other state officials.

 

signs-feature-994x559

Check out all the signs from the Women’s March on Washington. Photo courtesy of Washingtonian.com

 

I also have a prediction:

Our New President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his administration will be in power for only one term.

By 2020, not only will folks be SO fed up with him and his people, but those who voted for him because of his promises of returning jobs will feel betrayed.

Which is why whoever is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination must be SO spectacular, You-Know-Who would lose in a massive landslide like Walter Mondale did to Ronald Reagan in 1984.

I certainly hope we as a nation can survive four years of this new Commander-In-Chief-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

I reckon if we can get through eight years of Reagan and twelve years of Bushes Sr. and Jr.,

I’m fairly confident that those who were so devastated by the recent election can survive four years of You-Know-Who.

 

Thousands of people march from MacArthur Park to the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles during a "Not my President" Anti-Trump protest march and rally in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 12, 2016. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Thousands of people march from MacArthur Park to the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles during a “Not my President” Anti-Trump protest march and rally in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 12, 2016. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

 

 

 

Jury Duty: The Modern Day Draft

juryduty

A jury duty waiting room, where so many people wish to avoid. Photo courtesy of planningnotepad.com

 

THOUGHTS ON THE OBLIGATION OF U.S. CITIZENS TO  BE AVAILABLE TO SERVE ON JURIES

 

Recently I was serving jury duty.

Meaning that I had to be available to serve on a jury if needed as I went on-line to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s website for five straight evenings to see if I had to report to court the next morning.

When the message appeared on Thursday (the final day I had to log on) that I didn’t need to report to court and that my jury duty service was completed, three words came to mind…

 

“Yippee! I’m Free!”

 

I won’t lie; like countless other folks, serving on a jury was the last thing I wanted to do as it’s such an imposition and inconvenience of my time.

Plus the fact that the summons comes unexpectedly – along with the thought that I could end up on a jury in a trial that lasts for months like O.J. Simpson’s “Trial of the Century” in 1994-95 – irritates me and causes anxiety as someone on the Autism Spectrum Disorder;  someone who Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise.

I know, I know – some will say that my attitude toward jury duty is wrong, that I need to understand that it’s an obligation that every U.S. citizen needs to fulfill and that it’s an honor to be able to possibly be one of twelve people deciding someone’s fate.

I do understand that, and if I was ordered to report to court and placed in a jury box I would have done so.

But that doesn’t mean I would’ve liked it.

 

jury_duty

I like this statement – it’s SO true! Image courtesy of pixgood.com

 

In fact, this latest jury duty venture marked the sixth time (I think) that a summons with my name on it appeared in my mail.

And (again, I must be honest) while I’ve had to report to serve four out of those six times, I’ve had the fortune to not be selected for a jury.

Though I have had close calls that I sweated and stressed over, like the previous time I went though this in 2014 when not only I was called to the downtown Los Angeles court, they sent me and roughly forty other folks to the court in East L.A. for a trial.

Luckily the judge informed us that the case was settled and that we could all go home, telling us, “We’ll see you next year,” as there’s a twelve month waiting period before one is eligible to get summoned again.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Not likely,” as I left.

Ever since I started getting summonses in earnest in 2001, like many others I figured the best way to try to get out of jury duty is to have a strong opinion about whatever issue is being featured in the courtroom.

Because the prosecution and the defense attorneys want total non-bias, when questioned in the jury selection process if you express an iron-clad conviction for one side or the other, ala “No matter what, I’m going to vote him guilty (or innocent) because I’m sick of these thugs roaming on the streets/sick of these people getting treated so unfairly and filling the jails!”…

The chances are good that the judge will say those eight words that I reckon about ninety percent of potential jurors want to hear:

 

“You are excused. Thank you for your service.”

 

As I’ve said, I know that some won’t like my views on this modern-day military draft, which is what I like to call it as until the early 1970s, men were subject to getting a letter from Uncle Sam telling them to report to their local draft boards and put on a uniform, take a weapon, and possibly go get killed somewhere in Europe (during World Wars I and II), Korea, or Vietnam – which so many guys tried to get out of via a student deferment or fleeing to Canada.

Or in the case of Muhammad Ali, simply refusing to step forward and take the induction oath as he did in 1967.

 

jury-duty

I really like this Monopoly style pic as it perfectly shows the attitude of many people towards jury duty. Image courtesy of hdimagelib.com

 

In other words, at least in my mind…

Then it was the military draft. Now – though of course no one is killed – it’s jury duty.

Which is why I feel jury duty ought to be a volunteer thing, where anyone who’s at least 18 years old and an American citizen who hasn’t been convicted of a felony can be hired (part-time, at between $10 and $15 an hour) to be on call for a jury and trained to be an impartial juror.

That would assure that the people sitting in those jury boxes are those who want to be there, and would lower the unemployment rate immensely.

I suppose you can tell from what I’ve written that I’m glad I wasn’t called to serve on anyone’s jury this particular time.

I also suppose you can tell that it’s my hope that I don’t get any more summonses for a long, long time.

However, if one does come – and I reckon it will,

I’ll cross that bridge if and when I get to it.

In the meantime, for those who dislike these views of mine regarding this obligation,

I hope that you respect the fact that I’m verbally standing up for my beliefs.

Which is a basic American right.

 

 

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The jury box – a place where many don’t want to be, but also a place that some enjoy. Photo courtesy of nbclosangeles.com