Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Street People, Pre-Attack Cues, and Street People who Attack or Trick You Without Cues -yet another blog post inspired by the Violence Dynamics Boston Seminar

Over the last few weeks I’ve written several posts about interacting with street people. As stated these were inspired by a session held at an event, a seminar, held in the Boston area called Violence Dynamics Boston. This was a four day event costing $450 to attend for the full length or $175 for one day. I attended a single day, Sunday, and the more I write about it, and the more I use it to publicize my own writing ( BUY MY BOOKS! )the easier it should be to convince the tax people my attendance was a business expense.

The instructors flew in from around the country, one from Canada, to attend this event and were considered leaders in the field (although I confess I was a bit surprised to learn that at least one of them, Tammy Yard-McCracken, was advertising credentials that some would consider misleading. * --perhaps especially so in a milieu where phrases like “awareness is key” and “know your environment” are tossed around pretty regularly. Oh well. C’est la vie. More on this below.)

Which brings me to phase three of the wonderful examples on dealing with real live street people, examples I learned the hard way on the streets of Schenectady (yeah, right . . .  like I’m a tough guy.)
In the last few weeks I’ve offered three rules on avoiding troublesome interactions with street people.

 To review, here are those rules.

1. Avoid unnecessary eye contact. Don't be rude, don't get locked into a straight ahead thing, look around, notice people, but don't focus on them long enough to really get locked into any forced interaction.

2. Avoid creating an unnecessary inter-personal connection. 

3. Keep on walking. 

If you follow these rules, your likelihood of having a troubling interaction with bothersome street people will be reduced. Really. Try it. Read the previous examples if you’d like.

However, and here’s the rub, the truly troublesome street people will try to find ways to get you not to do these things.

Please reread the above, think about it a little bit, and then read the following true story.

Once upon a time, while walking through Schenectady one evening, I encountered a black man in his early 20s pushing a bicycle down the street. (Should one wonder, the color of his skin actually does become relevant later in this story.)  He was well dressed for the environment, polo shirt and slacks, not jeans, and he called out to me in a non-threatening way.

“Excuse me, can you help me out?” he said as he pushed forward with his bicycle and an expectant smile on his face. “Can you give me directions on how to get home to Clifton Park?”
Now if you look at the map below, you will see that Clifton Park, while not exactly close, is really not that far from Schenectady, a few miles. It is bicycle riding distance, but not an easy bicycle riding distance. And people do drive back and forth all the time when given a reason. However. If you look a the same map,. You will see that it is very difficult to give directions from downtown Schenectady to Clifton Park. There are no simple linear routes, and to get there, especially on a bicycle, would require knowing exactly where to make several turns and changing from one numbered road to another.

Schenectady to Clifton Park --"Ya can't get theyuh from heeyuh."
But, curiously few people realize just how difficult this is when asked out of the blue for directions on how, exactly, to travel this distance. After all, as you can see on the map, it really is not that far.

Which means that the usual result is you would get a bystander suddenly engrossed in trying to puzzle out the best route, exactly, to travel on bicycle from Schenectady to Clifton Park while the man with the bicycle began to tell them the story of why it was, exactly, that he needed to get there on a bicycle and did not know the way.

It’s been several years, but if I recall correctly the story went a bit like this.

He was, he said, a medical student at the Albany Medical Center Medical School (a real place that gives accredited degrees in several fields) who had taken a trip with his wife in his car to Scotia, a nearby town just directly across the Mohawk River from Schenectady, and –for reasons I confess I forget but were quite forgivable and understandable, had had his car impounded by the Scotia police. Now having his car impounded was really inconvenient, especially as his wife, who was now waiting alone by the car in Scotia, he said, was pregnant. But if he could get home, and grab some papers (if I recall correctly) and bring them back to Scotia, then the policed would let him have his car back. This would be a very good thing to happen, he said, because his pregnant wife was in Scotia all alone by the car and it was getting dark.

Now this took several minutes to tell, but while he did the other person would be standing there, mumbling things like “Would route 146 be the best way? I’m not sure how to get onto route 146 from here, exactly, especially on a bicycle. Maybe if you go back into Scotia? Um, uh,  . . .  You know, this is a surprisingly difficult question. I’m not sure I know.“

And it was about that time when the guy would sigh, a great look of resignation and disappointment would come over him, and he would say “It’s that tought, huh? Maybe I can’t get there on a bicycle. And with my wife and all . . . Hey, do you think maybe you could spare me some money for a taxi?”

The (Rather Obvious) Lessons

Remember those rules above?

1. Avoid unnecessary eye contact. Don't be rude, don't get locked into a straight ahead thing, look around, notice people, but don't focus on them long enough to really get locked into any forced interaction.

2. Avoid creating an unnecessary inter-personal connection. 

3. Keep on walking. 

In the above case, the beggar, who in fairness may or may not have been a street person but he clearly was a beggar as I ran into him as he used this ploy on three separate occasions and heard a story about him using a different ploy to try and get money on a fourth, had, rather cleverly, caused normally suspicious people to set their wariness aside by appearing to be something he was not and then distracting them further with an innocuous appearing, yet surprisingly complicated puzzle that he asked people to solve, thus distracting them further.

This situation caused people to set aside their concerns, and before they knew it they were either handing over some money to “help the guy out” or else upset with themselves or him because they had had much of their time wasted and realized they had been tricked and misled.

And it’s not uncommon for beggars to hide their status as beggars when soliciting donations. At bus or train stations, it is not uncommon for beggars to pretend to be stranded travelers in order to get home. Others pretend to be veterans or crippled, when they aren’t. Others pretend to be affiliated with charities or religious group (or hide their affiliation with religious groups). Fake Buddhist monks soliciting, even demanding, donations are a nuisance in many Chinese cities and increasingly so in major US cities.

This is the way some predators work. They hide their intentions, they hide who they are, and through this means they take advantage of their prey to get what they want.

While it might sound a bit exaggerated to refer to this man, a beggar, as a “predator,” the lesson remains. Subterfuge, disguise, and deception are how many predators including serious, life-threatening, and merely irritating and bothersome predators, take advantage of their targets.

Ted Bundy, the serial killer, often wore a sling, feigning an injured arm, and asking women to help him change a tire on his car, before striking at them from surprise as they focused on helping him, and then rewarding their aid with rape, torture, and death.  Other rapists and serial killers and others have done so as well. Most con-men operate by at some point gaining their victims trust and then betraying it.

While personally, I think it’s best not to obsess over these behaviors, you have a duty to yourself to remember that such things happen and keep some awareness that they are possible and might happen to you or those you care about.

My Reaction

Now it should be obvious from some of my posts on this blog that I am not always the coolest person around sometimes.

And this guy annoyed me.

Clearly, he had brains, talent, charisma, communication skills, a good understanding of people and psychology. Clearly, he could be doing something more to help the world, help society, help his people, than merely tricking people into handing him a few bucks by pretending to be lost.

And the first time, I ran into him, I just looked disgusted, turned and walked away.

The second time, he didn’t remember me, began his spiel again, and I lost my temper and began telling him what I thought of him. He was worried, I’d attack him, and left. (I wasn’t planning to attack him. I just told him, he should be doing other things with himself instead of this.)   

The third time was more interesting.

Now, for the record, I am not advocating that anyone copy any of the behaviors I use here.

Remember, I am, at best an intellectual with some insights that you might find useful, and, most certainly, would not set me up as a role model for anyone. But this is what happened and perhaps you will find it amusing.

SO . . .

One day I was walking to work. At this point, I had a job as a security guard in downtown Schenectady but was pursuing (not terribly successfully) my goal of becoming a writer. Therefore, I had a large laptop computer in a carrying case on a large strap slung over my shoulder and a second backpack with my books, lunch, and other things I would need to get me through my evening shift from 3:00pm to 11:00pm. I was wondering through, yup, you guessed it, the Jay Street pedestrian mall, when I saw two young White folks somewhere around college age talking to this guy, the same guy, the young, well dressed Black guy (As stated, his race shall actually become important shortly in this story. Therefore, I include it.)

And of those folks, a confused look upon his face, turns to me and asks, “Hey, do you know how to get Clifton Park from here?”

And I just sort of gave a mean-spirited laugh and said, “Don’t tell me. His pregnant wife is in Scotia, his car got impounded, and he’s an Albany Medical Student, right? And in a few minutes he’s going to ask you for cab fare.”

At the point, the beggar cried, “Why you!,” the two young White folks broke off the conversation, and he came shuffling towards me, angry and threatening looking like he planned to attack me. As he approached ready to attack he called me a racist and screamed about racism and how everyone in this city was a racist.

Now perhaps he really did plan to attack me, or perhaps he assumed that I would turn and run away, truth is he was probably so shocked and angry at being exposed that he did not really know what he planned to do himself, but what I did instead, and I am not advocating this --remember, I am many things, but I am NOT a role model for anyone, please learn from my mistakes not my example—instead, I shuffled back a bit, got ready for a fight, and lined up to swing and swing hard with the big heavy laptop on the long straps (this was a laptop in a metal case, not a plastic one, this was a while back).

And he could see that so he’d step back, scream more accusations of racism and then shuffle to the side to try and sneak around me, while I’d turn and line up on him again, still ready for a strike.

This was making a lot of noise and people were, wisely, avoiding this drama and trying to stay away.

Except, of course, the Reverend Tim who came out of his store, strutting over, to see if he might be able to play the role of peace maker, something he likes to do, and defuse the situation. “Gentlemen, Gentlemen. I am the Reverend Timothy _________, local Jay Street business owner. What seems to be the problem?” And he looked at the well dressed beggar, then he looked at me, then he realized it was me. “Pete?!”

The Black guy sputtered a bit, then turned, then got on his bicycle, still sputtering about me and the rest of the city being racist, started peddling away at high speed, only to turn, stare at me, and scream “N*gger!”

Which was quite interesting because I am White. (See, I said the racial identifiers would come into the story at some point). This is the one and only time I have ever heard of a White person being called N*gger. I’ve asked people about this and even with clarifying questions (“Are you sure he said ‘n*gger’ or ‘nigga’?”) no one I’ve met really could explain it without digging into psychological explanations. And if there’s a moral or lesson to this odd use of language, well, I, for one, have no idea what it is.

If there is a lesson here, aside from being aware or alert to the idea that some beggars (and other more dangerous predatory types) disguise who they are, it could be that if you interfere with a person’s livelihood (or perhaps in some cases a drug addict’s chance of getting a fix) then they will become angry and in some cases violent.

This is not the only time, I have had a beggar threaten me or become threatening when I have interfered with their begging. (Not that I do this much, and not that I even have an interesting story because of it. Essentially, I was in Boston, on my way home, near the main bus station, and a beggar who I’d seen before was switching from pleading with a suburban looking woman who was sitting in front of the bus station, to trying to intimidate her into giving him money. I just stood there not too far away, watching, and he turned to me and told me to mind my own business, I indicated I had no plans to leave, and then he began calling me names, “hero” and “do-gooder” and so on among them, and then wandered off, sputtering to go bother someone else. Just FYI, he did not appear terribly intimidating, looking both mentally and physically weak, and there was lots of distance between us so I did not feel like I was really in any real danger.)

And if you’ve read this, and the two before it, https://peterhuston.blogspot.com/2018/06/in-late-may-i-attended-event-called.html and  https://peterhuston.blogspot.com/2018/07/street-people-and-pre-attack-cues-part.html or the entire series ( https://peterhuston.blogspot.com/search/label/Violence%20Dynamics%20Seminar ) then hopefully you’ve got a better understanding of how to deal with street people.

About this point, people will be starting to say “Pete, what’s your problem with Tammy Yard -McCracken? Don’t you think you’re overdoing it?” Okay, obviously, there was a problem between us the day I attended. During this interaction, I felt that her behavior was “off” and found it doubtful that she could possibly be a licensed psychologist in good standing. Instead, my impression was that she was acting like someone pretending to be a psychologist to manipulate others and gain power over them.

That inspired me to do a quick background check into who she was and, as stated, and very quickly real problems in her credentials as a psychologist emerged. It did not take long to find out that there is a discrepancy between how she represents herself and the terms she uses to describe herself and how most people who are licensed as psychologist would use those terms.

But I deal with problem people regularly and normally shrug these interactions off. The issue here is that most of the people who I have problems with, the people I shrug off, are not, for instance, testifying for the defense as an “expert witness” at police brutality trials and giving presentations to people who think they are getting a presentation from someone who has the credentials and accomplishments normally associated with a licensed PhD psychologist who has completed an accredited graduate level program in the field of psychology.

But don’t listen to me. PLEASE do not believe anything I say or take me at my word. Instead, I encourage people to do their own background check on her. Verify things. Dig deeper. It just gets weirder.

i.e. she has advertised herself as adjunct faculty at Argosy University. I recommend you do research into Argosy University and its psychology program. When I did a google search ( https://www.google.com/search?q=Argosy+university+controveries+and+law+suits+and+accreditation&rlz=1C1JZAP_enUS798US798&oq=Argosy+university+controveries+and+law+suits+and+accreditation&aqs=chrome..69i57.20864j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 ) I quickly found this ( http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/02/argosy.aspx ).

The APA is a very important organization in psychology (and, interestingly, has had a major effect on academic writing standards as well).

Or try to find out which years she was doing psychotherapy as a licensed psychotherapist and which years she was doing "life coaching." Then check into the differences between the two things. Like I said, it's interesting and a pattern emerges fairly quickly.

But as for my ethics in this matter, let me say, I’ve done a lot of work in several different fields and one of them is journalism.  In this field my professional goals have been to, first, bring the truth to light and present it to the general public, and, second, when in doubt work to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. 

But like I said, do your own background check on this person, but dig below the surface, don't just look at the credentials, look into the quality of each and every credential and where and when it would be useful. Again, check the quality of the credentials. The results are interesting.  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Street people and pre-attack cues, Part Two or So --somewhere in the middle-- Another post inspired by the Violence Dynamics Boston Seminar

For those who are coming into this series in the middle, in mid-may, more or less, I attended a martial arts seminar in Boston called Violence Dynamics -Boston. Although it was a four day event, I only attended on the third day, a Saturday. There were four instructors, described in an earlier post in this series, flown in from a surprisingly far distance. Tickets for the four days were $450 but one could attend a single day for $175 which I chose to do. (and if I write Buy my Books!! here, the whole thing stands a reasonably chance of being a business expense.) This one's kind of long, but I hope it's worth it. It does contain a valuable lesson.

Context for this Post and Series

As described in the last few posts, the part I found the most fascinating was a session on pre-attack cues taught by Randy King, who was flown in from Canada, and which featured a practice session where people were paired off and practiced accosting each other so that their partner could then practice breaking off contact and avoiding them. Although the attendees enjoyed the session, and many said so, I sort of felt like it missed a few things. It also, oddly enough, get my mental gears spinning as I realized that my days in downtown Schenectady interacting with street people had given me a sale-able, marketable skill if only I were to package it right. Gosh! Things you learn about yourself when you poke around in new places and environments.

In the last post, this one, and the next one (if all goes to plan), I will offer (or have offered) three illustrative stories about dealing with street people. In my last post Street People and pre-attack cues -another post inspired by Violence Dynamics Boston , I told a story of what was basically a mugging that began as an encounter between a neighbor of mine and some street person. I encourage you to read it.

In that post, as well as an earlier one, Violence Dynamics Seminar -Randy King Session -Threat Assessment and Pre-Attack Cues, I offered three rules for how to respond to street people should they take an interest in you. I even explained how Bill Murray, the famous comedian and actor, had used them to avoid me on one occasion. (We have not met since, sadly.)

To review, here are those rules.

1. Avoid unnecessary eye contact. Don't be rude, don't get locked into a straight ahead thing, look around, notice people, but don't focus on them long enough to really get locked into any forced interaction.

2. Avoid creating an unnecessary inter-personal connection. 

3. Keep on walking. 

            In today's lecture, I'm going to offer a situation where those rules didn't really seem to work, and what that teaches us about interacting with street people and/or others who will do you harm or complicate your life.

Background and the Setting

First, to understand this a bit, one really needs to understand the Jay Street pedestrian mall of about a decade and a half ago. It's an environment I described here in the section where I repost an op-ed piece on the area that I had written for the Schenectady paper. Schenectady Street People, Randy King, Paying to Play at Dealing with Street People, and the Boston Violence Dynamics Seminar

Basically, the city of Schenectady had a one block pedestrian mall lined with shops. The intent was originally to have it as the centerpiece of a thriving downtown shopping area, but at this time the downtown was far from thriving and ordinary shopping was not an activity most people associated with  this area. Also, due to poor urban planning, the pedestrian mall found itself located in-between the day center for the homeless and the City Mission's free dinners. Thus homeless and other street people would often use the pedestrian mall as a daily thoroughfare and hang out spot.

A friend mine, the Reverend Tim, had a store on Jay Street where he sold art on commission, pagan religious supplies, and New Age goods, and held pagan religious meetings on weekends. Now, for the record, I am a known critic of most such things but Tim and I were friends and traveled in the same circles. We were both DJs at WRPI non-commercial radio and went to the same parties (in fact, a major part of our relationship was that Tim was very, very good at finding parties and I had a car so we could then go to them).  Tim's one of the most interesting people I know even though we disagree on several things.

I used to stop in and visit Tim regularly on Jay Street for years as it was only about eight blocks from where I lived or so, and we could then wander around the city and go bar hopping and visit open mike's and such. About 2004, I went off to graduate school at Cornell University, three hours away, but would come back to visit from time to time.

Now Tim was, himself, for a bit long before I knew him, homeless himself, and therefore he has always been very friendly and open to the homeless and has enjoyed chatting with them. (Tim loves talking to everyone and genuinely likes most people. It's one of his greatest strengths.)

Which is why this weekend, when I arrived home in Schenectady and stopped in to visit Tim at about 2:00 or 3:00pm on a Saturday afternoon, there were two street people hanging out inside his store, hiding from the heat , sitting on chairs or stools, and enjoying the fans.

Set up for the Encounter 

The first guy was tall, with long blonde scraggly hair and seemed like a decent enough guy. He was chatting and talking about nothing in particular and basically just hanging out and socializing like people of all kinds often like to do. Just a guy who seemed a bit low on sale-able skills and was trying to get by and stay out of trouble who seemed perfectly willing to do what he could to get along with people if they tried to get along with him.

The second guy was the problem. Still light skinned but with dark hair, he mentioned more than once that he was Puerto Rican (not that that was important, except apparently to him), and clearly seemed to be trying to impress with what a dangerous person he was. Not that he appeared particularly dangerous. He was about average size, smaller than me, and not of noticeable build and just didn't seem predatory, but instead merely troublesome. 

One exchange probably sums up his attitude and the flow of this conversation. 

Dark haired guy (with tone intended to impress): "I just got out of prison." 

Blonde haired guy (with tone intended to put him back in his place): "No you didn't. You just got out of the county jail. Stop bragging." 

 Yes, this was a real Schenectady conversation. Soon the Reverend Tim decided he did not want to have this going on in his store and began "adjusting" the fans. i.e. turning them off in the hopes that they would eventually leave.  

I decided, soon enough, that I too would be on my way, and decided to leave. (For the record, I did not feel like I was leaving Tim in any danger. He knew these people, they knew him, and they'd talked before and would undoubtedly speak since this incident.) 

Much to my surprise, the Puerto Rican guy followed me out the door. 

Then he began following me down the street, invading my space, tapping me --no really hitting me or attacking me, just touching me repeatedly --and telling me that he did not like me in various ways. I weighed my options. 

If there was a fight, I felt I probably could have won without too much trouble, but I did not have any desire to get in a fight in the middle of a public street. Despite the problem with street people, the truth is Jay Street had, and still does have, some very nice little shops. There's a good book store, a couple nice coffee shops, a pottery store owned by a potter who made her own goods, and some nice little restaurants. There were people shopping and browsing on the street, including families with kids, middle class people, and it would have been very upsetting to them if a fist fight had broken out in plain view right in front of them. 

And, of course, fighting is never a good thing. Really. You can get your clothes torn, get blood on them, get scratches, cuts, and even bites, and if you're fighting the wrong person (which is most people you have good reason to fight) then it's quite possible you'll spend a great time afterwards worrying about being exposed to diseases, infections, and who knows what. Not to mention the legal problems and complications that tend to come from fighting. 

People say "A fight avoided is a fight won," and to people who've been in fights it is not a cliche. 

On the other hand, if we refer to the concept of "pre-attack indicators" this guy was throwing out an awful lot of them, 

Like following me down the street, poking me in the arm, and calling me names, while invading my body space. 

If one is looking for a list of "pre-attack indicators," this guy was throwing them out all over the place. And intentionally so. Although he never did attack me, he clearly wanted me to see him as a threat. He wanted me to see him as someone who was going to attack. 

For some reason, he had clearly chosen to target me and hassle me that day, although it was a little difficult to know why. I had no idea what he was trying to do but it reached a point where it just couldn't be ignored anymore. 

I turned, stopped, and yelled at him, "If you touch me one more time, I will knock you down." 

And at that point, he backed off and left me alone. 

Aftermath and Lessons Learned 

Since there had never actually been a fight, the police had never become involved and there were no legal consequences. 

I'm not saying I handled it in the best possible way. Other options were possible, like running into a store, screaming fire or for help, or perhaps just turning and fleeing, perhaps even turning around and going back into Tim's store (which would probably have been a very bad idea and led to much prolonged and undesirable drama). So many options were available, and I chose one, but I'm not here to tell you this was the best way to handle this situation. I'm just saying it worked for me that day at that time. 

But let's get to the important issue here, why had this person acted this way? 

It is very strange for a street person to just target someone like that and hassle them, especially without making suggestions or request for money, sex, or other favors or services. 

In some cases, such behavior could be explained by an emotional need for the disenfranchised to show some power in regards to the social classes that they feel are more successful than them or have easier lives, race, racism, and racial tensions (going both ways and different directions between different races and classes) are sometimes an issue (although I do not think it was here)

So what was going on here?

If something is not right try to understand why.

1. Abnormal behavior can indicate an abnormal situation or  a person with an abnormal plan.

2. You can't tell what is abnormal, unless you know what is normal in a given situation.

3. Try to understand what is going on before you commit yourself.

So what had this guy been trying to do? He'd never asked for money, for instance. He'd just begun hassling me. It made no sense.

I did find out later, next time I was in Tim's store. According to the other street person, the tall blonde guy who I spoke to later, once again in Tim's store, this guy's plan had been to provoke me into swinging at him in the middle of Jay Street, in the middle of the afternoon, taking a dive early in the fight, screaming that he was injured, and then suing me. So the guy's plan had been to get me to hit him, and then sue. This was, according to the other guy, something he did. The whole thing had been part of an attempt to get money from me by causing a situation where he could have engaged in a lawsuit. 

Dealing with the Police in Street Situations -Some criminals and troublemakers will set you up and use them against you.

Which brings us to an important aspect of street survival, urban violence, street crime, crime avoidance, and other related matters. Dealing with the police. 

Many of us were raised to see the police as "protectors." If something bad happens, and bad people come, then you call the police, and they will catch the bad people and take them away, and then things will be good again. At least that's the idea we were often raised with. 

In practice, things are more "complicated." The police follow certain rules, habits, and procedures. They tend to respond to certain situations in certain ways, ways they have been trained to act, taught to act, and ways that have worked for them in the past to end situations in a way that they were able to go home at night and return to their families with minimal paperwork and other legal hassles. 

There are limitations on what they can and cannot do. There are ways of acting that they tend to prefer over others.

And over time criminals and bad people often learn these things. 

In the above example, we had a person, a person who had just spent time in jail. And in jail, a large group of people are kept together at close quarters and they chat for hours on end. Sometimes they talk about the laws, crime, police procedures, and how to manipulate the system and the behaviors of the police for their own benefit. Now not all of the information they share is accurate. Anyone who has spent time around people who get arrested a lot will tell you that a large percentage of them are both dishonest and stupid, and the result is that they often spit out a great many just plain unbelievable lies. And the truly stupid among them, sometimes believe they are lies. 

But it's a mistake to forget that many people who are prone to breaking the law also know how to manipulate the system and manipulate the police. 

Often these ways are so obvious to a street person or criminal, yet so completely outside the thinking of most middle class people, that the results can be surprising. i.e. it is not uncommon for a troublesome street person, particularly one who is into drugs, to convince someone to rent them an apartment, pay the first months rent, and then just stop paying. Normally if the landlord follows the law, it will take months for them to go through the small claims process and get them evicted. Meanwhile the problem tenants get a place to live for themselves and any people they invite over to stay without paying anything and they also get to experience the joy of trashing the place and living maintenance free while the landlord screams and cries with few legal options. (But, some might ask, do they not hurt their own reputations? Wouldn't they have trouble getting an apartment in the future? First, while they hurt their reputation among the landlord class, among the squatter class, they've actually gained a wee bit of status because they let their fellow squatters benefit from using the space they've acquired, and, second, these people rarely think of the future much, but, instead, live in the present. It's a different perspective and mentality.)

But, and this is the important lesson here, if the landlord objects, or tries to take the law into his own hands, the police will often arrest the landlord, not the tenants. (Legally this is what the police are expected to do.)

The police in such situations will often enforce the law, and only rarely break the law to help the person who is being harmed. (i.e. "it's a civil matter," they will say.) 

So understand that there are street people out there, who if they approach someone, hassling them, showing "pre-attack indicators" are actually planning to take a dive, scream "my back, my back" (or other imaginary injury), call the police, and then sue for every penny they can get. (Hey, it's easier than working for a living.) I'm not saying it happens much. But it does happen. 

And if you think the police arrest only "bad people," your life experiences have been very different from mine.

The police do not work for you. They work for the government. 

In an earlier post in this series, I alluded to having been arrested. For the record, I was not convicted, but it was, indeed, a major hassle that threw my life and career off track for almost a year resulting in loss of thousands of dollars through lost income, emergency expenses, and legal fees. What happened? Long story short, I got set up by a heroin addict with a long arrest record who I'd made the mistake of renting a room to and he knew the law much better than I did. And he used that knowledge against me, set a trap for me, and, you know what, I played his game every step in the process, did exactly what he expected, because he was thinking a certain way, I was thinking exactly how he expected me to be thinking, and he knew the law better than I did, manipulated me, and I got slammed down hard because of it. 

*[If you have read this series, you will also note that I've repeatedly mentioned that one of the presenters at the Violence Dynamic seminars, Tammy Yard-McCracken, identified herself as a "psychologist" with a Ph.D. when in fact the Ph.D. seems to have been from an unaccredited, on-line school and would not valid for most academic or licensing purposes. (In fact, her Texas therapist license was based on an MS degree, not a PhD, and I have not found other therapist licenses for her at any level in any other state. They may be there. If someone finds one, please let me know, but in the meantime, the issue of whether or not this person is "really" a psychologist would hinge on context and definition of the usage of the word "psychologist."  Why should anyone care? Because feminist trauma therapists with exaggerated credentials have caused a great many unnecessary arrests of innocent people. All one needs to do is look at the tragic mass daycare arrests of the 1980s and 1990s, the Satanic Ritual Abuse Hysteria, the "recovered memory" accusations (now disproven) of that era, and they stand as a warning for today.) Check credentials. Be wary of the system and try to understand it before you act. Look for lies and they lying liars who manipulate the legal system. Then protect yourself as best you can.] 

Friday, July 6, 2018

20 Day Music Challenge -Day 15 -Rosanne Cash -Change Partners.

Among the musicians I like to listen to, and listen to because I genuinely like their music, not because listening to it makes me feel cool and sophisticated, Rosanne Cash is one of the most important. First, she's a talented singer and musician. Second, she writers her own stuff, something I admire, but she's not too proud to record other people's music if it's good. She started out as basically a country singer, but evolved into a thoughtful, interesting musician who is best known in folk circles.

Rosanne Cash is one of Johnny Cash's daughters, a credential that will get your first album a contract, but she's had at least eight albums so far. And I did not buy her stuff because she's Johnny Cash's daughter. I bought her stuff because I liked it and thought it was good. And she writes a lot of her own stuff too.

This is a song I used to listen to a lot right after the end of a relationship that I once thought would last a lifetime but, like so many relationships of that kind, didn't. Not uncommon but a weird period in a person's life. No matter how carefully you plan things, they will always be different than you thought they would. Adjust, roll with it, find your balance, but expect to get knocked down again, and when that happens pick yourself up. And finding the right music to listen to as you readjust and recalibrate can clearly help. 

What follows is an almost random assortment of Rosanne Cash songs spanning decades. They were chosen poorly, I assure you. Go forth, explore please, find and select your own. It should be worth it.

Early Rosanne Cash . . .

A cover of a classic song . . .

Another cover  (https://secondhandsongs.com/work/81114/all ) -wonderful song.

This is a song written after a year of her life marked by the death of several people who were important to her.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Music Challenge -Day 19 --Julie London -Cry Me A River

 Aside from Etta James, I have not done much to show the crooners, the torch songs, the "pop-standards" that I sometimes like to listen to, used to play a lot on WRPI when I took a late night fill in shift, and really should listen to more. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darrin, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and all the others who really knew how to sing. Being forced to choose one, I rather arbitrarily chose Julie London. Not sure why, perhaps it's in part because she played a nurse on the classic TV show "Emergency." Or perhaps it's because this song includes the rather bizarre line "You said that love was too plebian." I mean, who talks like that? Goths, I suppose. What was the 1950s equivalent of a goth? Beatnik, junkie poets? Regardless, this is a wonderful song and this clip comes from the 1956 film, "The Girl Can't Help It." Remember, the 1950s when drinking was more common in films?

And for no reason at all, here's the Crystal Gayle version from 1978. Not quite as controlled and disciplined, but a wonderful recording nevertheless.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Music Challenge --Day 18 -- Etta James --At Last

Sometimes when I hear this song I want to cry. (I think it loses something on youtube perhaps. If this doesn't move you, try a higher quality source.)

I am a fan of the torch songs, pop-standards, crooners, whatever one wishes to call them. To sing them well often requires a great deal of talent and I think that's especially true of this song in particular. It is not an easy song to sing and many people have embarrassed themselves singing it. Curiously enough, Cindy Lauper (yes, the squeaky voiced, pink-haired 1980s Cindy Lauper) has a version of this she released and it's not bad at all.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Music Challenge -Day 17 -Talking Heads -Papa Legba

If asked to give a personal history of music and my life, it would be impossible to ignore the Talking Heads. Undoubtedly the most creative of the late '70s, early '80s bands to come out of the "Punk" scene, the Talking Heads combined creative lyrics, interesting rhythms, and unusual, unexpected far-reaching and diverse influences.

It's a bit difficult to say exactly why I chose this song to lead off, perhaps because when it was big, I had no idea who Papa Legba was (a deity in the Afro-Caribbean traditions that came about when slaves were brought to the new world from West Africa.) When I first read that this was the inspiration for the song, I remember wondering how anyone would learn about such things. Now, decades later, I've read a few books myself on the subject and can do google searches on more.  Funny how things change. It is, indeed, a fascinating pantheon and view of the world.

First Album. 

Second Album -More Song About Buildings and Food

Solo Projects 

Many, many --All wonderful and interesting and undoubtedly best left for another blog post some day in the future.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Music Challenge --Day 16 -Astronomy Class, Four Barang in a Tuk Tuk

Another oddball choice. The world is so interesting and mixed up these days. You can go to your computer, start surfing and come across the most interesting things --things like this.

I have no idea how popular the song is, to be honest. None at all.

Astronomy Class is an Australian musical group and for this song they teamed up with Kak Channthy, lead singer of the Australian group "Cambodian Space Project," another group that is fun. Although Channthy sings in Cambodian (Khmer) she was a resident of Australia.

Sadly, not only does this song sample Anthony Bourdain (RIP) but when I rechecked the singer's name, Kak Channthy  I discovered she too has passed away, dead at age 38 in a vehicle crash in Phnom Penh, while travelling in an auto-rickshaw or Tuk-Tuk. You may find an obituary to her here:


Sadly, the older you get, the more death you are exposed to. Still I enjoy the song.

If you would like to know more about classic Cambodian pop music, as well as the group Cambodian Space Project, you may also check out this CD from Rough Guide World Music: https://www.worldmusic.net/store/item/RGNET1319/ or check out my post on the California based Cambodia language band Dengue Fever (who predate the Cambodian Space Project) and the interesting history of post-independence Cambodian pop music here: https://peterhuston.blogspot.com/2018/06/day-two-of-music-challenge-dengue-fever.html

(If anyone is wondering, I have never been to Cambodia, but I think it would be interesting to try and learn a little bit of Cambodia --one of the few non-tonal languages in the region and of a different language family from most nearby languages  -- alas, I expect other obligations will keep me from doing so for some time.)

So here's the Cambodian Space Project. How can anyone not enjoy this? Really.

And there's a lot more where this came from if you care to look. There are a lot of things out there. A lot of things worth looking for and living for.