Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Enough Of The Fish Already.

That picture of my cod (not to be confused with my codpiece) has been headlining VTK for far too long. I was preparing to do a post on how stupidly the Cambridge police acted, but what's there to say? The Cambridge police acted stupidly. Barack Obama may be forced to backtrack from that statement, but I'm happy to give it a new home here. I've been living in Cambridge for 9 years and I have no reservations saying they acted stupidly, because I've seen them act stupidly - and lie about it - on more than one occasion. I'd be happy to discuss this with anyone who disagrees in the comments, but that's all there is to say on the post itself. [update: said discussion did ensue in the comments.] Now on to some pictures of the insane trail BV and I hiked in New Hampshire's White Mountains this weekend:

That's not us in the pictures (and the rocks weren't that dry). I found these on google images and borrowed them since we were too busy being exhausted, discouraged, terrified, and disoriented to take any pictures when we were on the "trail". What you see there is the Flume Slide Trail up to the top of Mt. Flume, elevation 4300 feet. According to this hiker/blogger who gives a good account of the hike, it's about 3000 ft of total elevation gain up Flume Slide, to the peak, and over/up to the adjacent Mt. Liberty. 1800 of that is on the 0.7 miles of Flume Slide rock wall that somehow qualified for the name "trail". We got some advice from a couple hikers who had just climbed down "suicide hill" and suggested that we pull ourselves up using the trees along the side of it and climb through the forest where possible. Somehow, that description didn't deter us. The Appalachian Mountain Club tries to stop people from climbing through the forest next to the wet rock trail by laying trees across the paths that people bushwhack. So, while climbing up the wet rock wall is practically impossible, climbing up through the dense and obstacled forest with a big 45 pound backpack is merely almost impossible. I couldn't figure out how the AMC expected us to climb up the wet rock walls without dying. There were no warnings or anything. The only way we could do it was to crisscross the face of the trail, burrowing through the side trails. Eventually we stopped seeing the blue blazes that marked the trail. We were lost in a dense, steep thicket of trees and rocks. Every 25 feet or so, it would look like we had no option of where to go. We would pick the most tenable passageway and go up another 25 feet. While we were demoralized and starting to get concerned about light and water, we were heartened to see that other people had clearly gotten lost and passed through this way too. It wasn't a marked or approved trail, but it had become a trail of some sort. We also knew that it couldn't go up forever. Eventually, we'd get to a top, if not the top of Mt. Flume. We'd be able to put the tent down somewhere, if not on an approved campground platform. After a couple hours, the incline decreased and I came over a small ridge to see an AMC sign! I chucked my poles and screamed in triumph. Here's the sign (obviously without the snow):

It doesn't say anything about the "Flume Slide Trail" and we didn't see it on our 0.1 hike to the peak of Mt. Flume and beyond. That unmarked bushwhacky madness might have actually been the trail the whole time. When we finally got to the campsite, the ranger dude who supervises the site said he'd never climb the Flume Slide Trail in these wet conditions. So, that answered my question as to how the AMC expected people to climb the trail: it didn't. Not unless it was bone dry, anyway.

What's really funny to me - in retrospect - is that when we chose the trail, it did not occur to us at all that we were about to climb a trail NAMED AFTER A FUCKING WATER SLIDE. This only occurred to me when I was doing a google image search for "flume slide".


akboognish said...

Oh man, that sounds ridiculously wonderful, actually. How is it that the White Mountains, probably one of the most hiked places in the country (in terms of # of hikers per day and years of exploration) can be such a crazy, rugged, dangerous place? I mean, you were probably less than a mile from another trail or civilization or whatever the entire time and yet you got completely lost and placed your lives in danger. What an awesome place.

I've never hiked that trial, although I remember discussing hiking it on numerous occasions and choosing not to. I think every time we've ended up going up the trail that goes to Mt. Liberty and not messing with that Flume Slide (although isn't there also a Flume Trail that's less hellish than the Flume Slide Trail?). Anyway, kudos to you guys for surviving that challenge. I bet dinner tasted good that night!

Dan said...

It was even too extreme for BV, which is saying something. It's actually a loop with the Liberty trail. Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty are 4300 and 4400 peaks that are connected by a saddleback that dips about 500 ft in between. Flume Slide brings you to the left of Mt. Flume, then you hike the Franconia Ridge Trail up to the top of Mt. Flume over to Mt. Liberty and then that connects you to the Liberty Spring Trail, which has the campsite about a mile down it. The whole loop is about 10 miles. It's accessible from that same parking lot where we parked and hiked with your mom last year.

Dinner, the flask of Jamesons, and a foot rub were all fantastic that night!

Joel said...

I have hiked in the White Mountains quite a bit and would ahve shit myself if I had to traverse that trail in wet conditions.

I bet that Jamesons went down like lightning.

I have been arrested by the Cambridge Police for disorderly conduct outside the Middle East when I was in college because I mouthed off to the cop after he asked me to "move along" and I was drunk and told him to kiss my ass.

The case was dropped but if I did not open my mouth it would have saved me a lot of trouble and money.

Now that still does not change my feeling that the cop was a prick and I am sure this cop that locked up Gates was also a prick but if Gates reacted like an entitled "do you know who I am"sort of guy and opened up his mouth to the cop he should expect to get know less treatment then I got.

And Obama should have said when asked,"listen Prof Gates is my friend and I am sorry for his situation but we should wait for the facts before we can pass judgment"

Dan said...

It doesn't matter if Gates was acting entitled, because he was in fact entitled - entitled to not be harassed and arrested in his own home when he hadn't done anything wrong. You don't get to arrest someone because you don't like their attitude when you accuse them of breaking into their own home and then discover that it is their home and there wasn't any crime. Accept that it was a misunderstanding, swallow your pathetic ego, and move along. Acting entitled is not a crime. And causing a disturbance in a public place does not apply when that place is your home - the opposite of a public place.

joel said...

Your right Dan there is a distinction between a drunk college kid shooting his mouth off to a cop outside a bar and a cop dragging your ass out of your own home and arresting you.

This cop was dick no doubt but Gates should have composed himself and not lost his cool and all of this would have gone away.But you know if you or I were in same situation we would have asked the cop to wait at the door while we produce the ID needed to get the cop to go away without a scene.

I don't mean to speak for you but I think you are sensible person and know better than to fuck with the cops in any circumstance and Gates should have known better rather then being "Dead Right" and being dragged off to jail.

Dan said...

Should Gates have composed himself? I wasn't there. Maybe. Certainly if he wanted to ensure that some asshole Cambridge cop didn't arrest him on trumped up charges. But the point is that he wasn't legally required to compose himself. The DA chucked the case immediately and called the arrest unfortunate. It was a bullshit arrest. Now, would I have composed myself, dealt politely with the cop, and hoped that he wouldn't fuck with me? Yes, probably. I've been in absolutely arrestable situations before and have been let off by the cops. I've also been in situations where the cops could have lied and arrested me on trumped up charges if I acted less than politely and they chose to, and they chose not to - maybe because I was polite, or at least not in their faces and aggressive. Those were the choices I made in those situations, based on the knowledge that I was in a bad power position and if I spoke my mind, asserted my rights, and refused to play their unauthorized game, then I was putting myself in danger. It wasn't worth it to me to get arrested and possibly have my life fucked up by some renegade asshole who didn't like my attitude, the way I dressed, whatever. In Skip Gates position, or in the somewhat similar situation of a mutual friend of ours from about 7 or 8 years ago, I would have probably swallowed my pride, submitted to the power dynamic of the cop, and I probably wouldn't have been arrested like both of them were. That's the reality and it's total self-preservation and suspension of principles on my part. What's the righteous, principled thing to do? Not take their shit and get arrested. Why? Because every time I put up with their shit and play their game according to their illegal renegade rules, I'm legitimizing those rules, encouraging their behavior, and perpetuating police abuse of power and citizen victimization - for myself and for all my neighbors. So, even if you think that the reaction of Gates or our friend was out of line or inadvisable, even if you find it entitled or obnoxious, it's still noble and righteous in that they're not laying down and letting the cops do whatever they want - they're not letting the cops make up their own rules, act in a rogue manor, and lie and bully and manipulate to protect their imagined right to do so. Most people don't know the law and/or don't have the power enough to protect themselves against rogue police abuse. Those that do and have the courage to do it, should be lauded for that courage, not dismissed as entitled. They do it for all those who can't (or won't). I wouldn't have done it because I really don't want to get arrested and go to jail. That's my bottom line. I so don't want to that I'm willing to suspend my principles in these situations. But I don't feel proud about it or feel like I did the right thing. Cops who abuse their power for egotistical reasons are scum. We have a social contract with them. We agree to give them power over us in return for their agreement that they won't abuse that power. When they violate our social contract, they should lose their power. That's basic civilization.

Dan said...

Here's another question: why does this sort of stuff happen in Cambridge? Because the police department is completely unrepresentative of the populace that they police. There is a lack of understanding, there is resentment, there is no sense of community between the people and the police. And I'm not just talking about that rich ass street that Skip Gates and the other Harvard profs live on. The cops show the same inability or indifference to connect with community over here in Area 4 (a poorer neighborhood, for those who don't know Cambridge). When our community coalition asked them to start stepping up the policing of a drug and violence plagued block, they agreed to put a squad car there. And those cops sat in their cars and didn't get out, day after day. No walking around, friendly banter with the neighbors, nothing. They sat out their beat and waited to leave. How do you think that goes over with residents? It translates to the cops watching us, not the cops protecting us. It's against, not with. To the Cambridge police, the residents of Cambridge are either too rich, too poor, too white in a black neighborhood, too black in a white neighborhood, too elitist, too smart, and definitely too liberal. If you want to police a neighborhood, don't start with resentment and contempt for the residents. Do your fucking job and don't let that gun on your hip make you think you're better than anybody else.

akboognish said...

Holy shit Dan, you need to shout this shit in a larger forum than VTK (as awesome as VTK is). Great defense of ego/hard-headedness/entitlement which we all know was my problem that likely led to my arrest and we can guess was a factor in Prof. Gates' arrest as well. It makes me really regret not suing the Cambridge PD after their bullshit arrest of me. I sincerely hope that Prof. Gates sues those fuckers and shakes the shit out of that department.

I totally agree with your assessment of how out of touch the Cambridge P.D. is with the citizens of Cambridge--all of them: rich, poor, black, white, whatever.

Publish this shit someplace.

Dan said...

What?!? VTK's not a big enough forum?!? ok, I admit it. I might rename this blog "Dan talks and Joel and AKBoognish respond". The disappointing thing is that one reason I've put the effort in all these years to maintain a readership on VTK is to be able to have a robust forum for stuff like this. And to pimp my art, of course. But, alas, blogging is dead.

As for Gates, I hope he sues them too but I don't see that happening. They're going to get drunk and hug it out tonight on the White House lawn. I don't think Gates will sue because he'd be putting Obama, Deval Patrick, and other black politicians that supported him in a difficult position. It's sadly ironic that the preeminent African-American Studies scholar in the nation stood up to the cops to protest racial profiling and ended up igniting a controversy that is politically treacherous for the first black president of his country and the first black governor of his state.

Dan said...

And then ... there's this piece of shit. Boston pig Justin Barrett calls Gates a "banana eating jungle monkey", and then claims he's not a racist. He also says he would have sprayed Gates in the eyes with pepper spray for his "noncompliance". So, not only would he arrest him for being in his own home, but he'd physically assault him. What a scumbag. And an idiot. He sent the email to The Boston Globe. Now that's what I call acting stupidly.

Joel said...

I agree with you point on all levels
but the way the system is set up the
deck is way stacked in there favor
and our personal freedoms are taking
a back seat to a larger law enforcement agenda.

What I am trying to say here is
they know most of us do not have the
time nor the money to make them
accountable for there abuse of power.

I am sorry for Prof Gates but if any good can come out this it will be that he exposed a system that is broken and in need of repair.

Dan said...

I can't wait for the police news conference defending this Barrett scumbag. Boston and Cambridge police are going to be paying for this in the court of public opinion for some time. That won't make up for one single incident of their abuse of power, but it's something. So much for Boston getting beyond its reputation as a racist city...

akboognish said...

Let's see Barrett parrot
the same crap of Crowley
how the the race card is played and how he is the victim
how much he loves his brothers
and his children
"it was taken out of context"
and then radio, tv
and the papers in Boston
(or at least their wacko audience)
they'll all be so offended
by being accused of racism.

(shout out to Joel and his poetic posting above)

Brian said...

Why is it that those who choose to protect and serve continually perpetuate an attitude that they and only they appreciate freedom and are the only ones willing to fight for them? I finally read the email in question. Disturbing. When Barrett states "What has he done for the law enforcement community or military veterans or to secure freedoms and our borders in this country?” he clearly ranks those as greater priorities than, say, education. Don't get me wrong, those are needed, and I am thankful for both the nation of laws and those who swear to uphold them. But I don't see too many angry emails from nurses complaining about people not taking care of themselves. If your job is to protect and serve, do it. But get off the ego trip. Apparently we have to 'protect our sector' in order to be respected by law enforcement. The Barrett email bothers me so much more than the gates incident that prompted it. While I don't like the whole idea of a police officer commanding your attention on their whim, I can deal with that. I can also understand that Gates probably was a bit cranky to begin with - I know when I get home from traveling, I'm not always at my best. Cooler heads did not prevail. I don't see the arrest being racially motivated. But the vitriolic email by one of Boston’s finest was truly disappointing. At least Menino and commish Davis are on the same page wanting this cop to soon be an ex-cop.

Kevin said...

Remember how I mentioned that Amy and I would like to go hiking with you and beth? Never mind.

Dan said...

Another shocking revelation of the email was that Barrett was a "former English teacher, writer". Later in the email, he dazzles us with such brilliant constructions of the English language as the following: "I am not a racist, but I am prejudice towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they claim is freedom when it is merely attention because you do not receive enough of it in your little fear-dwelling circle of on-the-bandwagon followers." Maybe he's a "former" "English teacher, writer" because he was fired for excessive use of clumsy sentence structure. Hopefully, he'll be adding "cop" to his list of former jobs.

Dan said...

Kevin, I'd be more than happy to negotiate a nice reasonable hike with a 0% chance of death. This one was a little overboard for me.

Kevin said...

Sounds great to me. A hike in September or October would work for us. We were planning on doing some hikes this summer but we never got our act together.

With regard to the Gates discussion, I agree with you 100%. I was sympathetic toward Crowley at first but the more I thought about the situation, the more I believe it was incumbent on Crowley as an experienced "peace officer" to diffuse the situation by walking away. I don't believe Gates did himself any favors by flying off the handle, but from where I look he was within his rights.

The only person who seems to be sticking up for Barrett right now is his lawyer. I saw him on the news last night (with a straight face) trying to explain that Barrett did not mean for his use of the phrase "banana eating jungle bunny" to be construed as a racial slur. Surreal.

Dan said...

I know. I caught the bit where he was defending Barrett by saying that the comment was being misconstrued and that he clearly was not referring to Gates as a banana eating jungle monkey, but referring to his behavior as that of a banana eating jungle monkey. Ah. I see. Well, that's not racist at all then is it.

Kevin said...

Well, I must admit that when my wife leaves the bathroom light on I am forced to admonish her by calling her a banana-eating jungle monkey because she is exhibiting repetitive behaviors sometimes seen in the animal world.