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Officer Frenzy

This is San Francisco, where having a car is more bother than it’s worth. It's much easier to walk, bus, and train, so I don’t drive and don’t even own a car.

One of the best things about being car-free is that I rarely have to deal with the police, or with DMV wanna-be cops. There are no speed traps for pedestrians, no sobriety checkpoints, and you don’t get a ticket for having a ripped back pocket.

Today, though, as I checked the mail and came home for lunch, the city was having its huge 49ers victory parade down Market Street. I counted 17 cops on my three-block walk — far too many, in my opinion. It was a happy crowd, a crime spree wasn’t about to break out. The cops were only there to ring up overtime pay.

I watched one especially pissy cop at Powell & Ellis, who was directing traffic, forcing drivers to turn right onto Ellis when they wanted to turn left. Yet despite his whistle, gun, and incomprehensible contortions, a few drivers still tried to turn left — which is, after all, perfectly legal unless the football team won the Super Bowl the day before.

It's an unexpected situation, understandably confusing, but when drivers took a few seconds too long trying to make sense of his flailing arm signals, this cop screamed at them. Two cars in a row, he slapped the roof over the driver’s head, yelling profanities loud enough to be heard half a block away, even over all the screaming football loonies. “No, God damn it," he shouted, "you’re not going left — you’re going right right right for Christ’s sake!”

It was kinda funny, and if I’d had longer, I would’ve brought down a chair from my hotel room to watch Officer Frenzy, but it was lunch and I had to get back to work. In addition to being funny, though, it also wasn’t funny at all.

That cop was screaming. Red-faced. Blood vessels pulsing. Furious. If he burns his bacon that bad over the stress of directing traffic, what’s he going to be like when it’s just you and him without sidewalks packed with witnesses? He isn’t a cop who’ll protect you, he’s a cop you’ll need protection from. And he’s a cop who ought to not be a cop.

♦ ♦ ♦

Let there be zine reviews! As always, I’ll review any and all zines received, at least once, so please send me free stuff. Be forewarned, though, I’m genetically predisposed to hate pretensions poetry, political or spiritual rant zines, intentionally obtuse crap, and anything done with half effort.

A Shattered Mind #5, $1 from Jerianne, ██████████, Martin TX 38237. Divorced at 20, Jerianne writes an intense heartfelt rant about love gone wrong, and damn, it hurts and you can’t help soaking up the emotions. There are also lots of zine reviews, generally positive. Me, I’ve seen so many lousy zines I’m skeptical when a critic doesn’t rip something to shreds now and then, but I’m not ripping A Shattered Mind. It’s pretty good.

Bitchin’ About Film School #1, $1? From Gretchen Jacobsen, ███████████████, Chicago IL 60657. Greta is going to film school, and bitchin’ about it. Hence the title. She writes about Martin Scorsese worship, and doing drudge work as an unpaid intern. It’s a mighty quick read, so maybe she’s planning a career in short subjects, but if you have a buck to spare you could do worse. I liked the centerfold, Jane Campion in ladies’ underwear, because the more I think back on it, the more The Piano was sexist rot (but that’s me talking, not the zine).

Crematorium #4, 55¢ SASE from ████████████, Niles OH 44446. Cut’n’paste graphics, borrowed text, and some suspected instant writing that would be better with a rewrite. I liked the commentary on Miss America, and the fast food comparisons, but it all has a very spur-of-the-moment feel, as if the authors started from scratch and gave themselves an hour to make a zine.

Donut Frenzy #4, 75¢ from ██████████, St Paul MN 55104. This is your quintessential quirky zine with a clever concept — donut worship, essentially. Donut dreams, donut philosophy, donut shop reviews, donut ads too funny to be true, a map of better donut merchants in greater St Paul, letters about donuts, and donut shops visited on vacations to Sweden and my own San Francisco — hey, I’ve had donuts from some of these shops, and found the reviews insightful.

Snake Oil #3, $2 from ███████████████, Dallas TX 75214. Laughing at TV preachers and arch-fundamentalist Christians is always fun, and that’s what Snake Oil is all about. Here’s a list of snake-handling churches, and preachers whose ministries are built around their physical deformities. Good sick fun, and it adds to the zine’s credibility that it’s not really hostile to Christianity. In fact, the publisher could well be a Christian. Reverent laughs.

You’re Gonna Make It After All #1, $1? From Blue Chevigny, ██████████, New York NY 10025. This is “a zine o’ love about The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” a topic I haven’t given much thought to in a while, but that show certainly was great. The character of Mary on prime time TV was a revolutionary figure, and this zine makes me miss and re-respect the show. Articles about the show’s love triangles, understanding Sue Ann Nivens, and spotting Valerie Harper climbing into a cab. Me, I always wanted to be Murray, but deep down inside I know I’m Ted.

From Pathetic Life #8
Monday, January 30, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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