Monday, May 17, 2010

Bar None

We have a prison here -- the Clallam Correctional Facility.

"Correctional" gives me the historical willies. How many times have we heard a word like that used in the past?

It's interesting interacting with prison people -- or "interesting," in the way that word is sometimes expressed.  The released prisoners, in their brand-new red jackets and blue slacks, ride the buses to Port Angeles or Tacoma, their possessions, in cardboard boxes, sharing the seat with them. One of them was wearing a superb line-art tattoo of a snarling panther.  He described it as a prison tattoo, and then how it was completed.  The cover is removed from a tape-deck, and a sharpened wire attached to the wheel mechanism, turning it into a tiny mechanical tattoo needle. A lighter is held to the base of a black plastic chess piece, and the resulting black soot mixed with a medium I can't recall, but which probably wouldn't be hard to figure out, given what possibly or nearly sanitary liquids are available in a prison.

At one point, the prison administration listed their zip code as 98326, without using their 4-digit individual code. Mapquest defined the entire zip code as "prison." The listing ricocheted throughout the internet.  For a while, trying to order anything possibly dangerous -- even a weed hoe -- on the internet, was refused by Amazon because the zip code belonged to a prison.  The problem is slowly being scoured out of the systems.

I almost wrote "corrected:"  $!#!! AP style poisoning my vocabulary, like Hemingway.  A recent Pulitzer winner told me that "newspapers are circling the drain." I coulda told him that; try to get one to pay you. They get torqued off if you don't fight your way past the cops on a nasty dangerous corner to get a photo, or insult the tribe by flashing away with a camera at the funeral of an important elder (like I need that -- I have to live with these people!).  For $20.00 a photo, if I'm lucky.  Clallam County Commisioner Mike Doherty made fun of me at a community meeting to a member of the sheriff's department for how little I'm paid and how hard I work for it. I've been less available for a lot of his projects and the local meetings, lately. I have books to process for real publishers who really pay me, thank you. I get more reliable money from the ads on my blogs and sales sites.

Speaking of newspapers, credit where credit is due -- one of them DID pay me for not doing my job, because I waited in vain outside the prison in a freezing-cold truck for two hours around midnight, waiting for my editor to get me permission to enter the place.  The important story was about a guy who  who filled up one wing of the prison with smoke after deciding it would be a good idea to roast sausages in a toilet.

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