Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

Dem Coppers Never Stop

Let’s preface the post with this touching little ditty:

The story of Ned Kelly, the Australian outlaw, reminds me of the police brutality that many protesters have experienced in the Occupy Wall Street protests. In both cases, we have an imbalance of power. From NYPD’s recent scandal to the unnecessary force used on annoying protesters, it seems like a throwback to the rough n’ rowdy days of Australia. Bushranger Ned Kelly had a bundle to say about unjust acts of police, and for good reasons too.

The coppers were on his case since he was knee high. It seems, from the basic research that I have done, that the Kellys were blamed for all the crimes in their general vicinity. You’re returning a horse to your neighbor? You must have stolen it. Tirty days in da gaol!

And let’s be honest. The authority had to blame someone… For example, at age 14, Ned Kelly was arrested for protecting his sister from physical abuse by one Ah Fook the Pig Farmer. Sure, he may have gotten a little carried away with Ah Fook’s bamboo stick when hitting him back, but who wouldn’t beat a guy up for slapping a relative over a cup of creek water? Pshaw.

Poor Ned continued to experience the injustice of the corrupt penal system throughout his life. So, eventually, Ned Kelly is tired of being falsely accused. Might as well live up to all the hype, eh? So he robs some banks. No big deal. But the people loved him. Ned robs a bank, thenĀ  burns all the townspeople’s mortgages. Cha-ching, everyone is in love. The police, of course, did not take kindly to this proverbial mooning at their authority. So after an epic Tombstone-esque showdown, in which Ned wore crazy armor that scared the bejeesus out of dem coppers, Ned Kelly is hanged for his sins.

What is most striking is the universality of his fight of against the Man. The Fight started when that one fiery sword angel shoved Adam out of the pretty park, and hasn’t stopped since. There is almost always an imbalance of power, and it’s rather rare to find an authority that doesn’t take advantage of their position. Take the doctor from Indiana that has been selling prescriptions for sex. Or the Miami policeman that was driving recklessly on his way to an off-duty job. Imbalance of power usually leads to abuse of power.

And I just can’t help but wonder if we need to pull a Ned Kelly (hopefully a more successful one) to end the corruption and “tyranny” of some of the police forces in America.

October 26, 2011

Hot Chocolate Gives Me the Poops

A blustery day on the pier of St. Andrews

Went into a warm shop to get out of the chilly wind the other day, and discovered I was in a pottery shop. A large supporter of the “spontaneous buy” movement, I decided that I did indeed need a mug for the lovely cappuccino machine in the dining hall.

Accidentally chose the most expensive mug, of course. As the lady was wrapping my purchases, she mentioned in a charming Scottish brogue how “today is lovely day for a cup o’ warm tea.” I looked out to the gale force winds. Indeed it was.

“So…” I began, fidgeting with my gloves so that they didn’t bunch at my finger webs, “When does it get warm around here?”

She laughed, thinking I was joking. I wasn’t.

Gently, as if she were carefully pulling off a bandaid, “Yah, it gets quite beautiful around the end of May.”

My face must have resembled a child whose ice cream had fallen from the cone. “Ah, is that when you are leaving, then?”

Don’t get me wrong. I wake up every morning with the joy that I am in Scotland, the country of drunkards and William Wallace and the roguish Highlander romance characters. I love it here. Truly, truly do. Every place, from the hole-in-the-wall Cherries cafe (first sandwich shoppe in St Andrews!) to the Central Pub (been here since the 1880’s), is classy. There are no dives, per se, with gross atmosphere and delicious foods. All unique, and all equally tasty (with the exception of the Empire, the only place open past ten. I have been warned by many a local to avoid it unless completely shwasted).

The town itself is lovely. Its inhabitants bustle about in the morning and around lunchtime. Locals walk quickly, with purpose and their heads down (the wind is a cruel friend in these parts) while the tourists, few that they may be at this time of the year, hold umbrellas and wander around slowly, with a camera.

I envy the students that go here, envy how they live unaware of their luck. If only I could stay here forever…

October 26, 2011

Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties Oh My

Signs of civilization were sprinkled absently throughout the Highlands.

“How’s your president?” asks the fat Scotch in the corner. He is smiling in between gulps of local beer.

We were in Portree on the Isle of Skye, the beauty queen of the northwestern islands of Scotland (voted fourth best island in the world by NatGeo!). I’m tired of carrying my bag so my traveling companion and I find the nearest pub. Up here in the Highlands, almost all hotels double as a pub. This certain pub/hotel had only one customer so early in the afternoon. The pierced bartender tells us there isn’t room here (renovations), so try the other hotel across the way. As we turned away, the ruddy chubster speaks.

“How’s your president?” he had asked, and without thinking, I respond, “Still black.”

A snort and a swig later, “What’s the Klu Klux Klan think of that?” Snort of laugher again, swig of ale.

My compatriot and I look at each other, shrug, and say the obvious: “Probably moved to Canada or at least Alaska.”

As we step from the darkened room into the rare sunlight, we hear a eruptive guffaw from the fat man’s corner. We’d been trolled. He was clearly amused at his cleverness, and probably had a rare moment of thankfulness for Americans.

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