(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The NY Times had a front page piece recently on a new cop show called “Life On Mars”. The premise is that an NYPD detective is in a car accident (which happens while the David Bowie song of the same name is playing on the radio) and is bamphed (as we say in MMORPG-speak) back to the NYC of 35 years ago. The article was accompanied by a sordid picture of the South Bronx as it looked in 1973.
I realized immediately when I started reading the story that this show, and by proxy the article about it, had a not-so-hidden agenda. It’s spin is designed to make America feel more comfortable with it’s new status as a police surveillance state. The idea is to point to how bad things were crime-wise on the streets of NYC in 1973 and say, “See? Aren’t you glad those problems don’t exist now?”
Except that the foundational issues still DO exist. NYC was near bankruptcy not because there were hookers, pimps and johns on 42nd Street or fires and drug wars raging in the South Bronx but because there was corruption and graft at the highest levels of it’s government – in particular, it’s police department.
A major red flag in the NY Times piece (which was since taken down and seems mysteriously hard to find in their database) was the treatment of Serpico, a well-known movie that came out of that era, as the last in a long list of cop movies and TV shows popular at the time.
Frank Serpico was and is a real man, a real NYPD detective who fought very real corruption and graft within the NYPD. He blew the lid off the “omerta” – yes, there’s that word again – that surrounded the NYPD and the sheer proliferation and matter-of-fact attitude toward graft in the department. Ironically, at first Frank Serpico was ostracized for simply refusing to play the game. He remained silent about what was going on around him – his only initial offense was to refuse to take the money. But that was enough to send the majority of the guilty police into paroxysms of paranoia. (Words with a “P” this time, she wrote, smiling gently…)
Serpico nearly died at the hands of his fellow cops when he was set up by them. Sent to arrest a drug dealer and given absolutely no backup, he was shot in the face. His so-called “brother officers” were the ones who stood with their arms folded, nearly as guilty of murder as the dealer they’d gone to arrest, who was quite happy to do their dirty work for them.
But the genie was out of the bottle by then. The press, a more responsible and less timid press than the examples we have before us 35 years later – had the story and was breaking it to the public. The media – a slightly more responsible and less desperate and greedy media than the examples we have today – produced that book and that documentary which today is being passed off in the NY Times as just another cop action movie from the 70s.
My father handed me a copy of the Peter Maas book in 1973. He wanted me to read that book very, very badly. My dad wasn’t usually the kind of person who tried to do more than mildly influence my reading habits, so when he took pains to do so I tended to pay attention, even if I was a 12 year old kid with ADD. I asked him why he felt it was so important to read this book, and he explained.
In 1973 my father worked for the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services. He was an electrical engineer and his job was to evaluate products up for bid from various contractors which would be purchased by the State and used by and for the State police departments.
Contractors have become a very important part of what the activist community has focused on today, especially as the military/industrial complex has facilitated their ability to operate above, around and beyond the law; but the very point of this essay is that this is nothing new.
The State was looking to replace it’s radios and install new radio towers upstate. My dad was tasked to evaluate the products up for bid. There were many many trips to Albany and Niagara and Poughkeepsie. I don’t know how many companies initially bid on the project, but long story short there were two front-runners to win the contract. One was General Electric and the other was Motorola. My father did an exhaustive evaluation on both products and determined that GE should win the contract.
His upper management at the time was trying to steer him in the direction of Motorola, and eventually an envelope full of cash was presented. I am fuzzy on how much was in the envelope – cut me a break here, I was 12 years old when he was telling me this story – but I think it was either $100,000 or $150,000. Which, speaking of differences between 1973 and 2008, was a lot more money then than it would be now.
My father instructed the individual trying to give him this bribe to shove it up his ass, and his final formal recommendation was that DCJS go with the GE cop radios and towers.
That was when the fun began. They threatened, then implemented an FBI investigation of my father, who just laughed and suggested that the feds might want to do a little more investigation while they were in the neighborhood.
As the feds took his advice and rats began frantically jumping off the sinking ship that was NYSDCJS, they fired my father on Christmas Eve.
They had my father audited through contacts they had in the IRS for several years in a row. There was no need for this – it was just simple harassment. I could name the corrupt politician who was behind this particular endeavor, and I happen to know that he still has a law practice in Westchester and exactly where it is, but there’d be no point to it now.
And of course, they ramrodded the Motorola contract through.
To this day, for all that Barack Obama might be enamored of his Blackberry, I will never buy one. I will never, EVER willingly pay money to carry a Motorola product – cel phone or pager or any combination thereof. An employer may decide I need to carry one and that is fine, they’re paying for it and it’s not a choice up to me. I, personally will never pay a thin red dime into that company’s pocket. I will never work for Motorola willingly either.
And I will tell this story openly in the light of day – which is where it belongs and where it can easily thrive – to anyone who wants to hear it – anyone who needs to be reminded that while history is often rewritten by the “winners”, there are still some people who remember when “winners” didn’t simply mean the monopolists who have more market share, more money, more power, more smoke, more mirrors, more old boys in their corrupt and twisted network, more noise they can make.
“Hail Satan?” Sure. Hail works, and has worked in the past. Snow, ice, and freezing rain are great too.
But best of all is sunlight. The clear light of day is the best possible monkeywrench to throw straight into the gears of the lying, spinning, shiny, chirpy, bright sparkly propagandist bullshit governmental gimp machine that has become our news media and entertainment industry – as well as into the very teeth of any individuals who choose to share those values and those qualities.
I am proud to follow in my father’s footsteps as I tell those responsible for this widespread bullshitting of the American public to take your lies and your twisted spin and your selective forgetfulness and your HIGH LEVEL CRIMINAL CORRUPTION WHICH HAS NOT GONE AWAY IN 35 YEARS BECAUSE YOU AND YOUR CRONIES AND YOUR CHILDREN’S CRONIES ARE STILL PART OF IT and shove it up your ass. There is another side of the story… and that side of the story is going to see the light of day.
You know damned well that the rest of yours never can. And we both know why. Other people are going to start figuring it out for themselves soon, too.