Talking to the cops

Even though I’ve been straight for a long time, I still get a twinge whenever I see a cop. If you have ever had your name entered into the system, it never gets expunged. Most Americans don’t know this, but if you give your name to police officer and they enter it into their system, it remains forever along with whatever else that officer decides to write.

Adam Crigler  talking to the police.

Adam Crigler talking to the police.

I am not talking about arrests or anything else… I am talking about any exchange of information whatsoever. I know that most of you are law-abiding citizens, but if you have been watching the news you may be aware that your local police force is an arm of a corporate-sponsored prison system that makes a great deal of money for its investors. It is essentially a hotel that charges three hundred bucks a night and is guaranteed 95% occupancy every night forever. Plus all the ancillary profit items, everything from soap to phone calls, all marked up to the highest possible margin.

If you think that you need only fear this if you’re a criminal, think again. Ask any black person if they share your view. I am here to tell you one thing: don;t talk to the police, ever. “But what if they ask me some questions?” you say. Well, here’s an example.

Cop: “Pardon, sir. You mind if I ask you some questions?”

Me: “Am I being detained?”

Cop: “No, I just want to ask you some questions. May I see your ID?”

Me: “Am I free to go? Am I being detained? I don’t answer questions.”

Cop: “No, you’re not being detained.”

Me: (walks away).

It helps if you’re filming this. And tone of voice is everything. Don’t seem belligerent or threatening. Be polite and calm, but do not answer questions no matter what they tell you. You have no idea why they stopped you or what ideas they may have. All they need is your permission and they can see every exchange you have ever had with the cops along with whatever comments might be there. In my case, it’s a felony conviction and God knows what else. In your case, who knows?

Prison is full of innocent people who said yes at the wrong moment.

Time on the Ouside

Inside The Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility As California Readies $793 Million Prison Expansion Bond

In prison, it’s a common saying that you only do two days–the day you go in and the day you get out. The rest of it is a kind of murky present, a series of unfolding days, each exactly alike. There are daily scuffles and small scams, petty rivalries and occasional serious danger for those unwise or unlucky enough to wander into the situations. But mostly there’s just now, hanging from your wrists like the bracelets that brought you here.

The thing that got me when I was inside had nothing to do with the prison. It was the sense that time moved on outside without me. I reminded me of death. People on the outside don’t talk or even think about you once you’ve been here for a while. For your kids, it might be easier for them to say you’re dead than to fess up to where you’re really at.

The thing that got me when I was inside was birds. I never noticed birds when I was in the world. Maybe that’s because they’re everywhere, like telephone poles. You see them everywhere, but you tune them out.

Phone booth

How long did it take you to realize that there aren’t any phone booths anywhere? One guy I knew was doing ten years for armed robbery and when he got out he noticed that right away. It was all timing–when he was sentenced, only lawyers and real estate brokers had mobile phones, and then only in their cars. When he got out, cell phones were everywhere and payphones had gone the way of the livery stable.

Of course, he’d been a fuck up and they’d slapped on eighteen more months for being an asshole to the COs, but still. Time had moved on.

Back in prison, birds reminded me of time. They flit and fly. I never noticed them until I was there and then they were all I could see. Birds on the wire, birds in the yard, birds on the towers. They also can do whatever the hell they want. Plus, my apartment is on the third floor and there’s a giant sycamore tree out front that’s like a goddamn bird stadium. Those fuckers wake up a half hour before dawn.

I guess they bother me now more than when I was in the joint.

You Asked About Jail?

Putnam County Jail. Never been there, but I been there if you know what I mean.

Jail is a subject that you can only talk about with people who have been there. The rest of society has no idea of what it’s like. Maybe they watched Oz or The Wire or Americas Most Sod-Tastic Jail Rapes, but those shows only give you a glimpse of it.

That said, everybody who hasn’t been in jail already knows the same thing as everybody who spent time behind bars: Jail is not a place you want to be. Not ever.

By “Jail,” I mean any serious correctional facility from the local county establishment to the larger, State-run varieties all the way up to Heavy Medium (my worst experience, since that’s where they bounce the cons from Maximum when they run out of room). I have never caught a Federal charge, so I can’t speak to those places, but you hear stories.

Yeah, I know you’re probably thinking about how if a contract killer is after you and all that, how you can hide in jail. I’ll tell you right now that that is bullshit. Jail is a dangerous place at the best of times. Most people who haven’t been behind bars all think the same thing. You know what I mean. Sodomy and being a “Jane” and all that tired old stuff. Sure, it happens, as do beatings, getting stabbed. and all kinds of other heaped-up indignity. And sometimes those TV shows can do a good job of at least implying the sense of constant menace.

But there are a few things they can’t show. The first is the immense, continual boredom of Jail. The same faces, the same walls, the same stories, the same extremely restricted activity. No cellphones, no e-books, no games, no coffee shops or strolls through town. If you’re in lockdown it’s even worse, and that’s saying something.

The other thing is the total lack of privacy.

You want to take a crap by yourself? Not happening.

You can’t sleep when somebody’s watching you? Hello insomnia.

Look up in the corner. You see a camera there? Yes, you do.

Who is that walking by your cell door? Why it’s that rat bastard of a CO (Always call them COs, by the way–they are never called “guards” You might get a beat down if you call a CO a guard) who started working a few months ago. You know, the one who likes to come in and root through your meager belongings looking for contraband.

And what, you ask, is contraband?

Any goddamn thing he says is contraband. He can say “It’s not on your list” and take your portable radio, your copy of Walden, your spiral notebook.

Shit, just writing about this is making me glad I’m not there now. I have a few funny jail stories, but they don’t seem all that funny just now.

Grandma Shenanigans

Man my age is lucky to have a grandma at all, at least a living one. We were never all that close, since mostly what she did in my life was express disappointment.

This is just a mask. But it does look like my grandma

This is just a mask. But it does look like my grandma

But she did teach me there was a difference between cheap booze and the good stuff (she favors Cutty Sark, which may be considered good but still tastes like a sock) and she said that if I have to lie try at least to lie well. I don’t know her background, but I think her daddy was some kind of criminal. I feel crimes in my blood, if you know what I mean.

Anyway. last time I was in County I remembered that it was her birthday. I decided to call her. Now, those of you who haven’t been inside probably don’y know about prison phones. They suck and they’re expensive and you have to use them. The main company is Pay-Tel. Look em up. If you’re a guy like me, you have had an account for so long that they should send you a Christmas card.

So I put in a request and am granted access. 3.55 for 15 minutes. It’s way more if it’s collect, and usually it is because putting money in your Pay-Tel account before doing a crime might be seen as unlucky.

Anyways, I call up grandma to wish her happy day. She doesn’t have her hearing aid in at first, and then she turns it up way to loud so it feeds back like a Hendrix solo. All this preliminary takes up half our time and we haven’t even spoken yet.

Finally I am able to identify myself and I say happy birthday. She says “Randall, where’s my song?” When I was a kid I used to have to sing to her, and she still remembered. I usually do every year I remember her birthday, but usually I’m not in the joint.

So I look around. The room is almost empty, so I sing the birthday song real quiet.

She says that’s it’s nice. We have about two minutes left by now. She asks me what I’ve been up to, so I tell her.

And then she says the best thing ever.

“So, up to your shenanigans again, are you, Randall?”

Her daddy must have done crimes. Only the daughter of a criminal would call being in jail “up to your shenanigans again.”

Yeah I am ugly


Not me but it could be



I’m the first to admit I’m no oil painting. The calendar has been  hard on me. I’ve been in some fights. I’ve had months where everything I ate came out of a can or a foil pouch. Years, really.

I started out skinny. A lot of guys do. But then I got older, which also happens to a lot of guys.  I am no athlete and never was. During all that high school football stuff I was the dude under the bleachers who sold weed. It was a miracle I ever got out of high school. It’s no mystery that I never went to college.

I worked at low jobs for a long time. I still do. I’m too ham-fisted to make much good at construction, and I can’t do restaurant work since all my charm is in these notebooks (not much there, either, and that’s if you can even read my penmanship. It looks like a cat wrote it).  I don’t like people and they generally don’t like me.

And I have a felony conviction. Think what you want, but our justice system is pretty heavily tilted toward the rich. If you don’t got the scratch, you’re gonna hear the latch. A poor man has a poor man’s pleasures, namely getting drunk whenever he can. And that can lead to more police and more tough times.

Last off, my teeth are shit. I haven’t been to a dentist since the Reagan administration. Seriously, who has time for that? I’ve been lucky because my teeth seem to be made of some kind of granite. They don’t hurt, anyway, but they don’t look good. I quit smoking, but the damage was done long ago. Plus my big front incisor got a chip in it, so there’s that.

Taken all around, I am what you might call “weathered.” I have all my hair and both eyes and all four limbs, but that’s about the best you can say about me. I dress in secondhand clothes that were cheap to begin with and haven’t had the best of care.

But of course I don’t say any of that in my Tinder profile. I figure by the time a girl sees me it’s likely too late.

I hear this blog might make me rich. Who can say?

Two Dogs I Saw

I was coming home from my job at the Denny’s at 4am. I was supposed to work until seven but it was so slow that Derby, my manager, cut me loose. He had me make sure the pans were all done and that there were no backed up plates in the Hobart. Not a problem because it was really slow, being Sunday night and everything. The AA people finally left around one and after that there was nobody.

I’ll say this about AA people. Those fuckers can really stretch a dime. I mean, at one point there must have been eighteen of them sitting around a table. Most of them drank coffee, but there was maybe one or two food orders between all of them. And even then they didn’t eat all the omelette or toast. And they stayed for hours. 

At least they were nice enough, and even though the check was less than thirty bucks they tipped Charise seven. She gave me two for clearing the table while she went out and smoked.

The dogs looked nothing like this but you would NOT want to see an actual picture, believe me

The dogs looked nothing like this but you would NOT want to see an actual picture, believe me

Anyway, I came home and saw these two dogs going at it. I know dogs have feelings because when I was a kid we had a dog who loved me, but I don’t think there was any romance in what I witnessed. It was animal and ugly and made bad sounds.

Still, it made me lonely. I live in a one-room apartment in a building that used to be a bum hotel. You can still smell the old dead wine and all the Top and Bugler that got smoked there over the years. It’s in the floorboards and the walls. I came back to my room and saw my little cot and I got real sad. You know how it is when you feel sorry for yourself?

Yeah, that was how it was with me. Bad, too.

I tried to sleep, but my brain is a bastard. It kept showing me the dogs. Worse yet, it kept saying mean stuff.

The mean thing it said was that dog has more than you, Speedway. You have a shit job but he’s out on the street getting laid.

I called in the next day and quit. My P.O is going to be pissed, but he said there might be something out at the airport. I knew a dude with a felony rap who worked out there, so maybe it’s still possible.

Pray for me, and please don’t feel sorry for me. I do enough of that for myself.