It’s hard to believe it, but this January marks the first year of existence of IN OTHER NEWS and, subsequently, the “Hero of the Week” segment. To celebrate the occasion, and to mark the passing of another calendar year, Brian will be naming his “Hero of the Week of the Year” on the next episode. But what do YOU think?
Over the last year we’ve heard stories of a life-saving pizza delivery woman, a gyrocopter pilot trying desperately to circumnavigate the globe, a parent who would do anything to avoid drunk driving, and numerous bacon-related visionaries. Which one, of so many, stands out as the greatest of these steadfast souls? Vote in the poll below and name YOUR CHOICE for “Hero of the Week of the Year!”
“The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart. And also, as always, justice. That’s blind, too.” – Helen Keller
Hate is a strong emotion. I have tried ceaselessly over the years to purge myself of hate through a variety of meditation techniques. Being raised, as I was, on the Mean Streets, I knew hatred. It was like I was related to hate, like it was my brother. We’d go out together everyday. Break a few windows, steal some ice cream from the corner store, then come home so mom could read us a bedtime story together. Me and hate, we was tight is all I’m sayin’.
Try as I may to get the hate out of me, some things still bring it back to the surface like a week-old splinter festering under my epidermis. Pushers in the ‘hood. Inequality. Missing episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. And, oh yeah, the mutha-lovin’ post office.
Don’t get me wrong, mail has revolutionized our civilization. I mean, we go from cave paintings to this? Sheeeeeeeee-it. And I got love for my boi Benjamin Franklin, or B-Frank as I always call him, for inventing mail in the first place. But the post office??? I’ve seen some things that will drain the hope out of a man, and I’ve been in some soulless places, but nothing compares to the post office on the corner of 5th and Main. And that’s on a good day.
Unfortunately, the post office is exactly where I found myself today. And, if you’ll note the date at the top of this entry, today is likely one of the last days you want to find yourself at the post office. Last day for guaranteed delivery by Christmas, which means every jive sucka on the block is trying to mail things. Which means the line is long. Which means that’s 30 minutes that, instead of being on the streets where I’m needed, I’ll be waiting to mail a single envelope.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Streetwalker, why you gotta’ mail it today? Wait ’til tomorrow, fool!” Don’t you think I thought about that already, sucka?! The contents of this envelope are too important to let go for even one day: the monthly check I send home to my mom so she can afford groceries. Times is hard for her. Mom, I love you, even if you did stop taking my phone calls. Or inviting me over. And you changed the locks on the house. I got love, especially during the holidays.
Given my desire to be on the streets making a difference, it should come as no surprise that, while I’m standing in the longest line I’ve ever seen at the post office, my hyper-keen senses almost involuntarily continue searching for danger. Without drawing attention to myself, I look around the cramped room, silently surveying the assembled people and looking for any sign of problems. Several of them meet my gaze nervously, and I pause a moment, letting my eyes do the talking. ”Don’t even think about starting nothin’,” I say, with something louder than words, to every suspicious-looking fool in the room. Some frown at me, others break their stare and look down at their feet. Either way, I know my message has been delivered.
Three more people are called to the counter, and the line moves forward. Only 15 people ahead of me now. Directly in front of me is a woman and her small child, probably no older than five. I love the children at that age, when they’re still innocent. When there’s still a chance…
I look down at this little boy, and he looks up at me, then tugs on his mother’s shirt. His mother crouches down to hear him whisper in a hushed tone, “Mommy, that’s the Streetwalker.” She turns to look at me, then pulls her child closer to her. Clearly, my presence has reminded her of her own sacred responsibilities as a parent. If I accomplish nothing else today, this will have been enough.
The minutes drag relentlessly as I stand in the line, listening to postal employees ask one person after the next about the contents of their packages. Those three words–fragile, liquid, perishable–over and over. They can’t be too careful anymore. Not in this world. I know this all too well.
As my olfactory senses begin to pick up the most rancid, inhuman odor they’ve ever encountered, my attention is suddenly diverted by something far more grave. The man at the counter, upon being asked about his package, answers with the word I’ve waited to hear some mutha-lovin’ fool say since the moment I stepped in here: “Perishable.” Suddenly, I know why fate has placed me here.
I act quickly. The only thing separating me from this piece of human filth is the counter in the middle of the floor with all the customs forms on it. I tuck my envelope into my pants and, within seconds, I am vaulting over the counter, sitting atop it and swinging my legs around. I’m on this guy before he even knows what’s going on.
“Back off, jive sucka!” I say, grabbing him by the shoulder and pulling him away from his package. As I hear the gasps and fearful cries from the crowd behind me, I know that they were all blissfully unaware that there was a man in their midst capable of unspeakable evil…a man I’m about to bring to justice.
“Hey, buddy! What do you think you’re doing?!” he has the audacity to ask me.
My left hand on his shoulder, my right hand clutching my beat-stick, I look from him to the package on the counter, seeing the terrified look on the face of the postal worker in the corner of my eye. ”Why don’t you tell me, sucka?” I say. ”What’s in that box?”
“What are you talking about?!” the man says, playing innocent.
“Why you mailing something perishable?” I say, forcefully. ”What’s your target?”
The man shakes his head. ”My…my target?”
I gaze at him unflinchingly. ”It don’t matter, ‘cuz the only thing perishing today is going to be yo’ a**. Now…what. Is in. The box?”
The man glares at me, obviously shaken up by my timely intervention. ”Cookies?”
I can’t help but laugh at this fool now. ”Cookies? You gonna try to blow everyone up with cookies?”
“Blow everyone up? What are you talking about?” the man asks, feigning confusion. Then, after a moment, he patronizingly asks, “Wait, do you even know what perishable means?”
“Of course I know what it means,” I say, looking around the post office interior into the eyes, the very souls, of every man, woman, and child in there. ”Everyone in this room is perishable. Life is precious, fool. Remember that.”
As I release my grasp on his shoulder, he adjusts his shirt and says, “Uh, sure, right, whatever.” Although he continues muttering under his breath as he turns back to finish mailing his package, I know that he got my message. He leaves moments later, taking care to keep his distance from me. My eyes follow him as he hurries for the door. Once he’s gone, I turn to the postal worker behind the counter.
I pull the envelope out of my pants. ”I need to mail this.”
“Don’t you think you ought to put a shirt on?” the man says, intimidated as he eyeballs my skillfully-crafted physique.
Silently, I raise the beat-stick in my right hand high enough for him to see it.
“Oh!” he exclaims, with a chuckle that would seem nervous under more threatening circumstances. ”Streetwalker! I didn’t know it was you!”
“Yeah it’s me,” I say. ”Now can I mail this letter?”
The man shrugs. ”But, you got out of the line,” he says.
“But it’s just one envelope. I got to get back out there and bring justice to the streets,” I say, cocking my head in disbelief. Was he really going to send me to the back of the line?
“Well, Streetwalker,” he sighs, “I have to bring justice to the post office. And, technically, you just cut in front of about 10 people.”
And so I ended up in the back of the line again. Such is the sacrifice made of heroes every day. The post office: where even righteous action goes unrewarded. Merry Christmas, Streetwalker.
“Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed, and I remain, always, bout dat money.” - Gandhi
I found a dead dog in the alleyway this morning. At first, I thought it was a homicide…dogicide, or whatever. But it was just an old bitch. Old dogs will die. I guarantee you that.
Aside from the dog, the morning proceeds quietly. As I pass through the throng of people walking through the streets on their way to work, or crack houses, or grocery stores, or wherever, I nod solemnly to them. Their responses vary; some avert their eyes, some laugh nervously, others begin talking to their companions in hushed tones. The message is always one of three things: “The Streetwalker is here. I a) am safe, b) appreciate his service, or c) had better clean up my act and be on my best muthalovin’ behavior.”
After my daily block patrol, I go to the Curbside Diner for breakfast. I gotta support the local businesses. Keeping places like this running helps show the kids there’s a better tomorrow. Otherwise, all they got to look forward to is the crack and prison. Ain’t no in between.
I take a seat at the counter; booths can be a little hard to manage when I’ve got my uniform on. The armor on my legs always scrapes against the table. Uncomfortable as s***.
As I lean my beat stick against the counter, careful to keep the beatin’ end of it away from any surface in case there’s some stray dried blood on it or something, the waitress steps over to me. I know her story. Single mother, raising a boy, trying to keep him outta the drugs and the gangs. It’s a story that repeats in this ‘hood like the chorus of a Black Eyed Peas song. Annoying as s***. ”Whatchu want?” she says.
I order the same thing I always do: chicken and waffles, with a double side order of hash browns. I gotta pound some carbs in the morning. I also order a coffee.
“Regular, decaf…how you want it?” the waitress says.
I look at her. ”D’an’Quayshia, you know how I want it.”
She taps her foot expectantly.
“I like my coffee like I like my criminals,” I say, looking away from her and into the distance. ”Iced.”
She walks away without another word. No more words are needed between us. She hands the ticket to the short order cook and then turns to the other waitress standing near the register. As she pours my coffee, D’an’Quayshia says something to the other waitress that sounds like, “Next time, you’re waiting on him.” She must have something to hide. I’ll have to keep an eye on her place. Maybe her kid’s into the crack.
D’an’Quayshia brings me my coffee, and I add enough sugar and cream to it to drown out the taste. I never had anything that tastes as bad as coffee. Tastes like month-old pork marinated in s***. But I started drinking iced coffees when I was a kid, and now I can’t stop. I gotta have the caffeine in the morning. I know firsthand what addiction is like. Makes me drink this s*** every day.
As I sip my coffee through a bendy straw, I listen to the bustle in the rest of the diner behind me. People come, people go. Right now there are nine other people in here. Gotta keep track of them and stay alert, in case one of them is bad news.
It isn’t long before I hear D’an’Quayshia talking to the other waitress again. This time, she seems agitated, and she says some words I’d rather not repeat, as I would never want to imply such language could come out of the mouth of such a foxy lady. Iced coffee in hand, I stand from my stool and step over to them.
“What’s wrong, D’an’Quayshia?” I ask before sucking more of the coffee through the straw.
D’an’Quayshia rolls her eyes and folds her arms. ”I just had a customer who didn’t leave a tip,” she replies.
The warmth of rage rushes through my face. My eyes narrow as I spin and look out through the windows of the diner and into the street corner beyond. ”Who? Show me which jive mutha’ did it.”
She scans the area for a second, then points. ”There he is!” she exclaims, pointing out into a crowd of people at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to change. ”The guy in the gray jacket!”
My eyes zero in on him faster than business at a seafood restaurant on all-you-can-eat crab leg night. ”Hold on a minute,” I say, and I dash from the diner back out into the street.
As I walk quickly up the sidewalk, trying to get to the man before the light changes, I realize that I left my beat stick in the diner. With no time to go back for it, I can only hope this doesn’t become too violent. ”Hey!” I call out. ”Hey, turn yo’ a** around, jive sucka!”
Although a few heads in the crowd turn to look back at me, the man does not. I look down at the coffee in my hand, and stick a couple fingers in to fish out some ice cubes. I pull out three, and throw them at the back of the man’s head. They all smack him, one in the head, one in the shoulder, and one in the mid back, and the people around him move out of the way as they realize s*** is about to get real. The man finally turns around. I’ve got his attention.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” he yells defiantly. But, as I step up to him, his attitude changes and he takes a nervous step backwards.
“Question is,” I say, “what’s wrong with you, sucka?”
“I’m sorry?” the man replies. I love it when they act innocent.
“You didn’t give D’an’Quayshia a tip,” I say.
The man looks confused. ”Oh,” he says after a moment. ”I didn’t?”
I just stare at him.
“Uh,” he says, pulling out his wallet from inside his jacket. He fishes around through it. ”Ah, my mistake. Here you go.” He hands me a five. ”I was only going to leave three. You don’t have any change, do you?”
Without breaking my gaze away from him, I take the five and clasp it in my hand. ”Yeah I got change,” I say, “and I’m dispensin’ it on the streets.”
I let my stare linger until I’m satisfied this chump won’t repeat his offense, then I turn and walk back toward the diner. As I step through the door, D’an’Quayshia is looking at me from behind the counter. I hand her the money and once again take my seat next to my beat stick.
“Uh, thanks, uh, Streetwalker,” D’an’Quayshia says, staring at the cash before shoving it into her apron.
“Ain’t gotta thank me,” I reply. ”Just bring me another iced coffee.”
Greetings and salutations, oh lovers of fine podcasts, and welcome to the new website for In Other News, your source for weird news since…well…January. Here, you’ll be able to find a new episode of ION every other Wednesday, as well as a complete archive of previous episodes.
Wait, who are you people?
If you’re just joining us for the first time, IN OTHER NEWS is a bi-weekly podcast brought to you by George Farmer (a Kohl’s supervisor/trivia host in real life) and Brian Martin (armchair warrior by day, heavy sleeper by night). In each episode, George and Brian report/rant about news stories that may have missed the front page in segments ranging from “The Criminal Mindless” to “Rearing Your Children” to “Where’s Your Savior Now?” and so on. The show is about 30% scripted and 70% rambling. But the rambling is entertaining, thanks in no small part to the plethora of mostly-pop culture knowledge possessed by the hosts. ION started out under the “DBLR Studios” banner and can still be found at www.dblr.net.
So Why the New Site?
In Other News will continue to be part of DBLR Studios, as it has since the beginning, but this new site will feature ION content beyond just our humble little podcast. We don’t want you to forget about us in the two-week span between episodes (not that you could ever do THAT, right???), so we’ll be bringing updates to the site throughout the week, in addition to being one more place to find the niftiest podcast around.
Updates? Like what? You can’t show me anything new! I’ve seen it all!
Wrong, bozo! We’ve got plenty to show you! Coming soon, you’ll find videos, blogs, and the continuing adventures of a certain urban badass who enjoys wearing kitchen utensils…all with the distinct flair for the fantastic and absurd you’ve come to expect from In Other News.
This concerns and frightens me! Where can I file a formal complaint?
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