Crossing the Line? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Crossing the Line?

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Madison and Rankin cops are angering both drivers of color and white business owners. Are they going too far?

Imagine the panic of flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. It's a scenario that's familiar to almost everybody who's been behind a wheel. First comes the frantic search for your I.D. and insurance papers while the officer steps from his vehicle and approaches you. Then come the long moments of trepidation as people you've never met scrutinize your tag and I.D.

Now, imagine that you've been informed that you're not wearing your seatbelt and that this is a traffic violation, even though you know dang well you had it on seconds before you unhooked it and began digging in your back pocket for your wallet. Minutes later, you're asked to take a Breathalyzer test.

Such a situation is already humiliation enough, but for some reason, you can't seem to shake the suspicion that the real basis for tonight's indignity has something to do with the color of your skin.

Driving While Non-White

This was the situation described by David L. Archie at the Aug. 10 meeting of Citizens Against Racial Profiling. The organization is a conglomeration of members of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) and others who are harboring similar suspicions that more than just a few traffic stops in nearby counties, particularly Madison County, may be based on the race of the drivers.
"Racial profiling exists, and the community knows it exists," Archie said. "We feel the Madison County Sheriff's Department is breaking the law by pulling African-Americans over for (just) anything. Most of the time they'll find a reason to issue you a citation, or say they were just checking you out, and that's just not right. If you're traveling County Line Road, Lake Harbor or North 51, and you drive a certain kind of car with tinted windows or big rims, then your car is going to get targeted."

Archie and others have called for a boycott of Madison and Ridgeland businesses by patrons of color, including places like Northpark Mall. They've also called for the firing of Madison County Sheriff's Department Deputy George Elliott, the department DUI officer, claiming that Elliott is targeting minorities.

"They're illegally offering you the Breathalyzer test without probable cause or the suspicion that you've been drinking. If you're stopped and you're black and it's the middle of the night, it's for sure that the Madison County Sheriff's department is going to offer you the Breathalyzer test. We have records that there's quite a few DUIs given by Madison County Deputy George Elliott. We ask that [Madison County] Sheriff Toby Trowbridge fire Elliott ton the spot," Archie said. The county, though, is proud of Elliott's numbers; indeed, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has honored Elliott for his extremely high DUI arrest rate.

Archie, who has a BS in criminal justice and who has worked with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department, claims he was trailed all the way from the Blockbuster Video store on County Line Road to Sunchase Apartments on Old Canton before finally getting pulled over. He says that he had not been drinking and knew he was being followed; therefore, he was driving carefully to avoid getting pulled over. He was pulled over anyway—he says for being "presumptively criminal."

'He Was Just Fishing'

"I asked him, 'Sir, why did you stop me?'" Archie said. "He looked over into my car, stuck his head inside, looking for something to bust me on, and said, 'You're not wearing your seatbelt.' He had me step outside the car and took me to the back. He ran my license, and then asked me one simple question: 'Have you been drinking?' I said 'No.' He asked me if I would give him permission to give me the Breathalyzer [test]. I told him, 'No.' He said, 'You're under arrest for refusing to take the Breathalyzer.'"

Deputy George Elliott did not respond to interview requests. However, in an interview, Sheriff Trowbridge spoke for his entire staff, saying that racial profiling "does not exist in my department." The sheriff described an entirely different scenario involving Archie.

"David Archie was going down the road when the deputy observed him with no seat belt. He stopped Archie, got his driver's license and found out that he had a suspended driver's license. ... He did not even have the privilege to be on a public street. That was the arresting offense to start with. The deputy observed the smell of alcohol on him and asked him to take the Breathalyzer test, and he refused. It has nothing to do with the DUIs and all that. It had everything to do with a probable cause stop and a suspended driver's license," Trowbridge said, and challenged Archie to take the issue up with higher authorities.

"I would love for David Archie to do a complaint with the Department of Justice against me for racial profiling on this. I welcome that. I think it wouldn't take an investigator about 30 seconds to see the numbers," Trowbridge said.

While Archie admits that his license was not in good standing, he maintains that the officer didn't inform him of this until they were on their way to the jail—and stands by his charge that the officer did not have "probable cause" to pull him over in the first place.

"He charged me with driving with no seat belt, suspended license and refusing to take the Breathalyzer, but the bottom line is that it was an illegal stop. He couldn't even see whether I had my seat belt on at night. He was just fishing. He noticed an African-American male coming out of the parking lot at 11:45 and got on me," Archie said.

Still, many people would say, why not take the Breathalyzer and prove that he wasn't drunk? It's a matter of principle, people like Archie say; if police can go on a fishing expedition at will—or based on someone's profile—why bother requiring "probable cause" in the first place?

Meet Mr. Breathalyzer

Mississippi ACLU Executive Director Nsombi Lambright said many charges handed out after a Breathalyzer often have nothing to do with drunkenness.

"Most of the people we talked to ended up passing the Breathalyzer … but [the traffic stop] leads to subsequent charges like resisted arrest, suspended license or an unbuckled seatbelt or lack of insurance, charges they wouldn't have gotten if they hadn't been pulled over for driving while black or driving while Hispanic," Lambright said.

Jimmy Bell, chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at Jackson State University, agreed with Archie that racial profiling is alive and well wherever there's "traditional" policing, and called the tactics "reactive" and "not very people-friendly."

"It's sort of a we/they kind of mentality. It's we-the-protectors vs. they-the-enemy. That's a historical tradition of law enforcement that goes back since its inception, and unfortunately a lot of the training hasn't done much to circumvent that. They're trained in confrontational and combat skills, and they have very little skill in terms of communication with the public," said Bell, who went on to describe how reactive behavior based on appearance and presumption is an outdated police method that is ineffective in any case.

Former Atlanta police officer and author Ed Brown, who wrote the book "Having Your Way With the Police" (available at http://www.core-edge.com) shares Bell's views that police reaction to civilians was about 60 percent based upon non-verbal communication, primarily observation, or "profiling," to use popular-speak. Brown said in an interview, however, that generalizations were often the difference between life and death in even the most routine traffic stops. A Colt .45 could be waiting under every car window, looking to blow the meat out from under your hat—and without a single polite word of warning.

"Psychology describes what we call pattern-seeking motives that human beings have. We have them to protect us. If [cops] took the time to consider 'is this person going to hurt me,' 'what is that thing in their hand' and all the other little particulars, we'd probably be dead before we concluded that this person was harmful. Being a police officer, you have a heightened sense of alertness, so patterns are sought more quickly. Police officers are always on yellow alert, whereas most people are on green light," Brown said, adding that media is also a heavy influence upon police reaction to certain behavior, even styles of clothing. Brown pointed out that even the most "individualistic" form of street dress can conform to a kind of unofficial uniform that connotes deviant behavior.

"[Rapper] 50 Cent comes out and talks about his life as a drug dealer and how many times he's been shot and so forth, and he dresses a certain way, drives a certain car and has a certain style of rims on his car. And then people in the neighborhood take on that same affectation, and as media-responsive individuals, we see a correlation between this individual who's espousing a criminal life and this person right now driving and living that kind of life," Brown said.

Latinos Feeling the Heat

But you don't need rough-looking street clothes—or even to be black—to attract the attention of law enforcement in the surrounding counties, said Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance Chairman Bill Chandler. "The Madison County Sheriff's Department already has a reputation for racial profiling in the Latino community, particularly among immigrants. And the sheriff and the jail have also had incidents of beatings of immigrants that have been detained there by immigration," said Chandler, referring to Israeli tourist Uzi Bohadana, who was jailed and beaten on Sept. 16, 2001, by Madison County inmates shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We've heard reports of beatings of other Latinos in that jail, and George Elliott seems to be going out of his way to pull over people of color and accuse them of driving under the influence," Chandler said. He explained that one of the beginning stages for deportation in Mississippi often involves having DUI charges, either proven or otherwise, hurled at an immigrant. Chandler went on to note the penchant for Flowood police, in Rankin County, to pull over African-Americans and minorities and cited the experience of his own son, William Chandler III, who is dark-complexioned.

"Me and my son got pulled over while he was driving me to the airport for absolutely no reason at all, so I asked the officer, 'Why are you stopping my son,' and he said, 'You be quiet.' He never gave a reason. I said he had no probable cause to stop us and he said, 'You shut up or we're taking you in,'" Chandler said.

The officer only stepped off when Chandler produced a union card. Chandler's son claims to have been stopped an average of once-per-month since the 2001 terrorist attacks, reflecting reports by many other young people of color about Madison and Rankin law enforcement. At the least, the perception is certainly very strong that they are being profiled.

Another issue MIRA is taking up with Madison law enforcement is the charge that there are no bi-lingual officers in the Madison Sheriff's Department, despite the growth of the Hispanic community in Mississippi to a purported 150,000 individuals by Chandler's estimate. (Chandler defends this amount over the 40,000 figure reported by the 2000 U.S. Census because of the large proportion of Latinos that aren't documented—and who pointedly avoided the Census.)
Shopping for Citations?

Trowbridge dismisses the idea of his department unfairly focusing on minority drivers in lower Madison County. He says this promotes the inaccurate perception that whites in his territory are less likely to be pulled over. Why, Trowbridge reasons, would you limit your service to a fragment of the population when you can target its entirety? The sheriff makes no bones about his generous attention upon the southern region of Madison County—and countless whites are willing to attest to it, with many arguing that cops there are over-zealous toward everyone, not just blacks.

Jackson resident Robert Russum, who is white and likes to frequent Shucker's, said the area surrounding Spillway Road has become a place to shop for citations from both the sheriff's department and the local police department. (The Ridgeland Police, too, has stepped up DUI enforcement, especially after securing, and matching, a $40,000 grant from the Office of Highway Safety this year to hire a dedicated DUI officer and buy two new cars. The new effort helped increase DUI arrests 103 percent over 2003, as of May, reported the Madison County Herald.)

Russum describes many incidents of what he considers unreasonable policing. "It's a problem that's escalated over the last two years. I see these roadblocks just about every week. Often from the time I cross County Line Road until I reach The Dock, I can count 12 or more police cars," said Russum, who can describe many incidents of what he considers to be outright harassment.

"I've been pulled over twice in three weeks, just pulling out of Shucker's [Oyster Bar, on Conestoga Road in Ridgeland]. The first time the Madison cop said I had turned to evade him. He was disappointed and sent me on my way. The second incident the officer said I had turned in front of him, but I'm certain that guy was at least 100 yards down the road, so I knew I'd had enough time," Russum said.

A white Jackson resident, who chose to remain anonymous, complains of having had patrol cars go out of their way to tail her, often making U-turns to follow her, then tagging along behind her for long distances before U-turning again and driving off when all potential transgressions were painstakingly avoided. She claims the high patrol traffic of the area has discouraged her from visiting Madison County. "I know the area is targeted by authorities so I don't go out there as much as I used to," she said.

'My Business Has Suffered'

The growing perception that the police are unfairly targeting drivers is taking an economic toll on locally owned businesses. Terry Hester, owner of Shucker's Oyster Bar, relays many similar accounts from his patrons—unfortunately, he says he usually hears them in explanation for their decreased patronage. Hester argues that the strategies of local authorities, particularly Trowbridge and his officers, are seriously cutting into his profits.

"I'm losing about $15,000 a month in decreased revenue because my customers are saying they're afraid to come out," Hester said. "I was getting a lot of complaints about Madison County [sheriff's cars] parking down toward the end of the street, and as people come out of my driveway they would follow them and, at some point, pull them over between my driveway and two blocks up the road, and my business has suffered. I've got several people who won't even come back over there. Most of the people leave early and go home because people are too scared to stay here; nighttime business just isn't what it used to be."

Hester said his door security has also reported incidents of sheriff vehicles cruising through his parking lot, jotting down tag numbers while people eat dinner.

"If they call in the number and find somebody with a suspended license or an earlier DUI, that's the first person they'll try to stop when he leaves. They were doing this as late as three weeks ago. They'll have from four to six police cars down there on weekends," Hester said, complaining that the department has plenty of territory in Madison County to cover instead of just mulling around the southern portion targeting paying customers. Even patrons without DUIs or licensing problems fear harassment, he said—or being forced to take a Breathalyzer without probable cause.

Hester has tried to counter the problem by offering a shuttle service to patrons, but the fuel, insurance and labor cost of the service runs about $1,500 a month—this, coupled with his 5 percent cut in business, is putting a lock on his bank book. He also laments the recent closing of the nighttime entertainment Mecca, The Dock, which had been a kind of unwilling co-victim of patrol attention. Hester said he fears law enforcement will now concentrate its attention upon his own business even more.

'Be Big Enough'

Trowbridge has addressed the knock to Hester's business by instructing deputies not to sit directly around his entrance on a public road and to ease checkpoints back a little further up the road. He said, however, that no law stops him from casing the parking lot looking for tags with prior convictions and that once a prior offender is on a public street, "He's fair game." Trowbridge also admits that he does focus his forces upon the southern Madison area; after all, he said, "That's where the DUIs are."

"I don't know what else the business owners would have me do," Trowbridge said. "Unfortunately, the people who own these establishments are in the business to provide something to patrons that will get them drunk and break the law or kill somebody. I would think the owner of an establishment would want us to stop drunk drivers out there instead of letting them kill someone and them be liable for serving an intoxicated person. … Be big enough to say that 'we're in the business of providing libation that can cause DUIs, and we don't want DUI enforcement.'"

Others say they're pleased with the added attention. The Jackson metro is a driving culture, even for people who have had too much to drink. Metro residents remember all too well the case of David Lee Lawrence running a stop sign after a day of drinking at the reservoir and killing two little boys and three little girls in 2002.

Danny Berry, state executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said he holds the Madison County Sheriff's Department in very high esteem because of their stringent DUI efforts. "Toby Trowbridge and the Madison police department do an excellent job of apprehending impaired drivers, and I don't know of a citizen in Madison County who'd be opposed to that. I can't imagine the people in Madison saying that it's OK for impaired drivers to drive the streets and highways of Madison County. I think it's wonderful that people who want to drive our streets impaired are upset, and I think those are the one's who're going to be upset.

Berry said the organization's court monitor, Larry Knight, checks court records all over the state every month and concludes that the Madison County sheriff's department routinely hits a high conviction rate of 90 percent.

This rate is higher than M.A.D.D. reported earlier this year. Berry told the Madison County Herald in May that the county's conviction rate was 10 points below the state's average of 90 percent—and needed to catch up, which it seems to be doing now. But the group had no complaint about Deputy Elliott's track record; in July, it honored him as the top DUI law enforcement officer in the state for the second year in a row. In 2003, the Herald reported, Elliott had netted 656 DUIs; by the end of June 2004, he had logged more than 400 DUI arrests.

Crossing the Line?

Jackson attorney John Collette has seen his fair share of DUI cases and said that the high conviction rate can be deceiving. "They got a 90 percent conviction rate because, A) a lot of people can't afford to challenge it and, B) there's a lot of people getting nervous and messing up when they get pulled over," Collette said. "Ninety percent get stopped at midnight or 1 a.m. The first thing the officers says is, 'Have you been drinking?' People think if they're honest and tell the truth the officer'll let them go, so a lot of them say 'yeah, I had a drink around 6 p.m. but that was a long time ago.' Well, an officer has to show probable cause if you refuse the Breathalyzer and what you've just done is help him do it, because you've admitted drinking."

Collette said he's handled many cases where clients were tailed by cops waiting for them to screw up enough to get road-sided and get the process moving. "What they do is pretextual stuff. They hang around The Dock, they hang around bars where they know that at 1 in the morning if you're leaving a certain area they know that there's a 50/50 chance you've been drinking. If you're out there past 1 a.m., odds are they're going to try to find some reason for you to get stopped. Either you throw a cigarette butt out the window, faulty tags, light out, bumped the center line—anything and everything for them to then proceed further."

Collette calls it "harassment." Lambright calls it "a violation of privacy right." Trowbridge, however, calls it "effective."

Whether residents believe that metro law enforcement are going too far often depends on whether or not they believe they have been a "victim" of the so-called harassment, either directly or due to lost business. Retail manager Jimmy Dukes, of BeBop Records, who is white, maintains that there's a big line between good policing and harassment—and that Madison cops routinely cross it. It's goes too far, he said, when people do not even want to visit the area because they might have to defend their innocence to police—or later in court.

"In the last eight or nine months I've had [patrol vehicles] pull out and follow me for about half a mile, between Spillway Road and Rice Road. I have friends who have to take cabs back and forth in that area because they don't want to even take a chance, don't even want to be bothered."

Dukes said that even a driver who's ice-cold sober can weave nervously when there's a patrol vehicle sticking to their back bumper. He deemed it an unfair practice to set up checkpoints in the vicinity of public events. "It's just bad practice, you know? Business is going to be lost," he said.

David Archie—who is a vocal supporter of Frank Melton's tough-on-crime mayoral campaign—said that no one should be stopped without clear probable cause. "It's time to step up to the plate and do something about it," Archie said at the Aug. 10 meeting. "We feel all persons, no matter what race you are, shouldn't be stopped illegally."

Previous Comments

ID
77759
Comment

I know of many people who have been stopped by the Madison County Sheriff's department for no reason and are immediately asked to take a breathalyzer test. This is harassment and a bad case of "cops & robbers" gone bad. Whatever happened to probably cause? Let's stop this illegal activity & stop arresting the poor average Joe and go after the really bad DUI drivers that are swerving all over the road.

Author
dd
Date
2004-09-09T12:53:09-06:00
ID
77760
Comment

These people are out there everyday risking their lives to protect us and this is the appreciation that they get for it. I am a resident of Madison County and I am very proud of our Sheriff's Dept. I guess that it doesn't matter what they do, some people are so blinded by ignorance that they are going to complain no matter what. If it wasn't this, it would be that they don't do enough.

Author
KW
Date
2004-09-14T09:14:40-06:00
ID
77761
Comment

KW, what I pulled from this article is that many are simply questioning the ethics and tactics of the police in these suburban areas. I've asked a few police officers since reading this and they state it's unethical and should not be done... But, validated the fact that many (especially in the counties mentioned) do use these tactics. It's a matter of ethics... I think 99.9% of us would agree we don't need heavily intoxicated idiots swerving through our interstates and neighborhoods.

Author
kaust
Date
2004-09-14T09:33:09-06:00
ID
77762
Comment

David Archie isn't a good example to use here. Someone who was innocent but got charged anyway would have been a lot better.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2004-09-14T10:52:59-06:00
ID
77763
Comment

The RPD and MCSD are doing an awesome job of trying to keep crime out! I applaud the actions being enforced. It is quite evident that Jackson's crime has been moving to the north for years now. If it means more people are going to get pulled over, so be it. That is the only way the word is going to get out for Jackson criminals not to think about coming to Ridgeland or Madison. Keep up the good work!

Author
Faithful
Date
2004-09-15T14:57:39-06:00
ID
77764
Comment

Ironghost, I wanted to make a quick comment without saying anything directly about Archie's innocence or guilt because I don't think it's been established, yet. You make a good point that it is more convincing, or at least palatable to the public, to argue about things like probable cause when it's clearly someone who is innocent. But consider this: The technicalities that protect our rights as U.S. citizens against being pulled over because a cop feels like it are more likely to be at play when someone might actually be guilty. Does that make sense? That is, if we are to protect the precarious system we haveóinnocent-until-guilty; need for probable causeóit also has to apply to cases where the person pursued might be guilty. Really, that's where the greatest test of our freedoms lie: it's actually the cases with grey area where our rights are at the most risk. Am I making sense? In this particular story, I don't think anything is cut and dried. I liked Adam's story because it really captured that. He followed a narrative thread of how this story unfolded for us. We reported a Buzz about Archie's initial press conference and his accuations. I asked Adam to follow up, get the cops' side, etc., especially Sheriff Trowbridge and the deputy if possible (who didn't return calls). Then we started getting phone calls from white folks who both live in Madison County and visit there who said the cops were being over-zealous toward them. Some were saying that there couldn't be racial profiling because it had happened to them; others thought they could be racially profiling and being over-zealous toward white drivers as well. (It is possible to do both, of course.) Then we starting hearing from locally owned businesses upset with the cops. So I asked Adam to expand the story beyond the cops' response to Archie and look at the other allegations we were hearing. I thought the end result was very compelling for the very reason that it showed how many gray areas there are. The fact is, personally I hate drunk driving, and I believe we're not hard enough on it in America. The sheriff's comments were very straightforward about that, I thought, and the conviction rate, as reported, is very high, which weakens the case against the cops a bit. However, if I owned a business, I wouldn't want them lined up outside scaring off my customers, either. And it was interesting, I suspect, to a lot of people of color to learn that they are not the only ones being targeted heavily. The story ultimatelly ended up more about DUI profiling than racial profiling, as you can see. If you read the entire story, you will see that it ultimately did not indict anyone. It was one of those stories that comes a long now and again that raises many differenet questions, all important. Personally, I hope it makes people think more about the perils of drunk driving (legally and otherwise), and that it makes the copsócounty and city, here, in Rankin and in Madisonóthink about whether or not they're being over-zealous or fair, both to drivers and business owners. The calls we've gotten since have run overwhelmingly positive on the story, and the two negative responses so far seem to be from people who didn't read the entire story (sigh). Also, interestingly, most of the calls have been from whites who live in Madison County, as far as we can tell.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-09-15T15:31:10-06:00
ID
77765
Comment

My problem was he did up being "guilty" of a charge. In a sense the Deputy seems justified....until you start thinking on how he came across on his hunch. It seems dangerously close to profiling.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2004-09-15T16:08:58-06:00
ID
77766
Comment

Exactly, Ironghost. It was the charge of refusing to take a Breathalyzer and then driving with a suspended license, right? Not drunk driving? And has he gone to court, yet? We're working on an update, so we'll find out how everything fleshes out in the long run. Now, driving with a suspended license is obviously wrong. As obviously would be drunk driving. But the bigger question here is whether the cops had the probable cause to pull him over in the first place. It's a grey area, but an important one to civil libertarians and folks opposed to police-state tactics. He says they didn't; they say they did. Hopefully, it'll be resolved in court. However, you can see how if the cops are pursuing an over-zealous strategy--and I'm not saying they are here, BTWóand following people and such that they can cause folks to do silly stuff to give them probable cause. Of course, some people then argue that it doesn't matter if they're guilty anyway. But what if they aren't? Then they're going to catch some folks in a large net and make them very uncomfortable and cost folks like Terry Hester business and so on. On the other hand, if that saves lives, it could be what it takes. Maybe. You can see why I find this story so interesting. I think it reveals many layers. However, there are many good policing experts who will argue that you can and should do good law enforcement without profiling, racial or otherwise. There's a piece linked right now under NewsBlog about a study about increased racial profiling actually hurting security efforts.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-09-15T16:23:58-06:00
ID
77767
Comment

[Comment moved to TrollBlog. ó Ed.]

Author
TC Stein
Date
2004-09-15T17:18:12-06:00
ID
77768
Comment

I'm glad this is getting attention. After moving here 7 years ago, I quickly learned that a Hinds County tag on my little car is a beacon for the various agencies in Madison County, and took well to heart their obvious attitude of "You are not welcome here". I am a caucasian male, non-drinker, and my conclusion was the attitude is not only racial, but a form of class war against the working class citizens of Hinds. I quickly tired of wasting my time at Ridgeland roadblocks, and vowed all of my purchases would be made in Hinds County, since I *am* welcome to drive here. No nightspots in Madison County are even close in atmosphere to those in downtown Jackson, and the only chain store lacking is JC Penney. Who cares? We in Hinds welcome everyone in Madison and Rankin to enjoy themselves in our towns, and you see their car tags at all the popular clubs. I'll keep my money recycling here, thank you. For Madison County residents to be proud of a siege mentality is downright cowardly and pathetic. Come visit us in Jackson, and see what a good time is all about. You can find all the places right on this website.

Author
corrosiongone
Date
2004-09-16T18:16:44-06:00
ID
77769
Comment

Thanks for the plug, corrosion. We do have a good time in Jackson, don't we? I truly feel sorry for the people who are too afraid to venture into the city. They're missing out. And, to hear more and more people tell it, the burbs aren't a honeymoon for everyone. Even if you do have to dress properly to go to the movie theater. ;-D

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-09-16T18:44:17-06:00
ID
77770
Comment

At the risk of sounding too smug, I submit we in Hinds are also smarter and better-looking, even if we're in jeans and tattered tennis shoes. Just look at how our eyes twinkle with mirth while the 'fraidy cats keep checking their makeup. Eh, I'm always smug. Guilty.

Author
corrosiongone
Date
2004-09-16T19:01:54-06:00
ID
77771
Comment

Rudyard Kipling, anyone? Let us compare what we have to the suburban barrens north, and remind ourselves "I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!"

Author
corrosiongone
Date
2004-09-16T19:14:49-06:00
ID
77772
Comment

You bad boy, corrosion. ;-) I tell you, though, I'm serious about what people miss when they have to commute home every day. We left our office in Fondren today about 6, had some tomato-basil pizza at Old Venice, then came back here so Todd could finish some work. About 8 p.m., I ambled (yes, by foot, fraidy cats) over to Brown's Fine Arts to Ellen Langford's opening in the wonderful night air. (The show is outstanding, I might add. Go.) Then I walked back past Computer Co-op peering inside at the organic herb plants stands they had pulled inside for the night. A cute little silver space-age hybrid was parked in front. (Charlotte's from Computer Coop, I think.) I strolled past Swell ( Chane was working late, too), then by Cups, which was packed inside and out with folks hanging out talking and working on their laptops. Then I strolled past El Ranchero, where folks were on the patio sipping margaritas. (The last time I did that at night, a little tailless Siamese kitten darted out in front of me and under the walkway of our building. I dropped to my stomach and grabbed the little bugger. It is now the proud, spoiled kitty of Kate. Her daughters named it Frodo.) Then I walked back up here to the office where I jumped online to wait for Todd. My stream-of-consciousness point is how much I LOVE urban living, and sidewalks, and all sorts of people dressed all sorts of ways, and people hanging out and talking and arguing instead of watching TV. I can't for the life of me comprehend fear of living in Jackson, much less visiting here. It feels to me like the safest place I've ever lived. I'm most afraid of driving on those suburban streets and some monster SUV running over me and my Miata as Mom talks on the cell phone. (And my odds of danger are greater when I'm doing that than when I'm walk through Fondren at night for the record.) But I ramble. I hear Todd in there singing "As Time Goes By" along with the iPod, so I think it means we can now blow this cookie stand. Y'all have a wonderful night. We're headed to Video Cafe for a movie. Life is good.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-09-16T20:05:07-06:00
ID
77773
Comment

Weird. I just *left* Video CafÈ with a film and a sandwich to go. Didn't see any cats, though, unless renting "The Leopard" counts. That's another point to raise: films and film rentals. Who in that unmentionable county would dare carry "Blue Car" or "A Very Young Girl"? None.

Author
corrosiongone
Date
2004-09-16T21:53:52-06:00

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