Dion's Brush with the Law

                         by D. Ohmans

               Dion lay upon the stone shelf, glad he still had
          his jacket, for a while.  Almost a year later, Dion wrote
          to Jefferson County, Colorado D. A. Dave Thomas:  "My
          main complaints are about Intervention, Inc.  However,
          let me preface that by saying I was shocked the night of
          April 21, 1998 to be incarcerated in a ten-foot square
          room with up to seven others.  It was sadistic for the
          officers to run the air conditioner all night and refuse
          to let me wear my coat [since Dion might hang himself]. 
          It was unbelievable that we all were expected to e.g.
          have our bowel movements in the middle of that crowd.  It
          was illuminating that I was almost the only one who was
          accused of a fresh offense, the others having been
          dragged in on warrants as much as ten years old."
               The stone shelf was in the Golden jail, which has
          doors which lock with an affluent finality.  Has windows
          through which the poor prisoner can view Golden's finest
          women and men in blue hard at work on the City's word
          processors.  As it turned out later, they are hard at
          work transcribing the complaints of that very prisoner: 
          quite solipsistic from Dion's point of view.
               On April 30, two newspaper articles appeared. The
          "Jefferson Sentinel" falsely reported that Dion Illnitch
          had come up behind his Judy and put her in an "arm lock"
          to prevent her from leaving the house.  The "Golden
          Transcript" reported that Illnitch had denied ever saying
          all his dubious conspiracy remarks breathlessly published 
          in the "Sentinel" from the police report.  On the one hand,
          Dion was humiliated, on the other, his integrity had been
          breached.  What went wrong?  Seemingly a backlash from
          the defeat of dominant powers had rolled through his
          psyche with devastating effect.  Judy had little
          sympathy, a topic in its own right. 
               Sorting through the wreckage, several conclusions
          emerged.  For one thing, there was a lot of energy to be
          had by associating oneself against one of America's
          several megacorporations run amuck.  For another, that
          perhaps we live in a state built upon the torturous
          doing of time by victims of those oblivious to the sadism
          being inflicted in their name.  The simple virtues like 
          loyalty and steadfastness came through as indispensable 
          as against the siren calls of false solutions.  No one 
          is not guilty when he undergoes Kafka's trial.  The role 
          of counselor becomes a centerpiece in this society of
          insecurity, because everyone begins by admitting their
          guilt and seeking improvement.
               For another, the crucial gesture was the attitude
          while going to someone who was rejecting you, with open
          arms.  It had something that the "zero tolerance" crowd
          cannot stand, claims of common sense.
               Now on this day in early May, in 1998--the year of
          Monicagate--South Table Mountain still looms over us, 
          still virginal and magnificent.  But beneath, the small 
          town of Golden roils with secret plotting.
               Two weeks ago the protagonist was arrested
          unexpectedly by the police (who else).  In the middle of
          the night, crouched in a county holding cell with five to
          nine other misfits, at 4:00 a.m. he called Brian
          Starling, his local City Councilman.  "Brian," he said,
          "three hours ago I asked a policewoman on patrol if she
          had seen a grey Toyota.  Now I'm locked up for spousal
          harassment.  These police are after me with a
          vindictiveness born of the Mayor's humiliation at the
          citizens' hands.  Can you call my partner Judy and a Mr.
          Hayashi, the assistant city attorney, to rein in this 
               Starling dared to question the circumstances of
          Dion Illnitch's arrest:  no charges pressed by anyone but
          Golden, a charge of domestic violence when only a brief
          restraint occurred.  More importantly, he answered the
          desperate need of a constituent in the middle of the
          night, and followed through.  That is the myth of
          frontier democracy in action.  But the sordid reality
          after one month is that Starling has been accused of 
          ethical impropriety by all six other Golden city 
               Tonight, we are filled with loathing for their
          mendacity and arrogant thuggery.  These were the
          insiders who supported Nike's secret plan to put up a
          parking lot, and whose payola was punctured by a
          coalition representing about 90 percent of the people.
          The people united can never be defeated.
               Starling got off, but not before spending thousands
          of dollars on an attorney and being dragged through the
          mud by the press.  When one is libeled in the media,
          there is little that can be done.  It is too late for all
          retractions, a lawsuit is prohibitive, and the worst of
          it is that one cannot tell who among all humanity have
          read or not read the slander.  Worse yet, of course,
          there may be a kernel of truth to the story - feet of
          clay.  So one can either wait for the healing power of
          time to shrink the injury into insignificance (for most,
          but never for all) or slog on forward with an attempt to
          embed the negative moment within a continuing forward
               It is words that are assailing one's name, which
          after all is itself only a word, but the latter is the
          word with whose safekeeping one has been entrusted.  From
          an objective perspective, there is probably no one nearly
          as concerned with it as are you the owner, but that does
          little to alleviate the unhappy consciousness that must
          re-build but has not yet even begun to do so.  It is a
          difficult time which presents the times of one's life as
          a linear trail with some passages that must simply be
               Yet there must be a secret connection of such times
          with all the rest, especially with what came just before.
          The globe of one's experience rotates, and exposes
          different aspects of the consequences of their choices.
          For Dion, the struggle against Nike's incursion into 
          Golden was so remarkably resonant with the public that 
          it lofted his existence into an unexplored mode, that of 
          public figure, which he seemed pre-destined to destroy. 
               The question whose context still has not been 
          presented is, how and why could a rational activist 
          deliver up his head and that of his friends to the 
          opposition, on a silver platter, as his partner Judy
          put it.  There must be a deeper logic to it all, and the
          road to this logic lies through the accumulation of the
          conscious until what is unknown may shine through,
          however dimly.
               Two months later, Mayor Schenck was screwing up
          again in his usual vicious style.  City Councilman
          Starling, as mentioned above, was alleged by his
          colleagues to have committed an ethical breach in trying
          to speak for Dion in a crisis--was it unrelated--and it
          turned out that the Mayor had called each of them in turn
          for their signatures on the accusation. Under pressure,
          the County district attorney cleared Starling, and the
          City Council had to back down in an evening of intense
          melodrama.  Nevertheless, the verdict is not yet in as to
          "who has fell, and who's been left behind" in this
          episode.  Alone in a rooming house with you tonight,
          reader, Dion could observe merely that he for one was
          rubbed between these cosmically Lilliputian power
          struggles like a fool destined for hanging.
               He was in an agonizing crisis where first the
          authorities clamped their claws into his essence, and now
          his blood was being sucked away by a sordid array of
          so-called professionals.  I refer to "counselors."  He
          has been to four or five of these sessions so far, and
          the prospect is for a virtually endless sequence.  His
          lawyer ($150 per hour) sent his documents to the Kaiser
          counselor, requesting a reply so that he may be
          sentenced to one form of counseling or another.  Then he
          asked his perhaps ex-partner if she would like to have
          dinner, and was invited to join her at her counselor
          ($70 per hour, but paid these days from the Victims
          Assistance Fund, which may be replenished by a fine
          against Dion).  And at her counselor, the entire hour
          was spent in argument--Judy could not put in a word
          edgewise--and self-justification.  The lady claimed that
          it was unheard of for a man to suggest that his partner
          should get some sleep:  deep down, the world is based on
          teasing, blood-sucking and the lifting of money from
          those that had a little.  He was left gasping for breath
          at the audacity of this coordinated plot of the
          establishment to find some poor insect or other, and
          leave them an empty husk blowing around on the beach,
          every fluid gone.
               In the morning Dion had plunked down his co-payment
          at Kaiser to be inducted into their conflict management
          series, and the service rendered was for someone to
          listen to him run himself down, or hold his head high, or
          anyway keep talking as the meter kept running.  The man
          was paying his mortgage, the cops were in their heaven,
          and the nightmare would not cease.  Write if you cannot
          do otherwise, brother, it is said, and brother, there is
          little other that one can do when so cornered.  But who
          would believe such words?  You have to have been there. 
          You have to have seen these counselors pile on for their
          cut to understand that they, too, are on the take. There
          seems to be no waking from this flypaper dream.
               This activists' guide is becoming a rant.  The
          rueful reflection on how to inflict defeat on big capital
          is becoming a cry of pain.  Let it be so.  Let the novel
          become personal.  Dion ended up writing his expository
          document to a lawyer called Michael Cohen (arest.txt).
               To explain the situation, it is necessary to
          understand despair.  After Judy had stabbed my wrist, I
          felt the bite of a grey despair that almost overwhelmed
          me.  When I tried to turn my situation over to the public
          authorities, the police, it was the despair that drove me
          to it.  But that makes it no less of a mortal mistake. 
          "The cops don't need you, and buddy, they expect the
          same," in the words of Bob Dylan.
               And counselors need to buy groceries too, and if
          they get someone in their thrall who will come back and
          back, week after week, with their 70 dollars, so much the
          better.  It is all on a different scale from that of
          minimum wage jobs, and when the latter tangles with the
          former, a "loud sucking sound" is heard.  The solution
          can only be refusal to participate, but we no longer have
          those convenient draft cards to burn.  When one becomes
          trapped in these machinations, it is possible to squint
          a little at your counselor, and see the same leering
          presence, grinning like a mask, who was sitting there at
          your last appointment.  The media are in on the gig, the
          hospitals, and the late-model cars keep spinning along
          toward the mall.  Perhaps Hegel was right that when peace
          putrifies, war is needful so that humankind can be
          reminded of ultimate issues.  So is it time to go back to
          the coffee house and push pawns with James King, who was
          accused of offing four bank guards and writing a novel
          about it but got off free and clear.
               Amazing!  Just as the door slid shut on the wondrous
          rush that was the anti-Nike campaign, it slides shut
          today on the nightmare that has been Dion's subjection to
          the police, legal and judicial system.  The roving eye
          looks elsewhere, and bourgeois common sense returns to
          its dominant position to conceal the awful underpinnings
          of our society.  His partner Judy, who just yesterday was
          gloating that he would get 36 weeks of Maximum
          Counseling, now makes the most of the fact that he
          settled for 15, deciding not to go to trial. The night of
          the long knives ends, the claws and fangs are withdrawn
          for me, but go on for so many others.  One question is,
          how to express what was seen, how not to repress what was
          learned, how to communicate the rage of those
          marginalized by the process that keeps the majority
          blissfully or blindly afloat.
              The pendulum argument.  As "Westword" reported on
          6-17-98, "Jefferson County's Fast Track program was the
          first county level project of its kind in Colorado,
          funded as part of a $645,000 federal Violence Against
          Women (VAWA) grant given to the county for its
          'comprehensive community response' to domestic violence
          ...$576,000 from grants earmarked 'to encourage arrest
          policies in domestic violence cases.'"  So Dion was a
          guinea pig, fodder for a pilot project.
              "Following the passage of the statewide mandatory
          arrest law in 1994, the number of arrests skyrocketed."
          Westword reports that "arrests were up 12 percent last
          year." One police officer said, "If there's probable
          cause, which in this case can be as little as her saying,
          'He called me a bitch on the telephone and scared me,"
          he's going to jail."  And "the result, say a half dozen
          officers who spoke to Westword, is pressure to 'arrest
          now and let the courts sort them out later.'"
               One attorney, Patrick Mulligan, believes that
          "there's a legitimate question of whether we're trying
          to treat a significant social problem with a knee-jerk
          response that essentially throws civil and constitutional
          rights out the window."  He says that "in 11 years as a
          defense lawyer, he's had more 'truly innocent' clients
          charged with  domestic violence misdemeanors than for any
          other crime, in part because the normal 'weeding out'
          process that cops and prosecutors go through has itself
          been weeded out by laws that have taken discrection away
          from law enforcement authorities."  He notes that "many
          of the advocates, not to mention the therapists who run
          the counseling programs, are making a living from the
          system they've helped create and maintain."
               It is necessary, I think, to trust in narrative to
          reveal the shapes that are intuited and then lost.  It is
          needful to spell out the actual events of each minute and
          each day, because that is what history itself did, albeit
          on an infinitely greater scale.  Reality had to unfold
          the way it did.  It would be a work of reconstruction, of
          research, to name the names and describe the moments of
          the process, to express one's judgments by depicting how
          each player impinged on one's personal reality.
               The two processes, defeating Nike and defending
          against the law's incursion, simply had to be related. 
          They had the same inner structure.  They had a beginning,
          middle and end, in more than a tautological sense.  They
          revealed a reality for several months, and then moved on.
          Alexander Cockburn wrote of the debacle which hit
          Teamsters president Ron Carey after the success of the
          UPS strike, "One does not exact a major victory from
          capital without expecting retribution, and retribution
          duly followed.  The reformers gloomily hunkered down for
          the far more familiar process of setback and reverse"
          (The Nation, 5-18-98).  A month later, he wrote,
          "McCarthyism at its peak could not begin to match the
          far-reaching state fascism that is everyday America" (The
          Nation, 6-22-98).
               About the time the doorknob broke, as Bob Dylan puts
          it, Dion was hit with an hourly levy of $150 from his
          attorney for about six hours, court costs of $138,
          probation costs of $420, and counseling costs of $675. 
          Meanwhile, Judy had evicted him, so he bought a trailer
          for about 10K.  The only way to pay for all this has
          seemed to be to sell off my share of our residence. 
          There are those, however, who get in the cross hairs of
          this vicious, vindictive apparatus with worse fines and
          lesser resources, and often they never emerge whole into
          the sunny light of bourgeois common sense freedom.
               Only the mechanism behind these connections is still
          unclear.  The segment of the proletariat who are caught
          in the nightmare judicial bureaucracy do not even have
          the rigid ego development that allows one to bring money
          to bear in a strategic and tactical manner to save their
          lives:  they barely balance their checkbooks, if they
          have checkbooks.  They live by their personalities, and
          even in a holding cell they are remarkably cheerful.  But
          the dominant bourgeoisie do not realize the depth of the
          genocidal prejudice they are bringing to bear as they
          play their accursed stacked deck.
               June 19th.  The hammer blows continue.  Illnitch
          feels bruised down to his very bones by his milieu.  The
          "Jefferson Sentinel" has struck again.  The same reporter
          who reported that he held Judy hostage in an arm lock
          called him last week about his nolo contendere plea.  He
          hung up on her. Now the new issue of her weekly rag has
          Dion's mug shot on page three, cross eyed and apparently
          criminally insane, with his name listed twice:  in the
          headline and under the picture.  "Illnitch" is dragged
          through the mud.  "Illnitch pleads no contest" is the
          news, recapitulating the entire non-story of two months
          ago.  The remarkable thing is that one feels an actual
          physical bone-weariness.  This low reporter has done her
          utmost to inflict maximum damage upon him, and for what.
          To sell papers.  May one meet her on level ground some
               September 28th.  It still goes on.  In the morning
          Steve from Intervention tells me that my 15 weeks, now
          completed, will be extended to 36.  It's the law, he
          says.  So I fax my plea to the judge.  By nightfall
          the injustice to the literate is averted.
               Checking in one last time in 1998, we assume:
          December 31st.  Once again the switch is turned in the
          mind of the felon, and he becomes an animal on the run.
          Dion should have known when yellow press editor Jan Couch
          offered to take his picture for Best PR of the Year that
          he was scheduled for another kick.  The selfsame smiler
          introduced by name on the cover is again so identified
          within as the Councilman's friend who was arrested for
          domestic violence.  And so a long history of non-violence
          in practice is negated for a small-town thrill.
               And so, dear reader, we arrive at the obscure
          intuition that the meaning of the event lies in its
          elucidation.  Hegel said as much, seeking that moment
          when scientific description, merging with the detail of
          reality itself, would theoretically resemble Absolute
          Spirit.  But these things happened.  They happened in the
          early months of 1998, and contained all the incredibly
          rich detail of reality as it is lived.  My own depiction
          can only be a pale replica of the original.  The depiction
          must be re-attempted, or simply held, mostly locked in
          the terrified memory and arrogant consciousness of Dion 
          Illnitch, one of the insignificant pebbles about which
          the wild waters of Golden's history roared.
               And here it is February of the following year.
          Eraserhead at Intervention Inc. has departed, to be
          replaced by tough Scott, who tried to get me to pay an
          extra hundred dollars for their unwelcome services.
               "I've seen the fire of a woman's scorn, turn her
          heart of gold to steel." -Willie Nelson-
               Dion was amazed in March when Judy got someone else
          to do the Web page for the Northwest Parkway group.  The
          woman will not rest until after the offending member is
               Every once in a while, Dion would get antsy to post
          some email, usually political, to which Judy would
          respond with public quotes like, "Dion regularly shoots
          off his mouth with misinformation and invective.  Give no
          validity to what he says."  At the same time, she would
          be acting courteously with regard to Dion's kindnesses
          paid to her.
               How did the question of counseling play out.
          Almost a year after the incident, Judy discovered
          that she felt pained by the fact that Dion had never
          agreed to joint counseling with her.  So Dion, ever
          forgiving, agreed to have her schedule such an
          altercation with an Imago Therapist named Bloom.  But 
          some subsequent surgery of Judy's pre-empted the
          appointment.  Judy then stated that it was probably
          pointless - something about beating a horse.
               Dion's year under his deferred judgement ended,
          about the time a neoplasm of his prostate gland
          intervened, and his concerns became more medical than
               As the future unfolded into the past, the bell curve
          of estrogen-deficiency induced slights tapered off, as
          Dion became weary of his continued attempts at
               On June 25th, 2001, Dion had the following email
          exchange with Judy.  He could stand her denial no longer
          She wrote: (interesting - while filing I found a letter
          you had written me two years before we broke up, saying
          that you were going to move out - I had forgotten about
          that - so clearly that was your idea all along).  At this
          point Dion answered: I was going to stay with you forever
          because I adored your daughter.
               Dion's new girlfriend Barbara came and went.  "What
          a bummer," said Dion.
               Then he fell asleep on a stone shelf and dreamt of
          Pueblo Angelina.

RAIN POEM Gray water floods the earth and sky. Grass, trees respond with green. The soft tap of drip-drop massages my soul, Relieved of the blue frenzy of sunshine. --Judy Denison, May 2011 ABUNDANCE Carefree blossoms cast away their petals, Gaily gracing earth; Colored trees then toss away their leaves, Hilarious joyful heaps! --Judy Denison, April 2015 WINTER HAS NO YELLOW Winter has no yellow. There's red for Christmas cheer; Green for fragrant fir; Blue and silver snow, Clear blue skies, and stars. Winter has no yellow. Yellow bursts upon us! Bright new sun, and crocus, Daffodil, and tulip, Dandelion sunburst, And forsythia. Sudden spring, rejoice! --Judy Denison, April 2015