Bummer Dion's Brush with the Law by D. Ohmans 1998 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 terror." 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 councilpersons. 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 movement. 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 humped. 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 day. 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 eradicated. 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 legal. 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 reconciliation. 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