Total Pageviews

Monday, July 20, 2020

Vote for the Other Guy

Before I get rolling with this one, I want to again express my gratitude to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers who rushed to our house on July 26th, 2015 with every intention of saving my young nephew's life. They know who they are.

And I know they meant to do it because I was able to ride virtual shotgun with every one of them, having watched all of their police car DVD's (which we acquired long before the Medical Examiner's Office did in their own leisurely way). I consumed hours and hours and hours of video and audio so that I wouldn't have to guess what had happened.

Or have to listen to anybody else try to misrepresent it.

One employee of the police department who was not at the scene that night was, ah, Shannon Bagley. He seemed to be more along the lines of a captain or something, not a guy in body armor, but like an office guy.

When we began our inquiry as to why the MEO - through its contractor WMed - would fraudulently rule little Charlie's death a Suicide, Bagley ended up being one of the interference runners for the City as they and the County played Monkey in the Middle with us.

One of our complaints was, and is, that it took the detectives over two hours to arrive that night. Bagley presented himself as a person who would look at this with a fresh set of eyes... Inspiring rhetoric. Almost like a politician.

But he didn't do what he said he would.

Instead, he husked up and started defending his Department, insisting that the detectives had shown up in a timely manner. When I saw the effect that this official gaslighting had on my already-destroyed sister, I opted to interject.

I emailed Bagley and explained that cop car video actually shows that the blond detective Sheila Goodell did not come flouncing onscreen until well after 10pm - over two hours after the original 911 call, more than an hour and a half after they stopped doing chest compressions on Charlie, who was still laying on the ground while we all waited in the darkness.

I asked him to define, then, what he understood to be a timely manner. I explained that, in the computer age, timely means something less than what it may have used to. I asked him to respond to my email in a timely manner, and he did not.

So, about an hour later, I posted on YouTube the dash cam footage showing the time of night, with the audio clearly capturing the grim exasperation of those exhausted officers as they literally asked each other where the hell the detectives were. I sent the video link to Bagley and asked him if he still thought the detectives' arrival was timely.

Instead of replying to me like a decent public servant, Bagley sent an email to my sister's attorney, griping that I had contacted him, mistakenly referring to me as Charlie's father (meaning he did not even read the entirety of what was sent to him).

I then took the video down, because I felt I had made my point, and I had also discovered that Shannon Bagley was not someone I could trust. Or anything even close to it.

***

Here we are, six days shy of five years later, and who but Shannon Bagley is running for office in our County? He wants to be the Sheriff! Right here in Nottingh-- sorry, Kalamazoo. See? He was a politician the whole time, a sheep in wolves' clothing.

I was over at my Dad's house a while ago, and I saw the glossy postcard on the kitchen table advertising his campaign. I explained who Candidate Bagley was and what all had happened with that.

An avid voter, Dad squinted and said, "What's the name?"

"Shannon Bagley."

He shook his head. "I never heard of her."

I shrugged and threw the postcard in the trash. I figure that's good enough.

pH 7.2o.2o

***

Friday, July 3, 2020

Requiem for a Dean

(Editor's Note: I softened the ending a bit.)

I was reading my local paper yesterday, which I rarely do anymore, as nothing has changed here since the end of the Nixon Administration. Perhaps I should pick it up more often, because I saw something in there that I would have missed had I not been turning the pages and getting ink on my fingers like in the old days, when I had a Kalamazoo Gazette paper route.

Hal Jenson is retiring, after ten years as...

What do you mean, "Who?" Hal Jenson. The Dean of WMed.

What do you mean you've never heard of WMed? Come on. In 2018, it was ranked as the 383rd-best medical school in the whole country. They just enrolled, what - 72 new students for 2020.

Hal is the only Dean they've ever had. And it's the only Dean he's ever been. He's walking away from a top-five salary as administrators go in the whole state of Michigan. Next year. That gives the University ample time to find a suitable replacement, whatever that might look like, however much it might cost.

I've seen some of Hal's emails. I know his mindset. Hopefully, WMed will use a little more discernment in choosing their next figurehead.

Like the Green Day song goes, I hope he had the time of his life. I hope he enjoyed ignoring my sister's desperate pleas for help as his employee, Joyce deJong, pinned back her ears and dug in her heels against our family's desire for the truth to be told about the circumstances surrounding my nephew's death. (Not the official pack of lies that they fought to keep Holy all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.)

I hope he had a good time watching his dunce-cap underling send an email, which was meant for him, to me instead asking him to consider some kind of legal action or notice against me for blogging about this.

I hope it tickled his fancy, if he ever even knew, to find out that Joyce's shoppe had faxed key information to a certain funeral home owner who DID sue me (unsuccessfully) for defamation... More on that later, maybe sooner, it just depends.

Primum non nocere; that is the oath they both swore, the oath they both violated when they trashed little Charlie Wolf's good name. So some of us will not miss Hal here in Kalamazoo County should his porters pack him up and carry him back to Utah, as they did at Mount Kilimanjaro a few years ago... See how much fun you can have on $400,000 a year?

Despite the fame and the money, though, he has apparently had enough. Hal's Grand Resume identifies him as an infectious diseases expert. As our tight-knit little community (where the fire hydrants sometimes don't work) grimly faces down COVID-19, he may well be looking to bag up his carpet and leave Kalamazoo.

And, frankly, who could blame him.

pH 7.o3.2o

***

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Christmas Eve in July

I can't be sure of which year it was, but I lived on Glenrosa Street in Phoenix at the time, because I remember the oleander hedge. It could have been any Christmas Eve between 2001 and 2004.

Right at midnight, I woke up, for reasons having to do with excess consumption of holiday fare. While accomplishing that mission, I heard something awful through the open bathroom window, which prudently escaped into the lush back yard.

It was a great back yard. A great property overall, if you were hungry enough, with mature pecan and carob and tangelo trees literally dropping food on the ground much of the year.

The back yard was bermed for irrigation (it's a desert thing), and during the non-existent "winters" of the broiler-pan Southwest, the oleander hedges had no problem maintaining their vegetative dignity... You can make poison out of oleander, you know.

The back yard was fenced as well as hedged and it also had an alley behind it (for the service trucks). But you couldn't see the chain link fence through the towering oleander. It is a very bush-y, very stick-y thing, damn near impenetrable. Better security than a block wall.

But you could hear through it.

On one of those Christmas Eves, at midnight, through my bathroom window, across my back yard, on the other side of that oleander hedge, I could loudly and clearly hear someone sobbing his or her heart out.

I sat there, with gifts stacked under the benignly blinking Christmas tree on the other side of my interior wall, and a broken heart on display outside. It was such a plaintive and hopeless sound in the night that it did not even draw a response from the peacekeeper dog, Ox.

I did my part, I felt, by quietly closing the window - the kind with the hinges and the little crank - and going back to bed, humming Silent Night until foggily falling back asleep.

For a long time, for many years, I did not know what could cause such uncontrollable sorrow. Of course, now I know, and this month will slowly lead to the five-year "anniversary" of my nephew Charlie's accidental death.

There is no Christmas Tree this time of year. No tinsel strands or colorful strings of lights. No artfully wrapped presents waiting to be opened.

And humming Silent Night or anything else isn't going to work, isn't going to keep my sister's voice (or my own) out of my head. The sadness can't be muted by the closing of a window. It can't be blissfully ignored due to not yet being understood.

It's not on the other side of the oleander hedge.

pH 7.o1.2o

***

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Primary Responsibility

Here in the tiny Hamlet of Kalamazoo, Michigan (where No Lives Matter), election season is upon us. Yes, these are strange times, but The Show must go on.

You know:  The Show. With the dogs, the ponies, the freak tents that cost a quarter... And that's just at the federal level!

In pro sports, there are preseason games. At the movies, they used to have cartoons. In politics, we call the little run-up to November's Big Dance the "primary election". That's where each Party's voters separate the wheat from the chaff. In Michigan, that will take place on August 4th, and so will the primary.

I have my pick between two Democrats in that regard. One of them is my own County Commissioner, Tracy Hall, with whom I may not communicate because County attorneys here in Kalamazoo have forbidden such interactions between this constituent and his elected official. (We're funny that way.)

Such are the actions of a grizzled pol. Don't be fooled by appearances, though; Ms. Hall is actually quite young - in her 30's. Not many of us would feel all that "represented" by someone with so little experience, assuming Tracy would bother fulfilling her duties in office, which she has utterly failed to do as far as we Hellers are concerned.

There's not much of an option, though, as her primary opponent is Commission colleague Julie Rogers. They happen to be ideological clones, and besides that, Ms. Rogers also declined to meet with our family about a matter that is very important to us and apparently not at all to her.

Like her frenemy, Ms. Rogers was also bossed around by highly-paid, unseen bureaucrats - the ones who truly control Kalamazoo County. How likely is that to change as she continues to climb the rungs of government? To my eyes, Ms. Rogers does not serve the people; Ms. Rogers serves Ms. Rogers (when she's not busy carrying out her cynical marching orders).

So I will be looking for Ms. Rogers to beat Ms. Hall (badly) in August, and then for Kalamazoo voters to elect Republican Gary Mitchell to State House Seat 60. We don't elect many Republicans around here, but this one could be different in that he actually has an impressive resume, unlike his two potential opponents from the Donkey Party.

So, straw hats and beanbags for everyone. This looks to be a fine season for politicking, all across this land that we love, no matter how socially distant our public servants tend to be. May the best man win.

pH 6.25.2o

***

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Circumspice

Oh, Lord; we made the news again.

Welcome to Michigan. Masks optional, or otherwise, depends on who you ask. Guns, mandatory, to those with a certain mindset. Messages need to be sent loudly and clearly, just as speeches must be enunciated loudly and clearly.

Panic might well be in the air. But it's happening at the wrong time of the year. Michigan is just now coming out of hibernation. We're rubbing the sleep out of our eyes and waking up to a calamity.

I've lived in stranger places - I'm talking to you, Arizona - but most people haven't. You shouldn't fault entirely the crowd of unhappy campers who practiced antisocial distancing at the Capitol recently, because government in Michigan, at all levels, has always seemed a little too... eager to go on a rights-depriving spree.

Ask any legal scholar. Is Michigan among the worst-administrated states in the Union? Yes. Is the bureaucracy insufferable? Oh, yes. How about racial inequalities and dispar-- Yes. Draconian sentencing guidelines and high rates of incarcer-- Yes. Dropout rates, teen pregnan-- Yes. Yes, okay? Yes, yes, yes.

And the roads suck, too. And the schools are for shit. And the taxes are high. So are the crime rates. And insurance rates. The water is polluted. The infrastructure is rusting, crumbling, rotting. Just like the government. Welcome to Michigan, where the only thing you can bank on is hitting a deer with your car every two years.

Our elected officials, nearly all of them, have the nerve to act like they're doing us a big favor all the time. But we're neither lazy nor stupid here; we're just tired. Tired of things never getting any better. Tired of empty, unfulfilled promises consistently being undelivered by those who swore an oath to a Constitution about which they know (or care) precious little and so find it very easy to ignore.

It's not that we tolerate it so much as we've gotten used to it. You wake up each day, shrug, and go do your thing (weather permitting).

So when a pandemic hits, and the governor reacts more stridently than other governors (often unilaterally)... And gets into a tiff with our unmanageable president... And gets into another tiff with our state's Lilliputian Legislature... What happens?

Some folks, the ones with the gas money leastways, are wont to throw Old Betsy in the truck and head for Lansing. (That's the rifle, not the ex-mother-in-law.)

Welcome to Michigan. A well-known one-handed bass player in my neck of the woods once told me that blaming Ronald Reagan for bad government is like blaming Ronald McDonald for bad hamburgers. This is what we used to talk about at parties here.

If he was right - and he's sure he was - then it also stands to reason that blaming Michiganders for bad government is like blaming Ronald Reagan and Ronald McDonald for being clowns.

Something like that... Nothing makes much sense anymore, which is coincidentally the essence of pure Michigan, and welcome to it.


pH 5.o7.2o

***

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Spanning the Globe

Africa.

This blog has readers in African countries. Specifically, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, Uganda, Zimbabwe. The World Wide Web, indeed.

How do I know?

Google. On the Admin side of it, I can see all kinds of information about those who read the Book of Charlie... What kind of OS they're running, which browser they use, which website pointed them in my direction... Where they are.

In elementary school, there was a really big globe on a table in the classroom. A globe with a topographic surface, so we pupils could feel the Rocky Mountains under our fingertips, like natural Braille. And for those of us who must have them, there were names on all the countries. I see so many of those names now on my screen.

Europe.

Germany. France. Belgium. The Netherlands. Spain. Portugal. Italy. Ireland. The U.K. Ukraine. Russia. More.

Places that have been devastated by war and the nightmares of authoritarianism. Places that were brutally civilized by the Roman Empire, then left to their own dark devices after the Empire crumbled. Places where the population outlasted the plague.

They know of a deeper historical suffering than any American could ever fathom. They know that borders are just stretches of land, lines on a map, all subject to the whims of those in power.

Turkmenistan.

Australia.

Vietnam.

Hong Kong.

Other Asian nations, too, obviously... but I am always struck when I see clicks from Hong Kong. The Communist Chinese government has them by the scruff of the neck, eager to extinguish those embers of liberty and self-determination.

The people of Hong Kong want what I have. That feels funny to me. Nobody should yearn for our experience, yet it seems like they sure do.

Idi Amin infamously, perhaps even jokingly, said, "There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech."

(That feels familiar to me.)

He also said, "If we knew the meaning to everything that is happening to us, then there would be no meaning."

(So does that.)

I run these statistics, this geography primer, past my sister who lost her only son. I tell her, look, see how many people yearn for freedom? If that is really what we have?

"Oh," she said with a rare smile, "It's probably just medical students looking for medical schools in America." And we laughed. Not the most joyful sound in the world, but, something.

pH 5.o2.2o

***

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Whatever and Taxes

In the midst of a national emergency, this writer would be derelict in his duties not to blog about certain circumstances. We are in Dire Straits, especially here in Southwest Michigan, where the virus is creeping down I-94 from both directions.

In Detroit, many people have died. That's a lot of bodies, a lot of burials or cremations, a lot of funerals, a lot of grief. (Some of us are used to it.)

The governess's stay-at-home orders have caused great anxiety, especially among those of us with a libertarian bent. Libertarianism is best described in three words... Leave us alone.

This was on full display at a noisy demonstration at the Capitol, perhaps politically funded and motivated, perhaps also well-intended... If you call walking around with an AR 15 slung over your shoulder, wearing fatigues, well-intended.

It is all understandable, though, as stress never has a good effect on anyone. The economic part, well... This is Michigan. We've never had nice things that any of of us can remember; ask a Lions fan. So that really isn't much of a factor.

In fact, round here, we like to look for the silver lining in the thick, dark gray cloud cover. About everything. Even death. Call it the unbearable lightness of being in Kalamazoo.

I have the option of being cremated or buried dead. Either way, your physical remains are to, eh, remain. Matter can be neither created nor destroyed, that's what it says on the Internet.

But then think about D.B. Cooper. He may have had a funeral, but we don't know if he had a cremation or burial, because we never found his body. For all we know, he was a Senator from Idaho. He just disappeared.

That seems preferable to dying. You might even find yourself frozen in a glacier somewhere, and half a million years later, a random scientist might extract your DNA and clone you. A few years ago they found a Wooly Mammoth frozen in the tundra, extracted his sperm, and when they can find a female elephant with the wherewithal, they will attempt to clone a hybrid Wooly Mammoth.

Of course, getting frozen in a glacier is not as easy as it sounds. If you go to the North Pole, even if you fall into a freshwater lake, the polar bears will eat you before you freeze solid... Maybe even before you're dead. So that wouldn't work.

The South Pole, that's a much longer journey for us Northern Hemispherians. And there's no guarantee that the leopard seals won't be just as lethal as the polar bears, never mind the penguins.

Besides that, global warming. Let's face it, no one's going to be found frozen in a glacier in 500,000 years. Nobody's going to be found frozen in a glacier in five years.

Before most of us are gone, knock on wood, Antarctica will be an alpine real estate haven for the wealthy, fueled by tourism, golf and agriculture - an economic boom for the Antarcticans.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and death." I said that to a grocery store worker last week. She laughed.

Because it's true.

Ask a Lions fan.

pH 4.18.2o

***


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Chapter Last

Every good story must come to an end, and even sad stories, too. I ought not keep grinding away on hearts of stone. Eventually they will find some lawyer loophole in the First Amendment through which to cause us ever more harm.

Hell, they've already done that...

I mean, you saw it. I don't think it's any more debatable than 2+2=4. But that doesn't matter to bureaucrats who are appointed and shielded by carpetbagger county commissioners, always grasping for the next rung anyway.

We followed all the proper procedures to get the Medical Examiner to change the determination on Charlie's death certificate. She should want to do that, since the reasons she used to make that call are faulty (by her own admission).

But she doesn't want to. And when Joyce doesn't want to do something, nobody can make her... Well, the Commission could. But the County says no, and "our" court system automatically defers to them, no matter what.

That's it. That's how stories end.

That's how it ended for Carisa Ashe, left sterilized as part of her Alford plea after being prosecuted for the death of her baby. That's how it ended for David Ferris, thrown in jail for 3 months and subjected to death threats after being prosecuted for the death of his girlfriend's child - before the prosecutor dropped the case.

If you think about it, We actually got off lucky. Most people who tangle with Joyce don't.

Now, with a plague having descended upon humanity, nobody knows what is going to happen (a feeling I got used to years ago). That kind of uncertainty can put a huge strain on most people... Medical Examiners in particular.

This is as good a time as any to walk away from it. Like Web Guy said, I can have peace. Not the same thing as victory, but at least something.

Charlie would obviously agree. Here's to you kid. I wrote a book after you, the truth, and it will remain. Because the Internet is forever, your story will always be told, ostensibly even after I'm dead...

I done tolled it.

pH 3.21.2o

***