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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Seasoning

It's hunting season. I don't do that anymore, because I enjoy access to food, and I don't find it sporting to destroy nature on a full stomach. Even so, every morning well before light, my eyes snap open and my brain is activated. This time of year, I still feel like I belong in the woods.

I have a small game license if I need it. I stay up on the regulations so I can freely exercise that privilege. And one has to pay careful attention because they change quite frequently. For instance, you can hunt deer over a limited quantity of certain types of bait in the Upper Peninsula this year, but not in the Lower Peninsula.

If you get confused about that, you might well run afoul of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, as represented on the ground by their Conservation Officers. These men and women are the most highly trained law enforcement agents in the state of Michigan. They have nearly unlimited power to arrest people or to confiscate their property.

You can bet that if a DNR officer submits a complaint to your County prosecutor against you that the case will be taken up, and that you will shell out thousands of dollars if you've done something wrong, like killing a deer without a license. In short, they can mess your life up.

They can save your life, too. Whenever a motorboat dies out on the water, or whenever an ATV rider hits a tree, or whenever an unlucky angler falls through the ice, or whenever a little kid gets lost in the woods, there is almost always a CO involved in rescuing that person.

When the state of Michigan decided it could not trust Enbridge Energy to tell the truth about the condition of an antique oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes, they sent their own dive team, consisting of DNR officers, to the bottom of the lake to get footage. Once they saw it, they ordered the pipeline shut down. Not many other states have the ability to do that.

However...

Law enforcement should also exist to protect people in the same way that they protect fish and ducks around here. And in the tragic case of my sister's son, that has not been our experience. She has been damaged by this. Literally.

I have made no secret of the fact that the two plaintiffs who are suing her both committed perjury during deposition testimony. Nobody cares. But they care about this:

(Courtesy of Michigan Outdoor News.)

In other words Kalamazoo County will be prosecuting the Infamous 2020 Daddy-Daughter Spring Turkey Conspiracy, wholeheartedly, just in time for Thanksgiving. But if you are a certain funeral home owner and her certain ex-con employee, you can push a court case against my sister for FOUR YEARS before even getting a trial date from a Circuit Court judge who has powdered the plaintiff's backside through the whole sickening ordeal.

That happens to be same judge who dismissed my sister's timely Appeal to have her son's Death Certificate corrected to reflect what the mendacious Medical Examiner admits to be factual... And that happens to be the same mendacious Medical Examiner whose department faxed a rather key document to Martha Redmond, who later lied under oath about having received it.

It's enough to drive a person to shoot Wild Turkey.

pH 11.21.2o

***

Sunday, October 25, 2020

American Armpit

 The boy shouted, in half-play exasperation, "I hate Michigan! I hate it!"

No, this isn't about football.

My nephew Charlie had just returned from his first trip to Florida, and his home state had given him the kind of cold, wet welcome for which it is known worldwide.

Why does the wind in Wisconsin always blow to the East? 

Because Michigan sucks!

Charlie loved Florida. (Millions of people do.) Visiting with family down in the better paeninsula offered him sunshine, the ocean, good food, warm breezes, interesting people, exotic flora and fauna, sunshine.

Upon his return, Michigan offered him... Snow pants.

How long does winter last in Michigan?

I don't know, I've only been here for 10 months.

Perhaps you have heard of the plot that the FBI foiled, wherein a bunch of militia types conspired to kidnap and possibly kill our governor. It made the news here, too, but it landed with all the impact of a shrug. Stuff like that falls into a crevasse that exists in between that which is accepted and that which is expected.

Any of those alleged maniacs could have been the guy next door.

The State Bird of Michigan is the Mosquito.

Our land and water amounts to a steeping toxic brine, with citizens being routinely exposed to lead, PFAS, chromium chloride, and so much more. What has ever been done about it? From oil in the Kalamazoo River to uranium in the Detroit, even nuclear waste leaking into Lake Michigan, the entire Mitten might as well be a Superfund site.

During the season, and with a license, you can catch and keep six legal-size walleye a day (the fish, I'm saying) per the rules set forth by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. But they only recommend that you eat a dozen of them per year due to mercury, shit like that.

What do they call accomplished, beautiful people in Michigan? 

Visitors.

But, wait, that's not all. As you are driving to your chemotherapy appointment, you are very likely to have the wheel knocked clean off your car by one of our famous reservoir-like potholes. Actually, that's one of winter's only advantages; the pack ice tends to fill them in.

Our governor ran on the slogan, "Fix The Damn Roads." Of course, between dealing with the pandemic and dodging the camouflaged kidnappers, she hasn't gotten around to doing that yet... Maybe in her second term?

When bad people die in Hell, they go to Michigan.

Here are the facts: If your house is burning, there is no guarantee that the fire hydrant nearby is going to work. If you are drowning in the surf of our Great Lakes, there is almost no chance of you being saved by a lifeguard, because there aren't any at the vast majority of beaches. 

And if your child - who has the good sense to prefer someplace else - dies in an accident, well, there is a very good possibility that the local hack coroner will monarchically declare your tragedy to be a suicide... Or a homicide.

Whether you like it or not.

No joke.

pH 1o.25.2o

***



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Charity Work

 The charity dropped off over a dozen planters (aloe vera spikes) at the local VFW yesterday. There were only a couple of people at the bar there. Place still smells like cigarettes... But those folks fought for our country. Let 'em smoke.

The planters are never very extravagant, and I suppose the veterans of foreign wars would not want them to be. They are made out of plain old love. And given away for free.

This is the monster, my sister, who poses such a huge threat to our county government here in Kalama-who? Why, she's practically Grendel's Dam, only with Grendel having died of an accidental hanging while playing in his front yard, and Medical Examiner Joyce deJong then wrongly determining Grendel's tragic and untimely death to be a suicide.

Let me tell you what it's like to be around Charlie's Mom anymore:

She'll be having a great day. Painting her rocks, tending her gardens, fussing about the house as time slogs past. In the middle of her new normalcy, suddenly, the corners of her mouth will turn down, showing the creases in her skin that will be permanent. Both her face and her eyes will point beseechingly at the ceiling or sky, like there's something there. Then she'll start to cry.

Not just over Charlie, but also other friends and family members and pets who have gone down in a cascade of grief over the last five years. We have both lost so many loved ones that it's hard to remember them all in one setting. And it all started with her boy, the one she loved the most, out of all the people in the world.

That's plenty bad, yet unlike other places, bad isn't bad enough around here. The way she has been treated by her own public servants is nothing short of sickening. And if they get away with doing it to her, they'll get away with doing it to you, if you're foolish enough to live here with anything to lose.

This could have all been taken care of, the right way, a long time ago. But we don't have the sort of fortitude in government that other places have. We have grubby little rung-grabbers who do not give a shit about my sister, or your sister, or you, or me.

I would rattle off the list of names again, but by this time, it is clear that they do not care. You cannot shame those who will not feel it.

But I can act as a beacon. Or, rather, an anti-beacon. A warning. I can raise an orange flag with a black spot. 

For you.

pH 1o.o1.2o

***

Friday, September 11, 2020

Ghost in the Machine

On some days, I actually feel like typing, rather than jabbing at my phone like some executive orangutan. Of course, that entails a lot of work. I have to boot up that cumbersome relic of cyber-yesteryear: The laptop.

After the silly old box gets done with its beeping and whirring routine, icons start popping up on the screen. I notice one that I don't recognize. A little blue camera. I click on that, using an actual mouse, one so old that it squeaks.

The screen opens up, and I see before my foggy eyes the face of an old friend, Mick the Mechanic. He's also a long-gone friend, having died of an overdose in '16.

Sometimes he comes back.

What's up, Heller? I'm not wearing any pants!

"I see that," I retort, which makes him laugh. It is a welcome sound to my ears. Mick didn't laugh at much, but he always found time to laugh at me. "How's my Mom doing?"

Great, same as mine. They're quilting.

"Sweet."

You know, you have more people up here than you do down there.

(I convey to him, through the miracle of digitized body language, that I'm aware of it.)

And I hear that you wrote a State Supreme Court brief. Is that true?

"All part of the legend, kin."

But you lost.

"Nah, it wasn't any scene like that, brother. The Michigan Supreme Court simply didn't take up our appeal, which isn't the same as losing."

I see.

"Oh, yeah? Can you also see that I'm not wearing any pants, either?" Mick laughs again, but not as jovially. His face stays serious while he does it.

When's it gonna end, man?

"Never, I reckon. The only satisfaction we'll get against the crooked Medical Examiner will be to wait her out. Her appointment goes for two more years; she's no spring chicken, and there's already a young hotshot pathologist being groomed to take her place. Same goes for the judge in our cases. He can't run again after his term expires in '22. Too old."

You're going to call that a victory, Last Man Standing?

"I'm not sure if that's what I'd call it, but I'm picking up on what you're putting down."

If you can't win, what's the point?

"Is something on your mind? Shouldn't you be taking it easy and enjoying the afterlife? The Green Meadows and all that?"

Mick chuckles - not a full laugh this time. I like hearing it less. It makes me a little sad to wonder if he likes Heaven or not.

Monetize it, Heller. Your blog. Open the spigot and get your just desserts.

I shrug. "Are you talking about AdSense? I guess I could... They only pay once a month, but I'm just the kind of thing they like. Lots of pages, lots of page views, lots of content on every page. Monetization doesn't work for everybody, but it would probably work for me."

If you aren't going to get any satisfaction in the matter, you might as well get paid for your trouble.

"It's no trouble. I'll think about it." 

For a few seconds we say nothing. We just look at each other's faces, a million miles away, and at the same time, right here in the picture frame. Mick breaks tbe brief silence.

Hey, do you still have those Craftsman wrenches I gave you for Christmas in '90?

"Sure do," I say. "They're great."

Cool. I told you'd they'd last forev--

The screen freezes.

"Mike," I say. Nothing changes. "Mike."

His pixelated features, caught in the midst of a soft consonant, remain as still as a cross in a cemetery. I wait for a few moments...

And cut the power.

pH 9.11.2o

***

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Anything But the Truth

When the judge in my sister's case against the Medical Examiner, Hon. Alexander C. Lipsey (9th Circuit, Kalamazoo County) was sued in federal court in 2019, who did he call in for representation?

Allan Vander Laan of CMDA Law. Large fellow, bald as a honeydew melon. That was Defendant Lipsey's personal lawyer in Simmons v Crum et al, filed last year and dismissed, of course.

And, uh, who was the lawyer who represented the Medical Examiner's Office in Heller v deJong, in which Judge Lipsey presided? Could I convince you to wager on it?

Vander Laan. CMDA. Large, bald... He asked for dismissal and Judge Lipsey gave it to him. Of course.

In some fairness, there was a later case wherein the Court ruled against the County (which had violated the Open Meetings Act), with the County being represented again by this same attorney. So there's no favoritism, they may say, just as other people may say, "Why is his own lawyer allowed to litigate cases in front of him?"

By the way... Who presides over the defamation suit that was filed against us in 2017 by Redmond Funeral Home, a case which grinds on against poor Charlie's parents to this day? Hazard a guess?

Yep, Judge Lipsey! He actually signed an Injunction (a lifetime restraining order) against them that was VACATED by the Appellate Court as having been too broad and vague, basically unconstitutional - long after the plaintiffs dismissed me from the same sickening case.

They only let me out after I pretty much caught the plaintiff in a classic perjury trap. Incredibly, Judge Lipsey not only ignored the evidence under his nose, he would later fine my sister $500 just for posting on Facebook that I had done so.

The same gag order was applied to me, by the way, and Chapter 21 of this blog ("Hide Your Children") was ordered removed without any prior hearing. So for about a year, I was deprived of my civil right to Free Speech

For about a year, I was unable to purchase a firearm at a retail store due to that unlawful Injunction which the Plaintiffs still seek to enforce against my sister, as Judge Lipsey is now sending the case to trial. In fact, the Injunction even prevented her from getting a job with the U.S. Census, which she had done in 2010.

The Court's animus toward my sister, who somehow survives the loss of her son, is a thing that falls somewhere between obvious and overt. On the one occasion in which Theresa's brilliant attorney met with our mother (God rest her soul), he put words to it: "The judge has already made up his mind."

That's not supposed to happen in America. Other countries, maybe, but not this one. You know what they call that? Pre-judice. Which rhymes with "Free Judas." So, yes,  the Heller Family stands before you today accusing this black-robed man of prejudice.

Against us. Time and time again.

Maybe that's why the ACLU is compiling a database of the abuses of Kalamazoo County's 9th Circuit Court. We obviously felt obliged to contribute our case information to them. And it is my great privilege to file a complaint against Judge Lipsey with the Judicial Tenure Commission once he wraps up this wild spree he's on; already printed off the form.

Anyway, do you see what awaits you here, Dear Reader? Do I need to be any more explicit about it?

It truly is these petty abuses by Small Government - more than the crime or the roads or the weather or the pollution - that make people move away from Kalamazoo at the earliest possible opportunity, that should keep them from ever coming here in the first place. It's nothing but a stinking pile of garbage.

pH

***

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, maliciously and arbitrarily 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

***
(Editor's note: She lost to incumbent Sheriff Richard Fuller.)

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.

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, 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

***