sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 21, 2012

but what was the first line?
posted by soe 3:30 am

I wrote this down in the statement the policeman asked me to complete:

I emerged from my building to see three police officers running across the street. They were chasing a young man. They caught him and got him on his stomach. [This first part was the first few seconds after walking out my door. I didn’t know yet I was supposed to be paying attention to the tableau, so I don’t know how he ended up lying on the ground — tripped? pushed? jumped upon? Regardless, I didn’t see that part, so it didn’t go into my statement.] One officer was yelling at the young man to stop, but he was already on the ground with an officer on top of him. The young man kept shouting something indistinguishable, except for “in my pocket!” Six more officers arrived on the scene, surrounding the young man. He was then allowed up to his feet.

It was at this point that I decided that I was going to sit myself down on our building’s stoop. It wasn’t out of fascination for what was happening. It was out of fear for the young man. Because nine police officers seemed like an awful lot for one young man. One young man who was really a boy, probably no more than twenty years old, for whom English was not his first language. Either he’d done something terrible, like murder someone or he was a terrorist threat. Except that he was standing up — without handcuffs on.

I’ve seen D.C. cops singly or in pairs take down wrongdoers who seemed far more threatening and belligerent than did this one boy, who had now taken his wallet out of his pocket [I’m guessing that’s what he was shouting earlier]. This seemed excessive.

The boy took off his hoodie and let it fall to the ground. I thought perhaps the cops wanted to see it, but they left it at his feet. His sunglasses and his wallet soon followed from his trembling hands.

My neighbor crossed the road to explain that the boy was helping to paint his house and to ask what was going on, but the lead police officer ordered him to back off and chased him back across the street. I don’t know if he went inside then or later because I couldn’t see his building from where I was sitting, but I know when I got up later he was gone.

Some officers retreated to their vehicles, one obviously to check the boy’s id. His back to a waist-high property fence, the boy wept, still hemmed in by five officers who clearly seemed to suspect he was going to bolt. I don’t know what he was saying, but I know he was talking because one of the women officers sharply told him several times to stop and to listen to her.

The paddywagon left, as did the police car that arrived at the same time.

I don’t know if they gave him a ticket, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they cited him for failure to comply with an order (or whatever that charge actually is), because the lead officer then came over to me and asked me if I’d seen what had transpired. I gave him those first three sentences above, and then he asked me if I’d heard him say anything to the young man. “I did,” I replied. “But not until he was already on the ground.” He then asked me to write that down in a statement, the approximation of which I’ve already given you, and not to steal his gold pen.

As I was writing, another cop showed up, but he was dressed in a white shirt rather than blue like everyone else’s. I don’t know if police supervisor uniforms have white shirts, but that would be my guess. Because I was writing, I don’t know why he was there or what he did.

A young officer was sent over for my statement and the primary officer’s pen. They all left.

And then the poor boy gathered his things and continued down the street in the direction he’d been heading when I’d happened upon the scene.

That’s as much as I can tell you. Whatever prompted nine officers to respond to the scene ended up with the suspect walking free.

But that’s clearly not the whole story. I gave you a middle of a story and an ending (mostly). But what was the beginning? Because I have to think that the story feels vastly different depending on whether someone in Dupont Circle accused him to his face of a crime, sending him fleeing into the neighborhood, or whether he suddenly saw the time, realized he was late for dinner at home, and began to run, raising suspicions of officers who happened to be driving past and saw a fully clothed, brown-skinned young man sprinting through a well-off area. Did he have headphones on and not realize he was being asked to stop? Was he, in fact, asked to stop before he was already on the ground?

What was the first line?

Category: dc life. There is/are 3 Comments.

May 19, 2012

five minutes of sound
posted by soe 1:26 pm

I thought I’d try something new today and offer you the noises of my neighborhood. Listening to five minutes of audio might be a bit tedious, so I thought I’d try giving you a more wordy version. If you find this interesting, I invite you to play along in the comments or on your own piece of the internet. If you do take part, consider telling us your town, your location (work, home, cafe), and the day and time:

D.C., The Burrow, Saturday, 2:15-2:20 p.m.

The apartment is quiet. The cats must be asleep. The only noises inside are the humming of my computer and the typing on my keyboard. Outside is another story:

Cars passing.
Two car doors.
Children talking. An adult woman is with them.
Something drops.
Muffled laughter in the distance.
Woman explaining something to a young child.
A siren in the distance.
A single toot of a horn. The light must have changed.
Squeaky brakes.
Motorcycle accelerating and then fading into the distance.
More brakes.
A car idling at the light.
Cars passing.
More brakes.
A deep rumbling truck in the distance.
An airplane heading in to land at National.
A child.
Door slam.
A woman’s voice, then the child again.
Traffic, including a bus.
The breeze.
A car passes.
A car horn toots.
A loud bird cheeps repeatedly.
Brakes — probably a taxi.
A child.
The bird is angry.
A man.
Cars idling.

Probably the part you’d notice if this were audio, rather than narration is that the cars passing by are pretty nonstop, although not necessarily heavy. And, actually, for my neighborhood on a Saturday, this was pretty quiet.

An interesting study. I think I’d like to try it again sometime.

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weekend plans
posted by soe 1:38 am

I’m trying to keep this weekend a little less ambitious than the last few in an effort to find a bit more sleep.

I’m hoping to:

  • See a baseball game with Sarah and Rudi. (Already done!)
  • Catch an art exhibit before it closes. (Also done! Pictures to follow this weekend!)
  • Pick strawberries in the garden. Water the plot. Also weed, as necessary.
  • Go to the library. I could do with a few more books, and a couple are ready to head back.
  • Check out D.C.’s big Greek festival. We’ve been meaning to go since we moved down here. I’m dragging Rudi over there after he gets out of work tomorrow.
  • Finish my Mosaica socks. I’m nearly through the gusset increases. I’d like to complete them before Sock Madness wraps up for the year.
  • Switch out my winter and summer clothes. Right now they’re all in a big pile on the couch.
  • Make popsicles. I have the book. I have the molds. World Summer domination is next.
  • Sit outside in the sun.
  • Watch the season finale of Sherlock. (Does anyone else think it odd we’ve hit Reichenbach Falls so early in the show’s run?)
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May 17, 2012

plates, bubbles, and birthday
posted by soe 11:33 pm

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Some magnolias blooming right now have flowers the size of plates.

2. I sit on the roof and blow bubbles. (This is an old bottle and I clearly need to add a little soap to get them to last longer.)

3. Rudi and I take his birthday off and spend a lovely day poking around the zoo and trying a new-to-us restaurant.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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May 16, 2012

into the stacks: scumble
posted by soe 12:12 am

Once upon a Time Reading Challenge VIScumble, by Ingrid Law

From the jacket: “Ledger Kale always dreamed of the awesome magical power he’d get when he turned thirteen — the day when folks in his family inherit an extraordinary talent called a savvy. But Ledge’s dreams are soon in pieces. And so are the toaster, the television, and the wipers on the family minivan.”

My take: Ingrid Law’s debut novel, Savvy, was one of my favorite books of 2010, so when I heard she’d written a second novel, I was excited to read it.

Described as a companion book, Scumble offers up the story of Ledger Kale, an average middle-school boy whose world has just turned upside down with the arrival of his 13th birthday. The thing that sets his family apart from others is that as they become teenagers, they each gain a “special” talent. Ledge has been hoping to suddenly gain the ability to run really fast, but it turns out instead that he destroys things — turning him into a human bulldozer of sort.

Unfortunately, his birthday arrives just before a wedding several states away. A family reunion (even one where the bride can float and the groom can cause storms) is rarely considered fun by teenagers, but one occurring right after you’ve discovered you can inadvertently break everything in sight is a thing of nightmares.

And a nightmare is exactly what the day becomes. Ledge nearly destroys the family minivan, knocks down a building, and causes an explosion of sorts in the town center — right in front of an annoying girl reporter who’ll do anything to get her story.

So Ledge is not surprised when, the next day, his parents leave him and his younger sister on his Uncle Autry’s ranch for the summer. They’re hoping he’ll be able to use the spacious Wyoming scenery to find some control over his new power — to find the key to scumbling his talent. Plus it’s not like anyone there will find him too odd: Autry can control insects, Autry’s twin daughters work together to zoom objects around the air, and Mibs Beaumont’s brothers (from Savvy), Rocket and Samson, can channel electricity and turn invisible, respectively. And dear, old Grandpa controls the earth — or, at least, he could when he was younger, when he regularly added new mountains and chasms to the landscape.

With all these savvies in the family, surely someone can teach Ledge how to scumble, so he’s safely able to return home at the end of the summer. If he can’t learn to control his gift, will he have to stay at the ranch forever?

Just like Savvy, Scumble is a delightful book. It is, however, definitely a boy’s story, so readers should not worry that it’s too twee. Ledge is missing his three buddies at home. He finds himself thinking, at the oddest moments, of the hair of Sarah Jane, the young reporter he literally runs into his first day in town. He works hard to use running to control his emotions (and his savvy) — and as training for the half-marathon he and his dad have entered together. And he worries he’s a huge disappointment to his dad and a huge imposition on his cousin Rocket, in whose sparse house he’s now living.

Like Savvy, I recommend Scumble highly. After all, who amongst us doesn’t have some part of our personality that we’d like to control a bit better?

Pages: 400

This book fills the folklore category of the Once upon a Time VI reading challenge.

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May 14, 2012

music on monday: the scientist
posted by soe 11:33 pm

You may have heard part of this in a Chipotle ad, but that doesn’t make Willie Nelson’s cover of the Coldplay song, “The Scientist,” any less moving.

ETA (Tuesday): Had I realized this last night, I would certainly have linked to it then, but Willie Nelson’s new album, Heroes, dropped today. You can legally stream it for free here. In addition to “The Scientist,” the album features performances with former Highwaymen (not the folk group) collaborator Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Snoop Dog, Sheryl Crow, and his two youngest sons, among others.

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