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Thursday, March 29, 2012

To All the Doubters about my Sanity, Legal Ability, and Creativity: Further Developments and Revelations in the Klearly Kurious Kase (KKK) of Robert P. Dutcher vs. Laz-y Ass Parking, Ltd. and West Hartford Auto Center

While I have not yet sued Laz-y Ass Parking, Ltd. and West Hartford Auto Center, my letter to them outlining why they illegally and tortiously towed my car has already gotten Laz-y Ass to change its behavior and put up new, somewhat clearer signs at both parking lots I've written about on my blog.  Here's what my continuing investigation of this crime and tort against me has uncovered.

Last night, after a wonderful night of dancing at The Russian Lady in Hartford I stopped by the Scene of the Crime against me by my assailants, Laz-y Ass Parking, Ltd. and West Hartford Auto Center.  This is the small parking lot at the northeast corner of Ann Uccello and Church Streets in Hartford.  My purpose was to photograph the signage for evidence in my upcoming small claims or class action suit against the criminal defendants.  I call their towing of my car a crime because it was.  They wrongfully towed my car away, permanently to withold it from me unless I gave in to their extortion, namely, their demand that I pay $113 in cash to get it back.  

Anyway, to my surprise, there is now new signage in addition to the old signage.  My threat to sue the criminals has begun to pay off in a change in their behavior.  Here's what I found and what I photographed.

First, the old signs.  Here are the signs which are permanently affixed to the south side of the unattended parking lot attendant's booth.

The large standing frame with the $10 Event Parking Fee sign, which was there the night of the crime against me, has been replaced with the following signs.

The first photograph faces west towards Ann Uccello Street and can be seen clearly by anyone entering the lot from the curb cut due west of the attendant's booth.  

There is now a smaller sign, with identical lettering, nailed to a telephone pole west of the attendant's booth, which can also be seen, but not easily read, by anyone entering the lot from the same curb cut.  Here is a photograph of the smaller sign.

The virtue of these two new signs is this.  They make it much clearer to potential users of the lot that only monthly and daily ticket holders are permitted to park in the lot and all others will be towed.  Had the large sign been there the night my car was towed, I most definitely would NOT have parked my car there.  I then WOULD have realized I was not allowed to park there without risking a tow job.  But the signs were NOT there that night, I didn't see any of the signs, and even if I had seen the signs that were there that night, I would have believed I had a right to park there for $10.  If the larger of the two new signs had been in place the night I got towed, but weren't, here is what I would have seen when I pulled into the lot.

Then I went back to the smaller lot on the north side of Pearl Street, west of Ann Uccello Street and found photographed the signs there.  Here is the sign on the attendant's booth. I mean the one below the window of the booth.  It's just like the one on the attendant's booth at the Church and Ann Uccello lot.

But there is now a new sign, small and hard to read, but most informative, in the lower right hand corner of the window of the attendant's booth.  Here's what it says.

"Monthly Parkers Only."  That sign was not there in the previous times I parked in that lot.  When I parked there that other time, I did not get towed, but somebody put a slip of paper under my driver's side windshield wiper which indicated I owed $8 for parking there that evening.

So, the new signs in the parking lot where I got towed show that somebody at Laz-y Ass Parking Ltd. is not quite so lazy-ass now that I've put them on notice of my legal analysis as they were before they had the temerity to tow my car.  Let's see if they do the right thing, once I write them another letter with the new information, and refund my money.  If not, the next step is to consult with the class action lawyers to see if they're interested in making a really big pain in the ass of themselves with Laz-y Ass Parking Ltd. (the "Ltd." stands for "of limited IQ and EQ").

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Trayvon Martin vigilante murder case and the American Way of Death by Handgun Execution

Trayvon Martin was gunned down in cold blood while he was carrying an Arizona Ice Tea and a bag of Skittles by a nut-case man named Zimmerman who had a license to carry the concealed weapon he put the slugs into Trayvon's body with, as a self-declared neighborhood watch Vigilante. Do all you Gun Lovin' Nutcases continue to believe that crap about "It's not guns that kill people, it's people who kill people" shit? When are we as a culture going to give up the "Dirty Harry" Paranoid Fantasies which lead so many people to want to run around town with a concealed piece on their Terrified Paranoid bodies? I can understand people who want shotguns to kill deer to either feel like a Big Man or because they want to eat the meat, but a concealed handgun? My father-in-law was a deer and duck hunter, and a member of the NRA, but he always said to me he couldn't understand why any hunter, or anybody else, would want to have a handgun around the house, let alone carry one in a concealed body holster.

Okay, all you Paranoid Gun Nuts, let's here all the shit I always get back when I put out a Status like this.

All best,

The Word-Slinger

America's Ayatollah--Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court

Well, well, well, I never thought America had an Ayatollah, a sort of Grand Leader like they have in Iran, who makes the Final Call on all legislation, laws, and the like. Well, we do have one.  His name is Mr. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.  He's on the U.S. Supreme Court and sometimes votes with the conservative wing but other times with the liberals.  For example, the recently issued cases giving the federal courts greater supervisory powers over plea bargaining in criminal cases.  Those were both 5-4 decisions.

When it comes to the Obamneycare case [National Health Care legislation, whose constitutionality has been drawn into question on several grounds], which is set for three consecutive days of oral argument starting this Monday, The Ayatollah Anthony M. Kennedy will likely have final say over which parts of the law pass constitutional muster and which don't.

Now it's somewhat inaccurate to call Justice Kennedy an Ayatollah.  Justice Antonin "the Angry" Scalia COULD, it is true, vote with the liberals, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg with the conservatives, thereby deposing Justice Kennedy from his perch as Supreme Leader, but how bloody likely is that to happen?  The sun will probably go out forever before Scalia becomes The Liberal Justice and Ginsberg The Conservative.  So, while the sun shines, Kennedy's our Ayatollah.  Not of the JFK variety, but just plain vanilla Anthony M. Kennedy aka Ayatollah Kennedy.

Please feel free to Comment and give me hell or high water.

All best,

A Writer with a Strong Constitution

Monday, March 19, 2012

Interesting, possibly dispositive, developments in The Curious Case of the Purloined Car--Robert P. Dutcher vs. Laz-y Ass Parking Ltd. and West Hartford Auto Center

On March 5, 2012 I wrote about how my car got towed, wrongfully and illegally, from a parking lot in Hartford where I had parked to go dancing on a Saturday night downtown.  I said I planned to sue to get my money back.  Here's the link to that story:

Here's a potential breakthrough development in that case, which could well make it worthwhile for a class action lawyer specialist to take the case on as big class action on behalf of all car owners who have had their cars towed illegally as I did.

There's a Laz parking lot on the south side of Pearl Street, west of Ann Uccello Street.  I've parked there many times over the years when I've gone to Theaterworks for plays, just east of Ann Uccello Street, also on the south side of Pearl Street.  All the plays I've gone to have been at night.  But I've never been towed to West Hartford and had to pay $113 to West Hartford Auto Center to get my car out of Car Concentration Camp.  Why not?  I've only had an $8 charge ticket put on my car's windshield one time a few weeks ago, after dancing at Pig's Eye on Asylum Street.  Why no tow job?

In the little parking lot there's a metal attendant's booth which is always empty at night.  There are not parking lot attendants to take money, although directly across Pearl Street is a large parking lot which is probably also a Laz lot.  I'll have to check it out.

Anyway, on St. Patrick's Day, after getting out of Up or on the Rocks and PourHouse and having a few slices of pepperoni pizza at Aladdin Pizza just west of PourHouse, I walked back to get my car parked way away across from Bushnell Park.  When I got to Ann Uccello and Pearl I decided to walk over to the little parking lot on the south side of Pearl to see if it is in fact a Laz lot and if so what the signs say about after-hours parking, towing, and the like.  The reason I wondered about that is this.

Several weeks ago, a Hartford cop told me to get out of Hartford and not return that night to either Russian Lady or PourHouse or he was going to arrest me because I had danced across the street from PourHouse to a little cafe/bar on the north side of the street PourHouse is on.  He claimed I was "disorderly" because of this, although he could not explain what the disruption to the peace and good order of the state resulted from my shuffling my feet in a creative way while moving my old bones from the south to the north side of the seat to entertain the people in the cafe/bar across from PourHouse as I had the kids standing outside PourHouse with cigarettes hanging from their lips, lungs filled with tobacco smoke and all its toxins, disordering the cellular structure of their God-given lungs.  If anybody was "disorderly," and in a harmful way, wasn't it the smokers who were being "disorderly" to the natural order of their lung organs and not me for moving my feet in a way which humans, even cops, call "dancing"?

So I agreed because he said he didn't care what happened the next night, only this night.  I got in my car which I parked up on Church Street, north of where the cop and I had words, droved west on Church and turned left at the end of Church, where it joins the road which comes up from Bushnell Park.  I drove slowly past Asylum to see what was happening outside Pig's Eye, since the cop had not told me to stay out of Pig's Eye.  Seeing activity there, I turned left (east) on Pearl and parked in the little parking lot which is the focus of this piece.  As always whenever I had parked there in the past at night to go to Theaterworks or one other time to go dancing, the attendant's booth was empty and there were a few cars parked there.

At the end of the evening at Pig's Eye, I retrieved my car and noticed a little slip of paper on the driver's side windshield.  It was a note from somebody on a printed form which said I owed $8 for parking there.  It did not tell me who I owed the money to or where I should send the money.  If it had, I would have mailed a check for $8 to the parking operator.  I wish I had kept this printed form with the information about my car, its make and model, and license plate, and the $8 charge, as evidence in my case against Laz and West Hartford Auto Center for wrongfully towing my car from the lot at the northeast corner of Church and Ann Uccello Streets.

So on St. Patrick's Day, on the way back to my car, I made a walking detour to the little lot on the south side of Pearl and noticed the unattended parking lot booth had a sign which said that after-hours parkers parked in the lot at their own risk and gave the name of the towing company.  I should have gone back after getting my car and written down the exact wording but I can do that in a day or two.

Here's the rub.  At the little lot on Pearl, they don't seem to tow cars which are parked there.  It's operated by Laz.  They have a similar sign on the unattended parking lot booth.  And when you park there, you either park free or they put a little slip of paper on your windshield saying you owed $8 for the privlige and license to park there.  Why the different treatment of parkers in the two Laz lots?

Here's the importance of the disparate treatment of parkers in the two Laz parking lots.  Laz is treating its customers in different ways in the two parking lots.  In the Pearl Street lot, it tickets with $8 charge slips but does not tow.  In the Church and Ann Street lot, it just tows without ticketing with charge slips.  And it gives people like me, who have first parked in the Pearl Street lot that the worst that will happen to them in the Church and Ann Street lot from parking there at night, after hours, is that we will get a charge slip on our windshields which we'll owe Laz money for, but not get our cars towed to West Hartford and have to pay $113 cash at an ungodly hour of the morning to spring from behind the barbed-wire car concentration camp.

This disparate, misleading, and unfair treatment will, I believe, be dispositive of the case I intend to bring in court against Laz to get my money back for the wrongful, unjust, and now, I believe, illegal towing of my car.
It also may be the lynchpin and key to a class action suit against Laz for all the car owners who have paid untold hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, in towing charges, apart from the aggravation and inconvenience involved, to get their cars back from this Laz-y Kar Kidnapping Kompany.

Monday, March 12, 2012

YouTube 2:21 minute Video of Me Performing my poem "Shadow Room Goddesses" at The Shadow Room

I am re-posting this blog story about my poem "Shadow Room Goddesses" because I now have a YouTube link to a video of me performing the poem at The Shadow Room on Main Street in Middletown a few weeks ago.  Here's the link to the short 2:21 minute video:

This video was taken by Michael J. Citak, General Manager and Marketing and Graphic Director at The Shadow Room.  All thanks to Mike for doing such a good job under poor lighting conditions.

Here's the original blog post, with the poem and photos of the Goddesses and me.

New Poem by Bob: "Shadow Room Goddesses", with 2 Photos of Bob and TSR Goddesses, and an Editor's Note about the poem and the blog post itself
Editor's Note: Bob does not put everything he writes on "Bobs blog."  Bob has noticed over the past few months, since he first started writing the blog in mid-July, 2011, at the suggestion of his friend John Hall, that some (at least one but it could be any number up to the more than 18,000 hits he's gotten on "Bobs blog" all over the World based on the very precise statistics kept by the Google Blogspot "platform") of his Dear Readers do not like to get the more, shall we say, conventionally "salacious" blog posts.  Therefore, Bob censors "Bobs blog" and writes more freely on his Facebook page.

However, true artists don't censor themselves.  Bob's not yet a "true" artist, although he's getting there, so he continues to restrict "Bobs blog" to more "prim and proper" writing productions.

To give you all a little change of pace, I'm going to post a poem I whipped off yesterday afternoon at the request of my SAG actor friend, David Gere, owner of The Shadow Room (TSR) on Main Street in Middletown.  TSR is a bar, dance club, art gallery, and artists' hangout, including wannabe writers/dancers/comix like Bob.  So Bob returned to his lair, Susie's OLD HOUSE in Middletown, and whipped up the following little poem about some of the TSR Goddesses, as David Gere requested.  I then peformed it last night at TSR while standing on the couches along the north wall, all the while wearing the same outfit I was wearing the night before, as described below. 

To understand the poem, you'll need to do two things, assuming you want to read any further.  First, read the poem.  Second, look at the Facebook Profile Pics of me surrounded by assorted TSR Goddesses.  Third, read the FB Status I posted yesterday about the Sunday night adventure at TSR, in particular the references and descriptions of Goddesses Andrea and Emily.  Fourth, understand that Goddess Andrea in no way is androgynous.  She's very pretty, feminine, and intelligent.  But she did like wearing my dark shades and my dark-blue worsted wool blazer for a few sweet minutes.  Like all beautiful women who put on male clothing (think Marlene Dietrich and other great actresses of the past), it's a very nice look.  Fifth, Goddess Toni is David Gere's current girlfriend.  David refers to her, affectionately, as Toni the Tiger.  I changed that appellations slightly.  You'll see why.  Finally, also understand that Goddess Emily merely slipped while she and Goddess Andrea were dancing with me, all in the presence of their boyfriends.  Goddess Emily was not drunk, but she did fall backwards and land on her tush, but with a smile on her face and a laugh from her throat. 

Okay, so here's the poem, "Shadow Room Goddesses," followed by the FB Status which sets the stage, and last, but not least, the photos of the TSR Goddesses and me.  The first photo is my current FB Profile Pic and the second is my penultimate FB Profile Pic. 

Finally, if I did not treat these Goddesses with the respect that a father shows his daughter, they would not feel, and appear in the photos, as relaxed and comfortable in my presence, so close to me physically, as is shown in these photos. 

Very truly yours,  THE EDITORS of Bobs blog.  P.S.: You always have the option of opting out of the rest of this blog post by don't say I didn't warn you!]

Now the poem.

Shadow Room Goddesses

I knew Goddess Maddie's
surname was Gish
but now
I know
she's also
the freakin' sexiest dish

I knew Goddess Andrea
was a Czenar
but now
I know
she's also
Insatiable Sexy Satyr

I knew Goddess Emily
was a Gorgeus Platinum Blonde
but now
I know
she also
safely lands her Beautiful Behind

I knew Goddess Toni
had a figure to die for
but now
I know
she also
is Toni The Ti-Gere

bob dutcher, February 20, 2012

Now the Facebook Status.

Last night I made a last-minute (or last hour-and-a-half to be precise) appearance at The Shadow Room in Middletown. I was delighted to meet a new Goddess, Goddess Tiffany, who tends bar to give a break from Mortal Dionysian Alcohol-Nectar service by Goddess Andrea and Goddess Toni (the Tigress). Although Nick, David Gere's partner in TSR, told me otherwise, my first impression of the lovely Tiffany Goddess was this: "That girl's Jail Bait." But Nick firmly disabused me of that notion. Although all Goddesses are timeless, eternal, and ageless, we Mere Mortal Men arbitrarily assign an "age" to each of them. And Nick insisted that her Mere-Mortal-Man-assigned age is greater, though not by much, than Goddess Andrea.

Now I made my Grand Entrance into TSR last night wearing the double-breasted blue suit jacket, dark gray pants, and black shoes I wore to my baptist rockin' church service yesterday, and also had my eyes shaded from the Overwhelmingly Brilliant Radiance of Goddesses Andrea, Emily, Tiffany, Sarah, and the others by my black wrap-around shades. Within minutes, Goddess Andrea, always accompanied by her trusty Hot Young Mere Mortal boyfriend, Mike, had removed my shades and put them on and removed my double-breasted suit coat, perhaps to cover her own double-breasted outer/upper white garment. Goddess Andrea and Goddess Emily, who was also chaperoned by her Studly Mere Mortal Young boyfriend, proceeded, against my better judgment, to arrange the three of us in an unholy (but most fun)
three-way Oreo Cookie in negative photographic mode. By that I mean that these two lovely blonde, fair-skinned Goddesses had me, a now-black baptist, in-between them. I have no current recollection of what the Goddesses were doing, if anything, to me during this ecstatic moment.

Meanwhile, Nick, @David Gere's co-owner of TSR, got out what appeared to be an I-pad shaped video recording device to make permanent video record of this Outrageous Outlaw Ovation to the gods who made the visitation by the Goddesses (not to mention their Otherworldly Beauty, Uncommon Intelligence, and Aesthetic Sensibility) possible.

Well, time to go off FB for a while, saw wood, and work on a new poem to perform tonight at The Shadow Room, should the Mere Mortal Men, the Goddesses, and, especially the demi-god @David Gere, permit me so to do.

Later, Goddesses, Mere Mortal Men, and The Demi-God,

Bob aka The Writer

Now the photos.

Goddess Andrea, Bob, and Goddess Emily

Goddess Maddie, Andrea, Bob, Gia, and Emily

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Can a Lawyer Defend a Person Who's 100% Guilty of a Heinous Crime and Feel Proud of Handling Such a Legal Case? And What's That Got to Do with Protecting a Non-Conformist like Me from Being Involuntarily Committed to a Mental Hospital? Easy. Read this New "Bobs blog" Analysis.

This is THE most common question lay people ask lawyers.  Until I began living an unconventional life, not in conformity with the the expectations of my community, I used to give a mostly abstract answer to this question.  Now I understand the problem in an urgent, existential way which I didn't before.

If you've been following the Comments to my recent blog post about why I am nasty to people who are nasty to me, you will have read a number of Comments from people who think I should be locked up at the local state mental hospital.  Some of these people have predicted my probable fate is to wind up hanging from a rope above a kicked-away stool or lying in a back alley, dead from a bloody beating.  Without "proper" medication or other unspecified "help," these fortune-tellers are cock-sure I am destined to an early demise. I have been called psychotic, grandiose, narcissistic, and other less clinical names.

If a vote could be taken in Middletown of people who knew me then and know what I'm doing now, I would not be surprised if a majority would like to see me locked away in a ward for the mentally ill at Connecticut Valley Hospital, which is only a few miles east of where I'm sitting writing at this moment.  The motives of these voters would vary from true concern for my well-being and the happiness of my wife and children on the bright side to anger, hostility, jealousy, and envy on the dark side.  For purposes of my analysis, it matters not what the motive is, just that the majority probably would like to see me forcibly treated psychiatrically with in-patient treatment in a mental health facility.

It matters not to them that I have fully discussed on my blog that I saw Dr. Allan Jacobs, M.D., of West Hartford, a psychiatrist, from September, 2010 until July, 2011 for medical management of psychotropic medication during my severe, suicidal depression and subsequent recovery.  And I have repeatedly revealed that I continue to see my psycho-therapist, Raymond Oakes, of Essex, a clinical social worker and very experienced therapist, weekly, from September, 2010 until the present and I have no plans to ever stop seeing him.  I have also explained that one reason I go for therapy is to hold my feet to the fire to continue to make big changes in my life rather than remain complacent or get stuck in a rut.  I don't feel I need therapy, because I no longer have a mood disorder, as I did when I was depressed,  but I do want the benefit of the self-awareness which therapy can bring and the functional benefit of life-change motivation which I also get out of it.

I don't think any of the allegedly well-meaning Commenters on my blog have ever asked me what Dr. Jacobs or Ray Oakes think about whether I "need" any treatment other than what I've sought voluntarily.  Dr. Jacobs is on my email list of people who get notice of new "Bobs blog" posts.  The only response I've gotten from Dr. Jacobs is last summer when he briefly stated he was happy I was doing things in life which made me happy.  Ray Oakes has not told me he thinks I "need" any other treatment.

Last spring, in my former men's group at my old church, the Jacob Group, when several of my old friends aggressively informed me I "needed" to be on mood stabilizers or other "appropriate" psychiatric treatment during one Tuesday afternoon session, one of them suggested that a man in the group who is a psychologist contact Dr. Jacobs and Ray Oakes to make sure they knew how I was acting.  My immediate reaction was to invite the entire Jacob Group to my next sessions with Dr. Jacobs and Ray Oakes.  I emailed Dr. Jacobs about this and he said he didn't think that would be particularly helpful.  I don't have Ray Oakes' email address, but I told him of my offer and he said he didn't think it would be helpful to him either.  My offer to the Jacob Group totally killed their enthusiasm for being in touch with either Dr. Jacobs or Ray Oakes.

What does any of this have to do with defending a guilty person?  Here's the connection.

Lawyers who defend guilty people are really defending, enforcing, and upholding the United States Constitution and the constitution of whatever state is prosecuting the defendant.  My friend Jerimiah Donovan did not think it was good for his client, Joshua Komarjevsky to rape and kill Dr. Petit's wife and daughters.  But Jerimiah did believe, with every fiber of his being, that it was a good, really essential, thing to stand up for Joshua's constitutional rights to due process of the law.  Many of the Commenters on the website of The Hartford Courant could not understand why a jury trial was necessary in the Petit Home Invasion Case.  The defendants should have been summarily executed without due process of law.

Why are those vigilantes dead wrong?  For starters, unless lawyers protect the constitutional rights of guilty people, those rights may not be available to protect and vindicate innocent people who are wrongly charged with a crime they didn't commit.  Russia and China have written contitutions which confer various rights on their citizens.  But Russian journalists who expose corruption are sometimes found murdered in alleys.  And Chinese lawyers who boldly stick up for their clients are sometimes jailed.

If lawyers don't stand up for the constitution, even for the guilty, the constitution may not be there to protect the innocent when they need it.  And that means you and me and everyone else.

But, you may say, you're a law-abiding citizen.  You don't commit crimes.  Why should you care?

Part of me used to feel the same way.  But I don't feel that way now.  Why's that?  Let me explain.

In yesterday's New York Times, a letter writer, David Raines, pointed out that the French philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, called a community's power to enforce conformism "the tyranny of the majority."  This, Mr. Raines wrote, "gives us all more personal freedom.  But at the same time, we are biologically programmed to see those like ourselves as allies and those different from ourselves as competitors, if not enemies.  The end of conformism has left us uncomfortable with our social environment, with our fellow citizens."  Mr. Raines was commenting about a new book about the class divide in America by Charles Murray, not constitutional rights, but those sentences flipped a switch in my mind and led me to write the present blog piece.

I do think a fair interpretation of a least some of the people who don't like the way I'm living my life now is this.  They see me, as Mr. Raines wrote, as a competitor, if not an enemy.  They are uncomfortable with me, their fellow citizen, who once conformed to their standards of what's appropriate for a retired lawyer, husband, father, and friend, and what's not acceptable.  And that's the precise point where my life, as I wish to lead it, and the constitution come into play.

In Victorian times, according to a biography I read a long time ago of Sigmund Freud, young women who were thought to be sexually promiscuous could be involuntarily committed to what were then called insane asylums for psychiatric treatment, barbaric as it mostly was in those days.  These young women were classified as "morally insane."  Imagine if such legal processes were in use today.  How many sexually-active young women would be involuntarily committed to the local state mental hospital for "treatment" of their "sexual promiscuity disorder"?   Don't think this is an academic matter.  In other cultures, women of any age are stoned or worse for all kinds of behavior which in our society would might elicit a yawn, a roll of the eyes, or no reaction.  Think Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to take just two examples.  If you haven't been living on Mars the past few years, you know what sorts of cases in those societies I'm talking about.

What prevents a family from having their promiscuous daughter involuntarily hospitalized at the state mental hospital for forced psychiatric care, to restore her to a chaste and virtuous lifestyle?  The United States Constitution.

Our mental hospitals used to be full of people who were not a genuine danger to their own physical well-being or the physical well-being of others.  Many there were who were hospitalized because they "acted strangely" or did not "conform" to "appropriate" standards of behavior.  This all changed in the 1960's as the psychiatric community began to re-think who should be forced to get psychatric care.  Eventually, the United States Supreme Court held that a person could only be forced to get involuntary treatment if he were a demonstrable and substantial danger to himself or to others.  Mere unconventionality was not sufficient to put the white strait-jacket on a person.  And such treatment was held to be appropriate only for people whom a psychiatrist testified under oath needed such treatment.

Which brings me back to my situation.  If I, or anyone else, commits a crime, the police can arrest me or anybody else.  Then a prosecutor, who is a lawyer, decides whether to continue the prosecution or drop the case. This happened to me at the KKK (Koji Komedy Klub) in New Haven.  I've written about the case, extensively, on my "Bobs blog."  The prosecutor eventually asked me for permission to drop the charge; had I objected, I could have demanded either a trial on the charge or an immediate dismissal (acquittal) of the charge.  I agreed to the dropping of the charge because I saw no advantage in being tough with the prosecutor at that point.  His decision to drop the charge was a vindication of my position that the KKK permittee wrongfully called the police and the police wrongfully arrested me  However, I'm just glad the prosecutor agree that while I look and act unconventionally, I did not commit a crime.

Similarly, I know that anyone seeking to involuntarily committ me to the state mental hospital would be hard-pressed to find a psychiatrist willing to testify, and maintain his position under cross-exmination, once he talked to me, that I am a danger to myself or others.  The mere fact that I take risks which others don't take is not enough to committ me or anybody else.  Plenty of conforming people take all kinds of risks, without being locket up on a mental ward.  Think NASACAR drivers, professional football players, sky divers, climbers of Mt. Everest (50% of whom die in the process according to Jon Krakauer's book, "Into Thin Air").

Ellin Sacks, a USC law professor, wrote an interesting book called "Refusing Care," with a well-thought-out and presented discussion of whom we should force to get care and whom to just leave alone.  Professor Sacks reports in the book that when she was a student at Yale Law School, she was hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital at least twice for acute schizophrenia, involuntarily, for treatment with medications.

Even if a "hired-gun" psychiatrist gave the requisite testimony to put me away in a locked ward, I am certain that Dr. Jacobs and Ray Oakes would testify that I am a bit eccentric now, by the conventional standards of "polite" society, but not a danger to myself or others.  Knowing how probate judges, who make these initial calls about committment petitions, think about such matters, along with judges and appellate judges, I am quite certain the judicial system would not be an accessory to an involuntary stay for me at the local mental hospital.

Gadfly, royal pain in the ass, non-conformist, needs a haircut and a shave: all these can fairly be said of me.  Call me the Crazy Old Dancin' Dude if you will.  But I'll never agree to be locked up in a mental hospital.  Think of one big problem with that scenario.  I'd drive all the psychiatrists and nurses CRAZY, and THEY'D commit themselves, just to get away from me.

Vive la Constitution!!!!!

Thanks for reading. Please put any of your questions or Comments in the window below.

Thanks, Bob

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why I'm So Darned NASTY: My Sometimes Nasty Replies to my Critics, and the Long Tradition of Writers being extremely Nasty to other Writers

I just now heard an NPR report about an international computer hacking group called "Anonymous."  This made me think of the Anonymous writers of Comments on my "Bobs blog" stories, especially the highly critical comments about some of my activities, like dancing in dance clubs with, mostly, younger men and Goddesses.  Sometimes it feels as if the nasty Commenters have hacked into my computer, my blog, my head, and delivered a message of hostility and anger about the way I've chosen to live my life.  I never delete any of these Comments, even the nastiest of them.  I do, however, sometimes choose to respond in kind.

Some of my readers don't seem to understand why I would sometimes choose to meet anger with anger, vituperation with vituperation, nastiness with more of the same.  The purpose of this blog post is not to attempt a justification of my practice but merely to report the fact that writers, throughout the history of writing, frequently respond to nasty criticism with, well, nasty rejoinder.  Some of these writers clothe their nastiness in lovely language, but others are very direct, nakedly nasty.  I'll cite two of the many examples which amuse me.

Of the "nicer" variety, consider the interaction of two writers about Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg.  Masters wrote a scurrilous biography of our greatest president, in which he claimed that the president we all know as Honest Abe was "cruel to his mother and was mean to his 'unmoral,' 'shiftless,' and 'worthless' father.  He married for money and used Christian morality as a cover to drag the nation into the Civil War.  Masters concluded that Lincoln was 'unmannerly, unkempt, unwashed and untrustworthy.'"  B. Peschel, "Writers Gone Wild," pp. 104-05 (Perigee 2010).  Masters hated Carl Sandburg, himself an American icon of poetry who authored a famous biography of Lincoln which "made him wealthy and cemeted Lincoln as an American icon."  Id.  In retaliation for some nasty things which Masters said about Sandburg, Sandburg wrote the following private poem:

                                                   Lincoln and Masters one more fable,

                                                      One more conglomerate fart

                                           Lost on the anxious rumps of the west wind.

Now for the "nasty" sort, consider a speech Sinclair Lewis wrote and delivered at a public dinner for a Russian author.  At the dinner, Lewis was drunk.  He was also "still stinging over the critical slaps he received the previous year when he won the Nobel Prize for literature (see "Babbitt Does Stockholm," on page 33).  When he was invited to say a few words, Lewis stood and let them have it.

                                         'I feel disinclined to say anything in the presence of the son-of-a-bitch who stole three thousand words
                                         from my wife's book and before two sage critics who publicly lamented my reiving the Nobel Prize.'
                                         Peschel, supra. at 105-06.

The son-of-a-bitch was Theodore Dreiser, author of "An American Tragedy," and a man Lewis suspected of having had an affair with his wife, the journalist Dorothy Thompson, on a trip to the Soviet Union.

It gets better. The plot thickens.

"So after dinner, Dreiser confronted Lewis. 'I know you're an ignoramus, but you're crazy,' he said and dared Lewis to repeat what he said.  He did.  Dreiser slapped him and dared him to say it again.  Lewis obliged, but before Dreiser could commence a beat-down, his friends hustled him away."  Peschel, supra. at 106.

I cite these examples not so much as justification for my own occasionally nasty replies to nasty Comments from Anonymous readers of my blog but more so to demonstrate that such vituperative parries and thrusts are no unprecedented in the world of writers.  Someone might reply that these examples are all instances of professional writers attacking other professional writers, whereas my nasty Commenters may not be professional writers, perhaps not writers at all.  To that I say, I am not a professional writer.  I write for fun, not profit.  Also, I know nothing about my angry Anonymous Commenters, precisely because they ARE Anonymous.  They may not be professional writers.  From the poor quality of most of their rambling criticisms, I'd be surprised to learn that any of them were ever paid for a single letter put to paper or computer screen.  In any event, they cloak themselves behind a mother's skirt of Anonymity whereas I am exposed, naked, really, for all to see.  If I knew who they were, I might be gentler, more circumspect perhaps.  But maybe not.

I am happy about one important matter.  These Anonymous Commenters are at least taking time from their busy lives to read "Bobs blog" and take the time to file a Comment.  For that they have earned my undying thanks.

In a future blog post, I will write about the long tradition of writers who get into loud confrontations, bloody fights even, in bars and other academic venues.  This history interests me because of all the flak I've taken from my blog readers, many of whom conclude from my own bar-room confrontations that I MUST be mad (i.e. insane, not merely angry, neither of which is the case in most of my own confrontation stories).

Monday, March 5, 2012

How My Car Got Towed from a Hartford Parking Lot Last Saturday Night While I Was Dancing in a Club, and The Demand Letter Requesting Remibursement from LAZ Parking and the Tow Truck Operator, West Hartford Auto Center

This past Saturday night I left a Hartford dance club at just before 2 a.m. closing time and my car had VANISHED from the LAZ parking lot at Church and Ann Streets.  I had to find a cab to West Hartford, go to an ATM to get $113 cash, exact amount only, no credit cards accepted, and pay the cabbie $30 cash, to get my car back from West Hartford Auto Center.  The Greek-American cabbie told me it's a big scan, and hundreds of cars are towed this way in a scam run by LAZ and carried out by the tow company.  Here's the first few paragraphs of my letter to LAZ and the tow company, explaining why the tow was wrongful and why they owe me $133 net ($143 for cab and tow, less $10 parking event charge).  Hey, if they refuse, I'll sue them in Small Claims and investigate possible referral of the case to a Class Action specialist.

I want the money back, because I'm retired and want to keep my expenses to the bare essentials, but the experience itself was magical and adventurous for a writer.  All is fodder for those who write.

Here's the letter:

March 5, 2012

LAZ Parking Company
[Exact name and address
 to be determined from
 Hartford tax assessor's
 property records.]

West Hartford Auto Center, LLC
932 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

Re: Demand for refund of $30 taxi fare and $113 towing charge (total: $143 plus legal
       interest for money wrongfully taken), less the $10 I owe you for the Event Charge
       for parking in the LAZ parking lot (Total Net Demand: $133 plus legal interest until
       you refund the money you wrongfully took from me to get my car back

Dear sirs:

         I am a 62-year-old lawyer whose car was wrongfully and illegally towed from a parking lot at the northeast corner of Ann and Church Streets, Hartford, CT this past Saturday night.

        The purpose of this letter is:

        (1) to give you a credit for the $10 "Event Parking" fee I owe you for parking my car in the unattended parking lot, AND

        (2) to demand a refund of the $30 taxi fare and $113 (total $143 plus interest at the legal rate until my wrongfully witheld money is returned to me) towing charge I incurred to retrieve my car from West Hartford Auto Center at about 3 a.m. that morning.

        Please send me $133 to reimburse me for the taxi fare and towing charge I had to pay to get my car back at West Hartford Auto Center, less the $10 Event Charge I owe you for parking in the LAZ parking lot.

        Here is why you owe me $133 plus legal interest for money wrongfully held.

        I drove up from Middletown and spent time at a club on Main Street from about 10:45 p.m. to midnight last Saturday night.  I then drove over to go to another club within a block of your parking lot at Ann and Church.  The streets were full of cars. I saw your parking lot, which then had four other cars parked in it, so I drove into your lot, parked my car in the southwest corner of your lot, parallel to Church, facing Ann Street, got out, saw no parking lot attendant in the metal booth on the north end of the lot, and went immediately south on Ann to get to the club which was my destination.

        Before I left your lot, I took a quick look around and did not see any sign saying that I could not park in your lot.  I figured your attendant had either taken a break, was playing hooky for a while instead of working, or was otherwise occupied.  I figured your attendant would probably return and collect the money when I got out of the club or, if he had left by then, put a notice on my windshield of the address to which I should send whatever parking fee I owed for using your lot, which I would have done, of course.  I did not see any sign which said "No Trespassing," or "Parking Lot Closed," or "DO NOT PARK HERE OR YOUR CAR WILL BE TOWED."  Remember, I'm an OLD man, age 62, with near-sightedness, and I was scanning the lot from the southwest corner, so I did not then see the extremely inconspicuous sign on the south side of the parking attendant's darkened booth, below its window.  Not, that is, until much later that evening, after I retrurned to retrieve my car.

        Imagine my shock and surprise when I returned to get my car at 1:50 a.m.  The lot was EMPTY.  My car and the other four cars in your lot were gone!  Stolen, I thought, by a car thief.  At that moment, I never imagined I was, instead, the victim of a White Collar Criminal LAZ Tow Job Racket.  But boy, LAZ and West Hartford Auto Center, was I in for a surprise!

        I walked around trying to find a police officer to report my car as stolen but then met a man from Burundi, who now lives in the United States, who speaks French, as I do.  We exchanged pleasantries and then he told me that he once parked in the same parking lot and his car had been towed.  He said it happens all the time and the towing company and the parking lot operator are in cahoots.  He claimed the two companies have a racket going, all over the city of Hartford.  These LAZ lots do not have signs conspiculously notifying parkers that they are not allowed to park in the lots and their cars will be towed at great expense and inconvenience to them if they park there.

        Imagine my shock and surprise when I heard these allegations, and in French yet, a language of love, not Criminal Racketeering!  I immediately wondered to myself, being a former trial lawyer, whether a valid CLASS ACTION might be brought to determine legally whether LAZ and West Hartford Auto Center were involved in a CIVIL CONSPIRACY to entrap unsuspecting parkers into thinking that they could park their cars in these empty, unattended parking lots?  Such a cause of CLASS ACTION would include the allegation, to be tested in extensive discovery that the plan all along by LAZ and West Hartford Auto Center was to tow the unsuspecting suckers' cars to West Hartford Auto Center, charge every one of them $113 CASH, NO CREDIT CARDS accepted.  Furthermore, the complaint would allege, perhaps LAZ and West Hartford Auto Center split the proceeds of all these towing charges, all for the fun, greed, and criminal profit of the allegedly conspiring civil racketeers, LAZ and West Hartford Auto Center.  Such, at least, is what the taxi driver believes, from having gotten many many fares over the years for driving many unsuspecting victims to pick up their towed cars at West Hartford Auto Center.

           Anyway, I was very cold and only had a few dollars in my pocket, along with my driver's license.  That's because I once had my wallet lifted by a pickpocket in a Middletown club.  So now, when I go to clubs, I carry as little cash as possible.  Of course, I always carry my driver's license, in the unlikely event I'll be seriously carded.  Remember, I'm a Senior Citizen, having reached the advanced age of 62 years.

           I excused myself, in proper French, bien sur (of course, in the English), and walked back to the LAZ lot where my car was missing.  Now, for the first time, I got close enough to read the FINE PRINT (for my old, 62-year-old eyes) on the two signs on the unattended parking booth in the parking lot where my car was missing.  This booth, and the signs are about 75 feet north of the spot where I had parked my car earlier.  And my view of the lower half of the south side of the booth had been blocked when I parked earlier by the other four cars which had been parked to the north of my spot in the part of the LAZ lot closest to Church Street.

            There were actually three signs, two on the south side of the booth, below the unattended attendant's window, and a much larger sign in a metal frame standing right next to the booth but facing east and west, on the north side of the unattended attendant's booth.  I had not seen ANY of these signs when I parked in the lot with the other four cars, also now missing, several hours before.  But after I left the club and returned to the Scene of the Scam to look for my car, then vanished, I examined the parking lot at a LAZ pace.  Here's what my investigtion revealed:

         There were two signs.

          There was a small sign on south side of booth.

          On the left side of the sign, below the booth's sliding window, it said:

          Welcome to Hotel Lot
          Operation Hours Mon.-Fri.
          6 a.m. to 11 a.m
          3 p.m. to 6 p.m

          All Vehicles Park at Their Own Risk After Posted Hours

         On the right side of the sign, below the booth's sliding window it said:


         Parking for LAZ Customers Only
         All Others Will be Towed at Owners Expense
         24 Hours a Day 7 Days a Week
         West Hartford Auto Center

        There was another Large Sign, next to the booth.  This sign was about 2 feet wide by 4 feet high, with very large letters and it said:

        Event Parking

              I was happy to know where my car probably was, but pretty perturbed that this was the only sign which the parking lot operator deigned to post for unsuspecting older Senior Citizens like me.  It's quite obvious to me now that LAZ has a racket going with West Hartford Auto Center, in which, like taking candy from babies, or shooting deer with an elephant gun in a children's petting zoo, LAZ knows that unsuspecting suckers, I mean parkers, will have their cars towed and have to pay $113 cold cash to get the cars back.  And LAZ probably gets some share of that $113 per car towing charge times however many hundreds of cars are towed each week from all the empty, unattended LAZ lots.  One would think that a legitimate LAZ business person would have the common courtesy to post a very large, conspicuous sign at the entrance to the parking lot, saying: "If You Park Here, Your Car WILL Be Towed to West Hartford and It WILL Cost You $113 in CASH, EXACT AMOUNT ONLY, NO CREDIT CARDS, to Get Your Car Back."

           My cell phone confirms I called West Hartford Auto Center at 2:27 a.m. to verify they had my car.  The man there notified me that I would have to give them $113 in cash to get it back.  And no, he said, they would not take a credit card.  Cash only, all others don't get their cars back.  That was an offer I could not refuse, given the fact I was an old man shivering in the cold night air, with no other way to get home that night.

            I went back and found the nice French-speaking man from Burundi with the Chicago Bulls hat.  I tried to convince his friend to drive me to West Hartford to get my wallet from the glove compartment of my car, at West Hartford Auto Center, then find an ATM to get $113 in cash, and then return to the tow place to retrieve my car.  As nice as the man from Burundi was, his friend said it was just an easy jump onto 91 South from Ann and Church Street and then 20 minutes back to Meriden, where they live.  So, I inferred from that little digression that Monsieur Burundi's friend was not interested in giving the helping hand of friendship to a French-speaking Old Man from Middletown who was standing there in the night-time cold, shivering, desperately trying to figure out how long it might take to walk to West Hartford Auto Center.

          After saying goodbye ("Bonne nuit.") in French to Monsieur Burundi, I walked off to find (hopefully) a taxi to take me to get my car.  I was concerned I might have to sleep on the cold, hard, heartless streets of Hartford for the night because I feared I did not have enough cash in my pocket to pay what I figured would be the likely cab fare to West Hartford.

          After wandering around in the concrete jungle of Hartford, I spied a taxi and ran over and got in after the Greek-American cabbie unlocked the door.  He had a mean-looking smooth-haired Pit Bull inside the driver's plastic-enclosed booth.  The cab was a large vehicle, more like a large SUV than a standard-issue yellow cab.  He asked me if I was afraid of dogs.  I said only Pit Bulls.  "But Princess is very friendly, as long as I don't get upset.  Then Princess goes wild and can bite a man's hand off.  Probably even his head," reassuringly (I guess) said the cabbie.  Before I could say whether I was reassured, Princess jumped over the plastic enclosure and started licking me all over my face and nibbling at my hands and fingers.  I was, frankly, scared sh-tless, but did not, in fact, relieve my lower intestine of its contents until I got home after springing my car from the auto center.  Fortunately, the cabbie and I got along famously.  No barking, no biting.  By either the two of us men or, fortunately, Princess the Pit Bull.

            Upon my arrival at West Hartford Auto Center, there was a girl and boy, early 20's, arguing with the tow driver about whether he could release her grandmother's car to them if they paid the towing charge of $113.  He claimed he could only release a vehicle to its lawful owner.  The girl had long dark hair, a very short dress, and over-knee high booties.  The young man she was with was argumentative.  "Look, dude. We have the keys to the car.  We MUST be in lawful possession.  Dude, just give us the fucking car," demanded the young man.  The tow truck operator, who was dealing with 5 other victims of the towing scam between LAZ and the auto center, told the young man to "chill out" or he might never get his friend's grandmother's car back.  That sort of tells you how the eveing went.

           Another scam victim (this man had parked his car near a Main Street, Hartford club, not in the same lot I parked in farther west) did not have exactly $113 and needed change from one of his twenties.  A man with this other victim was so angry that the tow driver kicked him out of the warm office at West Hartford Auto Center.  But the driver then made change with the other young man whose VW Jetta it was which had been towed from another LAZ lot.

            Finally, I paid my tribute to the scam, $113 in cold hard currency, sprung my Outback from its West Hartford Auto Center prison, and returned to the Scene of the Scam, at Church and Ann.  There I made a careful investigation of the weenie signage in the LAZ lot, and got angry.  Why, I thought, doesn't LAZ either have an attendant stand by at the lot, collecting $10 for Event Parking, or erect a very conspicuous sign which informs would-be parkers that they will pay dearly (a tow and a $113 bill, and a taxi fare of $30) if they even THINK of parking there.  Also, the sign on the parking booth which says, "All Vehicles Park at Their Own Risk After Posted Hours" implies that people are welcome, invited even, to park their cars in the lot after the parking lot closes, at their own risk.  Whether or not a fee must be paid for that privilege is not addressed by any of the signs.

            A reasonable person reading all the posted signs would conclude that he or she had a business invitation to park in the lot, after hours, at his or her own risk.  Also, from the "$10 Event Charge signage," which is the largest, most conspicuous sign in the lot, a reasonable person would conclude that the charge for after-hours parking is $10, to be paid after usage of the lot by personal check sent to LAZ.  In my case, since you owe me $143 for the taxi charge plus the towing charge, I am paying you the $10 by offset against my damages from the tow of my car.

            Please contact me at your earliest convenience, either directly or through your attorneys, about when I can expect a refund of the $133 net damages you owe me, with interest.  Or, if you do not agree you owe me the money, please let me know that as soon as possible so I can put my cause of action into litigation against you in Middlesex Superior Court, Small Claims Session.

            Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Very truly yours,

Robert P. Dutcher

cell 860-759-9860

Encs: Receipt for Road Service from West Hartford Auto Center, LLC
           Receipt for taxi cab fare (the cabbie made me write out my own receipt on his
           business card!)