This is the name of a website (peopleofwalmart.com) which features both photos and videos taken of Wal-Mart shoppers, mostly surreptitiously. It’s a little mean-spirited, in that it doesn’t seem fair to do this to people who have no idea you’re doing it. It’s like the paparrazzi who are so fond of taking pictures of sex goddess movie stars without makeup, slimy looking hair, and cellulite.
On the other hand, here’s my take on it: if you don’t want someone to take a picture of you looking like that, don’t go out looking like that. Celebrity or not. If you don’t care, then you’re home-free. Go any way you like. So that would be me–I don’t care.
Therefore today, I think I might have made a good Person of Wal-Mart. T-shirt, gym shorts, flip-flops, no makeup. But not a very good one. First of all, I would have had to weigh at least double what I do. But you don’t always have to be fat to be a Person of Wal-Mart. There was one photo I saw where a woman is walking her poodle in the parking lot, between giant piles of banked-up snow. You can’t see her face, but she has nice-looking long blonde hair, is thin, and is wearing pajamas and socks and bedroom slippers. You get the point. There is a certain mind-set to being a Wal-Mart person.
So, you might ask, what the hell was I doing at Wal-Mart? The short answer is, I needed a newspaper. Today marks exacty the third time I’ve been there since it opened four years ago. The first two times were for emergency purchases of Ibuprofen. By my calculations, I’ve now spent around $7.00 there. It’s an empty protest to be sure, but it makes me happy.
I do a lot of empty protesting now that I think about it. Probably it’s because I’m too realistic. I don’t kid myself that I can change anything substantially. But I still do believe that I might say something that plants a seed that might eventually sprout. Really, it can, and sometimes does. It’s such a more hopeful way to live than simply giving up and saying nothing you do makes a difference.
So I tried not to go to Wal-Mart. I went first to my corner convenience store, where my favorite weekend Rwandan engineering student was on duty, but they were out. He said, go to Wal-Mart. So I blame him.
The reason I needed a paper was that today, an op-ed came out by a former dog rescue person regarding certain changes the County is trying to make to its Animal Control ordinance. I was there the last time they did it, I will be there again. You have three minutes to comment before the County Commission. I need to make it work. So I needed to see what was already said–no need to repeat it. The Commissioners all read the paper.
The big issue is tethering. The County is proposing minor changes to it which mostly involve the type of tether that can be used. But there needs to be a sweeping change. As long as we tolerate dogs being tethered outdoors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, tweaking the kind of tether is like arguing about what color to paint the walls of Hell. Which I plan to say.
Tallahassee News…Part 2
Before I get into this, let me state for the record…I like it here. It’s my adopted hometown. What is it about us Americans? A huge percentage of us can’t wait to get out of wherever we grew up. And I’m no different. Hell would be being forced to live in the small town where I mostly grew up.
But I’ve been fortunate since that time to have lived in six different cities, some way larger and more legendary than this one. In each one, I met loads of people who couldn’t wait to leave, though most of them never did. They just stayed in place and whined. From them, I learned the art of appreciating where you are at the moment. I always saw “their” cities through new eyes.
When I moved here from West Palm Beach, a friend told me I was going to hate it. He said, it’s so…provincial. You will not fit in. When I returned to West Palm after my first visit, I told him…You forgot to mention that it’s beautiful there. Well, he said, there is that.
When I define Tallahassee, it breaks down to: it’s the State Capital, it has two major universities, and it has a lot of trees. I think it’s pretty cool that in the course of my everyday life, I can drive by Andrew’s Capital Grill and see the governor having lunch on the patio. Politics, thought and enthusiasm generated by the university atmosphere, and lots of live oaks. What’s not to like?
According to the 2000 Census, the Tallahassee MSA has a population of 284,000-plus, and 150,000-plus within the city limits. But its size does not begin to define it. So now we move on to yesterday’s news.
One of the universities here is Florida State, and one of the top ongoing stories is that they are being sanctioned by the NCAA for a cheating scandal. To condense, some 60 or so student athletes cheated on an online music appreciation course (oh, stop me from picturing Bubba trying to understand Bach), aided by 3 staff members. So the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to vacate any victories by FSU in games those students played in. The big deal about that is that if that holds, Bobby Bowden will fall way behind Joe Paterno in the quest to be the winningest coach ever. Okay, fine. Yawn. But that isn’t the story. The story is that when the NCAA issued its decision in reply to FSU’s appeal, they said FSU couldn’t tell anybody what it said. They sent a read-only file to FSU’s lawyers. The local newspaper sued. Finally the State Attorney General sent them a letter saying they were in violation of Florida’s open records law. Then and only then, the NCAA said FSU could release the records, but they themselves wouldn’t, and didn’t feel bound by that silly Florida law. So that is the story. I always thought that the NCAA were the good guys. Who knew they were fascists?
The other important story in the news yesterday concerned Gary Michael Hilton, who is awaiting trial here for the murder of a nurse a couple of years ago. She was found decapitated in the Appalachicola National Forest. The story was that the Ormond Beach authorities are looking at him for the murder of a decapitated man found in a state park near there. In that case, his head has never been found. Gary Michael Hilton confessed to the murder (and decapitation) of a young woman in Georgia, and was sentenced to life in prison for it. Only because he confessed. So he will go back to Georgia to spend his life in prison, unless Florida kills him first.
I went through a tough moment when I was called for jury duty some months ago. I was afraid that I might be called upon to be in a death penalty case, such as Gary Michael Hilton. I think Hilton is a monster and a serial killer. If a jury convicted him and sentenced him to death, I would be okay with that. It’s just that I couldn’t do it myself. It’s a contradiction, I know, and trying to reconcile it in my mind gives me a headache.
So Tallahassee is not that provincial, as provincial goes. We’ve got high school teachers having sex with students, the NCAA acting like the Gestapo, and serial killers in jail in our midst. This is, after all, the place where Ted Bundy got caught.
Posted in Crime, Life In Florida, Politics, Social Commentary, Tallahassee
Tagged Bobby Bowden, death penalty, Florida State University, hometowns, juries, NCAA, serial killers, Tallahassee, Tallahassee Democrat